Author Archives: jimhoneyford

2014 Session Begins with high hopes, challenges

Today began the 60-day legislative session for 2014, and it also marks the first session we’ve seen in a long time that is beginning without a deficit to reconcile. That’s due to the balanced, reform-focused budget proposed and passed by the Majority Coalition Caucus in 2013. Last year we promised to work on creating jobs, improving education and adopting sustainable budgets and we’ve done just that.

But there is more to be done. Our state’s economy has been slow to improve post-recession and we need to continue finding ways to get people back to work. Last year we put about a billion dollars into K-12 education; an unprecedented amount yes, but not nearly enough according to the Washington State Supreme Court. We’ve got our work cut out for us in the area of education again this year. Continue reading

Priorities: Yakima Valley School, state lands, invasive species, radio towers

Because the 2014 session is only two months this year, there are a number of issues I’ll be addressing right from the start.

YAKIMA VALLEY SCHOOL. One bill that is very important to me would help keep the Yakima Valley School open. In 2011, the Legislature passed a measure that kept the residential facility for the developmentally disabled in Selah from closing immediately. However, as part of a last-minute deal to save the Yakima Valley School, the final measure required the facility to no longer accept new patients but allowed the then-81 residents to stay for the rest of their lives. Continue reading

2013 Wreaths Across America ceremony honors veterans, teaches about freedom

Wreaths Across America 1Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, helped honor and remember fallen veterans Tuesday during a wreath-laying ceremony at the state Capitol in Olympia. The event was one of hundreds held across the country to commemorate those who cannot be with their families during the holiday season.

“I am honored to participate in this important ceremony every year,” said Honeyford, himself a lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol. “Having the wreath in our state’s Capitol building is a way to honor the thousands of veterans who have died in defense of our country. I hope anyone coming to Olympia will take the time to stop by and see it, pause to reflect on all they are blessed with, and give thanks to those who fought to secure it.” Continue reading

Honeyford receives Water Statesman Award for contributions to water issues

13-12-06 Senator Honeyford - Water Statesman AwardAfter addressing the Washington State Water Resources Association at its annual conference in Spokane last Friday morning, Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, was presented with the group’s Water Statesman Award. The association, comprising irrigation-district representatives from across Washington, confers the honor only when members believe it is deserved.

“I was completely caught off guard by this award,” Honeyford said. “I was expecting to deliver a speech to the association updating them on water issues in central Washington, and was totally surprised when they announced I would be receiving their highest honor for the second time.” Continue reading

Honeyford named 2013 Legislator of the Year by Washington State Farm Bureau

Amid a chorus of applause Wednesday, Sen. Jim Honeyford accepted the Washington State Farm Bureau’s Legislator of the Year award for an unprecedented third time. The Sunnyside Republican received the award previously in 2003 and again in 2007.

“It’s always an honor to receive an award, but I’m particularly humbled by this one,” said Honeyford. “Working on our states’ farm, ranch and agricultural issues is one of my highest priorities and it’s truly rewarding to be named legislator of the year by the Washington State Farm Bureau.” Continue reading

Transportation is topic number one in Olympia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is an aerial view of Interstate 82 in Yakima (courtesy WSDOT). It’s just one of dozens of projects that would be completed if the latest statewide transportation package is passed into law. But there’s a catch…it comes with an 11.5-cent gas tax increase.

That’s not to say it’s a no-brainer “no” vote. After all, the package proposed by the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) also includes landmark reforms that will streamline the state’s transportation system and save taxpayers millions down the road (so to speak). It will also keep the state Department of Transportation accountable for its mistakes and oversights, reduce the regulatory burden on transportation construction projects and ensure tolls are kept in the area where they are enacted, among other things.

The MCC proposal would fully fund two major projects in Yakima County: the east-west corridor overpass and bridge ($45 million) and economic development improvements to I-82 in Union Gap ($56 million). Continue reading

Wreaths Across America

wreaths_across_americaEvery year an event known as Wreaths Across America takes place to help decorate the graves of veterans for the holiday season. It’s an event meant to simply and solemnly REMEMBER the fallen, HONOR those who serve our country and TEACH others the value of freedom.

This year’s event takes place December 10 at the State Capitol Building in Olmpia. It begins at 12:15 on the third floor of the rotunda, and if you’re in Olympia I’d encourage you to attend. If not, you can visit the website to find other events being held locally.

Wreaths Across America is a national event that involves over 800 locations and places memorial wreaths at over 500,000 graves of US Soldiers. See more at: http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/

Forming the Aviation Caucus

aviationAs you know, I’m a proud member of the Civil Air Patrol. One thing I’m particularly excited about is the formation of the Aviation Caucus at the Washington State Legislature and the impact it will have on public policy and in the aerospace industry as a whole.

I was asked by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and the Civil Air Patrol to organize this caucus to educate legislators and stakeholders about general and business aviation and its economic impact on Washington. We will also help lawmakers better understand the burdens and obstacles companies confront and how to make flying safer and more accessible.

We had our first organizational meeting and ten legislators attended. We discussed topics for future meetings, and Representative Gael Tarleton and myself were elected co-chairs. I hope this will will lay the groundwork for beneficial aviation-related business legislation in the future.

Meeting with the Russian chairman

RussianRussianStanislavDuring the interim, I took a trip to Russia (at no taxpayer expense) to meet with their Chairman of the Committee for Culture of the Russian State Duma, Stanislav Govorukhin (pictured above). The Russian government is interested in various “heritage sites” within the United States, including some right here in Washington. In fact, one of the places we talked about was on Washington’s Pacific coast near the town of Forks. A monument to commemorate the 1808 shipwreck of a Russian sailing vessel near Rialto Beach will soon be completed now that the final portion of funding was secured in the state’s 2013-2015 capital budget.

I learned that their main interest is in the first USA-Russia transpolar flight by their cultural hero, Valery Chkalov, which originated from a site in Russia and ended at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington, in 1937. Chairman Govorukhin and I talked about creating a small museum near the site dedicated to Chkalov’s flight and relocating some of their original documentation there and to nearby Washington State University’s Vancouver campus.

I’ve also met twice with the Russian consul general and ambassador-at-large on developing this project, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing the good work we’ve begun.

Sunnyside Senator to push for expanding tax breaks for businesses statewide

Senator Jim HoneyfordAfter approving two tax-preference bills designed to bolster the state’s aerospace industry, longtime state Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Yakima, said he’s looking forward to continuing the trend of growing the state’s business community by offering tax incentives.

“The governor called us into a special session in order to pass two bills to keep Boeing in Washington, in exchange for retaining up to 56,000 jobs and creating tens of thousands of new jobs across the state,” said Honeyford, who represents the state’s 15th Legislative District. “That’s not an opportunity that we can just sit on, but I’m concerned about the appearance of the state playing favorites. Now that it’s been widely accepted that certain tax incentives can grow businesses in Washington and in turn provide jobs, I’m going to pursue expanding that policy to other areas beyond aerospace, such as agriculture and small businesses, and I already have a commitment from Boeing that it will help us work to expand these policies.” Continue reading