Tag Archives: Vancouver

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.

Critical access hospitals threatened

Similar to last week’s House Democrat operating budget proposal, today’s Senate Democrat proposal would cut $11 million from most of our state’s critical access hospitals. I say most because I’m told there is one critical access hospital – in a Democrat district – that will not suffer any cuts. All the rest are in Republican districts.

Ambulance at Emergency EntranceIf you’re not familiar with these, critical access hospitals are smaller medical facilities usually located in some of the more rural areas of our state, and often provide care to lower-income residents. They’re often the only option for some state residents who need emergency surgeries or other high-priority treatment, and if they don’t receive funding from the state there is a good chance these critical access hospitals could close down. In our district, that would leave residents with only three areas to receive emergency medical care: Yakima, Tri-Cities or Vancouver.

This is one of the primary reasons I’ll be voting against this budget should it make it to the floor.

Senators sign letter supporting AG lawsuit

Today, as Senate Republican Deputy Floor Leader, I delivered a letter to Attorney General Rob McKenna in support of his decision to join a bipartisan, nationwide group of attorneys general challenging the constitutionality of the national health care bill signed into law this week. These senators signed the letter:

Sen. Randi Becker
Sen. Don Benton
Sen. Mike Carrell
Sen. Jerome Delvin
Sen. Mike Hewitt
Sen. Janéa Holmquist
Sen. Jim Honeyford
Sen. Curtis King
Sen. Bob McCaslin
Sen. Bob Morton
Sen. Cheryl Pflug
Sen. Pam Roach
Sen. Mark Schoesler
Sen. Val Stevens
Sen. Dan Swecker
Sen. Joseph Zarelli

“Our caucus has long sought to ensure all Washingtonians have access to high-quality, affordable health care while maintaining our commitments to the vulnerable, working poor and elderly. Over the years we have introduced legislation to accomplish this goal,” the letter stated.

“We believe that the future of our government ‘of the people and by the people’ is in peril when any group sees fit to suspend the constitution and laws in service of their own agenda. …It is vital that our courts address these fundamental constitutional concerns prior to the full implementation of the legislation. We are convinced that a legally sound approach to health reform will be more successful and will better serve our fellow citizens over the long term.”

Senate Republicans have introduced several bills since the beginning of this year’s regular legislative session aimed at protecting Washingtonians from any possible unconstitutional provisions of the Obama health care plan.

Senate Bill 6535, the Washington State Health Care Freedom Act of 2010, would protect employers and workers who refuse to participate in nationalized healthcare from possible fines and penalties. Sponsored by Sen. Janéa Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, it would also nullify in Washington any federal law, rule, order or other act by the federal government violating the provisions of the bill.

If approved by voters, Senate Joint Memorial 8220, sponsored by Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, would put these same protections into Washington’s constitution.

This week, Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, introduced Senate Bill 6890, which would prohibit a federal mandate on Washington citizens to purchase health care.