Kretz and Short get to work as 2015 legislative session begins in Olympia
In an unprecedented move, at least as far back as any “oldtimers” in the Washington State Legislature can remember, the 7th Legislative District saw its clout increased as both its members of the House of Representatives were recently elected to senior leadership positions within their caucus.
Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, who has served as Deputy Republican Leader the past several years, was again elected by his peers to serve in the same capacity. His seatmate, Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, was elected Republican Caucus Chair, a step up from the vice-chair position she held the last two years.
“It's extremely rare to have two House members from the same legislative district serving in senior leadership positions at the same time,” said Kretz. “I'm proud to have Shelly on our leadership team. She's already shown her leadership in fighting the governor's extreme environmental policies, and this is just another way she can serve our district.”
Short, who is serving her fourth two-year term in the House, will preside over several caucus meetings each week where bills, amendments and voting will be discussed.
“I'm excited for the challenge,” said Short. “This is a new position of influence which will allow me to continue to bring the issues and problems facing Northeast Washington residents to the forefront.”
One of those issues, says Short, is the Washington State Building Code Council's effort to create a third 'climate zone' specifically for the Northeastern part of the state when determining new rules for construction. Currently, the state has Eastern and Western climate zones with the Cascade Mountains being the dividing line.
“Having another climate zone here in Eastern Washington will isolate our counties from the rest of Eastern Washington, making it more difficult and more expensive to build in our region,” said Short. “It would negate the current ability we have of training and networking within our region, which is more cost effective.”
Short introduced legislation to limit the council's ability to create an additional climate zone. Her bill, House Bill 1011, recently received a public hearing and was passed out of the House Local Government Committee.
“This is an effort to protect our local real estate and builders and to keep home prices as affordable as possible,” said Short.
Kretz, who earlier this month co-hosted a meeting in Brewster along with other state and local officials to discuss the Carlton Complex wildfire, is proposing legislation based on lessons learned from the devastating fire.
“One of the things I heard loud and clear from constituents and at the meeting in Brewster was that we need to use our local resources better and cut the bureaucracy out of fighting wildfires,” said Kretz. “My bills would make sure our people don't need permission to fight fires. We need a quicker response than what we saw last summer to prevent further damage.”
One of his bills, House Bill 1237, would allow local landowners to help fight wildfires on state land owned by the Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Specifically, it would authorize fire suppression activities such as making fire lines and clearing timber and brush that is in the path of a wildfire.
The two lawmakers are also holding a telephone town hall on Tuesday, Feb. 10 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Residents wishing to participate can call (509) 724-2970. The phone line will open shortly before the call begins. To ask questions of the lawmakers during the call, participants can press star (*) on their telephone keypads.
###Washington State House Republican Communications