Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As many of you have heard by now, Whatcom County was rocked with news that Alcoa Intalco is ending its aluminum production at their Ferndale plant. In recent months, profit margins in the industry grew narrower and the regulatory environment in our state has become less than favorable. This curtailment will have a devastating effect in our community as hundreds of Intalco employees will lose their jobs. Many other businesses who earn their livelihood directly or indirectly from the aluminum smelter will be hurt as well.
My colleagues and I are working to find ways to help those facing layoffs. We will follow up soon with action items to address their needs. For more information you can read a joint statement from your legislative delegation: “42nd District lawmakers react to Alcoa curtailment.”
As a member of the House Higher Education Committee we have had some great opportunities to see and hear firsthand what our higher ed institutions around the state are doing. I met with Whatcom Community College student government leaders last month and the committee went on a higher ed tour in eastern Washington. During a tour of the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus, we were given an overview of their Women's Mentoring Program as well as their Hanford History Project. The success of their mentoring program has earned them an international award. We also got an up close look at projects they are working on in their science and engineering laboratory.
Being in the heart of Washington wine country, it was only fitting we tour the WSU Wine Science Center. It provided a fascinating look into the science and business of wine as the wine industry economy continues to grow in Washington state.
Our tour extended to Columbia Basin Community College. Presentations on their automotive, welding, manufacturing, and nuclear technology programs were inspiring. It was great to see the diverse opportunities this institution is providing for students.
The legislative committees in which we serve during the legislative session meet a few times during the interim. Depending on the committee we may have meetings in different parts of the state or take a tour relevant to work we are doing on the committee, like the one we did with our Higher Education Committee. However, it is not uncommon for legislators to be appointed to task forces or other committees that do work outside the Legislature. This interim I was honored to be appointed to the Board of Advisor's for the Women's History Consortium.
The consortium was created in 2005 by the Washington State Legislature to help preserve and make available resources about Washington women's history. The Washington State Historical Society was instrumental in getting the consortium established.
Fun fact: Washington state passed Women's Suffrage in 1910, a full 10 years before the 1920 U.S. constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.
I am honored to serve on this board.
Earlier this year I was also selected to be on the Task Force Against the Trafficking of Persons. The task force is part of comprehensive legislation, Senate Bill 5884, passed by the Legislature last session to reduce human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. For more information, you can read the news release on my appointment by clicking here.
Legislative Day Book
It is hard to believe it has been a year since I was elected to serve the people of Whatcom County. It has gone quickly, and it is amazing how many meetings, appointments, tours and events end up filling my schedule. However, that is the best part of my job – being in the district, finding out what people are working on, what issues are impacting their livelihood, and learning how we can improve things at the state level.
To keep you updated on what I have been doing, below is a list of events from my calendar:
- Monday, Oct. 12 – Foster care parent meeting in Bellingham;
- Wednesday, Oct. 14 – Kendall Trail and Sumas Chamber of Commerce meetings;
- Thursday, Oct. 15 – Everson Food Bank and Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce meeting;
- Friday, Oct. 16 – Ribbon cutting for Lynden's new water treatment facility;
- Saturday, Oct. 17 – Served breakfast at the Blaine Senior Center;
- Monday, Oct. 19 – Millennium Facility tour in Longview with Legislative Competitive Caucus;
- Tuesday, Oct. 27 – WSU Tri Cities Higher Ed tour;
- Wednesday, Oct. 28 – Roundtable discussion with Whatcom Community College student government;
- Thursday, Oct. 29 – Lunch meeting with Adult Family Home Care Association; and
- Saturday, Oct. 31 – Tree planting with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.
These are a few of the community events I have enjoyed attending. As I gear up for the 2016 legislative session my schedule is getting busier but I always enjoy taking time to meet with constituents, attending events and touring local businesses and facilities. Please call my legislative assistant, Bryan, in my Olympia office if you want to schedule a meeting or tour.
I wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Luanne Van Werven