News from Representative Kilmer

   

February 8, 2016

Dear Friend,

We know that we have a lot of work to do to fix a broken Congress. Two weeks ago, legislation was not the only thing that was stuck in place as Snowpocalypse 2016 hit Washington, D.C. The snowy mess gave me additional days to work in our region and I enjoyed meeting and listening to many of you – and a chance to chow down on some tasty Lutefisk. What can I say? It’s growing on me. (Honestly, if you put enough butter and bacon bits on anything, it can be… palatable).

This week will be remembered for a few other big events. Of course, there is the Super Bowl. This year I’m sure many of you drowned the sorrows of the Seahawks absence with some chicken wings (fun fact: it was estimated that 1.3 billion wings were consumed yesterday; fun fact #2: chicken wings are substantially tastier than lutefisk).

In addition, on Tuesday, President Obama is expected to release the last budget proposal of his tenure to Congress. It’s significant not just because next year a different president will introduce a budget. It also lays out investments that can have a lot of impact in our neck of the woods. In particular, I’d like to talk about one big piece of the President’s budget that has drawn a lot of headlines and could make progress on a problem that has hit our region hard.

Read on for the news...

Confronting an Epidemic

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, many have felt the impact of heroin and opioid abuse. We’ve heard stories of family members and friends who have struggled with a cycle of addiction and a fight to break it. Many communities on the Olympic Peninsula have been hit particularly hard by this epidemic.

I’ve met with law officials who are dealing with crowded jails, medical professionals and emergency responders trying to help a growing number of folks in need, and families and friends in our communities who want to do more to help loved ones. In addition to continuing the important work of prevention, one big way we can make progress is by making sure that overdoses don’t become fatal.

In recent years, critical tools like naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and opioids, have proven extremely effective in dealing with overdoses. Unfortunately, in places like the Olympic Peninsula, families and emergency responders too often don’t have naloxone kits within reach to avert tragedy. In fact, the Peninsula Daily News recently published a story detailing some of these challenges.

I want to make sure rural communities have access to life-saving medications. With that in mind, last week I sent a letter to the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the agency to make naloxone kits more accessible to professionals and families in places like the Olympic Peninsula.

Thankfully, the President is on the same page.

His budget proposal calls for $1.2 billion in new investments over the next two years to push back against heroin and opioid addiction. $500 million would support agencies like HHS as they work to expand access to naloxone. This is something I’m hopeful Congress can come together on. Because whether you are a Democrat or Republican we can all agree that we should have every resource available when an emergency takes place.

Read my letter here.

Resources We Need

If you are a regular reader of my newsletter you know that I’ve been pushing hard to keep investments in an early earthquake warning system going. That’s because the potential impact of a massive earthquake looms large in our region. Since last summer’s big magazine article on the ‘Really Big One’ the rest of the nation has taken notice too.

That extends to the White House which last week held an earthquake summit in Washington, D.C., to focus on protecting communities and enhancing resilience. I got a chance to say a few words and spoke about the great work being done by the University of Washington and other universities on the West Coast to make a warning system completely operational for everyone.

They are working on some pretty cool stuff including an app (yes, there will be an app for earthquake warnings!) That app could give folks critical seconds to get out of harm’s way. Just imagine what extra time could mean to a longshoreman in Tacoma lifting a heavy container or a surgeon holding a scalpel or someone about to cross the Narrows Bridge or get in an elevator. This system can literally save lives.   

Below you’ll find a picture from my speech at the summit. Getting folks from around the country to partner together brings us one step closer to having an updated, operational early earthquake warning system that will be our eyes and ears throughout our region.

Protection from Hacking Attacks

Last week I spent some time at Keyport getting an update on what’s being done to support Navy vessels, equipment, and training. It was great to sit down and take questions from civilian defense workers who day in and day out support our strategic mission. I also had some news to share as I detailed how the government funding bill that President Obama signed into law included new protections for Americans impacted by hacking attacks on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The new protections originated in a bipartisan bill I introduced with Representative Scott Rigell. For a quick refresher, last year officials announced that in two separate incidents hackers accessed databases of personal information overseen by OPM. Those breaches compromised the personal info (think Social Security numbers, residency and educational history, employment history, background checks) of more than 22 million Americans.

In the wake of these attacks it was important to me that workers knew that if their personal info fell into the wrong hands, they would be protected. I was proud to work across the aisle to introduce legislation that offered comprehensive identity theft coverage lasting for 10 years and provides up to five millions dollars in insurance. Now OPM will do just that because of the provisions I fought to get in the government funding bill.

Now, if there is an attempt to hijack their identity or mess with their credit folks will have the right identity theft coverage to get back on their feet. Looking ahead, I will continue to work on ensuring that your private records stay private and out of the hands of hackers.     

Read more about it in the Kitsap Sun here.

A Purrrrfect Score

I’m honored to have received a perfect score on the Humane Society’s 2015 legislative scorecard.

A few years ago, my wife, daughters, and I welcomed Truman, an Australian Shepherd into our home. Truman is a furry member of our family that my two daughters have especially grown to adore. Whether as a pet or out in the wild, animals deserve to be treated with respect. I will continue my efforts to ensure they are treated humanely wherever they live.

A Tribute to Doug Walker

A few weeks ago I joined many of you in mourning the loss of Doug Walker, who made a difference in the lives of many. Besides making his mark in the private sector and in philanthropy, Doug will always be known for his tireless work to promote conservation efforts, including as the board chair of the Wilderness Society. I attended an incredibly moving memorial in Doug’s honor and was reminded of the extraordinary work that he and his wife Maggie have done in our region. Doug Walker wasn’t someone who wanted to protect wilderness from people. He wanted to protect wilderness for people.

Working for You

As I mentioned up top, I made my annual stop at the Lutefisk Dinner at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway. It’s a fun (and flavorful) event each year.

 

I got to spend a morning with the Hoh Tribe out on the coast. I have to thank the Hoh Tribe's terrific Chair Maria Lopez, the Tribal Council, and their professional staff for spending a good chunk of their day with my team and me.

You might have seen me speaking at the Greater Grays Harbor Inc. Business Luncheon about our efforts in partnering with the community on wide-ranging flood mitigation and community building projects. You can read more about those efforts here.

It was great to sit down with the ARC of Kitsap and Jefferson Counties, take a walking tour in downtown Bremerton with the Sound West Group to learn about their revitalization efforts, enjoy lunch with the Bremerton Kiwanis, and visit SuperCritical Technologies.

I had the honor of joining the 5th Annual Washington State African American Achievement Awards to celebrate the hard work of our region’s leaders. Congratulations to all the honorees and a special thanks to Deborah Moore Jackson for organizing the delicious food, entertainment, and inspiring program.

I also got to spend some time with a few hundred folks working to make Kitsap County great. Thanks to the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance for another insightful and informative Decision Makers Breakfast.

I work for you. So I enjoy being able to give you updates on what’s happening in Congress and answering questions you may have. In that spirit, I’m proud to announce another town tall tour of the region.

Take a look at this list for places and times:

 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pierce County Town Hall

2:00PM – 3:30PM

Community Room

CHC Hilltop Family Medical Clinic

1202 M.L.K. Jr. Way

Tacoma, WA  98405

Grays Harbor Town Hall

5:30PM – 7:00PM

Gene Schermer Building - Room 4134

Grays Harbor College

1620 Edward P. Smith Drive

Aberdeen, WA  98520

 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mason County Town Hall

5:00PM – 6:30PM

Skookum Room

Mason County PUD #3

2621 E Johns Prairie Road

Shelton, WA  98584

 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Clallam County Town Hall

5:00PM – 6:30PM

City Council Chambers

Sequim City Hall

226 N Sequim Avenue

Sequim, WA  98382

 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Jefferson County Town Hall

5:00PM – 6:30PM

Quilcene Community Center

294952 US Highway 101

Quilcene, WA  98376

 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

North Kitsap Town Hall

11:00AM – 12:30PM

Community Room

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

550 Winslow Way E

Bainbridge Island, WA  98110

South Kitsap Town Hall

2:00PM – 3:30PM

Commission Chambers

Kitsap County Administration Building

619 Division Street

Port Orchard, WA  98366

 

I hope to see you come out for one of our town halls! Our democracy works best when folks are engaged in it!

As always, it’s an honor to represent you.

Sincerely,
 
Derek Kilmer





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