Washington Secretary of State wants earlier presidential primaries

Secretary Wyman’s statement on Presidential Primary bill

OLYMPIA… Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman testified today before the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee in favor of Senate Bill 5333, urging its passage. The measure would move Washington’s Presidential Primary to a more nationally relevant date, as well as allow voters to declare no party affiliation when voting in the primary.

“Washington State is always looking for ways to increase participation and voter engagement. Participation in caucuses has consistently been between 3 and 6 percent of the state’s registered voters,” Wyman said. “In contrast, participation in the state’s presidential primaries has consistently been significantly higher, with two over 42 percent.

“In 2016, with robust caucus turnout for both major political parties, just over 300,000 people participated. Compare that with the May Presidential Primary – 1.4 million registered voters – 800,000 Democrats and 600,000 Republicans declared their party affiliation and cast a ballot. This was when the nominees of both parties had already been determined. Imagine what our turnout and the impact on the process may have been if our primary had been held in March when many candidates were still in the race.

“An earlier Presidential Primary date will improve the relevance of the event in the national nominating process by allowing Washington voters to vote earlier. It will also provide the opportunity for many more voters to have their voices heard, while still preserving the political parties’ confidence that those casting a party ballot are members of their respective parties. Finally, this bill allows some flexibility in date setting if other western states want to have a primary on the same day.

“Our goal is to secure our voters’ voice in the nominating process. We all benefit when candidates for the most powerful office in the world understand our state. This bill helps us achieve that.”

Video: rock slide and potential for more will keep Highway 503 closed

YALE – Drivers who travel to the areas near the north end of Lake Merwin and Yale Lake will need to add extra time in their trips throughout the spring.

With recent assessments of the hillside above State Route 503 near Speelyai Bay Road revealing additional movement near the cliff face, and the potential for large rock slabs to fall on to the highway, the Washington State Department of Transportation will keep the road closed for an indeterminate amount of time.

WSDOT geotechnical engineers have been unable to safely access the site for a closer look, but used an aerial drone for evaluation and to gather survey data.

“We want to begin cleanup and repair work as soon as possible,” said WSDOT project engineer Lori Figone. “Once access is safe, we’ll have a clearer picture of the extent of the repair work and the timetable to get the job done.”

Next steps

For the next several weeks, WSDOT will monitor the movements of the hillside and incorporate the additional data into a construction contract that will remove unstable rock and debris while stabilizing the hillside.

SR 503 closed on Monday, March 13, when a debris slide knocked trees and rocks down onto the highway, also known as Lewis River Road.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler reintroduces act to better equip first responders to oil train accidents

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler reintroduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act) to better equip first responders to respond to oil train accidents. The FD PREP Act would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to categorize hazmat operations, training, and equipment acquisition relating to crude oil and ethanol rail traffic as “high priority” within its Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

Currently, the AFG program does not consider equipment and training specifically for train derailment incidents as being high priority grant applications. These grants are intended to provide resources for local fire departments to improve the health and safety of the public and protect firefighting personnel, including volunteers and emergency medical service personnel. With this bill, these resources will be more readily available to our first responders.

“First responders in communities along rail lines must have access to the equipment they need to keep residents safe,” said Jaime. “Public safety needs to be a top priority with hazardous materials like crude oil already being shipped through Southwest Washington. Let’s close the loophole in this funding program to better protect our cities, residents and natural resources.”

“The oil train explosion in Mosier last year was a wakeup call for communities throughout the Northwest,” said Joe Molina, Vancouver Fire Chief. “Oil trains are rolling through our neighborhoods now and we need additional resources and training to respond to a train derailment, spill or explosion. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s bill provides a common sense approach to freeing up already available federal resources to oil train communities throughout the country. Vancouver strongly supports the legislation and we appreciate the Congresswoman’s leadership on this critical public safety issue.”

St. Patrick’s Day weekend events

“St. Pat’s at St. Pete’s,” the 20th annual St. Patrick’s Day concert at St. Peter’s Landmark, is tonight starting at 7 p.m. Cascade Youth Choir and Gorge Community Music Uke Orchestra will join Cascade Singers choir, ensemble, and the “Almost-All-Irish-Almost All-Brass Band” for Irish art songs, Tin Pan Alley Irish tunes, traditional favorites and sing-alongs. Admission is a free-will offering to benefit St. Peter’s Landmark, located at 3rd and Lincoln Streets in The Dalles

The Dalles High School Drama Department Presents Shrek, The Musical, based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the Book by William Steig. Tonight at 7:30 and Saturday at 2 pm at The Dalles High School Auditorium. Tickets $7 for adults and students, $5 for senior citizens and childen under 12, available at the door.

Tomorrow, a Free Disaster Preparedness two and a half-hour workshop provides practical instruction on ways to mitigate hazards, save lives, reduce injuries, and make realistic plans ahead of time that will facilitate recovery after a disaster. Participants will receive resource and hazard guides, checklists, and get to see a field-tested “Grab-n-Go” emergency kit. The workshop will be held from 9am – noon at Tayler Hall, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1805 Minnesota Street, The Dalles. A light lunch will be served following the program. The presenter of this nationally-recognized workshop is Judith Warren, who currently is lives in Bend.

The Second Annual Dine n’ Dash is hosted by Klickitat Valley Health in Goldendale, Washington. This Family-friendly event features a 1 mile kids’ course, 5k run/walk, 10k run/walk, runner awards, kids’ prizes and a hearty breakfast! The event begins at 9 a.m. with the kids course, adult 5k/10k to follow. Enjoy a mad dash through the beautiful eastern Washington landscape, in the shadow of Mt. Adams, and dine on a hearty breakfast when you are done! Tickets $20 including breakfast. Family rate $50 for as many people as you want as long as you live in the same household.

Maryhill Museum hosts their season opening celebration There will be guided gallery talks throughout the day, rooftop tours for a closer look at the recent stucco restoration project and fabulous Gorge views, followed by a festive evening part from 5 to 8 pm. Enjoy wine pourings from Maryhill Winery, hors d’oeuvres and dancing to the jazz sounds of the Underwood Jazz Society with Mike Stillman and Friends. Cost: $35 for museum members, $45 for non-members.

Roller Derby is back. The Gorge Roller Girls All Stars will hit the flat track and face off against the Palouse River Rollers from Pullman, in one of the most anticipated matchups of the Gorge Roller Girls 2017 season. Doors open at 5 pm, action starts at 6 at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center. Tickets $10.50 online, $13 at the door.

Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament Saturday at Clock Tower Ales. The event is a fundraiser for the Columbia Basin Rodeo Club youth. Check in starts at 5:15 pm with game starting at 6:00 pm. $50.00 buy in with re-buys available


The public is invited to celebrate St. Joseph’s Day Sunday with a dinner at St. Peter’s Parish Center, 1222 West 10th Street in The Dalles. Dinner from 4 pm to 6 pm Sunday. Admission $5 per person, $15 per family. All proceeds will benefit the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.

Washington State 14th District legislators to hold telephone town hall March 28

Sen. Curtis King and Reps. Gina McCabe and Norm Johnson will hold a telephone town hall Tuesday, March 28, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The lawmakers encourage those residing within the 14th District to join them for a community conversation to discuss bills and issues before the state Legislature.

To participate, residents should call (509) 204-7030 at the start of the event. Those who have questions during the event may press the star key on their telephones.

Residents unable to participate in the call are encouraged to contact the legislators directly using the following information:

For Sen. King — curtis.king@leg.wa.gov | (360) 786-7626
For Rep. McCabe — gina.mccabe@leg.wa.gov | (360) 786-7856
For Rep. Johnson — norm.johnson@leg.wa.gov | (360) 786-7810

The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn April 23.