In my work as your representative over the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many of you and your neighbors, listen to your concerns and learn about what issues affect your daily lives. 

From those conversations, it is clear the Legislature should support?a sustainable economy that?allows?all members of our community?to thrive.?

Our?state must?improve access to higher education and family-wage jobs, foster?economic development and recovery in rural communities and prioritize healthcare and our quality of life. 

This session, I am sponsoring legislation in each of these areas.

First, I plan to strengthen dual-credit programs that help students earn college credit while still in high school. I wrote House Bill 1760 so more working families can participate in Running Start and College in the High School. These proven programs accelerate learning and reduce college debt – and students should not be denied access based on the costs of textbooks or college fees. 

Quality educational opportunities lead to family-wage jobs, which is why I’m sponsoring House Bill 1805. This legislation expands the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship and connects more rural students with valuable apprenticeship opportunities. 

Healthcare is critical for rural communities like ours. To improve the care you get, I sponsored House Bill 1733, which will strengthen the WA Cares Act. Seniors, the disabled and their families should not be forced to spend down their savings, go bankrupt or sell their homes to pay for long-term care. 

These improvements to the WA Cares Act will allow more Washingtonians to get the care they need to stay in their homes longer – which is better for everyone. I am also collaborating with local health providers, behavioral health experts and local officials to expand mental healthcare services in our community.

So many of you have spoken to me about protecting the environment and the Salish Sea. House Bill 1700 will create a more sustainable funding model to remove derelict vessels from our waterways – before they can cause environmental damage. 

I’m also working to modernize our state’s ferry system, including electrifying our ferry fleet. Doing so will reduce pollution and vessel noise and hybrid-electric ferries are less costly to maintain. That is good for both taxpayers and the environment. 

Finally, our district has one of the largest populations of veterans in the state. To better serve those who served our country, I am continuing my work to improve the lives for veterans, active duty servicemembers and their families. 

I’m especially proud to be sponsoring House Bill 1804, which will ensure that firefighters, police officers and other public servants who are awarded an expeditionary force medal will receive the retirement benefits they deserve. In addition, House Bill 1733 will allow military spouses and disabled veterans to voluntarily exempt themselves from WA Care premiums. 

Thanks to all who have taken the time to meet with me over the past year and help craft these community and legislative priorities. 

I believe civic and civil dialogue is vital to our American democracy. Please contact my office if you have questions, ideas, or want to share your or your family’s story.

Rep. Dave Paul has taught in higher education for more than 20 years. He and his wife live in Oak Harbor with their four children.