Last week, Senator Mike Padden traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a White House conference focused on issues affecting Washington and Oregon. The conference included state and local policy makers from the Pacific Northwest, with Sen. Padden representing the Washington State Senate.
During the conference, attendees heard presentations from a variety of federal leaders including Douglas Hoelscher, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of White House Intergovernmental Affairs, Anthony Bedell, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Secretary Ryan Zinke of the U.S. Department of Interior.
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Of key significance for Padden were the conversations centered around wildfire prevention.
“I was especially interested in Secretary Zinke’s discussion of wildfire management, considering it hasn’t even been three months since the Upriver Beacon Fire in Spokane County caused the evacuation of nearly 800 homes and evacuation warnings for thousands more,” said Padden.
Padden says Secretary Zinke discussed his support for mechanical thinning and prescribed burns as forest management tools to prevent wildfires.
Also of key importance for those in the Pacific Northwest is earthquake preparedness and response. Secretary Zinke recommended the utilization of early-detection beacons as a warning system for earthquakes.
Joining the conference as surprise guests were Vice President Pence who discussed state responsibilities and the 10th Amendment, and Kellyanne Conway who gave an update on the opioid crisis.
“So many issues that affect our citizens – from transportation to forest management – are either decided or influenced by the federal government,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “It is critical that we be able to work effectively with federal officials and know who to turn to when we have questions or need assistance for our constituents.”
“Overall, the trip was not only informative, but it was also a great opportunity to make contacts within the administration who may be helpful in the future,” added Padden.