The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By State Senator Mark Schoesler
Ninth District 

Legislative Commentary: July 25, 2019


Dear Friends,

I have to believe each of us can come up with at least one example of “I remember where I was when…” with the “when” being an important moment in history. I have several, and the 50th anniversary of one is tomorrow: man’s first landing on the moon.

In July 1969 the media landscape was very different. I’d guess most families had a television set – meaning one set only, receiving maybe three channels (one affiliated with each of that era’s major networks), selected by turning a dial on the front of the box. But a color TV was a luxury, so the surest place to find one was at a local store that sold TVs. Those stores typically weren’t open at 8 on a Sunday night, but because the Apollo 11 mission had captured the world’s attention (as the photo from another city shows), the store in downtown Ritzville (most people would know it as Bob’s TV) allowed a few friends to come by -- so that’s where my folks and I were when Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon’s surface. Where were you?

I don’t know where Roger Thieme was the day of the first lunar landing, but in 1969 he was already a few years into running the farm implement business he founded in Othello. Earlier this month I spent part of a morning in Othello to witness the naming of the Roger Thieme Career Center there. It was a well-deserved honor for a longtime, recently retired businessman who is still active in his community.

There is still time before wheat harvest to travel in and around the 9th District, so while these past couple of weeks didn’t bring another one-day, 275-mile trip like the circuit I followed Independence Day, I’m continuing to put some wear on the tires. There was the July 5 memorial in Spokane County for Patsy Prince, widow of former 9th District Sen. Eugene Prince, and a run to Spokane on July 8 that included catching up with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

In between I traded my “senator hat” for a fishing hat, so to speak, and a three-generation expedition (me, son Cody and granddaughter Macy) to Pacific Lake near Odessa. I’m pleased to report the lake is still holding water, after having been dry for many years, and we were successful in reducing the population of rainbow trout!

My Othello visit was July 9, and a week ago I headed to the heart of the Palouse for Old Mill Days in Oakesdale. It had been some years since I’d been to Old Mill Days but the festivities and camaraderie were every bit as good as I remembered; as a bonus I met with community leaders about historical preservation and economic development.

On Monday of this week, on the way to the Capitol for the next day’s meeting of the Select Committee on Pension Policy, I detoured to Yakima to update the Washington State Trucking Association about the 2019 session. The trucking industry, which has many customers in Washington agriculture, is very concerned about two of the governor’s pet ideas: the proposed low-carbon fuel standard that would have trucking companies (and the rest of us) paying more at the pump without seeing any associated road improvements, and the “carbon tax” that is simply another government money grab.

New fee on wineries is unnecessary

Before heading for home from the pension-committee meeting Tuesday I had the director of the state Department of Ecology in for a conversation about some concerns brought to me by constituents. High on the list was Ecology’s decision to hit winemakers with a new wastewater fee starting late this month – a fee that was set just a few weeks ago!

This fee is just as unnecessary as all the new taxes imposed this year by the Democratic majority in the Legislature, and even worse from the standpoint that the elected representatives of the people had no say about it.

Ecology admits it can’t document a single case of pollution caused by winery wastewater, and the only benefit of the fee that the department can point to is – amazingly – the economic effect of creating more government jobs! I won’t go into detail about what I said to the director, but the bottom line is that I strongly encouraged the reconsideration of this decision.


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