For two years now, I have contacted all six of our legislators for a story previewing the state legislative session. For two years, I have had engaging, informative interviews with five out of six.
Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden, has not returned calls to his cell phone, emails to his legislative account, or (last year) calls to his legislative assistant. As a member of the fourth estate, which exists to make sure the government isn't abusing its citizens, I don't take lightly being shrugged off by publicly elected officials. It's their job to talk to me, as much as it is my job to talk to them. Their job is to give broad exposure to whatever it is they're doing on constituents' behalf.
But Overstreet hasn't cloistered himself entirely in Olympia. He sends newsletters to people who sign up for them online. I received his first of this legislative session last week. So, to make up for the absence of Overstreet news in my legislative preview article, here's a summary of what Overstreet had to say in his newsletter, followed by a link to the mailing itself in its entirety.
*** Overstreet was just appointed ranking Republican of the House Local Government Committee. He said he will use the position to ensure that local governments hold onto their due authority on issues such as growth management.
*** A couple points reveal Overstreet to be right of the state's mainstream Republicans. For one, he opposes a gas tax proposed by Republicans in the Senate. (Overstreet's newsletter says the Senate majority is proposing a 12.5-cent tax, but news reports peg it at 11.5 cents a gallon. In any case, the 26-member Senate majority probably couldn't get the 25 votes needed to approve a transportation package that included the tax.)
*** Overstreet is lining up with most Republicans and conservative groups, accusing Gov. Jay Inslee of potentially adopting a low-carbon fuel standard by executive order, whether he says he is or not. Such a standard, these groups and Overstreet point out, would cost more than a dollar a gallon, according to studies collected last year by Inslee's Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup.
*** Overstreet opposes what he calls the "abortion mandate" bill (what Democrats tend to call the Reproductive Parity Act, and what is generically referred to as the bill "concerning health plan coverage for the voluntary termination of a pregnancy"). He also will oppose any gun-control legislation, and he decried House passage of the Dream Act on the first day of session because he said there was no opportunity for public input. The House passed the bill 71 to 23, with the help of 16 Republicans.
... That wasn't so painful, was it? I would encourage Overstreet to think of talking to the media as like going to the dentist. No fun, but good for you. Or think of the media as Michael Crabtree, and yourself as Richard Sherman. When Crabtree comes calling, Sherman doesn't back down, does he?