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Across our state

We, the People

BY JERRI HONEYFORD

This past Monday the Legislature convened at noon for its annual session. This is the short-session year lasting 60 days, which occurs on alternate years opposite the longer budget-making session. The shorter sessions are for fine-tuning what was done a year ago and for another look at current problems.

One of the current issues will be help for individuals and groups impacted by the increase in energy costs. Perennial issues will again resurface.

As I observed the opening ceremonies, I thought how little is evident to those watching in the galleries. In fact, they left quite quickly after the show of colors and the opening prayer and welcome. It's what is happening in the minds and hearts of those working on the floor that we, the people must follow. An incredible juxtaposition follows.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to help judge several high school groups in a civics education project called We, the People. The students prepared responses to previously-sent questions concerning our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. They had to give historical background, case studies, quotes from founding fathers, and current applications. Then these high school juniors and seniors had to answer questions from the judges about their presentations.

I was amazed at the study they had already done and their ability to verbally defend and delineate our freedoms. I felt assured that students are being helped to become informed and articulate citizens. I wanted to tell their teachers and parents how much I appreciate their interest and support.

I am convinced that more high schools should be a part of this national program. The winning team from Tahoma High School will go on to Washington D.C. in May to compete in the national contest.

What are the rest of we, the people, doing? Do we vote and then let our elected officials take over from there, or are we giving input and testimony for the issues that impact our families, farms and progress as a State and the United States?

Your letters and emails really do count. There is a legislative hotline for the State for those urgent issues. that number is 800-562-6000.

That's the plea for this session. I will again try to bring you stories about the people, places and issues Across Our State, and I am open to suggestions. Our telephone number is in the book. Please call with ideas!

Jerri Honeyford, wife of Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), presents her Across Our State column as a means to keep local residents informed on what is currently happening in Olympia.

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