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Over the past two months, our Tonasket school and community have been impacted by several student issues ranging from the death of an elementary student to drug use, depression and self-harm. Unfortunately, these are issues that impact our community and schools too often.

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A ruling in Okanogan County over the Carlton Complex wildfire and the state’s related culpability highlights a dangerous double standard in Washington state: While private residents and commercial landowners can be held liable when fire starting on their property spreads onto other lands, the state Department of Natural Resources cannot be held liable.

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Earlier this week I received a letter to the editor exploring the idea of consolidating two local school districts. After reading the letter I was quick to ask other Chronicle employees their take on the idea. Some said it would be a financial benefit. Others, however, said there’s no way it would work.

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Would you cast a yes vote for the upcoming Omak School District levy if you knew we would raise about a million dollars of local money that would be matched by $6 million from the state?

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My letter to our community is to serve two purposes, first and foremost to encourage our voters to support the current bond effort of the Omak Schools and second, correct misinformation published recently in a letter from Mr. Jim Miller of Omak.

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Clearing dead trees and debris from the forest floor reduces the risk of massive wildfires that pump millions of tons of carbon-dioxide into the air.

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The Senate should approve the Resilient Federal Forests Act, requiring the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of federal forests and rangelands.

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Threatening to block funding for national defense in order to end current budget limits for domestic spending is irresponsible.

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Black Rock could become more than just an irrigation reservoir; it would ease the demand to divert water from the Yakima River for irrigation, leaving more water in the river, which would raise stream flows, which in turn would improve salmon and steelhead habitat.

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"Obamacare" horror stories in Central Washington continue to raise questions about the uncertainty and dramatic cost increases for families and businesses.

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The U.S. must play by the rules we agreed to with our biggest trading partners and export markets. Time is running out to avoid the costly penalty of trade sanctions. I’m urging the Senate to repeal mandatory labeling requirements.

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To negotiate the best trade deals possible and open overseas markets to American exporters, Congress should approve trade promotion authority.

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While the protection and management of state trust lands must always come first, I will continue to work with our community to ensure appropriate use of these lands.

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In Olympia these days, lawmakers are high-centered in a second special session over the budget to operate the state for the next two years. The stalemate has come down to the choice of raising taxes or funding government with current revenues.

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Rather than put ourselves in the drought same predicament as California, why not look at alternatives, such as pumped water storage along the Columbia River.

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Congress can and should reverse the EPA and Corps effort to expand federal control over waterways and restore sensible collaboration with states and local stakeholders to protect our waters.

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As Americans, we must honor the memory of the brave and the fallen, not just on Memorial Day, but every day.

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After the alarming revelations of the NSA’s bulk-collection of phone call data, the Freedom Act reforms strike a much-needed balance between the need for intelligence agencies to operate effectively and the need to safeguard privacy rights of Americans.

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While the government can make it easier for our food bank system to flourish, the real success is due to the hard work of the individuals who donate and volunteer. We all have the ability to donate our time and resources and be part of neighbors helping neighbors.

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The big ships are coming. The question is, will they dock in Seattle or Tacoma or head north to Canada or pass us by sailing through the Panama Canal to U.S. ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard?

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Politicians must be mindful of the impact high taxes and other business costs have on the majority of our state. Second, elected officials need to be vigilant — competitors are looking for ways to rob our state of its businesses and jobs.

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Rather than applaud association health plans for providing coverage, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is moving against them, stripping people of their coverage. In these uncertain times when the Affordable Care Act is struggling and key parts of it are being challenged in court, that just doesn’t make sense.

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The old model of health care as simply a business of revenue versus expense is inherently flawed, where “revenue” is a sick patient. It certainly cannot be fixed solely by cutting the portion of “expenses” that is the team who cares for the patient. Unless both patients and providers stand up for the community, that is exactly what will continue to happen.

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Stopping rail shipments of crude oil and hazardous cargo is not a viable option. It is better to strengthen railroad beds, replace aging track and bridges, enact better safety standards, increase inspections, continue to train emergency responders and invest in new technology and modern equipment.

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Like the coffee vendor in the lobby of Trump Tower, they’re not global business magnates, they’re small business owners trying to make a living. Seattle politicians should treat them as such.

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If we truly want to help people move up the economic ladder, isn’t it better to provide incentives that reward them for getting the education and skills they’ll need in order to succeed?

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Finding enough clean fresh water is a worldwide challenge as population, food production and industries expand. That’s a long-term issue, but for now, competing interests in our state must find ways to avert what is going on in California.

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As a farmer, I understand the extent to which Central Washington depends on a steady supply chain to export those goods. The full impact of the port slowdown on future business has yet to be felt, and it will come at a high cost.

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June 14th commemorates “Flag Day,” a day when millions of Americans, schools, government buildings, businesses, and grave sites will display the symbol that captures the spirit of American ideals and freedoms – the American flag.

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The month of June brings a stream of graduation ceremonies and festivities. It is truly a rewarding and exciting time for graduates and their families as personal struggles are overcome and goals are reached.

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President Obama is expected to announce a new set of regulations to limit carbon emissions from coal-powered power plants – the nation’s single largest source of affordable electricity. The impact won’t hit just coal; these regulations will affect every energy user, including you.

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Billy Frank Jr. and Stu Bledsoe came from very different backgrounds, yet their friendship and determination laid the groundwork for what today is known as the Forests and Fish agreement. Those accords paved the way to revitalized wild salmon habitats, cleaner water and better forest management.

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Each month I receive thousands of emails, phone calls, letters, tweets and Facebook messages. Here are a few questions I have received recently: What is being done to hold former IRS official, Lois Lerner, and the Obama Administration accountable for their continued overreaching actions? When concerns were raised about IRS officials targeting conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, several House Committees – including the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which I serve on – began investigating. Unfortunately, when Ms. Lerner testified in May 2013 and again in March, she refused to answer questions or shed light on the necessary information to evaluate the degree of wrongdoing by the IRS. Congress has a clear constitutional duty to conduct robust oversight of the executive branch and to ensure the laws are being faithfully executed. Given her ongoing refusal to cooperate, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted earlier this month to hold Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress. The motion will now go before the full House of Representatives for approval. As the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, I have overseen numerous investigations into the Obama Administration and can tell you firsthand that it is failing to live up to its promise of being the most open and transparent administration in history. What is Congress doing to get more Americans back to work? House Republicans’ focus remains on creating jobs and growing our economy. One common sense way to support small business job creators is to eliminate burdensome red tape and excessive government regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. The House passed several bills to halt some of the Obama Administration’s most damaging regulations and ensure Congress gets final say on new rules that will have a major impact on the economy. In addition, the House has passed a number of bipartisan measures to create jobs and unlock America’s energy potential – including approving the Keystone pipeline, which is shovel-ready and has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs. Finally, the House is working to eliminate barriers to trade by creating new opportunities for our growers and manufacturers to compete in a global marketplace, and we are working to fix the tax code to improve competitiveness. Rep. Doc Hastings represents Washington’s 4th Congressional District, including part of Okanogan County.

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Once more, the Tonasket Food Bank may have to find a new home. Our board of directors are faced with a choice of finding another location or purchasing the building currently used.

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Every year, the federal government issues hundreds of burdensome regulations, covering everything from domestic energy production to the specific types of light bulbs you can buy to the dust found on a farm.

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A story about the Soroptimists Sharing Tree published on the front page of the Dec. 15 edition of The Chronicle has generated some questions about who benefitted from donated gifts. I would like to clear up any misconceptions.

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The Coulee Dam elections were a clear mandate for change — for a different way of serving, for more transparency, for more concern and hopefully for more citizen involvement.

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During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts but donating our time and money to charities and community programs.

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As we count down to the holidays and a new year and a new legislative session, we have been busier than ever, finding innovative and cost-effective ways to better serve the people of Washington.

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For nearly 50 years, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree has been a holiday tradition in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to say this is the second time a tree from Washington state has been selected as the Capitol Christmas Tree.

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As your representative to the United States Congress, one of my highest priorities is providing service and assistance to those who call Central Washington home.

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