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Lisa Brown on Issues Facing the Fifth Congressional District

Former WSU Spokane chancellor and state lawmaker Lisa Brown has announced her candidacy for Washington's Fifth Congressional District seat held by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Brown is a Democrat. She served in the Washington State legislature, both in the House and as Senate majority leader, before becoming chancellor at WSU Spokane.

Brown feels that her accomplishment in securing a medical school for WSU is a demonstration of her ability to work with others, something needed in Congress today.

“We put together a statewide, bipartisan, coalition of members of the House and Senate, and that’s the way we got the bill passed, and got the funding for the school, and that has been my experience in the state legislature, and I would take that experience to Congress, that you have to listen and find common ground.”

Brown says she has spent the summer visiting a number of communities, including the timber counties in the northeast, which are suffering economic hardship, and the farmlands of Walla Walla, where agriculture has an uncertain future. She says, most of all, the people she has spoken with are concerned with healthcare, specifically the plan the Republican House passed to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I literally haven’t found anyone who supports it," Brown said. "Rural hospitals, doctors, patient advocates, a lot of concern.”

Brown says she believes the House bill was more of a budget cutting bill than health care legislation, and says many facets of ACA have been good for eastern Washington.

“We were able to create coverage for thousands of people who had not had coverage before, and not shift the cost of their coverage in the same way it happened before to other people’s rates through emergency care, etc.,” she said.

Brown says major reductions in Medicaid spending in the Republican bill would have spelled big trouble for enrollees, including members of the military and families with disabled members.

When it comes to the timber based economy of the Inland Northwest, Brown touts the efforts of the Northwest Forest Coalition, a group comprised of the industry and conservation groups that are striving to find common ground on both forest health and promoting a vibrant timber industry.

“The problem is the Forest Service is saying we don’t have any money, we can’t afford to implement," she said. "Well, that’s a thing a member of Congress can really roll up her sleeves and get involved in, and that’s something that would be a top priority for me.”

Brown is also concerned about the state’s agriculture industry. She cites the Walla Walla area, with a booming wine industry, and says there is uncertainty in the future, in part because of the ambiguity in the nation’s immigration policy.

“Knowing that someone would represent them in Congress that would get engaged in the issue, I would put my name in to be on the Agriculture Committee. There’s no one from Washington on the committee right now, and as an economist myself, I would really look forward to understanding what’s in the best interests for Washington’s farmers, and advocating for them.”

You can hear a longer version the interview with Lisa Brown on the program, Inland Journal, on our sister station, KSFC, on Thursday at 5 PM.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.