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Rep. Appleton appointed to Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs
OLYMPIA – State Rep. Sherry Appleton was appointed last week to a seat on the Washington state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs.
Appleton, a Poulsbo Democrat who was honored as Outstanding Legislator of the Year in 2011 by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Governor’s Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, has represented the 23rd Legislative District and its heavy concentration of active-duty and retired military families since 2005.
At the time of that award, the department commended Appleton for her as her years of often-behind-the-scenes work on behalf of the state’s approximately 700,000 military veterans, describing her as “a long-time supporter of veteran initiatives and friend to veterans throughout the state. She has supported many veteran bills, including one to provide property tax relief to disabled veterans.”
“I’m grateful to Speaker [Frank] Chopp for this appointment, and excited by the opportunity to keep the needs of our veterans and military personnel in the forefront of lawmakers’ minds and agendas,” Appleton said this week.
"It’s so easy to say ‘Thank you for your service,’ and it’s important to do so. But actions speak far louder than words," she added. "I want the actions of this state government to clearly show how much we value the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.”
Appleton’s appointment comes at the end of a legislative session in which she played a big role in working with veterans’ groups to help them achieve a long-time goal. In December 2012, well before the seating of the 2013-14 Legislature, Appleton introduced her bill waiving the 12-month residency requirement for veterans to qualify for in-state college tuition rates. That bill, HB 1011, was approved 98-0 by the House but stalled in the Republican-led Senate.
Lawmakers then learned that a member of the Senate majority party was demanding that her own in-state tuition bill – introduced two months after Appleton’s – be the one to receive the Legislature’s blessings. Otherwise, both bills would die.
As the end of the 2014 session drew near, Appleton told a reporter, “Someone has to be the adult in the room,” and urged her House colleagues to OK the Senate version rather than jeopardize veterans’ chances to go to college here in Washington. As she said in her floor speech, “Occasionally, who gets the credit ... becomes more important than the results themselves. When I go to bed tonight, I will sleep well knowing that we valued this policy for our veterans more than we did politics.”
Policy before politics is the mission of the Veterans’ and Military Affairs Committee that Appleton now joins. As stated on its web site, the bipartisan committee was “formed for the purpose of studying and exploring veterans’ and military issues. The committee provides a venue for concepts and ideas to be introduced, vetted and perfected, and makes recommendations resulting from those concepts and ideas to the Legislature.”
A Poulsbo resident for the last three decades, Appleton is the widow of a distinguished Korean War veteran, Ron Appleton. She chairs the House Committee on Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs, which deals with veterans’ issues in the Legislature.