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July 1, 2004

Message from the Governor

Our international trade mission to Mexico last week was a resounding success. The delegates on the mission project $6 million in new sales during the next 12 months as a result of the mission. That’s great news for Washington businesses, farmers and workers.

Gov. Locke and Vicente Fox, President of Mexico

Trade success depends on good relationships, not just transactions. Much of our time in Mexico was spent in meetings and discussions with Mexico’s government, business and agricultural leaders. We renewed and advanced friendships, strengthened partnerships, identified mutually beneficial opportunities and worked out differences. It was an extremely intense and very productive agenda. Our agricultural and business representatives made key new contacts and developed solid leads and potential sales.

I met with Mexican President Vicente Fox, Secretary of Economy Fernando Canales and Secretary of Agriculture Javier Usabiaga to discuss issues of concern to Washington growers. One such issue is extremely high tariffs on U.S. apples. We were assured that we could expect this issue to be resolved in the very near future.

Quote of the Week
“Our face-to-face meetings with the government, business and agricultural leaders of Mexico opened doors of opportunity for Washington businesses and farmers. That will mean more jobs and a boost for our state’s economy.”
—Governor Locke, June 28, 2004

We also made progress in opening additional Mexican markets for fresh Washington potatoes. We continued to work on getting Washington cherries into Mexico. And I especially enjoyed handing out samples of Washington apples to shoppers during our visits to markets in Mexico City and Guadalajara. The great taste of our state’s produce translates perfectly all over the world!

The businesses on the mission returned with direct contacts in Mexico and significant prospects for future sales and potential clients.

Gov. Locke promoting Washington apples in Mexico

Some secured orders and anticipate immediate further sales as a direct result of the mission. Others viewed the mission as a huge step into markets their companies would not otherwise have been able to enter. Making the necessary contacts individually can take years and be cost-prohibitive for most businesses. But by acting collectively, our state's delegation has the credibility and commitment needed to open doors and prompt key discussions.

This was a great week for Washington state and Mexico, as trade partners and friends. Thank you to the members of the Washington state delegation for working so hard to make the trade mission a success for everyone in our state.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Improving Risk Management
Governor Locke and Attorney General Gregoire announced on June 30 that the three-year drive to reduce Washington state government’s exposure to lawsuits is showing positive results. Steps recommended in 2001 by the Risk Management Task Force have led to a growing trend of measurable improvements in the way state government manages liability risk. “We’re turning the tide of rising liability costs,” the Governor said. “We are making great progress despite being one of only a handful of states without immunity from damage suits. And we are successfully dealing with the impacts of decisions by courts in our state that have greatly expanded state liability.” Results so far include a decrease in the state’s insurance deductible without an increase in premiums, greater success in defending against tort lawsuits by the Office of the Attorney General, and improving independent forecasts of current and future liability claim costs.

At the Heart of DSHS Services
A large portion of the Washington State Heart Gallery exhibit, which features compelling photographic portraits of children, teens, adults, families and seniors supported by Department of Social and Health Services programs, is now available online. The Virtual Heart Gallery is available on the Washington State Heart Gallery Web site. The goal of The Heart Gallery is to inspire the public to help those supported by DSHS and its partners. Individuals can help by serving as adoptive and foster families, mentors for at-risk teens, and caregivers and companions to elderly people and people with disabilities. Other ways to help include supporting the Governor's Scholarship Fund for youth in foster care, hiring people with developmental disabilities, and providing respite care for families of people with developmental disabilities.

No More "Surprises" on Gifts Cards
Washington consumers who purchase gift cards have greater protection under a new law Governor Locke signed this year. The new law went into effect July 1. Gift certificates or gift cards issued after July 1, 2004, may no longer contain an expiration date, assess an inactivity charge or include a service fee. In exchange, retailers are no longer required to report unused portions of gift cards to the state as unclaimed property. “I am pleased gift card buyers and recipients will no longer have to worry about losing the value of their cards,” the Governor said.

Keeping Children Safe this Summer
The Department of Health has issued a new report to help keep children safe on the water. Each year an average of 27 Washington children under the age of 18 drown, most in open water such as lakes, rivers, ponds or creeks. Another 30 children in Washington are hospitalized annually after nearly drowning. Drowning deaths of Washington children are highest in the summer and peak in August. The Child Drowning Prevention Report reviewed 67 deaths of children who drowned between 1999 and 2001, and found that only two were wearing life jackets at the time of death. The study focuses on preventing drowning through increasing life jacket use, supervising children around water, creating physically safe water environments, emphasizing water safety, raising community and personal awareness of drowning risk factors, and improving data collection efforts.

Upcoming Events
7/4: Naturalization Ceremony, Seattle
7/7: Weekly News Conference, Olympia
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