The 31st District Legislators convened in Olympia Jan. 13 for the 2014 session, which is scheduled to end March 13.
This is a short session, the second year of the biennial budget cycle. The two-year state budget is written and approved in odd years during the long session and adjusted in even years during the 60-day, short session.
In the next two editions of the Courier-Herald, Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater and Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, will be responding to issues concerning the district and state.
1. What are the top issues you believe should be addressed during the legislative session?
Roach: In 2012, 73 percent of us supported Initiative 1185, which required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to raise state-level taxes. The state Supreme Court quickly overturned the two-thirds rule, saying voters needed to amend the Constitution to get it. I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 8205 to allow voters to make the change. We need to put SJR 8205 on the November ballot.
2. What is your No. 1 concern in the session that is facing either our district or state?
Roach: Last year I helped put $15.2 billion in K-12 education for 2013-15 – $1.6 billion, or 11 percent, more than before – without requiring a general tax increase. While we will continue to increase school funding, we need to focus on jobs and the economy. Invigorating our economy will help families and communities. I support measures that educate workers, reduce regulatory burdens and lower small-business taxes. We need to get people back to work.
3. Discuss any issue you would like to address that those in the district should be aware of concerning the legislative session.
Roach: Our 25-year-old Growth Management Act has never been reviewed. As chair of the Government Operations Committee, I am leading that effort.
An example of concern is building schools in Black Diamond. At the ballot, Enumclaw School District voters are going to be asked to tax themselves hundreds of dollars a year to build six new schools in Black Diamond. Voting for new schools in another community poses a big problem that we should not be facing.
The Black Diamond development shows the need for reform, but there has been little real attention brought to this issue.