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Legislators update bills and needs
Takings, teak surfing and WASL hot topics at Town Hall Meeting
By Dennis Box
Attendance at the 31st Legislative District Town Hall meeting suffered from the Friday windstorm, but local representatives didn't let the storm dampen their message.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, Rep. Dan Roach, R- Bonney Lake, and Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, gathered Saturday afternoon at the Enumclaw Public Library with about six people in the audience.
An earlier meeting in Bonney Lake at the Public Safety Building was relocated to Enumclaw due to the storm.
Sen. Roach kicked the meeting off with a discussion of the “takings law. This is what's going to happen here.”
Roach explained the taking law, which is a form of eminent domain, as “taking private property and giving it to private entities. Taking an old building for new condos. I predict that is what will happen.”
Roach said she voted in favor of the Senate budget this year, “whether I agree with all of if or not, I need some things for my district.”
Roach's teak surfing bill, Senate Bill 6364, passed the Senate 45-0 and has moved to the House. The proposed law would outlaw people from clinging to a swim platform of a moving boat. Two people have drowned from asphyxiation in Lake Tapps in the past three years.
The senator said she thought this bill had the best chance of reaching the governor's desk.
Shabro, the third ranking Republican in the House and a member of the Transportation Committee, said transportation continues to be “primary issue if we want to see the economy thrive. It is a $35 billion problem with the gas tax.”
The representative said during the 2005 session she was able to get funding for projects on every major road in the 31st District. Shabro pointed out two transportation items this session high on her list. Funds to move forward the design of a bypass route between state Route 164 and SR 18, which would relieve congestion on the SR 164 through Muckleshoot Indian Tribe land. Shabro is also seeking funds for the Regional Transportation Investment District, an effort by King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to target transportation needs across the region.
Shabro, a member of the Education Committee, said the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test, which the class of 2008 must pass, is an issue growing in significance in Olympia.
“What do we do for those students who don't pass?” Shabro said.
A few alternative measures being considered according to Shabro are:
Allowing students to graduate who have earned better grades than students who have passed the test.
Students who fail the WASL may be able to finish high school in a community college.
Accepting math scores from a national test, because the “math part of the WASL is flawed,” Shabro said.
Rep. Dan Roach spoke on the budget process moving through the House and Senate.
According to Roach, Democrats are asking for a 17 percent increase, “which is huge if you look at our revenue. Our economy is picking up, but late in the game compared to other states. We've seen a 10 percent increase in revenue, but a 17 percent increase in spending is not a good thing.”
Roach said a majority of the money the state is receiving is through the housing market, “at some point that will cool off. When we go back to session next year we will be in minus numbers again.”
Roach said he will be working to reinstate spending limits first seen in Initiative 601 which was passed in 1993.
“I want to make it more difficult for the legislators to dip in and spend money,” Roach said. “Currently there are no spending limits. A simple majority can raise your taxes.”
When first passed the initiative called for approval by voters or a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to exceed the spending limits.
Roach said since 1993 the bill has been amended and the limits removed.
Dennis Box can be reached at email@example.com.