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Legislative session to commence
By Dennis Box
The second half of the 59th state legislative session begins noon Monday in Olympia and the 31st District politicians are ready to roll.
The 60-day session that ends March 9 is the short version where the budget is tweaked and tickled. This year appears to be a bit merrier with Gov. Christine Gregoire reporting a projected increase in revenues due to an improving economy.
Gregoire is asking for “targeted investment” in early learning, high school standards, emergency preparedness, energy assistance and Puget Sound clean up.
With Democrats in control of all three branches of the state government, the three Republicans who represent the 31st District, Rep. Jan Shabro (Lake Tapps), Rep. Dan Roach (Bonney Lake) and Sen. Pam Roach (Auburn), will be keeping a close eye on the spending.
“I hope it is conservative,” Shabro said. “We need more money in the emergency fund. It has been so under funded the last few years and I've been very concerned about it.”
Shabro said she was happy to hear the governor was intending to begin paying into the state pension plan.
“That can come back to bite us if we don't keep that fund up,” Shabro said.
The representative said she hopes to see extra funds directed toward school children who score too low on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).
Shabro also said she expects $3.9 million will go toward the construction of the City of Buckley sewage treatment plan. The money is originating from the state's Department of Social and Health Services budget for Rainier School.
A bill outlawing teak surfing, which has claimed the life of several people over the years on Lake Tapps, will be co-sponsored by Shabro. Teak surfing is when floaters hold on to the back of a moving boat
The representative said she will be one of the prime sponsors of a collective bargaining agreement bill for childcare providers.
Sen. Roach noted the economy in Washington has taken longer to bounce back than most states, but she sees some good news ahead.
“We need to be cautious and not spend everything,” Roach said. “But there are going to be new expenses.”
Roach would like to see some monies spent on sex offender bills she he supporting.
“We need to close the sentencing loopholes on sex offenders and I think this is gathering steam,” Roach said. “Penalties for violent sex offenders should be 25 years to life and if there is murder, the death penalty.”
Roach said she supports a bill to require all level three offenders to be monitored with a global positioning system bracelet for life.
The senator noted the bill would address the problem of “homeless sex offenders” who do not report a place of residence, although the law requires it.
Rep. Roach said he will be introducing legislation to combat identity theft.
“It's not like a guy who walks down the street and beats someone up,” Roach said. “These guys are hard to find and they don't do the time they should. A bank robber gets caught and he'll probably go to prison. An identity theft person can steal $200,000 and get nothing. ”
Roach would like to increase penalties and add funding for more officers to improve enforcement.
Another important issue for Roach will be introducing a new tax and spending limit bill.
“Basically, Initiative 601 worked well, but it is now totally gone,” Roach said. “It's been changed over the years and this last year put the nail in the coffin.”
Both representatives and the senator are up for re-election in the November general election.
Dennis Box can be reached at email@example.com.