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Local legislators predictably unhappy with results of long session in Olympia

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The 59th session of the state Legislature came to a close April 24 after 105 days of wrangling and wrestling, and did so without going into extended session - as many predicted or feared.

According to Rep. Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, finishing on time was one of the few things the Democrat-dominated Legislature did.

"I'm glad it was finished on time because it prevented any further bad things for tax payers," Roach said. "This was an unfortunate session for tax payers."

All three 31st District legislators supported the capital budget, which included a low-interest loan of nearly $10 million for Enumclaw's sewer project and improvements to the Green River Community College.

But the other two budget bills were not supported by the district politicians.

An $8 million transportation bill funded by a 9.5 cent gas tax over four years picked up "no" votes from all three, although with some reservations

"This was not an easy vote," Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps said. "There were a lot of good things about the transportation bill."

Roach said $121 million would be spent on projects in the area, including $13.5 million to widen state Route 410 between 214th and 234th Avenue East.

"I'm not upset with the projects," Roach said. "It's the size of the gas tax. That's too much for people in our district. And there is a huge chunk going for the (Alaska Way) viaduct and state Route 520 bridge. There were no toll discussions or dialogue about other options to pay for those two projects."

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, described the session as one of the most difficult she has experience with Democrats in control of all three branches of the government.

"A lot of issues were lost," Roach said. "I was very involved in election reform. Some of the less controversial things were accomplished, like provisional ballots will be a different size and color, but new voter registration, photo ID and proof of citizenship were not adopted."

Shabro pointed to HB 2266, the anti-methamphetamine bill, as a success of the 59th Legislature.

"The meth bill was a pretty good bill," Shabro said. "What I liked was putting the medication used in meth production behind the counter and limiting the packages from three to two. It's difficult to enforce and it won't cure the problem. Until we stop organized cartels and the market it will continue."

All three legislators voted against the $26 billion state operating budget, which passed the House 56-42 April 24 and the Senate 25-22.

Gov. Christine Gregoire has until May 17 to sign the budget bills.

"She has not done an in-depth review of the budget yet," Deputy Communications Director Jerry Gilliland said. "She will go through it line by line and it will probably be pending until May 17."

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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