Opinion

Taxpayers were protected during legislative session | Editorial

This year, instead of raising taxes to balance the budget, Senate Republicans, with the help of three Senate Democrats, forced a compromise plan that made needed financial reforms without cutting education.

A protection for taxpayers came when Senate Republicans forced a plan to require a four-year fiscal outlook in budgeting. There will be no more counting chickens before they hatch.

This was an especially acrimonious session with sometimes blurred party lines and last-minute revelations. We spent 31 days in special session.

National Media In Josh Powell Case

The hottest issue for the state this year was the murder of Brayden and Charlie Powell by their father, who was the subject of an active murder investigation. I was the only one of 147 legislators to step forward with suggested system changes.

I hosted a press conference with grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, and their attorneys. With support of the Cox family I have introduced legislation to be considered next year.

This year, major changes in law were passed to stop human trafficking. I was part of a bipartisan team of 12 senators who introduced comprehensive reforms with the aim of stopping sex trafficking.

Human Trafficking Bills

My bill, SB 6257, adds “sexually explicit acts” to the crimes of trafficking and commercial sexual abuse of a minor. It was signed into law with the 11 other bills. We are the first in the nation to enact such tough legislation.

Saving Pensions In South Prairie

This session I worked closely with local leaders. When South Prairie Mayor Peggy Levesque had a critical employee pension issue I introduced SB 5950 (regulating nonstate pension plans offered by towns) which was signed by the governor.

Fire Commissioners Request

SB 6766 (addressing fire protection district commissioners) allows seven-member boards up from the current five. This bill was requested by EastPierce Fire and Rescue. Like some other consolidated districts it is now too large for a five member board to comfortably administer.

Protecting Rainier School

The protection of Rainier School continues to be a major focus. I asked for $3 million for renovations to be added to the Senate budget and it made its way to the governor’s desk. It is subject to veto by the governor.

If the state makes capital improvements then there is less of a chance the facility will be closed in the future.

I also put a reasonable $100,000 in the budget for funding of a vision statement for Rainier School as it relates to the local communities. The measure may have been sabotaged in the House when the amount was upped to $600,000. The higher amount is not needed and makes it a target for veto. If we lose the funds I will continue work on the project through my office.

The entire Pierce County legislative delegation supports the clients, employees and surrounding community in Buckley. Unfortunately, there are other forces, including DSHS, which want to close the facility.

Unemployment Concerns

I continue to hear from many who are still out of work and that concerns me deeply. I know what it is like as it happened to Jim and me when our kids were young. I will always remember what that was like.

The key to creating needed jobs is economic recovery. I continue to work for a better business climate that will provide job stability.

Accomplishments Noted

This session I received recognition from the Association of Washington Business for my work to improve the business climate.

I also received the “Key” award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government. And, on occasion, I am participating in their panel discussions. I continue to champion government accountability.

Last month, I was at American University in Maryland to receive an award from the Women and Politics Institute for leadership among women.

Barn Warming At Our Home

This summer, Jim and I plan an open house for our new barn. We now have room to have you all visit. Our new black Lab puppy will be waiting for you. Watch for a date.

As always, it is an honor to serve you. Please contact me with comments or concerns. My aide, Cheryl Marshall, and I help on a variety of issues.

Please see my blog on pamroachreport.blogspot.com, or call locally on 253-735-4210, or in Olympia at 360-786-7660.

Please have a safe summer.

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