South County Politics: Legislators’ priorities for 2018 session

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State Sen. Guy Palumbo

State Sen. Palumbo says Legislature needs to finish on time

Democratic State Sen. Guy Palumbo says that the most important task for legislators during the 60-day legislative session that started Jan. 8 is to finish its work on time.

“Our first priority is to get our job done on time and in the most transparent way possible,” Palumbo said in December. “After the last five years of special session after special session, Democrats will show that we can govern efficiently.”

Democrats took a 25-24 majority in the Senate after a Democrat won a November special election for a seat previously held by a Republican. Democrats already held a 50-48 majority in the State House of Representatives.

In the first two weeks of the 2018 session, the legislature completed two of the tasks that topped the list of priorities that Palumbo cited in early December.

The first was passing a capital budget. The capital budget uses the state’s bonding authority to pay for buildings and other capital projects around the state. This year’s capital budget includes money for improvements at Mountlake Terrace Elementary School and for updated ADA ramps in Brier.

The legislature failed to pass a capital budget in last year’s 105-day session or in three 30-day special sessions because the Democratic-controlled House and the then-Republican-controlled Senate couldn’t agree on an unrelated matter that involved fixing issues stemming from an unpopular State Supreme Court decision on rural water rights.

When the legislature finally passed a capital budget in mid-January Palumbo said it would create jobs and provide infrastructure important to communities across his district.

Palumbo represents the 1st Legislative District, including most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell, north Kirkland, unincorporated areas of King County between Bothell and Kirkland, and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County north and east of Bothell.

Before legislators passed the capital budget, they accomplished the second of Palumbo’s objectives when they passed a bill to address the State Supreme Court’s ruling on water rights.

The Senate took a major step toward achieving Palumbo’s third objective when it approved the Washington Voting Rights Act. The Act now awaits action by a House committee. The Act would create mechanisms for minorities to settle districting complaints without the expense of a federal lawsuit. In recent years, the House has passed the Act twice only to have it lose in the Senate.

Palumbo’s other goals include equal-pay legislation and campaign-finance reform, and addressing the effects of climate change in Washington.

Palumbo is vice chair of three Senate committees: the Local Government Committee, the committee on higher education and workforce development, and the committee on energy, environment and technology. He also is a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Comments from Democratic State Rep. Shelley Kloba, who also represents the 21st Legislative District, will come in a few days.

Kagi seeks legislation on placement for foster children and youth

Democratic State Rep. Ruth Kagi says that one of her top goals for the current legislative session is addressing what she says is a severe placement crisis for foster children and youth.

“With a shortage of foster parents and the loss of many residential providers due to low reimbursement rates, the state is struggling to find placements for children and youth, particularly those with serious mental and behavioral challenges,” she said in mid-January. “Far too many are staying in hotels with social workers, or being placed out of state. Increasing placement options is urgently needed.”

Kagi oversees foster-care legislation as chair of the House committee on early learning and human services. She also is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Environment Committee.

She said during the second week of the legislative session that her top priority was passing a capital budget, something that the legislature accomplished that same week. The capital budget pays for buildings and other capital projects.

“The budget includes funding for school construction, affordable housing, many community-based projects and the early-learning facilities fund that the legislature established last year,” she said Jan. 16.

Kagi also said that legislators would continue efforts to understand the impact of the State Supreme Court’s order that the state provide full support for public schools on local school districts and to correct unintended consequences.

“More funding is clearly needed in a number of areas, including special education and teacher salaries,” she said.

Kagi added, “Our commitment is to deal with many complex issues in this 60-day session, and adjourn on March 8.”

Kagi represents the 32nd Legislative District, including part of Mountlake Terrace along with all of Lynnwood, south Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas, the city of Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle.

To read about the priorities of Democratic 32nd District State Sen. Maralyn Chase and Democratic 32nd Legislative District Rep. Cindy Ryu, click here for a previous column.

–By Evan Smith
Evan Smith can be reached at [email protected].

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