South County Politics: Palumbo, Kloba, Kagi look back on productive legislative session

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Democratic State Sen. Guy Palumbo and Reps. Shelley Kloba and Ruth Kagi describe the 2018 legislative session as productive.

Palumbo and Kloba represent most of Mountlake Terrace, all of Brier and Bothell and the rest of the 1st Legislative District. Kagi represents part of Mountlake Terrace, along with Lynnwood, south Edmonds, Shoreline and the rest of the 32nd Legislative District.

State Sen. Guy Palumbo

Palumbo’s comments:

“It was widely reviewed as one of the most productive short sessions in recent years, and we did our work on time without the need for a special session.”

(Note: The 60-day short sessions are held in even-numbered years, when the legislature writes supplements to the biennial budgets that it adopts in 105-day sessions in odd-numbered years.)

Palumbo noted the creation of “a great budget” that met the obligations of the State Supreme Court decision that requires the legislature to provide full financial support for the state’s public schools and also the mental-health requirements from another case; and it paid for state grants to make college affordable while providing a statewide property-tax cut in 2019, all while increasing no taxes.

Rep. Shelley Kloba

Kloba lists accomplishments from the 2018 session

Kloba noted these accomplishments from the 2018 session that she is excited about:

  • The 2018 Capital Budget: “It included money for the Mountlake Terrace Main Street project.”
  • I-405 – “The Supplemental Transportation Budget directed money from tolls toward accelerating improvements to the section of I-405 that struggles the most to meet the performance metrics.”
  • Higher Education – “The money for need grants helps the 20,000 students who qualify but do not receive aid.”
  • Better Access to Healthcare through legislation that allows for six visits with no insurance pre-authorization for physical, occupational, or massage therapy as well as acupuncture and chiropractic.
Rep. Ruth Kagi

Kagi says she leaves after ‘positive’ session

Kagi, who announced in March at the end of the session that she will not run for another term, said that she went to the legislature to reform foster care, increase the quality and funding for child care, and reform our drug laws. With the passage of one last bill this session, providing predictability and stability for child-welfare funding, I feel I have done what I came to do and it’s time to move on.

“It was gratifying to end my service with such a positive and productive session,” Kagi said in early April. “This year, our budget continued to invest in public schools.”

She added that while the McCleary case that requires the legislature to provide full financial support for the state’s public schools may be in the rear-view mirror, the work to provide educational opportunities for all children is far from over.

“The legislature will need to adopt progressive revenues in the future as our economy slows,” she said. “Relying on property-tax increases to fund our schools is not good policy and is driving people out of their homes.”

Kagi said that the 2018 legislature passed many progressive bills including equal pay and bills to protect people from harassment, including a prohibition on non-disclosure agreements.

“We changed our juvenile justice laws to allow 17- and 18-year olds to be tried in juvenile court rather than adult court. The legislature greatly expanded voting access,” she said.

“The Washington Voting Rights Act ensures that communities cannot be systematically disenfranchised in local elections. Automatic Voter Registration, election-day registration, and motor voter preregistration for 16- and 17-year olds will increase voter participation and representation. Finally, the Disclose Act requires the reporting of “black money” in elections to be reported.

“We were able to pass a range of other important measures including banning source-of-income discrimination in renting, and becoming the first state to require net neutrality. Finally, we passed my bill to put History Day into law and fund it. This is a national educational program that will engage and inspire many students, and teach them valuable skills.”

She added that her biggest disappointment during the session was the legislature’s inability to pass more significant legislation on responsible gun ownership. She said that while the Legislature did take some steps, such as banning bump stocks and adding domestic-violence harassment as an offense that triggers the loss of rights to a firearm, it could have done more.

“My child-access-prevention bill never received a vote, and a bill to increase the allowable age to purchase guns did not move forward. I want to thank the many passionate advocates from Moms Demand Action, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, the Alliance Against Gun Violence and others, particularly the growing number of youth, for speaking up and showing up. Progress has been slow, but the tide is turning because of your insistence that we pass responsible gun laws to keep our communities safe. If there is one thing I have learned during my legislative career, it is the importance of persistence.”

–By Evan Smith

Evan Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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