By The Herald Editorial Board
At the core of our representative government — at all levels: local, county, state and federal — is the notion that your elected representatives have to know your druthers on specific issues if they are going to represent you.
So, as the state Legislature convenes in Olympia starting Monday for a scheduled 60-day session, here’s your chance — with oomph added because this is an election year — to contact your lawmakers on the issues of greatest importance to you and provide your thoughts on how best to resolve them.
Granted, sharing that opinion doesn’t mean a lawmaker will vote as you dictate, but the wishes of constituents are taken seriously by legislators — as they are by most public officials — as issues are weighed and legislation is considered. We’ve yet to meet a public official who completely ignores the advice of the late lamented newspaper columnist Molly Ivins: “You got to dance with them what brung you.” (Molly was talking as much about lobbyists as she was about voters, but the maxim still applies when voters care to apply it.)
So what tunes should state lawmakers dance to this session? Sixty days doesn’t leave a lot of time to consider legislation, hold hearings, propose amendments and put each bill on the House and Senate floors for passage, but some topics have been forced to the top already.
Transportation and I-976: With about 53 percent of voters approving Initiative 976, which sought to limit the cost of vehicle license tabs, lawmakers need to begin a search for replacement funding for the state’s transportation needs. The initiative is now in court but if found constitutional — or lawmakers choose to make it law regardless — they will have to fill a $450 million gulf in the current transportation budget.
While, we’re talking about roads and taxes, the state Transportation Commission has forwarded its years-long study of a switch from the state gas tax to a “road usage charge” that would collect revenue for each mile driven. A recent Crosscut.Elway poll found 55 percent of state voters polled oppose such a switch, with 32 percent supporting. Lawmakers could build public support for such a switch by moving government fleets of vehicles to the per-mile fee first.
Homelessness: Gov. Jay Inslee’s supplemental budget proposes using more than $146 million from the state’s rainy day fund to add shelter beds and provide other housing support across the state. Lawmakers have suggested they don’t think there are enough votes to adopt Inslee’s plan as it would require a supermajority, but the Crosscut.Elway poll suggests they might give it some thought. Addressing homelessness was the top priority listed by voters in the poll at 31 percent; ahead of taxes as 12 percent and climate change at 10 percent.
Climate change: The Legislature adopted a long list of environmental legislation last session, including a mandate for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030. Legislation last year that would have set a standard for lower carbon emissions from vehicles through new technologies and carbon trading wasn’t adopted. As the Crosscut.Elway poll shows, the issue of climate change still ranks as a leading concern for voters.
Education: Lawmakers will likely take a breather from education funding issues this session, but should give the state’s voters a chance to decide a change to how bond elections are run in the state’s school districts, especially as the state and individual school districts face a growing list of antiquated — and in some cases seismically deficient — school buildings. The elections that are used to authorize bonds for that construction now require a 60 percent supermajority for passage. Such a high bar is undemocratic and for many communities means that for every failed bond election their schools are getting older and less able to serve the needs of students. Changing the elections to a simple majority requires a constitutional amendment and a vote of the people; lawmakers should put that decision before the state’s voters.
Should any of that or other issues inspire you to contact your representatives, consult the list below — with Congress thrown in for good measure:
District 1: Includes North Creek, Canyon Park, Mountlake Terrace, Brier, Maltby, Bothell and Juanita Beach.
Sen. Derek Stanford, D-Bothell; Phone 360-7860-7600; Email: Derek.Stanford@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Davina Duerr, D-Bothell; Phone: 360-786-7928; Email: Davina.Duerr@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland; Phone: 360-786-7900; Email: Shelley.Kloba@leg.wa.gov
District 10: Includes parts of northwest Snohomish county, Stanwood, Camano Island, Whidbey Island and southeast Skagit County.
Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor; Phone: 360-786-7618; Email: Ron.Muzzall@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton; Phone: 360-786-7884; Email: Norma.Smith@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Dave Paul, D-Mount Vernon; Phone: 360-786-7914; Email: Dave.Paul@leg.wa.gov
District 21: Includes Mukilteo, Edmonds and south Everett and parts of Lynnwood.
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood; Phone: 360-786-7640; Email: Marko.Liias@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Strom Peterson, D-Edmonds; Phone: 360-786-7950; Email: Strom.Peterson@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo; Phone: 360-786-7972; Email Lillian.Ortiz-Self@leg.wa.gov
District 32: Includes Lynnwood, Woodway, Mountlake Terrace, Esperance, Shoreline.
Sen: Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline; Phone: 360-786-7662; Email: Jesse.Salomon@leg.wa.gov
Rep: Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline; Phone: 360-786-7880; Email: Cindy.Ryu@leg.wa.gov
Rep: Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline; Phone: 360-786-7910; Email: Lauren.Davis@leg.wa.gov
District 38: Includes Everett, parts of Marysville and the Tulalip reservation.
Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip; Phone: 360-786-7674: Email: John.McCoy@leg.wa.gov
Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett; Phone: 360-786-7864; Email: June.Robinson@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett; Phone: 360786-7840; Email: Mike.Sells@leg.wa.gov
District 39: Includes eastern Snohomish, Skagit and King counties, including Arlington, Oso, Granite Falls, Verlot, Monroe, Gold Bar and Index.
Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley; Phone: 360-786-7676; Email: Keith.Wagoner@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls; Phone: 360-786-7967; Email: Robert.Sutherland@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Carolyn Eslick, R-Sultan; Phone: 260-786-7816; Email: Carolyn.Eslick@leg.wa.gov
District 44: Includes parts of Marysville, Lake Stevens, Mill Creek and Snohomish.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens; Phone: 260-786-7686; Email: Steve.Hobbs@leg.wa.gov
Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek; Phone: 360-786-7804; Email: John.Lovick@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Jared Mead, D-Mill Creek; Phone: 360-786-7892; Email: Jared.Mead@leg.wa.gov
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington; Everett office, 2930 Wetmore Ave., Suite 9D; Everett, WA 98201; Phone: 425-259-6515; D.C. Phone: 202-224-2621; Website: murray.senate.gov/public.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington; Everett office, 2930 Wetmore, Suite 9B; Everett WA 98201; Phone: 425-3030-0114; D.C. Phone: 202-224-3441; Website: cantwell.senate.gov.
House of Representatives
1st District: Rep. Suzanne DelBene, D-Washington; Bothell office, Canyon Park Business Center, 22121 17th Ave. SE, Bldg. E, Suite 220; Bothell, WA 98021; Phone: 425-485-0085; D.C. phone: 202-225-6311; Website: delbene.house.gov.
2nd District: Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Washington: Everett office, Wall Street Building, 2930 Wetmore Ave, Suite 9F, Everett, WA 98201; Phone, 424-252-3188; D.C. Phone: 202-225-2605; Website: larsen.house.gov/