By Amy Daybert and
State legislators representing North King and South Snohomish counties were part of the solid Democratic majority that controlled the House, Senate and Governor’s Office during the Legislature that ended April 21.
Here’s a look at what the senators and representatives from the 21st and 32nd legislative districts say were the key points of their work.
Big strides in education — both the funding of it and creation of new programs to stretch its parameters — was the high point of the recently concluded legislative session, according to 21st District legislators.
“We have done for more education than in any days before,” said state Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, chair of the Higher Education Committee. He pointed to creating an early-childhood-education division within the state Department of Public Instruction as another step in preparing young children for school.Shin said he’s also proud of the Legislature’s decision to locate a new, four-year University of Washington branch campus in Snohomish County, a bill that he co-sponsored.
“I want this college to be the (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) of the West,” Shin said, referring to school’s anticipated emphasis on math, science and engineering.
Rep. Mary Helen Roberts, D-Lynnwood, sits on the Higher Education and Early Learning committees and said health and education issues were big winners during the session.
Roberts cited ” … exciting breakthroughs in widely embracing understanding of how important birth-to-age-3 is” in education.
Roberts backed House Bill 1422, focusing on the needs of children of incarcerated parents. Those children are an “invisible population we have failed to address,” Roberts said. The bill will create a task force of agencies to deal with the needs of those families. It will also support entities already helping those children, Roberts said.
Rep. Brian Sullivan, D-Mukilteo, says completion of a transportation package and the budget score high on his list of successes.
He also likes the progress made in programs that support the state’s agricultural sector, such as House Bill 1303, which provides for alternative-fuel dispensers on state fuel tanks. It also provides for a public-private partnership allowing cities to enter into agreements with gas stations to provide alternative-fuel pumps along Highway 82, I-90 and I-5.
Funding for preservation of manufactured-home parks — 25 are in his district — also pleased Sullivan.
Sullivan said he “wrote 54 bills,” none of which made the cut this past session.
Rep. Maralyn Chase D-Shoreline, sponsored House Bill 1525: Reducing the impact of regulatory provisions on small businesses.
“I don’t think we did very much for the economy except pass my small-business bill,” Chase said. “It’s a great thing to acknowledge our small-business owners.”
Chase said this session’s biggest accomplishment was the number of bills focused on the environment, including one encouraging the use of clean fuels and clean vehicle technologies.
“If we can’t save the environment then all else will be for naught,” Chase said. “We need to cut down our carbon footprint and not just in transportation. What we need to think about is moving people and not just vehicles. Transportation is not the total solution but it’s a start.”
Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, said her favorite bill was SB 5292, which requires that all physical therapy assistants be licensed health care professionals.
“When people would lose their license in another state they would come to our state,” Fairley said. “It’s a profession they can hurt you badly in if they don’t know what they’re doing.” The Physical Therapy Association of Washington gave their support for the bill.
Fairley said the most popular move involved putting money into K-12 teachers’ salaries, special education and early learning. She said attention was given to helping parents stay home and take care of their adopted kids.
“Family care insurance is a very good start,” Fairley said. “It would have been devastating if we didn’t do anything at all.”
Fairley also supported what she called a “cute bill” for a state poet laureate. According to Fairley, 40 other states have a poet laureate.
“At first I thought it was silly but there is a lot of poetry in life. It’s not necessarily a part of my life … but poetry does mean a lot to people and it is a part of a lot of peoples’ lives.”
Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, sponsored HB 1304, creating a new safety compliance systems for intrastate trucks and keeps track of safety violations as a result of several tragic truck loading accidents in the state. The bill was developed with state patrol and department of licensing and will be signed next week. She said Gov. Chris Gregoire was supportive of bill.
Kagi said education is the area where the most happened.
“We made giant strides forward in the form of early learning,” Kagi said.
Also included was a home visitation bill to provide support for high risk new parents and an expansion of the state’s preschool program.
“We’re really moving forward in quality of care and support for parents,” she said.
Kagi also said the Legislature looked at funding for new math and science teachers, put $75 million into special education programs and $25 million into transportation.
“The areas that have historically been underfunded by the state we really tried to fund,” Kagi said.
She said the Legislature has a much broader understanding of the difficulties involved with educational funding.
“We’re very committed to working in interim on how we should construct formulas to better distribute the money,” Kagi said. “We need to find a way to simplify and provide better equity. Many formulas have been in place for 40 years.”