What were your legislators up to?

  • Jocelyn Robinson<br>Enterprise
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 12:04pm

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 44th legislative districts say were the key points of their work.

44th District

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, had a hard time choosing a favorite piece of legislation, so he picked four.

At the top is a bill to phase in funding for voluntary all-day kindergarten.

“I really love that one,” Hobbs said. “Not only does it help young people … but think of the struggling parents. Now they don’t have to pay that large fee in day care … that’s improving their quality of life.”

Second was Hobbs’ veterans anti-discrimination bill, which stemmed from his experiences as a veteran of both Iraq and Kosovo. During job interviews, he was asked if he would have a mental breakdown from coming back from Iraq and also how he felt about working with people who were against the war.

“That’s not right,” Hobbs said. “What matters is that you served honorably and do the skills you learned in the military apply to the job.

“This bill was personal for me.”

Third is a bill to prevent some businesses from running pre-employment credit checks on prospective employees.

“It’s an invasion of privacy,” Hobbs said. “It’s a barrier to the working poor who are trying to make better life for themselves.”

Fourth is legislation to create more skill centers for students who choose not to go to college.

“We neglect kids who don’t want to got college,” Hobbs said. “Maybe they want to be a carpenter or a machinist — and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. We don’t invest in those kids at all.”

Education is what this Legislature would be known for, Hobbs said.

“Obviously, what we’ve done for education is big,” he said. “I think we made the biggest investment in the history of Legislature in terms of education.”

Examples, he said, are attempting to fix the problems in the WASL, addressing the needs of teachers and bringing a college to Snohomish County.

Another milestone was the push to create a rainy day fund.

“I hope the people of the state vote for the rainy day fund,” he said. “We have to be fiscally responsible and I think we’ve done that.”

Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said his biggest accomplishment this session was bringing higher education to Snohomish County.

Dunshee said he was a leader in the effort to bring a University of Washington branch campus to the county.

“What the UW Tacoma branch campus did for Tacoma was just amazing,” he said. “If we could have that same sort of renaissance in Everett, it would be most wonderful.”

Dunshee said education of all levels — from kindergarten to college — was the highlight of this Legislature. Lawmakers put $1.7 billion in K-12 education, which Dunshee said was more than had been done before.

“It was the best budget for higher education in many years,” he said. “It added almost 10,000 college slots, which equals about 10,000 opportunities.”

“It’s what drives the economy,” he added. “It’s what gives people opportunities and what makes good citizens.”

Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, spent the past year or so working on a bill that addressed the state’s auto theft problem. The issue, Lovick said, was that there was no incentive not to steal cars — the penalties weren’t severe enough.

“What we’re calling it is tough and smart legislation to address the auto theft problem,” Lovick said.

Lovick said most legislators supported the bill, but some were concerned it may have been too tough on juveniles. Under the legislation, juveniles caught stealing cars will perform community service, possibly serve a home detention and undergo a drug and alcohol assessment.

The bill also creates an auto theft prevention authority within the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The organization will look at theft problems around the state and pass out grants to areas that aren’t doing so well.

Lovick said that funding for these grants is provided for in the bill through a $10 assessment on every traffic citation, adding that it’s unusual for a bill to address funding issues.

“When we pass legislation, we just don’t put a funding source in there,” Lovick said. The traffic assessment fee is estimated to bring in $7 million to $10 million.

Lovick agreed that this Legislature would be known for focusing on education and “preparing children for the future.”

“These youngsters today are going to be tomorrow’s leaders and I think it’s incumbent on us to leave them a legacy,” he said.

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