Mukilteo lawmakers announce legislative goals

By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 16, 2019

The 2019 Washington state Legislative session kicked off Monday, Jan. 14, and the three lawmakers representing the 21st Legislative District are back in Olympia with big goals for this year’s session.

The 21st Legislative District consists of all of Mukilteo, and portions of Edmonds, Lynnwood, Everett and unincorporated Snohomish County.

The Mukilteo Beacon reached out to Sen. Marko Liias, Rep. Strom Peterson and Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self to learn about what they hope to accomplish in this year’s session, and how that will impact Mukilteo and the rest of the 21st Legislative District.

 

Project funding

In last year’s session, two Mukilteo projects initially received state funding: remediation of the tank farm site at the Mukilteo waterfront and the daylighting of the Japanese Gulch.

Later on, the funding for the Japanese Gulch was removed and split into two 21st District projects: the Peace Park project in Mukilteo and the Sno-Isle Mariner Library Community Campus Project.

All three representatives are aiming to get the Japanese Gulch funding secured once again.

“Funding was previously approved and included in the capital budget for the Japanese Gulch Daylighting project, but the start date was delayed, so the funds were utilized elsewhere. I expect that those dollars will be returned to the project once it’s ready to move,” Ortiz-Self said.

“I helped secure the initial Japanese Gulch funding and I will support efforts to fund the Daylight project this year,” Liias said. “Additionally, I will be fighting to ensure the Legislature allocates new funding for the Mariner Community Campus project.”

Peterson, who is vice-chair of the House’s Capital Budget Committee, noted that the list of capital projects that will receive funding won’t be completed until later in the session, but that specific projects The Beacon mentioned, such as Japanese Gulch, the replacement of the SR 525 bridge, Mukilteo’s decant facility, and Edmonds’ waterfront connector, all have a good chance at receiving funding.

Ortiz-Self said the previously mentioned projects, along with along with solar panels in Mukilteo and funding for the city’s promenade, are also on her radar.

 

Government shutdown

As of Wednesday, Jan. 16, the partial federal government shutdown has lasted for 26 days, the longest in the nation’s history.

Both Liias and Peterson noted that the Washington State Employment Security Department is working hard to provide help for local federal employees who are furloughed due to the shutdown.

“State government is integral for many day to day functions in people’s lives, and our work in the legislature will continue to benefit and provide for those who are struggling, regardless of the federal government,” Liias said.

Peterson also said that this is a great opportunity for bipartisanship to shine through in Washington state.

“Rather than using people’s livelihoods as a political pawn, here in Olympia, the vast majority of bills and budgets are negotiated and passed through bipartisan efforts,” he said.

Ortiz-Self acknowledged that there is a real possibility that the shutdown continues long-term, and if that occurs, the state government will really need to step up.

“If this shutdown continues indefinitely, I believe the legislature may look into ways for the state to provide temporary aid and services to people who find themselves in desperate situations,” she said.

 

Car tabs

Recently, Tim Eyman, the Mukilteo resident who is a long-time initiative promoter, received enough signatures for his $30 car tab fees to appear on the November ballot. Before that can occur, the measure must go before the state Legislature.

Currently, car tab taxes assist with funding for public transportation projects, such as road improvements and large-scale transportation projects, in Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties.

Sen. Liias sees Eyman’s initiative as detrimental to transportation improvements in the area.

"If implemented, this unconstitutional ballot measure would devastate local transportation projects,” he said. “Snohomish County is already outgrowing the pace of new transportation infrastructure and inhibiting these necessary efforts will only mean longer commute times with fewer mobility options for everyone in our communities."

Ortiz-Self said she believes the consensus is that the fees need to be lowered, but it’s unclear what the best route to do so is.

Peterson acknowledged he has frequently heard from his constituents on the matter, but it’s important to not cause too much impact on transportation projects.

“I, and many of my colleagues, are also concerned with finding a solution that will not strangle the needed funding for pivotal infrastructure projects,” he said.

 

Public records

In last year’s session, a bill was passed in both the state House and Senate, that would have exempted lawmakers from certain aspects of public records request.

All the 21st District representatives voted for the bill, but Gov. Jay Inslee ultimately vetoed the bill after many Washington residents voiced disapproval of it, largely because of the lack of public input..

It is likely that this issue will come up again during this session, and all three representatives think the process will be more transparent if it does come up again.

“If a bill is introduced, I am confident that the process will be open and transparent, with plenty of opportunity for public participation and feedback,” Peterson said.

“Any new bill on this issue will go through the regular legislative process, so there’ll be hearings and opportunities for public input,” Ortiz-Self said.

Liias echoed the sentiments of his 21st District colleagues, and said he has begun voluntarily complying with public records requests for emails from his office.

 

Education funding

Funding for schools both statewide, and countrywide, has been a hot-button issue the last few years.

Here in Washington, there was a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling, dubbed the “McCleary ruling,” that the state needs to fully fund basic education.

As such, many teachers and parents always keep a close eye on how education is funded through the state Legislature.

"Last session, the Democratic controlled Legislature made significant progress in education funding and closed out one of the final chapters of the nearly decade long process to meet the requirements of the McCleary case,” Liias said. “However, we know there is more work to be done, including more investment into special education and taking a look at how levies have impacted districts thus far.”

Liias also said he hopes to establish more state funding for after-school childcare.

Ortiz-Self works as a counselor for the Everett School District, and mentioned a lot of areas that she hopes to address in school funding statewide.

“I believe everyone agrees that special education is underfunded, so there’s a very real need to invest in adequately funding this area,” she said.

Additionally, Ortiz-Self said she is sponsoring a bill regarding safety in Washington schools.

“We’ll likely have a package of bills to address this issue, including funding the appropriate ratio of school counselors,” she said.

Peterson said the Legislature has made historic strides in education, but that there is more work to be done.

“This session, I believe we can begin to address some of the areas where we have fallen short, such as adequately funding special education,” he said.

 

Other issues

Liias noted that he was the first millennial to be elected to the Washington state Legislature. As such, he said he hopes to work to help those in his generation, both socially and financially.

"I am committed to tackling the issues facing our generation: barriers to homeownership, affordable child care, burdensome student debt, and making our state inclusive for all,” Liias said.

He also hopes to assist legislation that would protect transgender students.

“Our children deserve the feeling that their districts and schools will support every student, no matter who they are or how they express themselves."

Peterson said he hopes to address the environment, noting his work on single-use plastic bags and climate change impacts.

“This session it is also critical to focus on mitigating the damaging effects of climate change, as well as protecting and enhancing our Orca and salmon populations.”

Ortiz-Self said she hopes to address mental health, health insurance options, and housing and child care.

 

 

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.