Local legislators focus on priorities for state
Monday, January 9, 2012
CONTACT YOUR LAMAKERS
Sen. Patty Murray (D)
Vancouver office: Marshall House, 1323 Officers Row, Vancouver, WA 98661.
Washington D.C. office: 173 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510.
Telephone: 360-696-7797; 202-224-2621.
Website: Sen. Patty Murray
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D)
Vancouver office: Marshall House, 1313 Officers Row, Vancouver, WA 98661.
Washington D.C. office: 511 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington D.C. 20510
Telephone: 360-696-7838; 202-224-3441.
Website: Sen. Maria Cantwell
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)
Vancouver office: O.O. Howard House, 750 Anderson St., Suite B, Vancouver, WA 98661.
Washington D.C. office: 1130 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.
Telephone: 360-695-6292; 202-225-3536.
Website: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
Each of the state’s 49 legislative districts has one state senator and two state representatives. All three represent their entire district.
South of Battle Ground and east of Interstate 205
Sen. Don Benton (R)
Address: 409 Legislative Building, P.O. Box 40417, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Tim Probst (D)
Address: Modular E-103, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Paul Harris (R)
Address: Modular C-205, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Felida, part of Salmon Creek, Ridgefield, Battle Ground, part of Cowlitz County
Sen. Joe Zarelli (R)
Address: 204 Irv Newhouse Building, P.O. Box 40418, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Ed Orcutt (R)
Address: 122-F Legislative Building, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Ann Rivers (R)
Address: Modular A-203, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Vancouver west of I-205 and north into Hazel Dell
Sen. Craig Pridemore (D)
Address: 212 John A. Cherberg Building, P.O. Box 40449, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Jim Moeller (D)
Address: 429-B Legislative Building, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Sharon Wylie (D)
Address: 417 John L. O’Brien Building, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Telephone: (360) 786-7924
Southeast part of Clark County, east of Washougal; Skamania, Klickitat and southern Yakima counties
Sen. Jim Honeyford (R)
Address: 107 Irv Newhouse Building, P.O. Box 40415, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. Bruce Chandler (R)
Address: 427-B Legislative Building, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
Rep. David Taylor (R)
Address: Modular A-205, P.O. Box 40600, Olympia, WA 98504.
While tax hikes, same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana emerged as hot topics for state legislators convening in Olympia on Monday, Southwest Washington lawmakers also were abuzz about job creation, cutting government spending, and adequately funding education.
During the 60-day session, state legislators will need to cut the budget to meet a roughly $2 billion shortfall.
“I think we’re at a pivotal time, and I was disappointed in the special session” last month to try to solve the budget crisis, said Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger. “I think the public is frustrated, so we have a big challenge to prove to our constituents that we can actually begin to move forward and not simply continue to kick the can down the road.”
Additionally, Gov. Chris Gregoire has announced that she wants to see the state legalize same-sex marriage during this session. Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, is co-sponsor on the bill that would do just that.
Moeller, an openly gay lawmaker and a leader in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage, said his top priority during the session is to make sure that bill passes.
That could be a challenge, as conservative attorney Stephen Pidgeon has filed an initiative that would allow the public to vote to strengthen the state’s Defense of Marriage Act, which currently defines marriage as between a male and a female.
Moeller also said he has about a dozen bills total that he’ll introduce this session. One is a bill to create a voluntary program for drivers with disabilities that places a yellow sticker on the driver’s car, alerting emergency responders to look for their medical information in the glove box.
Moeller and other lawmakers will need to balance their goals while also “negotiating with the House and Senate about the $2 billion hole that we have,” Moeller said.
Gregoire suggested a temporary sales tax increase to try to help fill that hole.
Rep. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, said her top priority is to reduce government regulations on businesses, then to “get our financial house in order” while funding education first.
Rivers and other local lawmakers mentioned the state Supreme Court’s ruling that education is not being adequately funded.
“The first dollar we spend should go to the kids, not the last dollar” Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, said.
Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, has outlined several ideas to create jobs. He asked constituents in the fall to pick which of his six job-creation ideas they liked best, and is planning to focus on fostering better career guidance for students, expanding the middle class, and providing more support for small businesses.
“People don’t want us to talk about stimulus; they want us to talk about the real economic causes of economic strength” such as strong education systems and a streamlined business environment, Probst said.
Improving the job climate also tops the priorities for Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama. He said lawmakers focusing on tax increases “need to start focusing on new reforms that will provide long-term relief.” He touted two measures: one to eliminate more rule-making staff positions, another to cut down on the tasks government agencies have because some agencies are duplicating efforts, he said.
Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, said he will fight during the budget battle to protect money going to chemical dependency programs.
Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, also said she wants to make sure the state provides a safety net for vulnerable citizens. She said she is keeping an open mind when it comes to tackling the budget shortfall. “I’m looking at all of the ideas that are floating around. When people are in a crisis, that’s an opportunity to look at things differently.”