UPDATE: Rep. Monica Stonier’s office in Olympia on Tuesday said her ninth bill has been sent to the state Senate.
OLYMPIA — Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, is aiming for a perfect record of passing bills this session in the Legislature.
The freshman lawmaker spent most of her first term in the Legislature getting eight of her nine bills through the House of Representatives and on to the Senate, the highest success rate out of all freshmen Democrats in the House.
She is not stopping there.
Stonier also hopes she can revive her bill that did not make the Legislature’s cutoff date by amending it to another bill.
The proposed law deals with high school graduation requirement. “I’m hoping to breathe some life back into it,” she said.
Stonier has had 89 percent of her bills pass out of the House and into the Senate.
Compare that to Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, who proposed more legislation than any other lawmaker this year, 59 bills so far, with 26 percent making it to the House.
Of Stonier’s nine bills, seven have to do with education.
Gov. Jay Inslee emphasized the importance of education in the budget he released Thursday. Inslee suggested paying for his $1.2 billion increase to education funding by extending temporary taxes and closing tax loopholes.
“Today I choose education over tax breaks,” Inslee said. The money gained from removing the tax loopholes would go to education “almost dollar for dollar” according to Inslee.
“Folks in my district have directed me not to vote for tax increases, and I’ve always been committed to finding ways to recovering revenue in tax loopholes that are outdated,” Stonier said. She called Inslee’s budget “a sign of progress.”
Though the governor’s emphasis on education and the Democrats wide majority in the House did not hurt the chances of Stonier’s bills, the chair of the committee where many of her bills were heard believes Stonier is successful for another reason.
“She is, to my recollection, the first actual teacher on the (Education) committee,” said Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, chair of the House Education Committee.
Stonier is an instructional coach at Pacific Middle School in Vancouver.
Santos said Stonier has been “invaluable in bringing on-the-ground perspectives” to education policy being passed in the Legislature.
Stonier believes that her success rate for passing legislation also has to do with common sense and cooperation.
“I think the bills I have are good common sense, save businesses money, and I’ve made a real effort to find out why people oppose my bills and meet in the middle,” she said.
Santos agreed, saying she has seen Stonier reach out to both sides of the aisle to get support for her bills.
Stonier said she hopes that most of her bills will progress through the Senate successfully, as well.
“A few of (the bills) had unanimous support in the House, and I’m hoping to continue the strategy I used there in the Senate,” she said.
Santos also believes the Senate will look favorably on Stonier’s legislation.
“I’d be really surprised if the Senate didn’t recognize that these are very common-sense and well-vetted proposals,” Santos said.