Washington’s 46th Legislative District held its annual town hall meeting earlier this month and hosted a packed room at Lake Forest Park’s City Hall.
Not a single chair was empty as Kenmore and Lake Forest Park residents filled the City Council chambers beyond capacity to hear from their state lawmakers. Reps. Gerry Pollet and Javier Valdez and Sen. David Frockt thanked the audience before they spoke on their priorities for 2018’s regular legislative session which began last week.
“This is the best turnout we’ve had,” Frockt said to the audience. “Thank you all for coming out on a cold night to hear from us and for us to hear from you. That’s why we’re here.”
There was an intermission for staff to bring out more chairs for attendees halfway through the meeting. Many were still left standing.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT
The Voting Rights Act has passed in the house multiple times but was stopped in the senate. The act, which Pollet sponsors, would ensure that cities properly represent their residents through district-based elections.
“We want to make sure that cities are representative of their people,” Valdez said. “It would be a major accomplishment.”
Valdez added that he hopes Frockt and senate Democrats will finally be able to pass the act.
“I wasn’t the one who stopped it,” Frockt responded with a laugh, “I’m with you.”
The capital budget is a top priority for many legislators as both sides of the aisle attempt to find a resolution for the Hirst Decision.
Republicans refused to pass last year’s capital budget unless Democrats agreed to undermine the court’s Hirst Decision, which forces counties to issue well permits. The state formerly oversaw the permits and many rural counties say they lack the resources to take on the responsibilities.
Democrats now have a one-vote majority in the state senate for the first time in five years and while they have the numbers to pass the budget, there are several bonds attached to the budget that need a 60 percent approval to pass. The bonds are needed to fund projects within the budget.
“It’s like buying a house and saying, ‘I’m going to sign the purchase and sale agreement,’” Frockt said, “but if you don’t pass the bonds it’s like saying ‘I’m not going to sign the mortgage.’”
Kenmore Mayor David Baker, who co-hosted the event, said Kenmore had much to gain if the capital budget passes. He listed the city’s funding requests for several park improvements and a project to connect Kenmore’s downtown to the waterfront via an underpass or bridge over State Route 522.
“We’re depending upon you guys to get this done,” he said to the legislators. “We hope it happens in the first couple weeks.”
Frockt, who helped write the capital budget, said he anticipates the budget to pass and that it’s the top priority for the Senate Democrats.
“We’re committing to getting (the budget) done quickly,” Frockt said, “and my hope is that we can resolve (the Hirst Decision).”
As of the Reporter’s Monday deadline, the capital budget has not yet passed in the state house.
The 46th District contains the entire City of Kenmore. Visit app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder to find the district borders.
Pollet serves on the Appropriations and Finance committees and as the vice chair of the Higher Education Committee. Valdez serves on the Education, Judiciary and Transportation committees. Frockt serves on the Human Services and Corrections and Law and Justice committees and as the vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee.