The Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon with six Washington state legislators on July 10 to discuss highlights from this year’s legislative session.
The chamber hosted the event in order to discuss the interests of businesses and communities in collaboration with the state government.
The Legislature adjourned on April 28, ending a 105-day session. Substantial bills passed this year ranged from making daylight savings time permanent to raising the smoking age to 21.
Washington Democrats completed their second year as the majority leader and the six members of the panel represented the same party.
“This is the first time that we’ve had both the 1st and the 46th Districts here at the same time,” said moderator Kelly Snyder.
The 46th Legislative District is primarily comprised of north Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore. Sen. David Frockt, Rep. Gerry Pollet and Rep. Javier Valdez attended the luncheon to reflect on the legislative priorities for their region. Pollet emphasized their busy schedules at the capital and explained the need for residents to talk with their legislators during the interim.
“I would encourage people to spend time with your legislators when they are out of session. That is the time when they start making priorities for the budget and for legislation,” said Pollet.
The 1st Legislative District encompasses areas of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties, as well as about a third of King County. Sen. Derek Stanford, Rep. Shelley Kloba and Rep. Davina Duerr represented their district.
Stanford and Duerr had only been appointed to their positions for eight days by the day of the luncheon. Stanford, who previously held a seat in the House since 2011, replaced Guy Palumbo in the Senate on July 1 after he left to become a lobbyist for Amazon. Duerr, who is the deputy mayor of Bothell, was voted into the empty House position the same day.
While Duerr has not yet participated in a regular session at the Legislature, she did speak about visiting the capital during the winter to discuss I-405 funding and congestion in local transportation. She lobbied and testified at various committee meetings in support of Senate Bill 5748, which authorizes tolling on I-405 and bonding of toll revenue.
“I consider it a huge win and I think it will definitely make bus rapid transit successful,” said Duerr.
Other major topics brought up at the luncheon included the environment and climate change. Kloba co-sponsored a bill to create 100 percent renewable energy and move away from fossil fuels. In the next session, she aims to invest in car-charging infrastructure and affordability in order to make more of those vehicles available in the state.
“I think we have a very strong environmental ethic within the state,” said Frockt. He highlighted the importance of using legislation to facilitate toxic cleanups.
When discussing hate crimes, Valdez touched on his sponsorship of House Bill 1732 in regard to malicious harassment. Washington state now ranks third in terms of hate crimes, he said. The state is currently behind Sound Carolina and Washington, D.C.
“It’s not a secret that hate crimes are on the rise,” said Valdez. “We still have work to do.”
He is still working on addressing this issue, especially in relation to gender identity, race and other minority groups.