Legislative update from Olympia
With a week to go in the 2018 legislative session, a lot is happening in Olympia. We have a large workload this session, and we will be finalizing a number of policy and budget bills in the coming days.
It was an honor to welcome the Henry M. Jackson Foundation’s Leadership Fellows to Olympia last week (pictured above). I hosted the group in our caucus room, where we discussed bipartisanship, civics education, and legislative leadership. If you have a group that would like to come to Olympia and see the legislature in action, contact my office.
Below, you’ll find information on Sound Transit car tab relief and a young lady who served as a Senate page this week.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts, ideas and opinions as we finish out the 2018 session. Constituent input can make a tremendous difference in how I choose to vote. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and my phone number is 360-786-7648.
Are your car tabs too high?
For the past year, many constituents have contacted me to express their frustration, even anger, about the dramatic increase in vehicle tab costs since the passage of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016. Many have shared stories of the hardships they have faced because of the car-tab increase.
I heard from a single mother who had to choose between paying rent and paying her car-tab bill. She chose to pay her rent, and that has limited her family’s mobility.
I heard from the father of a young man with disabilities who was finally able to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van. His tabs went from $177 to $493 last year. The cost of his tabs has prevented him from making other purchases that would benefit him and his family.
But this is about more than cost. Some constituents feel that they were misled, that they did not know how much their tabs would cost. They feel that there has been an injustice, and they are counting on the Legislature to make it right.
Last year, the Senate repeatedly passed Senate Bill 5893, which would make car-tab valuation fair for drivers by using Kelley Blue Book instead of the higher-priced Manufacturers’ Suggested Retail Price as the basis for tab valuation. I was a co-sponsor of the bill. The bill did not pass in the House.
This week, the Senate passed a very modest measure, Senate Bill 5955, which would provide some relief, while using a fund intended for human services programs to ensure that Sound Transit does not have to cut its budget. While some relief is better than none, I said on the Senate floor that this does not satisfy the need for real fairness that constituents are demanding. Read more about SB 5955 here.
Furthermore, I am convinced that we should reform the governance of Sound Transit. With the kind of money that organization is handling—upwards of $54 billion—and the kinds of decisions it is making about our regional future, I believe that we should democratize the Sound Transit board of directors by making it accountable to voters and electing its members. An elected board with proportional representation throughout the Regional Transit Authority would answer directly to taxpayers and voters. To that end, I am a supporter of Senate Bill 6301.
We want to hear from you. If you are concerned about your rising car-tab prices and are willing to share your story, contact my office at (360) 786-7648.
Senate Page Progam
I had the privilege of sponsoring Stephanie Claeys, a junior at Sumner High School, for the Washington State Senate Page program at the Capitol in Olympia. Stephanie was one of 30 students who served as Senate pages for the eighth week of the 2018 legislative session.
The Senate Page Program provides an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working at the Legislature. Students transport documents between offices, as well as deliver messages and mail. Pages spend time in the Senate chamber and attend page school to learn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process. Students also draft their own bills and engage in a mock session.