Politics & Government

Lawmakers outline goals

The three state lawmakers representing Olympia and the 22nd district have modest goals for the 2010 legislative session, including movement on a measure limiting development on the city's isthmus.

In its first meeting of 2010, the Olympia City Council signaled a U-turn on the 2009 rezoning decision that allowed Triway Enterprises to build structures of up to 65 and 90 feet in height on the strip of land separating Capitol Lake from Budd Inlet.

“We’re all sort of on the same page now,” said Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who met with Mayor Doug Mah and two other lawmakers Wednesday.

Last year, Hunt had pushed in the House to pass Thurston County Sen. Karen Fraser’s bill to declare the shoreline of historic significance and limit heights to 35 feet. But the majority of city officials now would like to limit heights to 35 feet in the entire area.

Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, helped block Senate Bill 5800 in the House last year, also blocking an amendment to House Bill 1379 that Fraser offered to scuttle the development.

“I had said before, my foremost concern was deferring to the wishes of local government,” Williams said Friday. “In this instance, the local government supports Karen’s bill, and I will support Karen’s bill if it comes before me.”

“I hope we can move that forward,” Fraser said.

Other bills the lawmakers plan to introduce:

SEN. KAREN FRASER

The senior lawmaker in the delegation is drafting a bill to prohibit the shackling of female prisoners during childbirth. She also is joining with others on a bill to deter the trafficking of children for sex and prostitution.

The latter issue is the focus of national Human Trafficking Awareness Day activities at the Capitol.

Fraser also is drafting her own measure to define “green,” or energy-efficient, housing and making sure appraisers who value such properties are educated about the topic.

“Some people are doing what you might call ‘green washing,’ calling it green and it really isn’t,” Fraser said.

“What’s going to dominate the whole session is the fiscal” situation, she said, adding that she in general supports raising more revenue for programs.

She also supports a potential $1.50-per-barrel tax on oil to raise about $130 million a year for local stormwater projects, including around Puget Sound.

REP. SAM HUNT

One controversial bill he already has introduced would set up a commission to study and recommend how to consolidate the state’s 295 school districts into 150. He is continuing his push to promote recycling of used fluorescent lighting, creating a manufacturer-funded program to cover costs of getting the mercury out of the waste stream.

Hunt also is involved on several bills related to initiatives, co-sponsoring one to require signature-gatherers to sign the back of petitions if they want the signatures to be valid. He also wants to raise the fee from $5 to $250 for filing an initiative or referendum, refunding $200 of it if a measure qualifies for the statewide ballot.

Hunt has advocated for state worker pay and benefits in the past but thinks “everything is on the table,” including furloughs or temporary layoffs.

“It’s going to be a real uphill battle. … If we do furloughs, I wouldn’t mind putting an income level on there,” he said. “I’d rather see higher-income people take 24 days and lower-paid people take 12.”

REP. BRENDAN WILLIAMS

A lame duck in his third term, Williams said he plans a bill requiring employers to allow workers to have unpaid leave for up to four hours a year to attend to a child’s educational activities.

Another bill he will revive from 2009 would give credit unions and banks a chance to recoup costs if a retailer or other business causes them expenses because of a breach of a customer’s personal financial data.

He also plans a bill that would bar a defendant who represents himself in a sexual assault case from confronting an alleged victim directly or in close proximity. The still-evolving measure will “require that standby counsel do it” or give a judge other options, such as requiring the defendant to stay seated.

Williams said he has a sense of foreboding going into session, saying state employees could bear more of the brunt of spending cuts. He plans to advocate for new revenues to protect school, health and human services programs from cuts, and also supports the oil tax for water-quality projects.

REP. GARY ALEXANDER

In the 20th district, Alexander, an Olympia-area Republican, said his top priorities are lowering state spending with- out tax increases and getting a bill passed to allow private companies to take over liquor dis- tribution and sales from the state.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688

bshannon@theolympian.com

www.theolympian.com/politics

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