South County Politics: Three legislators’ priorities for 2018 session

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State Rep. Ruth Kagi

Rep. Kagi seeks legislation on placement for foster children and youth

Democratic State Rep. Ruth Kagi says that one of her top goals for the current legislative session is addressing what she says is a severe placement crisis for foster children and youth.

“With a shortage of foster parents and the loss of many residential providers due to low reimbursement rates, the state is struggling to find placements for children and youth, particularly those with serious mental and behavioral challenges,” she said in mid-January. “Far too many are staying in hotels with social workers, or being placed out of state. Increasing placement options is urgently needed.”

Kagi oversees foster-care legislation as chair of the House committee on early learning and human services. She also is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Environment Committee.

She said during the second week of the legislative session that her top priority was passing a capital budget, something that the legislature accomplished later that week. The capital budget uses the state’s bonding authority to pay for buildings and other capital projects.

“The budget includes funding for school construction, affordable housing, many community-based projects and the early-learning facilities fund that the legislature established last year,” she said Jan. 16.

Kagi also said that legislators would continue efforts to understand the impact of the State Supreme Court’s order that the state provide full support for public schools on local school districts and to correct unintended consequences.

“More funding is clearly needed in a number of areas, including special education and teacher salaries,” she said.

Kagi added, “Our commitment is to deal with many complex issues in this 60-day session, and adjourn on March 8.”

Kagi represents the 32nd Legislative District, including the city of Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace, south Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas, the city of Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle.

To read about the priorities of Democratic 32nd District State Sen. Maralyn Chase and Democratic 32nd Legislative District Rep. Cindy Ryu, click here for a previous column.

State Rep. Peterson to focus on opioid crisis, oil spills, guns

Democratic State Rep. Strom Peterson says that his focus during the 2018 legislative session is on the opioid crisis, oil spills and gun violence.

“Apart from getting a capital budget passed, my focus will be on the opioid crisis, oil-spill prevention, and reducing gun violence,” he said Jan. 15.

“My Drug Take Back Act will create a statewide secure-medicine-return program based on the successful programs running in King and Snohomish counties.

“I am also working on legislation to sustainably fund our oil-spill-prevention program to prevent spills from trains, ships, and pipelines and have plans in place for when it might happen.

“Finally I am sponsoring a bill to limit the number of rounds in high capacity magazines to ten.”

Peterson represents the 21st Legislative District, including unincorporated areas north and northeast of Lynnwood and north of Edmonds, most of the city of Edmonds, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.

Peterson, a former Edmonds City Councilmember, is a member of the House Local Government Committee. He is vice chairman of both the Capital Budget Committee and the Environment Committee.

State Rep. Ortiz-Self hopes to avoid legislation held hostage

Democratic 21st District State Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self says she hopes that in the 2018 legislators can collaborate on good policy that will benefit all Washingtonians without holding good policy hostage.

Last year, the legislature couldn’t agree on a capital budget because the Democratic-controlled House and the then-Republican-controlled Senate couldn’t agree on an unrelated matter that involved fixing issues stemming from an unpopular State Supreme Court decision on rural water rights.

“That method of governing has to stop,” Ortiz-Self said before the beginning of 2018 session.

With Democrats now controlling both the House and the Senate because of results of a special election, the 2018 legislature passed a capital budget in its second week.

Ortiz-Self said that the capital budget, which pays for buildings and other capital projects from the state’s bonding authority, would increase jobs and give schools the capacity to lower class sizes.

Her other priorities include continued work on improving education policy, work on equal pay, refining policy that effects the new Department of Children Services, passing a supplemental transportation budget and protecting health care.

Ortiz-Self is a member of the House Education Committee, the Transportation Committee, the Rules Committee and the committee on early learning and human services.

–By Evan Smith
Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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