Community members were able to meet with Congressman Rick Larsen (D-2nd District) over a cup of coffee on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Verdant Health Commission in Lynnwood
The meeting was an opportunity for Larsen to reach out to constituents after the recent election and discuss what’s to come in the new year.
With Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, Larsen said one of the first bills to be addressed by the new majority will be H.R. 1
“The first thing H.R. 1 will address is removing obstacles in voter registration,” he said. “Expanding access to early voting and strengthening the infrastructure ensuring election security.”
Larsen said H.R. 1 would help to fix the decision from the 2013 Supreme Court Case Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requiring that certain states gain federal government approval before making any changes to the electoral law. In the wake of the ruling, some states like North Carolina implemented laws requiring registering voters to provide photo and non-photo forms of identification, which involved fees some minority voters were not able to afford.
In addition to voter registration, H.R. 1 would also provide more campaign donor transparency by making donations made during campaigns accessible to the public.
“We want to send the message to voters that this is a new Congress, a different majority,” he said. “And the first thing we want to do is at least make some effort to clean up some of our ethics rules and the Congress it works under.”
“What were trying to do with HR1 is ensure any donations made to Super PACs have to be disclosed to the public right now,” he said.
Larsen said H.R. 1 would also require a president to release his or her tax returns and would ban members of Congress from sitting on for-profit corporate boards.
“It’s against the ethics rules of Congress, but we do not have a specific rule that says you can’t sit on a corporate board,” he said. “H.R. 1 will address that.”
Larsen, who was recently appointed a top-ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee of Aviation, said he will use his new position to continue to promote growth and safety for the tens of thousands of jobs in the Pacific Northwest that rely on the nations aviation system.
“Our network system of aerospace suppliers is critical to jobs and jobs creation,” he said.
In the wake of the recent National Climate Assessment released before the holiday weekend, Larsen said the opportunities to experiment with renewable and sustainable energy in the Pacific Northwest could result in job growth.
“There are great opportunities we have to retribute to the impacts of climate change, not for its own sake but for job opportunities, but because there are jobs attached to it,” he said. “I’d rather have those jobs created here in the northwest than any other place in the country.”
Larsen said there is an economic opportunity while also trying to save the planet.
Before closing for questions, Larsen spoke about workforce development and importance of ensuring students receive the best education possible to enter the competitive job market.
“When a student graduates, they’re not competing necessarily with the person in their class, they’re competing with kids around the world,” he said.
Larsen said it is important to invest in students who will, in turn, invest in their communities. It’s also key to help students combat student debt by trying to get more funding for education through grants and fewer loans.
“We need to make it a generational goal to help our kids move away from crushing student debt and having loans that prevent them from pursuing their dreams,” he said.
–Story and photo by Cody Sexton