The state Legislature kicked off the 2013 session Monday, and the talk centered around which caucus was going to be in charge. Bad start, considering most people don’t care who leads the group as long as lawmakers listen to their constituents and make sound decisions for the state’s future.
Close to home, we’re fortunate to have several things in our favor. State Reps. Larry Seaquist and Jan Angel are veterans of several sessions (and special sessions), and each talks about the value of bipartisanship.
Among his appointments, Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, is the chair of the House Higher Education Committee. As such, he spends a lot of his time speaking with leaders in the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities, which have seen major increases in tuition in the past decade.
Seaquist was proud to say there were no more cuts to the higher education budget last year. He points to this current generation being the first to be less educated than its parents, something that’s truly disturbing when you consider how fast global competition is increasing and where the United States stands among its competitors.
Here’s a hint: It’s not good.
Seaquist also serves on the Appropriations Committee, which deals with the state’s operational budget, and he keeps track of issues pertinent to the 26th Legislative District, namely the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the state ferry system.
Angel, R-Port Orchard, is the ranking minority member of the Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee, a broad-stroke that will include everything from state parks and military veterans to tourism and recreation. She’s also on the Health Care & Wellness Committee, which will include both physical and mental health care services, and the Transportation Committee.
Angel said last week that transportation was “a must,” considering corridor issues between Port Orchard and Tacoma. Naturally, that includes the Tacoma Narrows Bridge as well as state Routes 3, 16 and 302, the Department of Transportation and the state patrol.
As of this writing, the Pierce and Kitsap County councils had yet to appoint a replacement for former state Sen. Derek Kilmer, although they’re expected to do that Thursday. Last month, the 26th District Democrats pushed forward their top three candidates — Dr. Nathaniel Schlicher, Todd Iverson or Gerry Baldwin — to replace Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.
That position will be important because many votes are expected to be close in the Senate.
And all three would have similar priorities — health care, transportation and education.
Other than finding solutions to help the state pull its way out of a $2 billion shortfall, of course.
Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 253-358-4150 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brian.