East King Chambers Coalition connects with nearly 20 legislators in jam-packed “Chamber Day”
The East King Chambers Coalition recently held its “Chamber Day” event, where throughout the course of the day, members met with nearly 20 state legislators to discuss our joint regional priorities. Transportation funding, the Blake Decision, middle housing, and public safety were at the forefront of many of the discussions, with each legislator tailoring their message to East King County.
“Chamber Day was the perfect opportunity for our members to connect directly with legislators,” said Bellevue Chamber VP of Government Affairs, Jodie Alberts. “We were updated on different pieces of legislation we’ve had our eyes on, and got a peek inside the session’s progress from those doing the day-to-day work.”
Get a gist of how each session went below.
Rep. Roger Goodman, 45th District:
As part of his personal priorities, Rep. Goodman discussed vehicular pursuit legislation and the Blake decision, stating, “we want to be as therapeutic and compassionate as possible, while also instilling a sense of accountability.” EKCC members then asked about carbon legislation and the state’s climate commitment, as well as the issue of catalytic converter theft, which he said has started to settle down.
Lt. Gov. Denny Heck:
Housing is on the lieutenant governor’s mind, as he made the point to discuss the intersection of economic disparities and home equity, as well as the fact that while mental illness and substance abuse play a part in the homelessness crisis, a lack of affordable housing is the leading cause. The answer? “Build homes of all kinds for all our neighbors.” EKCC members also asked Lt. Gov. Heck about the state’s Business Competitiveness Study — which can be found here — and the group discussed the need for industry-specific education and workforce development in our region.
Rep. Debra Entenman, 47th District:
While her experience on the Transportation Committee certainly impacts East King County — she is continually pushing for progress on the I-405/SR 167 Corridor Program — Rep. Entenman is particularly passionate about her work with the K-12 population. “When we talk about what is happening in our communities with our young people — mental health, substance abuse … We are making some difficult choices right now.”
Rep. Steve Bergquist, 11th District:
As a budget expert, it’s not surprising that Rep. Bergquist’s main legislative priorities for the remaining session all have to do with balance. He mentioned his concern that we may have continued shortfalls in special education funding, as well as reiterating his dedication to creating greater investments in the workforce, “especially in high-need areas like higher education.” Specifically, he would love to see a program where high school grads with lower GPAs can still qualify for scholarships and aid. Above all else, though, he said he is mainly working to “maintain the things that we have accumulated over the last few years.”
Rep. Chris Stearns, 47th District:
Worker safety is crucial to Rep. Stearns’ platform, and he expressed great worry over the conditions of Tiger Mountain Road. He says casino workers in his district have taken matters into their own hands to create a shuttle to Covington for this exact reason, and he thus advocates for the widening of the road. “This would make a big difference for commerce in South King County.”
Rep. Bill Ramos, 5th District:
While Rep. Ramos himself couldn’t join us, his legislative assistant Hunter Cooper took the time to meet with us and address the current state of the Move Ahead Washington package. He said that we are primarily in the wait-and-see stages, and the office as a whole is eager to see how things turn out. Cooper then asked for EKCC’s joint priorities, and members were given the opportunity to advocate for funding for Highway 18, Bothell Way, and the 124th interchange.
Sen. Lisa Wellman, 41st District:
A former tech executive, Senator Wellman spoke of promoting the gaming industry in the state, and ongoing push for funding robotics programs. Riot Games is moving to Mercer Island this year, so she touched on how this addition will help stimulate her jurisdiction’s economy, and the future of gaming and education here in Washington.
Rep. My-Linh Thai, 41st District:
During her session with the EKCC Chambers, Rep. Thai gave an inventory of her priorities and legislative wins, many of which surround student welfare, mental health, and supporting refugees and unhoused folks. She also touched on the current issue of nurse staffing ratios and the resulting interstate compact, noting how she is “sympathetic for hospital operations,” and is looking forward to an effective groundwork for “patients being cared for by non-exhausted nurses.”
Sen. Derek Stanford, 1st District:
Sen. Stanford is putting a big emphasis on special education funding this session, as well as finding alternatives to improve our transportation infrastructure via short line railroads, hydrogen options, and the like. He also expressed his support for expanding middle housing and transit-oriented development, saying, “we need to allow builders to create more housing.”
Rep. Davina Duerr, 1st District:
Local government and environmental stewardship are Rep. Duerr’s specialty, so she brought up House Bill 1167 — which she hopes will help streamline permitting and ease housing regulations — as well as the continued expansion of 405 and the state’s decarbonization efforts.
Sen. Manka Dhingra, 45th District:
Focused on issues surrounding domestic violence, trafficking, worker safety, and behavioral health, Sen. Dhingra has sponsored a slew of bills this session to tackle them. She is backing a Peer Specialist Bill, Behavioral Health package, and legislation eliminating the “pink tax.” Ideally, she said she hopes to refocus the role of communities, rather than the state, to better address behavioral health crises.
Rep. Larry Springer, 45th District:
Having voted against the middle housing bill, lot-splitting, and TOD-led legislation, Rep. Springer explained that while he thought these were fine conceptually, he worried the Eastside would suffer from a blanketed approach. When it comes to things like zoning regulations, he thinks that cities like Woodinville or Kenmore should be addressed in a different way than Seattle, and thus not grouped under the same legislation.
Rep. Eric Robertson, 31st District:
Rep. Robertson’s legislative priorities fall under three categories this session: labor and workplace safety, transportation budget, and regulated substances. Robertson believes the labor and workplace safety team is trying to make the changes necessary on the legislation from the Senate. However, a thorough approach to budget evaluations was the main topic of discussion at our meeting. Rep. Robertson’s suggestion that a non-partisan staff to go through different budgets line-by-line as well as projects to ensure projects are fully completed and restored before initiating new ones.
Rep. Lisa Callan, 5th District:
Rep. Callan’s legislative priorities were behavioral health workforce shortages, trying to finalize the capital budget, and housing.
Rep. Amy Walen, 48th District:
Rep. Walen’s priorities were around a resolution to the Blake Decision discussion, public safety, and the Land-Use/REET bill. Additionally, Rep. Walen brought up the Revenue and Broad Based Tax Reform which was about intergenerational wealth and housing.
Rep. Tana Senn, 41st District:
Rep. Senn focused significantly on childcare woes, housing bills, and education and schooling funds. She believes that economic vitality stems from childcare institutions (i.e. Imagine Institute). Additionally, she believes that some housing legislation is moving too quickly through the process without proper supervision, specifically HB 5456.
Sen. Bob Hasegawa, 11th District:
Last but not least, Sen. Hasegawa touched on the Housing Shortage issue and the Blake Decision. The two things that stood out from Sen. Hasegawa’s remarks:
- We can’t rely on developers to meet housing demand needs because it isn’t in the financial best interest of developers to build the number of units we truly need. This is because a shortage in housing means higher unit pricing, thus a self-defeating strategy.
- Publicly financed multi-family housing is necessary. We should use public banking as a financing strategy. Instead of tax revenue into a Wall Street Bank, we should have tax dollars go into a public bank to be leveraged for greater infrastructure at scale.