45th district Dems give priority preview

At the state 45th Legislative District’s first meeting of 2018 on Wednesday night, Democrats took time to review some issues left unresolved after last year’s session in Olympia and looked toward this year’s.

The 45th was a key race in this year’s special election. With Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra’s win in the district, both the Washington state House of Representatives and Senate came under the party’s control.

State Rep. Roger Goodman addressed the crowd at Horace Mann Elementary in Redmond with policies he would like to see passed in 2018, a shorter session than last year’s.

First, Goodman said he will be pushing to pass a the capital budget, which finances infrastructure projects.

Democrats have a one-vote majority in the Senate, which is enough to pass the budget, but a 60 percent approval is needed to issue bonds to fund the projects in the budget, Goodman said.

This presents a problem for Democrats who are locked in a battle with Republicans over a state Supreme Court decision known as the Hirst Decision.

The Hirst Decision essentially forces counties to take on the responsibility of issuing permits for wells, a function that the state formerly oversaw. Many rural counties argue they don’t have the resources to do this, which has impacted the creation of wells in parts of the state outside Puget Sound.

Republicans refused to pass the capital budget last year without action to undermine the court decision, and Goodman said they will likely block the issuance of bonds even if the budget is passed this year.

Goodman also hopes to address gender and race equity, expand voting rights and enforce reproductive rights.

While he would like a carbon tax, he said the votes likely aren’t there for it.

Similarly, while he said he supports single-payer health care, he doubts there will be enough support in the Legislature to pursue it in Washington state.

In criminal justice reform, Goodman hopes to offer a bill to create a commission to examine widespread reform in the state.

This commission would look at ways to reform the justice system from sentencing calculations, to how juveniles are treated and possibly police use of force.

“I’ve been waiting 20 years for this,” he said.

John Stafford, a speaker at the meeting who keeps an eye on the Legislature for the party, said he hopes to see a change in the way police killings are handled. The state requires that prosecutors prove malice when trying to convict a killer, a higher burden of proof than most states.

The Legislature convenes on Jan. 8 for a scheduled 60-day session. Last year, the Legislature went into three special sessions for the longest session in state history at 195 days.

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