Daily News editorial

Thoughts on Legislature: Recently we were fortunate to get more than an hour of time with state Rep. Brian Blake and state Sen. Dean Takko, both of the 19th Legislative District.

The two politicians serve the district well, keeping a strong focus on new legislation and appropriations that help local citizens.

Blake and Takko are frustrated the capital budget has been held up.

The 19th District politicians are upset the state capital budget is being used as a negotiating tool and thus far not passed through the Republican-controlled Senate.

Republicans are frustrated that a fix for the Hirst decision issue has not been passed by Democrats, and say once Hirst is fixed, the capital budget will get passed.

So far, Democrats haven’t voted on a Hirst fix, while the Republicans already passed several bills to solve the Hirst decision. This leaves both a Hirst fix and the capital budget in limbo.

The effect of the capital budget not being passed means many construction projects slated for the 19th and 20th districts won’t start anytime soon.

Speaking of the capital budget, Blake and Takko tried to get money already committed to the Oregon Way–Industrial Way interchange project moved from a future year to this coming year. They were not asking for more or new money, just to move up the timing of existing funds.

Both Blake and Takko expressed disappointment as the environmental lobby shot down their requests to change the timing of the funds. Apparently, the environmental lobby wants to stall the Millennium Bulk Terminals project in any way possible, so quashing the capital budget request is just another way to stall the project. Frustrating.

Blake is working hard to get more hatchery fish production. Over the past several years hatchery production has been cut, which hurts southwest Washington fisheries.

Blake was instrumental in getting the “Shot Clock” bill passed and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee. This new law requires the Department of Ecology to explain to the Legislature why permits have not been issued for specific projects after 24 months. The idea is to avoid the quagmire Millennium Bulk Terminals is in — the never-ending permitting process.

Takko had one of his most productive sessions ever in terms of getting bills passed. Takko’s name was attached to 10 pieces of legislation signed into law. He has been working for years to get a billed passed which recognizes biomass as a renewable energy source. This is important for local manufacturers and maintaining local jobs.

Last year, Gov. Inslee vetoed Takko’s biomass bill in a somewhat surprise decision. This session, the governor signed the biomass bill. Takko’s tenaciousness paid off.

Both Blake and Takko were satisfied with the solution for fully funding schools. After many years of study and discussion, finding a fix Republicans and Democrats can live with wasn’t easy, but school funding was increased dramatically.

Takko was disappointed Gov. Inslee line item vetoed the B&O tax changes in the school funding bill. In the coming years, the new education funding system will need some tweaks both said, but each appeared happy with the final product.

Blake and Takko consider it likely the state Senate will move from Republican to Democrat control in the coming November election, which would mean Democrats would again control all branches of state government.

We’re hoping the state Senate stays in Republican control, a split government tends to find more middle ground.

Takko recently toured the state institution at McNeil Island that houses civilly-committed sexual predators. Takko commented on how expensive the facility is to operate and maintain. Indeed, a 2017 KOMO News report estimated the cost per inmate is about $127,000 per year.

At some point the state might benefit from finding another facility instead of McNeil Island to house high risk sex offenders who’ve completed jail sentences.

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