Legislators keep busy as session winds down

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By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The 31st District's trio of legislators are in the stretch run of the short session in Olympia, which often means long days and short nights.

Both sides of the aisle are concentrating on the finalizing the supplemental budget, which brings out the differences in the two-party system.

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, was on Senate floor Thursday and she said the Republicans were working on their version of the budget.

“This is our opportunity to amend the (Democratic) budget,” Roach said. “It shows the contrast how people approach government.”

Roach said one of the successes of the session is her pilot program for Spanish and Chinese language instruction, which is on track to move out of the House and could be signed this year by the governor.

“I'm guardedly optimistic,” Roach said. “I believe every child should have the opportunity to learn two languages.”

The senator first introduced the bill in 2007.

Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Greenwater, testified before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Committee Thursday concerning his bill that would make it easier for school districts to purchase locally-grown food.

Hurst intends this bill to help farmers in the region survive and help the schools.

“We are losing farmland on a daily basis,” Hurst told the committee. “In their hearts and souls the farmers don't want to do this (sell their farms). They want to farm.”

On another subject, Hurst said the measure to combat the growing street crime problem in the state is one of the most important pieces of legislation he has worked on.

The bill passed out of the House 94-1 and is in the Senate. Hurst said the bill received $2.4 million in the House budget.

“This fully meets all our hopes and expectations,” he said. “This sets the stage to get the pilot projects underway. This is a big change in public policy for police enforcement and it is not a partisan issue at all.”

Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, was hearing testimony in the Finance Committee Thursday on House Bill 3307, which provides an excise tax exemption for log haulers.

Rep. Roach said during a break in the hearing that the budget was a major concern of his.

“I'm seeing a definite change in short sessions with major budget decisions being made,” Dan Roach said. “In a short session there isn't time for (major budget) issues to be vetted enough. Also, I think a 33 percent increase in government spending is unsustainable even in times of good economic growth.”

One of Roach's bills that looks promising, HB 3269, is a pilot project in Pierce County to have a specialist go to licensed daycare facilities and educate the providers on children with special needs like autism.

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