Roach ready for first session
April 30, 2009 · Updated 1:04 PM
By Dennis Box
Roach ready for session
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, began her 15th year in the state Senate Monday.
The 60-day legislative session convened with Democrats in control of both houses and the governor's mansion.
Although partisan politics always matter, Roach said she can work across party lines.
One non-partisan issue central to the Plateau is Roach's proposal to create a regional park and refuge along the White River. The park would encompass about 3,000 acres between Buckley and Auburn.
The senator hopes to convince the Legislature and Gov. Christine Gregoire to direct about $200,000 for a study of the proposal.
“It is a wonderful opportunity,” Roach said. “This is 3,000 we can't get back again. If we don't have a plan to gather public support we won't win on this one.”
Roach is working on gathering an ad hoc task force that would include the mayors of neighboring cities - Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Sumner, Auburn and South Prairie - some council members and other interested parties.
“There will be a place for everyone at the table,” Roach said. “This should be a fun project.”
Puget Sound Energy owns the land. The power company has agreed to donate 500 acres as part of a mitigation deal with the Department of Ecology to gain the drinking water rights to Lake Tapps. Once the rights are secured, PSE will sell them to Cascade Water Alliance.
PSE is in the process of selling the Lake Tapps and the water rights to Cascade for $37 million.
Roach said the land that would make up the park was appraised at about $25 to $30 million four years ago by PSE.
Another item at the top of Roach's to-do list will be introduce legislation supporting the teaching of foreign languages to younger children.
“I would like to see younger children offered the opportunity to learn other languages,” Roach said. “This could be a cultural bridge that we need. I challenge teachers, parents and the community to support this.”
Legislation to increase penalties and monitoring of sexual predators is high on the priority list for all three 31st District legislators.
Roach is co-hosting legislation in the Senate to increase penalties against sexual predators of children, known as Jessica's Law.
Jessica's Law is a nationwide campaign to increase prison terms and monitoring of predators.
Jessica Lundsford was a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped, assaulted and murdered in February 2005 in Florida. Convicted sex offender John Evander Couey, 46, is reported to have confessed to taking the girl from her home and killing her.
Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, introduced a similar bill in the house calling for lifetime prison sentence for forcible rape by an adult of a child under 12 and requiring global positioning system monitoring for certain sex offenders.
Shabro's and Roach's legislation would require all sex offenders entering or re-entering Washington to register within 24 hours of arrival instead of the current 30-day requirement and make it a felony to fail to report.
The sex-offender bills are likely to find smooth sailing this year in the Legislature, but the budget massage in a short session will be dicey as usual.
Gregoire is forecasting a $1.4 billion surplus this year and the Republicans are preaching caution, but the Democrats have control of the reins.
Senate Democrats hold a 26 to 23 advantage over the Republicans. In the House of Representatives, Democrats hold an advantage of 55 to 43.
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.