Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update

January 30th, 2015|

Dear neighbors:

Greetings from Olympia! We are wrapping up the third week of the 2015 legislative session, hard at work on funding our public schools, funding mental health services, and crafting a package of transportation infrastructure investments and the revenue to pay for them.  Already, legislators have introduced more than 1,300 bills on a wide variety of subjects. Between studying and refining those proposals and drafting a budget for the next two years for our state, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  I am honored to represent you in that process. This is the first of several updates I will be sending you this session on the work I am doing on your behalf. 

New committee assignments

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This session I am serving as the Democratic leader (called the “ranking member”) on the Law & Justice Committee, which handles a broad range of civil, criminal, and family law issues. I’m also excited to join the Transportation Committee this year, where I will be working to fund a variety of infrastructure investments. I’m also on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee (which handles banks, insurance and housing issues).

Video Update

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I shot my first video update of the session this week. In the update, I discuss my new roles in the Senate and talk about my top legislative priorities. Take a look!

Education

Securing adequate funding for our public schools is my top priority this legislative session. In Seattle, enrollment has grown to more than 52,000 students in the 2014-15 school year, an increase of 7,000 students in the past five years. These students are running out of space to learn. I plan to continue work this session to revise the outdated formula by which the state matches local capital levy money and help provide resources to make sure that kids have classrooms to learn in. I will also be working with my colleagues to advocate for new revenue so that we can amply fund our schools without compromising our investments in higher education or the safety net.

Transportation

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I am working hard with my colleagues in the Senate to craft and pass a transportation revenue package this session. Passage will allow Washington to make major infrastructure improvements, including projects to make streets safer for kids, reduce pollution, and give people convenient alternatives to sitting in traffic. The city of Seattle has done great work in the last year on resolving the remaining design issues with the west side of the SR 520 bridge; now the legislature must fully fund the long-promised improvements.  We will also be working to give the people of the Puget Sound area the right to decide whether to make a large additional investment in Sound Transit.

Improving the Initiative Process

I have been working with Republican Senator Joe Fain on a proposed constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 8201) that would require initiatives with significant fiscal effects – whether cutting taxes or increasing services – to identify a way to pay for those changes. I believe that voters’ choices are much more likely to be put into effect if they are funded.  When the legislature suspends or repeals initiatives that are impossible to reconcile with our budget commitments, it creates a cycle of mistrust and cynicism. This amendment would help to break that cycle and treat voters as adults who can be trusted to consider the tradeoffs that are inherent in financial decisions.

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. I welcome your comments and questions anytime.

Sincerely,

Senator Jamie Pedersen
360-786-7628
Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov