Legislators are back in Olympia for the 60-day session. State Rep. Larry Seaquist and newly minted Sen. Jan Angel listed their priorities Friday during the 14th annual legislative send-off hosted by the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce at the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College.
Angel, R-Port Orchard, is starting off the session with a new office. She defeated incumbent Nathan Schlicher, D-Gig Harbor, for the Senate seat in August. Her seat in the House is still vacant, although an appointment could be made as soon as this week.
Both politicians said they will prioritize education, an issue that may make the short session “pretty sporting,” Seaquist said.
The state Supreme Court handed down an order to the Legislature last week to follow through on funding promises laid out in the McCleary decision.
“This was kind of a surprise to all of us,” Angel said of the court’s decision.
She said the court failed to give any insight on how the changes would be funded. Angel said it could be property or sales tax.
In terms of higher education, Seaquist would like to see the TCC-Gig Harbor campus expand. A more educated community can increase community wealth, Seaquist said, because income can grow by $17,500 per person.
Transportation is another joint priority. Angel is going into her fourth year on the Transportation Committee, her first in the Senate.
Seaquist wants to use gas tax money to lower and cap the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls at $4, he said.
“Our financing, I think we’re stuck,” Angel said. “Larry and I both have tried to come up with ways we can cap the tolls.”
Angel had a bill last session that was similar to pushing out a mortgage on a home.
She also called health care a “mess” and said fixing it is one of her priorities, along with jobs and the economy.
Angel cited a CNBC story that ranked Washington state the sixth worst for the cost of doing business. She earned applause from the crowd when she showed support for the Return to Work Act.
Seaquist met with Gig Harbor leaders last Wednesday to talk about the city’s legislative priorities. Among them are federal funding for the Ancich Property improvements, Harbor Hill Drive development and public records reform.
Seaquist also would like to see a transportation package that benefits the west Sound area, a coalition he hopes to cultivate.
“We’ve never been on the playing field with a package,” he said.Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.