Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Senator Derek Kilmer Visits Chamber's Public Affairs Council

Senator Derek Kilmer met with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber's Public Affairs Council today to discuss the recent legislative session.
"When every group and organization in this community is rowing toward the same goal, you can get things done with our Pierce County delegation."
Senator Kilmer highlighted the accomplishments of the Washington state legislature during this short session (60 days), which concerned mainly education, economic development, climate change, and some transportation issues.

On the issue of education, the legislature funded $50 million in new monies to assist with full-day kindergarten classes and school libraries. The legislature also reviewed the funding formula for education in this state. "We haven't looked at that formula," Sen. Kilmer said, "since 'Laverne & Shirley' were on tv." While the legislature has not come to any conclusions, Senator Kilmer felt it was a step in the right direction.

On the economic development front, one of the best pieces of legislative news for the Tacoma area was the passage of SB 6626, a bill creating a sales and use tax deferral program for eligible investment projects in community empowerment zones. This bill is expected to be used for retaining the Russell Investment Group and attract similar companies to downtown Tacoma.

Climate change was a major issue for Governor Gregoire and the state legislature. A bill signed into law by the Governor will require quantifiable reductions in greenhouse gas pollution through a comprehensive plan by the end of 2008, have CTED and WSDOT create a regional strategy for putting the private sector to work on reducing greenhouse gases from transportation and major sectors of the economy, and identify incentives to bring green businesses and jobs to the state.

Transportation remains a critical issue for the legislature. This session the legislature passed a bill that places the decision-making authority for tolls solely with the state and provides rules for future toll measures. No major funding occurred for tranportation projects in this short session of the legislature. [For more information on transportation issues in Pierce County, visit the RAMP website.]

Sen. Kilmer's main advice for the group was to push for projects, legislation, and funding through a single agenda. "When every group and organization in this community is rowing toward the same goal, you can get things done with our Pierce County delegation," he said.

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