October 9, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am. Colleen McAleer led the flag salute.
Peggy N. moved to accept Oct. 2 meeting minutes, seconded by Jack G. Motion passed.
Julie H. said Sound Community Bank is hosting a Chamber of Commerce After Hours next week.
Sam P. moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Dick P. seconded. Motion passed.
Matthew reviewed the rules for the forum. Julie H. will moderate.
Program: Rep. Steve Tharinger and candidate Jim McEntire for State Legislative District 24
ST: Talked about things he did this weekend as part of his job: participated in Sequim Alzheimer’s Association forum, was on KONP with Jim M., talked about mental health with hospital administration and staff, met with Luke R. about the college’s budget needs. He said Alzheimer’s is the 3rd highest disease in the state and better diagnosis is needed. He is in a good position to help with the committees he is involved in.
JM: Talked about the rural needs of WA starting with a Hirst fix and the need to devise good policy for rural development. Fifty-five percent of kids have free/reduced lunch in our district and solutions are in state policy. A growing economy helps many social ills. He said river flows are on the uptrend, we are not running out of water, and rules are a solution in search of a problem, it hurts land owners and developers.
Sheena asked how the state would fund schools.
JM: It has to do with unfunded mandates. K-12 is a funding obligation which extends to school construction. There could be a proportionate share with state government in rural areas that struggle with levies and bonds. Legislation should not backslide on its obligation and needs to let the policy settle to see where fixes need to be made. There is $3.5B in unanticipated revenue, that money can be used for tings like this.
ST: The constitution drives the bonding process. They can bond $3.7B this biennium and there are statutory limits. He has a bipartisan committee to talk about school construction and producing prototypical schools. It could be an approach for a community to decide on additional add-ons. They will discuss again in January.
Gayla asked about inflation and spending going up.
ST: WA is the fastest growing state population-wise, with those trends come costs. It would cost $600M to replace WA State Hospital. This session will focus on mental health. Maybe they could transfer money from the Budget Stabilization account. They borrowed money at 4% and loaned it at a quarter, that cost them money.
JM: The accounts are illogical: Rainy Day, Budget, etc. need to look at why and what they are spending money on. Top 4 spent first out of State Treasury is: Rainy Day Fund, Budget, Pensions/K-12 and Bond interest and principle. WA spends $6B on interest and principle on state indebtedness. We are the 6th highest debt state in the US.
Andrew asked what 2-3 bills candidates would focus on to help our agenda and not Seattle.
JM: Hirst fix is important. He also would sponsor a bill that limits the ability of municipalities to pass schemes like a head tax.
ST: He worked on higher reimbursement rates for our sole community hospitals. You get it done not by us vs. them, you need to find balance. Hiis committees help him to make the case. Hirst was a Whatcom County decision and you need to talk about Tribal Treaties and Water Rights. Water as related to fish is more of a rural issue.
Dick P. asked about a state income tax.
ST: Said “No”. We have a regressive tax structure and he is a proponent of a capital gains tax. They need to look at other revenue streams.
JM: Said if we had a better performing rural economy there would not be such a gap in tax structure. He’d vote no income tax. When your name is associated with a transaction, that’s income. The constitution doesn’t prohibit it, but if you have one, it must be uniform.
Steve B. asked how they distinguish rural vs. urban needs.
JM: Said he would focus on what impedes business formation in the state, which it is hard to start and grow. There are 2,200 fewer people drawing paychecks while the population has grown.
ST: The challenge is broadband access. He would coordinate federal and state dollars to work together in providing infrastructure. People choose to live here because it is rural.
Colleen M. if they would support a bill for how the state calculates carbon emissions
ST: Said we need to deal with the carbon issue. Policies that give clarity are important but this initiative doesn’t do that. Diesel use is being changed to natural gas by a tug company in Tacoma. We should let technology come up with solutions. Less carbon makes sense.
JM: Said we should do no harm and a transition from a fossil based economy to non-fossil based is a dream. We have to generate electricity somehow. Carbon can be soaked up with forests. This initiative stops interstate commerce and the better answer lies in encouraging less carbon consumption.
Brian G. pointed out that in the 1639 gun initiative, older automatics can criminalize those unknowingly.
JM: Said it is an ill-considered initiative that creates fear where not warranted. We should be talking about mental health and behavior and looking at the involuntary treatment act. Age discrimination creates a suspect class and it criminalizes the crime victim; a stolen firearm can cause the owner to be charged with a felony.
ST: Said there are challenges around gun violence and we should look at it as a public health issue, it doesn’t impinge on 2nd Amendment Rights. He wasn’t aware of the technicality of the initiative but said students are crying out for help. Warnings and safety should be on the instrument.
Rebekah M. asked about how they would have responded to the Kavanaugh issue if it were here locally.
ST: Said you have to make people feel comfortable and the investigation was not as thorough as it should have been. It was not handled well.
JM: Said it was failure of the Judiciary Committee to treat the nominee and women with respect and dignity. News media has a responsibility as well. The FBI doesn’t investigate crimes, only backgrounds and it should have been handled locally. The challenge is to make it okay to report a crime.
JM: Asks for our vote. He’d bring high bandwidth. With 46 years of serving our country he has the ability to work as a team, focus on issues important to citizens, listen to constituents, not hide behind law, and work as a public servant.
ST: Said he has built up relationships and is in the position to work for the community. His 3 term county commissioner role helps add experience. He does not have vague ideological ways, but he has come up with actual solutions.
Matthew asked the candidates if they are for or against a carbon tax.
ST: Said it’s a fee and the globe needs a carbon policy. Legislature should work that out.
JM: Said he would vote no on the initiative.
October 16: Proposed Carbon Tax
Meeting adjourned at 8:46am.