This Washington

Margarita Prentice to Retire

By Erica C. Barnett January 5, 2012

The Renton Reporter has the news that state Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-11) plans to retire after 20 years in the state senate (and five years in the state house), leaving the 11th District senate seat up for grabs.

Prentice, who lives in Skyway, was redistricted into the neighboring 37th District earlier this week. Rather than running against that district's longtime Democratic senator, Adam Kline, or move back into the 11th, Prentice said she would retire from politics when her term ends next January.

Prentice, a longtime advocate for Renton interests, focused on farmworkers' rights during her early years in the legislature, pushing for housing reform, a law banning child labor, health care coverage, and a higher minimum wage. She also led on domestic partner rights, the right to breast-feed in public, and veterans' benefits.

However, Prentice was also infamous for pushing legislation to benefit payday loan companies---companies, exempt from the state's usury law, that offer short-term loans at often astronomical interest rates.

In 1995, she wrote the first legislation allowing payday loan companies to operate in the state. In 2009, she opposed legislation limiting the amount of payday loans and the number of times a person can take out a payday loan in one year. And she has consistently fought efforts to limit the interest rate that can be charged on such loans. Prentice has defended her advocacy for payday lenders, saying they are often the bank of last resort for poor and minority borrowers and accusing their opponents of racism for assuming "brown-skinned people" aren't smart enough to decide for themselves whether to borrow money and for how much interest.

Additionally, Prentice, who has consistently opposed expanding cardrooms and other forms of gambling outside tribal reservations, has been accused of being in the pocket of tribal gaming interests.

Prentice is not the only legislator to be dislodged from her former district. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Republican Rep. Ed Orcutt of Kalama has been moved from the 18th District into the 20th;  20th District Republican Rep. Gary Alexander lives on the outskirts of Lacey and has been pushed into the 2nd; and 2nd District Republican Rep. Jim McCune of Graham has been pushed into the 28th, which has two Democratic House members.
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