One Question

One Question for This Weekend's Legislative Town Halls

Suggested line of questioning for your state house legislators.

By Josh Feit February 20, 2014

One Question

Three of Seattle's legislative districts are holding town halls this weekend—see Genie's PubliCal listings for the time & place details

There will be town halls in South Seattle's 11th District (which also covers Tukwila and S. Renton); Southeast Seattle's 37th District (Rainier Valley, Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Madrona, Beacon Hill); and the urban-y 43rd District—Capitol Hill, Denny, Wallingford, U. District, Pike Place, Fremont, Downtwon, along with Montlake, Madison Park, and Broadmoor.

It's your opportunity to give your legislators feedback and ask questions. We've got a few suggestions.

First off, in the 11th, you should cheer Rep. Zack Hudgins; Hudgins was the prime sponsor on the DREAM Act, which makes children of undocumented immigrants eligible for college financial aid. Hudgins' bill passed the house on the first day of the session, a tactical move that put pressure on the Republican-dominated senate to join the 21st century and pass it as well; they blocked it last year.

After Rep. Hudgins' power play, the GOP followed suit and passed their own version this year. Earlier this week, the house signed off on it and sent it to the governor.

One question for Rep. Hudgins, though, is why he didn't attach funding to his version; the GOP did, which allowed them to proudly change the name of the DREAM Act to the Real Hope Act (get it?).

In the 37th District, Southeast Seattle voters should ask Rep. Eric Pettigrew about the state minimum wage bill.

Admittedly, the GOP move is a bit misleading; the real funding comes in the budget, and Hudgins would be right to point out that it doesn't make sense to start budgeting until you know what programs you're funding, as the initial house budget, which included the DREAM Act last year, did.

However, press Hudgins on this point. The $37 million that the Democrats talked about putting toward higher education in their initial budget last year only covered tuition increases, not new financial aid slots. I fell for this Democratic talking point during this year's DREAM Act debate, but non-partisan legislative staff set me straight: the Democrats did not fund the DREAM Act last year. 

In the 37th District, Southeast Seattle voters should ask Rep. Eric Pettigrew about the state minimum wage bill. Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46, N. Seattle) sponsored a bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2017. She got all but two Seattle reps to co-sponsor it: Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne), who eventually told PubliCola on the record he was a 'Yes,' and Pettigrew, who hasn't returned our call. The bill did not come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled house—perhaps because it couldn't get out of the house appropriations committee, where Pettigrew is one of the Democratic votes?

It is of the biggest embarrassments for Gov. Jay Inslee and the Democrats so far this session.

It would also be appropriate to give a big round of applause to longtime Sen. Adam Kline, who's retiring after 18 years this session. Kline has been a civil rights leader in the state legislature.

In the 43rd, the minimum wage line of questioning should continue because Rep. Frank Chopp is the speaker of the house, and he decides which bills come up and which don't. Chopp needs to explain why this year's national Democratic priority didn't come to a vote in the Democratic house.

The 43rd has new legislator, Rep. Brady Walkinshaw. He deserves props for having the chutzpah and smarts to co-sponsor a bill with a batch of ultra-conservative Republicans regulating drones. Given the recent local controversy over the SPD's drones—purchased without city council approval—it's weird that Walkinshaw was the only Seattle rep to sign on to the bill, which mandates council authority over drones. Walkinshaw, who's gay and Latino, is a hardcore urban liberal. Syncing up with Tea Party Republicans, on an ACLU bill, was a savvy play.

Question for Pollet: Does he have any proof that property values have declined as a result of small-lot development?

And if you're in North Seattle's 46th District, you'll also have a chance to talk to your legislators: They aren't holding a town hall this weekend, but they're doing a dial-in town hall teleconference next Tuesday.

Rep. Farrell, who sponsored the minimum wage bill,  represents the 46th, so you could ask for her take on what's going on.

But more important, Rep. Gerry Pollet, who's been holding town halls of his own all session, definitely needs to explain his recent comments to KIRO TV, which Erica flagged in yesterday's OOBT. Rep. Pollet, who ran a bill to require notice when developers build small-lot houses, described the housing as "monstrosities, they ruin neighborhoods, they literally destroy the value of the houses next door."

Question for Pollet: Does he have any proof that property values have declined as a result of small lot development?

Image: Shutterstock

It's worth pointing out that Pollet's Lesser Seattle argument flies in the face of others in the anti-density movement who claim that development actually increases property values—and thus drives lower-income people out of neighborhoods.

Well, which is it?

Ha. I'd suggest asking Rep. Farrell the same question. She's on the opposite side of the debate on this stuff from Pollett. It could get interesting.


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