Crossing the Cascade Curtain: Seattle for Washington



Yesterday I went to Olympia with fellow Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen, Richard Conlin, and Sally Clark as part of our Seattle for Washington strategy.

Being in Olympia yesterday was like being inside a snow globe. Outside, that is. Inside the Capitol Building, it was abnormally calm and quiet because of the weather forecast.

We Councilmembers divided up forces. In addition to meeting our colleagues from the Seattle delegation, I met with leaders from east of the mountains including Rep. Joel Kretz and Sen. Mike Hewitt among others.

Because the challenges facing those of us living west of the Cascades and those living on the east side sometimes differ, the mountain range is sometimes referred to as The Cascade Curtain. We on this Council want to pierce that curtain and are reaching out to legislators to focus on the critical issues that impact all of us, and look for ways to fix them together.  That is what Seattle for Washington is all about.

Take transportation and immigration reform as examples.

  • Getting agricultural goods and fabricated products to market across I-90 and to our Ports has financial impacts for our State. In order to get these goods “the last five miles”, Seattle and King County need a sustainable way to fix our roads and pay for more transit services.  Equitably funding a robust and safe transportation infrastructure is something we can agree on.
  • Treating workers fairly so they can help harvest our crops has important implications for our economy and our food supply chain. The existing channels for seasonal farm workers to enter the country legally and live here safely are inadequate and need to be changed at the federal level. Our colleagues east of the mountains have asked for our support.

    Representative Mike Armstrong, 12th District

Thanks to Senator Curtis King from Yakima and Representative Mike Armstrong from Wenatchee, we’re doing our best to understand their challenges, and they are willing to understand ours, too. We’re working with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to arrange an “exchange” this year—an idea the three of us cooked up last October.

Sen. Curtis King, 14th District

We’re going to Yakima and Wenatchee. We plan to see their excellent new Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences and to share some of what we’ve learned about combating gang violence. And we’d like to bring them here to experience our commutes at rush hour, so they understand how important it is for us to have transportation options with sustained funding.  They said they’d come.

A few more people and experiences from yesterday I want to thank:

The 36thdistrict can be proud of their legislative troika: Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, who are sponsoring some important legislation.

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, 37th District

Senator Kohl-Welles orchestrated a press conference with bipartisan support on the subject of human sex trafficking, yesterday.  She has been instrumental these past years to provide funds to those who are trafficked with critical services including legal aid. She has passed legislation to approach prostituted youth as victims rather than criminals.  Brilliant.  And consistent with the work our police and Prosecuting Attorney are doing.

Rep. Dickerson is sponsoring several bills, one that will rely on evidenced-based practices as we provide human services, address juvenile justice, deal with abuse/neglect, and children’s mental health issues. This is a growing and important area, and I support her work.

Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, 36th District

Representative Carlyle is working on a new bill to simplify the B&O tax collection process while working with the City of Seattle and others to create a strategic phased-in approach. The B&O tax is a critical component of the Seattle’s revenue stream.

Rep. Carlyle is championing a way for Department of Revenue to reform the process, establish common definitions and classifications for business, upgrade Department of Revenue’s computer system and make it easier for taxpayers to report. I support this in principle, and am grateful to Rep. Carlyle for working with the City to find a good solution to this problem.

Representative Reuven Carlyle, 35th District

Senator David Frockt from the 46th district is helping us frame and promote the idea of local funding options for more transit and transportation.  He is picking up where our dear friend Sen. Scott White left off.  I am very grateful to him.