Accountability for Seattle's environmental catastrophe

2017 legislative session • March 10, 2017 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Letter from Leadership 

The Current 2017-18

Dear Friend:  

A long week of House floor action has come to an end. Most state lawmakers are on their way back to district for the weekend. I know I speak for everyone when I say I look forward to seeing my family.

As you may know, Wednesday was house of origin cutoff. The state House passed 376 bills in the first 59 days of the legislative session. A total of 122 measures were prime sponsored by House Republicans. The state Senate has also been busy, advancing 283 bills in the same time period.

On Thursday, the state House passed Senate legislation that would change provisions relating to school district excess levies -- commonly referred to as the "levy cliff" bill. You can learn more in this story. You can also watch my floor speech on this bill here.

Next week will include a lot of committee work and consideration of Senate bills. Our next deadline is policy committee cutoff opposite chamber on March 29.

Next steps for education funding

As discussed in a previous e-mail update, education bills have passed out of each chamber. You can find a side-by-side comparison of the House Democratic and Senate Republican bills here.

It is now time for serious negotiations to begin. An eight-member team, with two state lawmakers from each caucus, began meeting this week. We are represented by Reps. Paul Harris and David Taylor, who have been a part of a small team looking at this issue since last summer. The Senate Republicans chose Sens. Dino Rossi and Ann Rivers.

So far, the process has been constructive and ideas have been exchanged. I expect progress to continue and will do everything in my power to help facilitate it.

Reforming Sound Transit 

Our members in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are receiving a lot feedback from constituents who are upset about the new taxes associated with Sound Transit 3. From sticker shock on their new car-tab fees due to an inflated and sometimes inaccurate formula, to unfair boundary lines, to concerns about the unelected Regional Transit Authority board, people are understandably mad.  

Twelve of our members from these counties sent a letter to Speaker of the House Frank Chopp Wednesday requesting that bills we have sponsored to reform Sound Transit and hold it accountable be passed. Sens. Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi have also questioned the constitutionality of Sound Transit’s car-tab fees and sent a letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson asking him to weigh in.

This will be a very important issue in the last half of the legislative session. Please stay tuned.

Traditional and telephone town hall meetings

Several of our members will be holding town hall meetings this weekend or in the upcoming weeks. Please visit individual member pages for details. These events are great opportunities for you to learn more about legislative issues and share your views. 

Most of our members who are not holding traditional town hall meetings will be hosting telephone town hall meetings because they are more convenient for constituents. In fact, we have 11 events (including 20 members) scheduled in the next three weeks. John Koster (see profile below) and I recently hosted one of these community conversations and 437 people participated. We were able to answer several questions and get great feedback from those we represent.

Our members will continue to reach out to their constituents for feedback. We rely on this input.     

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District
(360) 786-7967

Accountability for Seattle's environmental catastrophe

An environmental catastrophe harming Puget Sound continues in Seattle, while Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Ed Murray have been relatively silent on the issue.

On Feb. 9, heavy rainfall overwhelmed the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle and caused major system damage. This resulted in millions of gallons of untreated storm water and raw sewage being dumped directly into Puget Sound. The disaster also forced people out of their homes and closed local beaches.

In the words of Metropolitan King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski, this is an "environmental catastrophe." He's right.

Unfortunately, a month later, there is no timeline for this serious problem to be fixed and no one can pinpoint why exactly it happened. There is also a disagreement on how to move forward with an investigation. The Seattle Times' editorial board weighed in today. Meanwhile, Puget Sound and its ecosystem continue to suffer.

The failure at the West Point Treatment Plant is not the only one that happened in Seattle last month. King County’s 63rd Avenue Pump Station in West Seattle also experienced problems, resulting in 330,000 gallons of storm and waste water being dumped into Puget Sound.

We are surprised by the lack of outrage and calls for accountability for these failures. If these problems were caused by a company or private citizen, there would be news conferences from politicians, news releases from environmental groups, lawsuits, and protests.

Op-ed in Seattle Times

Three of our members -- Reps. Vincent Buys, Drew MacEwen and David Taylor -- expressed their concern about this environmental catastrophe in an op-ed on Tuesday. They talked about how there is a double standard when it comes to environmental issues in rural and urban communities. They also discussed that it is everyone's responsibility to keep our waterways healthy, and how Republicans in the Legislature have supported solutions to clean up toxic sites, remove legacy nets, clear fish passages, improve oil train safety, and combat synthetic and pharmaceutical runoff. 

We will continue to demand accountability on this issue and support common-sense legislation to protect our environment. However, we will oppose controversial ideas that would threaten our state's low-cost energy and result in people paying more for their gas, energy bills and groceries. Fortunately, most of these proposals have not come to the House floor because they lack even full Democratic support.  

Rep. John Koster

John Koster returns to the House 

Rep. John Koster is no stranger to the state House. The 39th District Republican served three terms in the institution from 1995 to 2000.

Public service has always been a passion for John. He served on Snohomish County Council for 12 years, including as council chair and vice chair. He was also chairman of the Snohomish County Planning and Community Development Committee, the Operations Committee, and the Law and Justice/Human Services Committee.

John was asked to step into a committee leadership role when he returned to Olympia. He was named ranking Republican on the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee.  

John resides in Arlington with his wife Vicki. They have four children and ten grandchildren.

Our bills, news releases

A total of 376 bills passed the state House by the house of origin cutoff on Wednesday. We prime sponsored 122 of these measures. Below are some of our highlights and news releases.

Also, be sure to check out our updated Dead or Alive list.

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