Local legislators set housing, public safety, education and climate as priority - Salish Current
January 5, 2023
Local legislators set housing, public safety, education and climate as priority
Editorial Staff

You are … here: 40th and 42nd District legislators serve residents of San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties. (OSPI image)

January 5, 2023
Local legislators set housing, public safety, education and climate as priority
Editorial Staff

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The 2023 Washington state legislature convenes for a 120-day session on Jan. 9. Our 40th and 42nd District representatives will be engaged with other state legislators introducing, debating and voting on a wide variety of issues, including a biennial budget for 2024-25. We’ll do our best to keep track of how well they serve the people of their districts. It’s your government.

42nd Legislative District

Rep. Joe Timmons 

“I am honored to serve the 42nd District in Washington’s House of Representatives. As a new member in the Legislature, my top priority is to build relationships in Olympia and with constituents across Whatcom County — Democrats and Republicans alike — so that I can effectively represent our community and work on its behalf. This includes listening to locally elected officials, educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and community members with lived experience to make informed decisions while leaning on my values, such as equity and fairness.

“In terms of issue areas, I will aim to increase access to educational opportunities and addressing workforce shortages, improving public safety, and alleviating the housing shortage crisis by creating more housing options for renters and first-time homebuyers. I will also strive towards strengthening our state’s emergency preparedness and response, including during flooding and wildfire incidents. As Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee, I am also committed to ensuring that state transportation investments benefit residents right here in Whatcom County.”

Sen. Sharon Shewmake

“My top priority for the 2023 session is fixing our broken housing market and helping ensure there’s affordable housing available for all Washingtonians. We simply don’t have enough homes for the growing number of people who live here, and that is causing increases in rents and housing prices that put workers, seniors, young people and families at risk. I recently heard someone say, ‘the best tenant protection is a 10% vacancy rate,’ and I think that’s absolutely right. By increasing our housing supply, we can make sure that people have plenty of choices, so that whether people want to rent or buy a home, they can afford to live near their jobs and communities, avoid eviction and homelessness, and build their lives for the future. 

“How did we get into this crisis? We over-regulated our housing market and made it too difficult to build, both out and up. I especially support making it easier to build up in our cities — that’s where the jobs are, it’s where the infrastructure and transit already exist, it’s where many people want to live, and it’s better for the environment. Living near jobs and communities means people don’t have to drive as far to work, which also insulates folks from high gas prices. Building in cities just makes sense, and we need to take a hard look at our regulations and permitting to figure out how we make it easier to build housing (and more affordable housing) near jobs and transit, protecting our values and our environment, so everyone can afford to live in a great home here in Washington state.”

[Rep. Alicia Rule did not respond to multiple requests for a statement.]

40th Legislative District

Rep. Alex Ramel

“Over the summer I went to more than 4,000 doors, and in those conversations I asked people what was on their mind. Without question, the top issue for people in our community is the cost of housing. Over the medium term, we need to build a lot more homes, including missing middle housing. But in the short term, rising rents are pushing people out of our community, into poverty, and in too many cases into homelessness. I talked to many people whose rents increased by 30-50% in one year. I’ll be working this year to limit rent increases for existing tenants and stabilize housing costs.

“I’ll also be working to make the most of the opportunities created by the federal Inflation Reduction Act and Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. There are numerous opportunities for grants and credits to electrify and increase efficiency on homes and small businesses. It’s amazing, but it’s also a lot to sort out. I’ll be introducing a building energy upgrade navigator, a one-stop-shop to help Washingtonians make sense of the opportunities, bring down energy costs, and create and maintain thousands of living wage jobs.”

Sen. Liz Lovelett

“My top priority for the 2023 session is to continue bringing the passion and expertise of our corner of the world to bear on the climate crisis that threatens our future. As chair of the newly formed Senate Local Government, Land Use and Tribal Affairs Committee, I will have the opportunity to work with partners at all levels of government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through our comprehensive planning process.

“When it was first passed in 1990, the Growth Management Act (GMA) was a farsighted effort to ensure that our children’s children benefit from the beauty and natural resources of our state the same way we’ve enjoyed; and to create livable, walkable communities instead of expensive and damaging sprawl. With planning updates that take into account what we have learned about the causes and effects of climate change, the GMA can be a tool to protect communities against the flooding, fires, sea level rise, and extreme heat that climate change brings.

“This coming session, I will use my new role as chair, as well as my continued roles as vice chair of the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee and leader of the Ferry Legislator Caucus on the Senate Transportation Committee, to keep our state and district at the forefront of the fight against climate change.”

[Rep. Debra Lekanoff did not respond to multiple requests for statements.]

— Reported by Salish Current Editorial Staff

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