Dear Editor: It was good to read the recent coverage in the Stanwood Camano News regarding work by our elected leaders in the legislature (See Page A3 and B7 in Feb. 5 edition). This coverage helps us be aware of current issues and those that affect us locally.
Many issues in state government directly impact local government. I was recently in Olympia and want to bring attention to important bills that have local impact.
Unfunded mandates to counties and local municipalities is one such issue.
Whether we are talking about the costs of elections, public defense or other bills, often there is not funding designated to support these costs. For you, the taxpayer, that means local resources may be redirected to fulfill state mandates.
Fortunately, there are solutions pending in this year’s legislature. SB (Senate Bill) 5098 redirects the Office of Public Defense to direct funding to support the costs at a local level. HB (House Bill) 1209, 1481 and 1291 intend to reimburse election costs to local counties. These deserve your consideration and support so local dollars can fund local priorities. For more information, go online to app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo.
Another important bill is HB 1498, which works to expand broadband access to rural counties. Many businesses in Island County suffer due to lack of high-speed internet. Increased broadband also will enable us to utilize telehealth services and better address access to care.
I have also been monitoring bills in the state legislature to give property tax relief to low income seniors and disabled veterans. As property taxes rise, increasing numbers of seniors and low-income families can be at risk of losing their homes.
To address this issue, we have gathered a workgroup on Camano Island to address the challenges to affordable housing for working families and seniors in our community.
I welcome input from area residents by email or phone on the issues in state policy and local government.