Issaquah lawmakers rank high on missed votes tally

June 14, 2011

The lawmakers representing Issaquah and the 5th Legislative District in Olympia ranked near the top for the number of missed votes during the 2011 regular and special sessions.
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State encourages hiring preferences for veterans

May 24, 2011

Issaquah attorney, lawmaker team up for groundbreaking legislation

Ted Wicorek (from right), J.W. Johnson, Booker Stallworth, Mike Gregoire, Gov. Chris Gregoire, Jim Robinson, Marjorie James, Rep. Jay Rodne, Sen. Jeff Baxter, David Black Jr. and Tom Hinman at the Wednesday signing ceremony. Contributed

David Black, a respected employment attorney and Issaquah resident, remembers the challenges his father, a Vietnam War veteran, faced after returning to the civilian workforce.

“He had a really hard time getting employment when I was growing up,” he said. “I remember him having three or four part-time jobs trying to piece something together, trying to make things work.”

Black stood alongside Gov. Chris Gregoire, state legislators and advocates late last month as the governor signed a first-in-the-nation measure to encourage private employers in Washington to hire veterans.

The legislation Black crafted and helped to pass enables private employers to voluntarily give preference to hiring veterans, or veterans’ widows and widowers.

Because the measure encourages, rather than requires, private employers to give preference to hiring veterans, the legislation does not run afoul of state or federal antidiscrimination laws. State law also prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants due to military status.

“The way to encourage positive employment regulation that has a social origin or a social benefit as well is to make it permissive and to encourage it,” Black said.

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State removes hurdle for cities in need of disaster assistance

May 24, 2011

Floodwaters inundated Snoqualmie in January 2009 and, even as nearby Issaquah dried out from a major flood, officials sent equipment to the other flood-plagued city.

Issaquah and other local governments previously needed to negotiate a patchwork of interlocal agreements among local governments, law enforcement agencies and emergency service providers in order to receive aid from other jurisdictions during a disaster.

Under legislation signed last month, asking for help from other agencies in Washington is simpler for Issaquah and other local governments.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said the measure allows local governments to request aid from other jurisdictions in Washington, even if the parties do not have interlocal agreements in place.

“Prior to this, it was easier to bring resources in from out of state than it was from other counties,” he said.

The measure could serve a crucial need during a regional disaster, such as a major earthquake.

“Typically, during those types of emergencies, all of the jurisdictions in King County are in the same boat, if you will,” Heath said. “We’re not in a position where we can share resources with each other, because we’re all maxed out. So, we need to bring resources in from outside.”

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Issaquah lawmakers offer support for attorney general’s proposals

January 5, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 4, 2011

Issaquah legislators offered bipartisan support Monday to state Attorney General Rob McKenna’s priorities to change public records and eminent domain laws.

Legislation aims to create a state Office of Public Records to rule on complaints related to the Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act.

“It’s our hope that this pilot program will expand in the years to come, broadening access to government information,” McKenna said in a statement. “It will also prevent expensive lawsuits over the denial of records.”

The attorney general also proposed bills meant to save money by preventing lawsuits concerning open government matters — including a bill to require records requesters seeking court penalties to notify a government agency of the intent to file a lawsuit due to denied records.

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Issaquah legislators receive assignments to influential committees

December 29, 2010

NEW — 4 p.m. Dec. 29, 2010

Issaquah legislators continue to pick up key committees assignments, lending area residents a stronger stake in education and fiscal matters.

Legislators return to Olympia on Jan. 5 for the regular session — and to confront a $4.6 billion budget gap.

Issaquah is spread across the 5th, 4lst and 48th legislative districts. The local delegation includes a half-dozen representatives and three senators.

State Sen. Steve Litzow, a Republican freshman from Mercer Island, has been named the ranking member on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. GOP senators also selected Litzow for the Transportation and the Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance committees.

“Education is my No. 1 priority as a legislator,” he said in a statement. “During my campaign, I promised to put our schools first. I am honored that my colleagues have chosen me for this leadership role. I look forward to working with 41st District parents and teachers, and with stakeholders across the state on issues that affect our schools and our children.”

Litzow represents Cougar Mountain neighborhoods in Issaquah and other 41st Legislative District communities.

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Issaquah residents defied trends in November election

December 14, 2010

The ballot measure to create a state income tax failed just about everywhere outside of left-leaning Seattle and Vashon Island — except for a precinct nestled along Lake Sammamish.

Initiative 1098 received ironclad support — 80 percent — in the precinct. The catch: King County records indicate the precinct has 11 registered voters; 10 participated in the Nov. 2 election.

The information about the Lake Sammamish precinct comes from a detailed analysis of the precinct results in the recent election. (Issaquah is carved into 30 precincts.)

The neighborhood-level data — released a month after the election — illustrates how the Issaquah electorate bucked state trends on some issues and rejected incumbents even as the candidates cruised to re-election.

The dueling liquor initiatives on the ballot, 1100 and 1105, received uneven support from Issaquah voters.

Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — received broad backing in the city even as the measure came up short statewide.

Initiative 1105 failed in every Issaquah precinct and only managed to garner 35 percent of the vote statewide.

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Republican tide ebbs in Issaquah-area races

November 9, 2010

Both parties highlight successes in local contests

The national GOP tsunami carried Republicans into statehouses across the nation on Election Day, but in Washington, the wave amounted to little more than a gentle crest.

Republicans did not dislodge Democrats from majorities in the state Senate or state House of Representatives, but candidates faced a testier electorate, and Democrats face shrunken majorities in both chambers.

Despite strong candidates and a favorable political environment, Republicans did not reclaim a majority in Issaquah-area statehouse seats.

Democrats and Republicans trumpeted successes in the days after Election Day, as elections offices tallied the remaining ballots for statehouse contests.

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Statehouse incumbents appear to be headed for re-election

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 9:20 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

Incumbents in the race to represent Issaquah in Olympia — Republicans Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrat Judy Clibborn — pulled far ahead of opponents in initial election results released Tuesday night.

The representatives trounced little known or under-funded candidates to cruise to re-election.

Meanwhile, Democrat Marcie Maxwell appeared to be locked into a close contest against Republican Peter Dunbar to retain the state House of Representatives seat she clinched in 2008. The same scenario appeared to be the case for Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow in a state Senate bout.

The measure to increase the King County sales tax rate to pay for criminal justice services trailed in early returns and a state liquor-privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco lagged.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, remained locked in a tight race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat in a close fight for a fourth term.

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Register to vote in November election by Monday

September 30, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 30, 2010

In order to vote in the November election, Washington residents must register to vote by Monday.

To register, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident, at least 18 by Election Day and not under the authority of the state Department of Corrections.

Voters do not have to register by political party or declare political party membership in order to vote in primary or general elections.

Find a full list of requirements and registration forms at King County Elections.

Issaquah voters will decide legislative, judicial and congressional races in the Nov. 2 election, plus a measure to raise the county sales tax rate.

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Incumbents earn high marks in Municipal League ratings

July 27, 2010

Issaquah residents face some good choices — and a few not-so-good options — in the primary election next month. Or so the Municipal League of King County has decided.

For the most part, Issaquah-area lawmakers fared better than the challengers campaigning against them in August and November. The league released the ratings July 19.

The league ranks candidates through a rigorous process during each election cycle. The ratings provide a tool for voters — plus fodder for candidates’ campaign mailers and websites.

Evaluators scrutinize candidate records, talk to references, review candidate questionnaires and interview the electoral hopefuls. The league rates candidates on four criteria: involvement, character, effectiveness and knowledge. Candidates then receive a grade ranging from the coveted outstanding to the less-desirable not qualified.

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