Join 48th Legislative District lawmakers for town hall meeting

February 8, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 8, 2012

Residents can join Issaquah legislators to discuss the ongoing session in Olympia at a town hall meetings in Redmond soon.

Meet state Sen. Rodney Tom and state Reps. Deb Eddy and Ross Hunter — 48th Legislative District lawmakers — at the Feb. 18 meeting. The session comes as the Legislature confronts a $1.5 billion shortfall in the state budget.

In Issaquah, the district encompasses Greenwood Point, South Cove and other neighborhoods along Lake Sammamish.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon in the Council Chamber at Redmond City Hall, 15670 N.E. 85th St.

Washington State Redistricting Commission members shifted the 48th District elsewhere in the recent reshuffling. (Remaining Issaquah neighborhoods fall inside the 5th and 41st legislative districts.) The realigned political maps go into effect for the November election.

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Senators offer key support for same-sex marriage bill

February 7, 2012

Issaquah legislators offered key Republican support for the same-sex marriage bill passed in the state Senate on Feb. 1.

Cheryl Pflug and Steve Litzow joined the 28-21 majority to endorse the legislation.

So far, a half-dozen states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Washington state has had a domestic partnership law — or “everything but marriage” law — in place since 2009.

Cheryl Pflug

Steve Litzow

(Pflug, a former state representative from Maple Valley, represents the 5th Legislative District; Litzow, a freshman senator from Mercer Island, represents the 41st Legislative District.)

Issaquah’s other senator, Democrat Rodney Tom, also endorsed the legislation. (Tom represents the 48th Legislative District, including the Greenwood Point and South Cove neighborhoods.)

The measure heads next to the state House of Representatives. The bill is expected to easily pass the House and proceed to Gov. Chris Gregoire to be signed into law.

The governor, a Democrat, endorsed same-sex marriage legislation last month. Gregoire praised the Senate decision.

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Issaquah senators offer key Republican support for same-sex marriage bill

February 2, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 2, 2012

Issaquah legislators offered key Republican support for the same-sex marriage bill passed in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Cheryl Pflug

Steve Litzow

Cheryl Pflug and Steve Litzow joined the 28-21 majority to endorse the legislation.

So far, a half-dozen states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — plus Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage. Washington state has had a domestic partnership law — or “everything but marriage” law — in place since 2009.

(Pflug, a former state representative from Maple Valley, represents the 5th Legislative District; Litzow, a freshman senator from Mercer Island, represents the 41st legislative district.)

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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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Issaquah senator backs bill to tackle Medicaid fraud

May 21, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. May 21, 2011

Cheryl Pflug

The state is a step closer to cracking down harder on Medicaid fraud, after lawmakers passed a measure to more aggressively prosecute fraud in the program and recover state funds.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a registered nurse and a 5th Legislative District Republican, signed on as a cosponsor and, in a bipartisan effort, pushed the bill to colleagues. (The district includes Issaquah and East King County.)

Modeled on federal legislation, the state measure outlines incentives and whistleblower protections to employees who witness fraud in the workplace. The legislation allows the state to receive a greater share of recovered funds.

In addition, the measure empowers the state attorney general to contract out cases if the office is unable to pursue them.

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State shores up funding for King County Flood Control District

May 6, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 6, 2011

King County leaders praised state legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire for supporting a measure to shore up funding for the King County Flood Control District, the agency responsible for flood-protection policies, programs and projects.

Gregoire signed a measure Thursday to protect funding for the district. The bill exempts the district from the statewide property rate tax cap by protecting up to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The exemption is in effect from next year until 2017.

Until the governor signed the measure, the district faced a steep drop-off in funding due to the decline in housing values and a state cap on property tax rates.

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State Senate approves kindergarten assessment

March 8, 2011

Soon, every all-day kindergarten student might receive an assessment.

The state Senate passed a measure that would establish uniform assessments of children in all-day kindergarten, known as the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, or WaKIDS.

If passed, the bill would begin the assessments in the 2012-13 school year. WaKIDS is being piloted now by the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Department of Early Learning, with consultation by Thrive by Five Washington.

The state Senate vote passed 31 to 15, with Issaquah state Sens. Steve Litzow, Rodney Tom and Cheryl Pflug voting for the measure.

The Senate passed the bill March 3. It now goes to the state House for consideration.

Issaquah senators introduce bill to nix teacher seniority

February 3, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 3, 2011

The state could require school districts to use evaluation ratings to determine teacher layoffs, under a bill introduced by Issaquah legislators Steve Litzow and Rodney Tom.

The state senators aim to scrap the “last in, first out” seniority rule used to determine teacher layoffs during budget cuts and enrollment slumps.

“When we lay off newer teachers who have proven their effectiveness in the classroom, we are not only denying today’s students access to a quality learning experience, but future students as well,” Bellevue Democrat Tom said in a statement. “Many of those teachers never return to the classroom, seeking new professions that reward great performance and going the extra mile.”

The senators cited a recent study by the University of Washington Center for Education Data & Research, and said the research indicated the practice is inefficient economically and educationally.

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Legislature tackles tough agenda

January 4, 2011

Tiger Mountain State Forest hikers could be required to spend some green to access the trails crisscrossing the mountain soon — if state legislators impose user fees to raise dollars for the cash-strapped state.

The proposed Explore Washington Pass is the latest idea to increase funds for state natural resources agencies. The pass is designed to address maintenance needs and repair damage to state forests and other trust lands — but the proposal is all but certain to raise ire among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

In the months ahead, Evergreen State residents could face increased fees on state lands, shrunken services from state agencies and larger class sizes in elementary school classrooms as cuts permeate all sectors.

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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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