Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Today the House passed Senate Bill 5124 mandating mail-in voting in every county in the state. Under current law, counties are allowed to choose whether to operate polls, and Pierce County is the only county that does so. With the passage of this bill, Pierce County will be forced to shut down its polling places. I spoke against this bill on the floor of the House:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. Nothing we do here is more important than the decisions we make about the process, how we structure our elections.
In Pierce County, Mr. Speaker, the civic experience is enriched by a tradition of citizens voting at the polls. Growing up in Puyallup, I can remember going with my mom to Karshner Elementary School to stand in the hallway as she went into a little booth and completed this election day ritual. This was a palpable introduction for me to the responsibility of voting.
People go out of their way to tell me about their participation in that exercise. I can tell you about a World War II veteran who insists on getting to the polls every year because he considers it an act of patriotism. And my grandfather, who’s in his 80s, has the reputation of being the first one at the polls on Election Day morning.
But my purpose is not to get nostalgic about poll voting. The fact that Pierce County has preserved the polls until now does not mean it can’t change. In fact, there are some fine arguments for doing that.
But I would suggest that if the time has come to make that change, we should have that conversation back home before our county council. My objection to this bill is not about the advantages or disadvantages of poll voting. I object because this body is the wrong one to rule on a process we have chosen, and chosen to keep, in Pierce County.”
Today the House also passed the Transportation Budget, House Bill 1175. I supported the $8.9 billion 2011-13 budget both in committee and on the floor. The budget is the result of a collaborative and bipartisan effort. Most importantly for our district, it funds the first stages of replacing the Meridian Street Puyallup River Bridge. The bridge is now restricted to trucks in the northbound right lane due to deterioration, and it was moved to the top of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) bridge replacement list. Second, the budget funds a $1 million tolling feasibility study for the extension of SR 167 to the Port of Tacoma. This will help move us closer to the time when we can begin laying pavement to relieve traffic congestion, move freight more easily to and from the port, and open new economic development in our area.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on these issues or any others before the Legislature.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7968 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000