By EMRY DINMAN
MOSES LAKE — After a long legislative session, Moses Lake’s veteran state lawmakers Sen. Judy Warnick and Rep. Tom Dent are touring their district discussing the accomplishments of each other and their party and lamenting some of the difficulties presented by the Democratic majority in both chambers of the legislature.
Though each legislator took on numerous bills, both as prime sponsors and as co-sponsors, both shared a disdain for Democrat-led tax hikes, and both were involved with legislation regarding traumatic brain injuries and the development of a new commercial airport.
Taxes and title-only bills
Dent and Warnick were not alone in their caucuses in their displeasure with numerous tax hikes that passed through the legislature this session.
“Despite record revenue growth and a $2.8 billion surplus, the majority party passed $5.5 billion in tax increases over the next four years,” Dent wrote in his most recent email update to constituents.
But as much as the content of the legislation may have soured the legislators, the process by which Democrats passed it was itself a major sticking point: using title-only bills to get taxes hikes through committees without giving any detail as to what the legislation might entail.
“‘An act related to B&O taxes’?” Dent said. “That could be, ‘we’re going to lower your B&O taxes by 25 percent,’ or it could be, ‘we’re going to double your B&O taxes if you’re a banker’ — you don’t know what it is. It’s a game.”
Warnick suggested introducing legislation to ban the use of title-only bills outright.
“It’s not fair to anybody,” Warnick said. “It’s not fair to the people that have to vote on it, it’s not fair for the lobbyists trying to represent their clients, and it’s for sure not fair for people out here that are trying to watch what’s going on.”
Traumatic brain injury
Both Dent and Warnick took on legislation this year dealing with traumatic brain injuries and their impact on those who have them, though Warnick’s legislation was eventually vetoed by Governor Jay Inslee due to complications. Both were inspired by a constituent advocate that brought the issue to the legislators’ attention.
Dent’s bill, HB1605, directing the Department of Children, Youth and Families to study the costs and avenues for TBI screening for foster children, received unanimous support from both the House and the Senate.
“If we’re going to bring these kids into foster care, let’s screen them,” Dent said. “If we brought a foster kid into your house and said, ‘this child may have suffered from a traumatic brain injury’, it might change how you relate to them and the care you give them, the time you give them and the medical care we give them.”
Among other things, Warnick’s bill, ESB 5573, would have spurred development of a handout and a website describing some of the warning signs of TBI and how it can be caused by domestic violence. The bill also would have instructed law enforcement to give domestic violence victims the handout.
Due to some complications the bill was ultimately vetoed, but Warnick said it will be re-introduced next year.
Moses Lake commercial airport
Though Dent is well known for his love of aviation, it was Warnick who took the lead on SB 5370, which creates a state commercial aviation coordinating commission and may one day lead the way to Moses Lake becoming a more significant player in the state’s commercial aviation transportation system.
“We have a very underutilized airport,” Warnick said. “Even though there’s planes coming in and out of there all the time, we could do more, and we could take that pressure off of Sea-Tac.”
There will be at least one individual from the area that will serve on the commission tasked with finding the best location for a new commercial airport, Warnick said. That individual may help to highlight Moses Lake as a prime possibility, she continued.
Dent may not have been a sponsor of the senate bill, but he was actively involved in positioning Moses Lake to seize the opportunity, he said Thursday.
“Moses Lake has a lot of things going for it, aviation-wise,” Dent said. “There is not a better facility in the western United States than what we have right here. We do have to remember that this is not going to be something that happens in the next five years; this is probably going to be a 20-year transition. But can we do it? Absolutely.”
Emry Dinman can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.