Representative Reuven Carlyle, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Representative Mary Lou Dickerson sat down for coffee and discussion with constituents during a Meet Your 36th District State Legislators Town Hall event in Greenwood.
36th District legislators meet with constituents
By Theresa Edwards, Intern
On Saturday, May 12, 36th district Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, and Representative Reuven Carlyle sat down for coffee and discussion with constituents during a Meet Your 36th District State Legislators Town Hall event.
The meeting was held at the Greenwood Senior Center and a small turnout allowed for a more informal meeting with the legislators, who each discussed their successes and disappointments of the past legislative session.
Representative Mary Lou Dickerson, who will be retiring next January, said that she was proud of efforts made on the Children Safe Products Act, a bill that would take harmful flame retardant chemicals out of many household products. She also mentioned accomplishments including the passage of the Evidence Based Practice Bill, which replaces ineffective medical practices.
Representative Dickerson expressed some disappointment in the current system of juvenile justice, and her hope that it can be changed to more effectively deal with troubled youth. Once she retires, she plans to start an organization that works to educate the public on the initiative process.
Representative Carlyle and Senator Kohl-Welles thanked Representative Dickerson for all of her hard work, calling her a great teammate over the past few years. Senators Kohl-Welles and Representative Dickerson have collaborated on a wide range of issues, most recently human trafficking, with similar top priorities on their legislative agendas.
Senator Kohl-Welles has been a leader in combating the injustice of human trafficking, helping to pass 28 bills (12 this year) to help stop child and sexual abuse. One disappointment was the partial veto of a bill to legalize medical marijuana, but overall it was a successful session. She also mentioned the marriage equality bill as a great victory in the legislature.
Representative Carlyle highlighted his top priority of protecting K-12 education and stopping cuts to Seattle Public Schools. He spoke with passion about a new movement to eliminate dependency on commercial textbooks, which would give instructors the opportunity to take advantage of higher quality open courseware and e-textbooks.
In keeping with this theme of education, one of his top achievements this legislative session was the creation of the Passport to College Promise Scholarship Program for foster youth. Carlyle also worked on a bill to alleviate stress on growing schools, and helped secure $995,000 in funding for the Phinney Neighborhood Center.
A small portion of the meeting was a question-and-answer time, in which constituents shared on topics important to them. One constituent showed concern over tuition increases in higher education, which have affected college students across the state.
No one wants higher tuition, explained Representative Dickerson, but there is not enough state revenue to go to these universities in order to keep tuition affordable.
Much of the focus was on education, but some constituents were interested in legislation affecting the elderly and persons with developmental disabilities.
The constituents and legislators present both agreed that although there seems to be a growing disconnect between the people in districts and their lawmakers in Olympia, the 36th district has some of the most active constituents in the state. The three legislators hope that through events such as this meeting, they can help people understand better what is happening and how proposed legislation will impact them.