Chase points to legislative wins, addresses concerns about guns and taxes during Saturday town hall

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State Sen. Maralyn Chase speaks to 32nd District constituents Saturday.

Just two days after the end of the 2018 legislative session, State Sen. Maralyn Chase came face-to-face with mostly supportive 32nd District constituents in a town hall meeting Saturday morning at the Edmonds Senior Center.

“This is the most wonderful session I’ve had in my 16 years,” said Chase, pointing in particular to several measures that passed the Democratic-controlled Legislature this year. Among them: a law mandating equal pay for women, a measure to ensure that the current GED exam focuses on mastery of high school subjects rather than serving as a college prep test, and a bill to change the state law related to criminally charging police officers who may have wrongfully killed someone.

While the group of about 50 attendees applauded many of the accomplishments that Chase cited during the lawmakers’ 60-day session, there were also concerns. For starters, some wondered — with the Legislature in Democrats’ hands — why more gun-related measures weren’t approved, especially given the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Chase pointed out Washington lawmakers were able to pass bills tat ban trigger devices known as bump stocks and to keep firearms out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers. But she added that Democrats from rural areas are less likely to support gun control legislation, which makes it harder to pass such laws with such a slim majority.

“We have to elect people who will vote for a gun-control bill,” Chase said. “We are one vote short in the House. You can’t pass a bill if you don’t have the votes.”

“I think we need to be very clear that we support the Second Amendment,” Chase added. “People have the right in this country to own a gun. They don’t have a right to be irresponsible with it.”

Chase pulled no punches when it came to discussing the furor created by the bill, which she supported, that would have exempted state lawmakers from Washington’s Public Records Act for information created prior to July 1 of this year.

SB 6617 was the legislators’ response to a ruling earlier this year by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese on a lawsuit brought by media organizations that such records should be made public.

After lawmakers passed SB 6617 without a hearing, news organizations statewide publicly decried the lack of public process for the bill. Many newspapers even published front-page editorials — a move that Chase called both “political” and “unconscionable.”

“I think that the press did a disservice to the citizens by not explaining what was in that bill,” Chase said.

While Chase admitted that lawmakers “didn’t get it right on the process,” she added that they were primarily concerned about protecting the privacy of constituents’ communication related to sensitive matters.

“People do not want to see their personal business on the newspaper above the fold,” she said.

After receiving about 19,000 phone calls, emails and letters — most urging him to veto the measure — Gov. Jay Inslee did veto it, with the support of lawmakers who agreed to work together on a new bill for the next legislative session.

“Cut us a little slack,” Chase said. “We are not evil people down there. We are not trying to hide anything. We are trying to solve problems.”

Another concern raised by some attendees was the increase in property taxes and the effect that is having on senior citizens in particular.

While the Legislature did pass a supplemental operating budget package that cuts statewide property taxes by $391 million, or 30 cents per $1,000 assessed value, next year, Chase recognized that the relief isn’t much.

“We have raised the property taxes to a point where I believe it is unconscionable,” she said. “The reason we go after property taxes (for funding) is because we have the most regressive tax system in U.S.”

Under the state’s current tax system, “Our poor people pay 17 percent of their income and our rich people pay 2 percent,” the senator said. “That’s not fair.”

Chase said that’s why she supports other ways to generate income — in particular, she favors removing current exemptions of certain types of intangible property, such as stocks and bonds, from property tax rolls. You can read more on Chase’s proposals here.

Among the other issues that Chase addressed on Saturday:

  • While the state legislature was unable to pass a carbon tax measure, a citizens initiative addressing that issue “should be hitting the streets soon,” Chase said.
  • The senator said she favors single-payer health care and also supports citizens Initiative 1600 to create such a statewide system. “I think it’s really important,” she said.
  • Addressing a question from a constituent, Chase said she supports eliminating the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission because it is prioritizing recreational fisheries over commercial fisheries and is “out of control.”
  • Chase also addressed the legislature’s inability to pass a bill this session aimed at addressing skyrocketing car license tabs following the voter-approved expansion of Sound Transit. “I am really disgusted with the car tabs situation,” she said.
  • She said she also supports free tuition for both college and vocational training, adding it’s an investment that is “good for our community, good for our economy, good for our state.” Although there are those who say the state can’t afford it, “we spend money on some very strange things,” Chase said. “This is something we should be spending money on.”

— Story and photo by Teresa Wippel

19 Replies to “Chase points to legislative wins, addresses concerns about guns and taxes during Saturday town hall”

  1. The legislature took care of public records legislation in two days, but could not come up with any relief for the cost of car tabs in two years!

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    1. They once again failed us on tax relief.

      We are overdue for a tax revolt the likes of which this state has never seen!

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      1. If we were to concentrate our energies on how we spend our money we could probably do more for making government more efficient. I asked Sen Chase about school funding. My question was “Now that the state has stepped up to funding schools, should the state step up and centralize other functions now being performed in the 295 districts? With no hesitation and a slight smile she said, “That certainly is a hot potato.” She asked me to see her after the meeting to discuss. It would be my guess she basically agrees that we could do some things at the state level that could same money in education.

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        1. The property tax relief is for next year and only a fraction of the amount they raised it that takes effect this year.

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        1. I agree, but even informed and engaged voters would likely not have known that vehicle vehicle valuations were going to be based on a bogus data (maybe many of the legislators didn’t know either). Unfortunately, the real problem is that most voters did not take the time (due to lack of time or apathy or …) to understand the impact taxes/ levies on themselves. Several online calculators were available that showed the estimated cost to individuals based on their current vehicle registration cost, income, and property value. Maybe if more had investigated their personal stake in voting yea for ST-3, we may have seen a different outcome.

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  2. State Income Tax, as referenced by Chase, is the Mother Lode desperately sought out by Democratic legislatures under the illusion of ‘fairness’…easier to increase and burden all income groups without their input…like California!!

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    1. Questions could be written and the moderator would read the question. I wrote a question asking Sen Chase about the 1930’s supreme court decision that says that income can be treated as property and taxes at a uniform rate. She discussed the current democrats proposals of including exempted property in the base as the first and most important step and then she discussed the democrats proposal to tax capital gains.

      I wrote a follow up question asking what types of income could be taxes. She again talked about capital gains. She scanned to group and ask if that answered the question? I spoke up and said no and just wanted to know which type of income can be taxed. She agreed to talk with me after the session and her legislative aid was at my seat giving me contact information for follow up.

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          Teresa

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  3. I didn’t attend so I don’t know the particulars of the discussion. But her comment about WDFW greatly concerns me, as I don’t believe it to be accurate. “Out of control”? Seriously?

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    1. One of her points was to discuss the role of commissions vs agencies. She also made points about our fishing industry has many small businesses that are often forgotten about in the commissions work.

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  4. With respect to public records, it should be noted that city and county councils, ports, utility districts, and myriad other public entities, are required by law, to have open records. Many of these organizations’ elected officials and staff, have closer ties to individual citizens than do legislators. By exposing the legislature’s attempt to carve out a privacy niche for themselves alone, the media did a major public service. That is why we protect a free press. They should be commended for it. Ms. Chase protests too much.

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    1. Sen. Chase had the bill available for all to read and take a copy home. A quick read does not suggest it to be as sinister as has been reported. I did not hear any comments about the timing, or lack of public hearings.

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  5. Sen. Chase is always interesting to be around in a public setting. She is free with and candid about her opinions and seems willing to listen and learn. In the written questions I asked her the following. “Are their any Republican ideas that you would support that your party would not?” With no hesitation and a strong conviction she said for all to hear. “YES!” Her added comments we about her willingness to work with the other side on issues. She also remarked that their is much more work done across the aisle than the “show” that goes on by the parties.

    She asked if she should have more town hall meetings but dedicated to single subjects order to have a more in-depth discussion of issues. The group seemed to concur and I would bet we will see more of this type in the future.

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  6. It’s the “me first” syndrome Mr. Wambolt we
    see in epidemic proportions in our daily lives. They all talk but don’t walk the walk.

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