Politician trio hold townhall meeting

From left, senator Doug Ericksen, representatives Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys. Photo by Meg Olson

By Stefanie Donahue

Washington state legislators representing the 42nd district chose Blaine to meet with Whatcom County voters, share their progress and ask for feedback.

Luanne Van Werven indicated the importance of the three Republication lawmakers working together and said they are a team.

“Everything we do is with Whatcom County in mind.”

Representative Vincent Buys, who serves as ranking member of the house agriculture and natural resources committee, said he had been focused on “working for a fair and equitable solution so people in Whatcom County could use their wells,” in the wake of a supreme court decision that found the county failed to follow state requirements to protect water resources.

Buys said the delegation was working to help small businesses in the county. “One of the goals for all three of us was to look at duplicate regulations and get them out of the way,” Buys said. Buys sponsored legislation to make it easier for food trucks to do business and Van Werven sponsored a bill to push back the filing date for state business and occupation taxes.

Ericksen focused on his efforts to protect taxpayers from a big tax hike in 2018. He has introduced a bill that would keep state property taxes for schools at last year’s level, increasing them next year instead to meet a legal mandate for the state to fully fund public schools and no longer rely on local property taxes. The state’s current plan is to increase taxes for this year while local school districts continue to collect taxes at the same level for one more year.

In the wake of another school shooting last week in Florida, audience members wanted to know what steps legislators would take to curb school shootings. “We don’t have a gun problem – we have a problem with people who shouldn’t have guns,” Van Werven said, suggesting mental health issues were the real problem, and pointing to “psychotropic drugs and violent video games” as the culprits.

Van Werven suggested heightened security in school. “We guard what we value and what we value the most is our children,” she said. “What will it take to make sure there is an armed guard in every school.”

“That’s your plan?” asked an obviously frusturated local mother, pointing out there were two armed officers at the Florida school.

Ericksen suggested there needed to be a balance between security and freedom. “Nobody wants to live in a totalitarian state where you have to go through a checkpoint to get into an elementary school,” he said.

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