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Angel provides mid-term briefing

The Washington State Legislature sometimes moves too quickly for policy questions to be answered or even asked, according to a report from 26th District Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) to representatives of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.

“We have 429 bills that went through the House and will be sent to the Senate,” Angel said this week during a conference call. “We have been working 18-hour days getting these bills off the floor.”

Angel said that some of the bills are complicated while others are as simple as deciding whether the state should sell wine in the Legislature’s gift shop.

Angel called in on a speaker phone early Tuesday morning to a conference room located at Prudential NW Real Estate in Port Orchard. The attendees included Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Coreen Haydock Johnson, former Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, Prudential agent Greg Oldham, Peninsula Benefit Services representative Scott Rouse and Edward Jones financial adviser Pam Piper.

Angel, who is serving her first term after defeating Abel in November, said there are aspects of the legislature that are frustrating.

She has attended committee meetings about certain bills and attempted to get clarification, only to be told, “We have no time for questions.” 

Additionally, the “financial notes” are developed separately, so a lawmaker introducing a bill has no idea of the final cost.

Passing bills in this way is especially difficult in the current economic climate, Angel said.

“Washingtonians have lost 25,000 jobs since Jan. 12,” Angel said. “That’s 440 pink slips a day. We need to find a way to get people back to work. It’s not going to help to raise taxes. Businesses need to find a way to keep people working, even if they need to cut their hours.

“The governor’s budget requires us all to give up our sacred cows,” she said. “And we need to make sure the budget we pass is sustainable, and does not put us into a deeper deficit.”

Angel said that the time after the legislative session could be used to develop some proposals for reform, as well as other programs. One she suggested is an ID card to be used for prescription purchases, to eliminate fraud.

Angel encouraged public participation, saying that anyone who wants to save a certain program should contact their legislators. “Grassroots efforts really work,” she said.

At the end of the session, Angel plans to open a local legislative office in Port Orchard. Her husband, realtor Lynn Williams, is helping to secure the space.

She said she is open to any possibilities, with three requirements — handicapped accessibility, Internet access. "and it needs to be cheap."

The meeting with Angel is the first in a series of chamber-sponsored discussions.

State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) and Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor) are scheduled to participate on March 31 and April 14, respectively.

The meetings will take place at the Prudential Office at 2497 Bethel Road SE in Port Orchard.

The meetings are open to the public with participants asked to arrive at 7:30 a.m.

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