Dear friends and neighbors:
During the shortened legislative session in each even-numbered year, there’s less time and opportunity to pass bills — but that’s not the only way we have of helping people in our district and across the state. This year, for instance, I’ve been able to convert two stalled bills into line items in the budget (called “provisos”) to advance the same goals through the state operating budget the Senate passed last week. The budget was amended during subsequent passage by the House, so now the two chambers must reconcile the differences.
My first proviso would allocate $5 million to establish a grant program in the Department of Social and Health Services to ensure air conditioning is provided in adult family homes, where up to six residents can receive room and board and help with laundry, personal care and other aspects of daily living. Based on my Senate Bill 5606, this action could well prevent the tragic deaths of senior citizens and other vulnerable residents during severe heat waves such as we endured last summer. In fact, I attached an emergency clause for immediate implementation so that air conditioning can be in place before the next summer heat wave.
The second proviso would increase the supply of affordable housing by accelerating local permitting processes. Based on SB 5964, this proviso would give local permitting offices state funds to outsource the processing of backlogged building permits. This would eliminate protracted delays and enable houses to be built more quickly without compromising construction requirements or environmental standards.
Meanwhile, the state construction budget passed last week by the Senate would fund three valuable local infrastructure projects to help the young, the old, and the powerless* by providing:
- Funds to design a new skate park in Black Diamond.
- Funding to build 15 affordable housing units for seniors in Carnation.
- Funds for a backup generator at Lake Wilderness Lodge in Maple Valley.
OK, the reference to the third project* was a pun. But the need for the generator is no joking matter, I assure you.
Take care and stay safe,