Dear friends and neighbors,
Things are already moving quickly here in the Legislature, and soon bills will need to either make it out of committee or be “dead”. There are some exceptions, but most bills will need to make it out of committee by Feb. 17th, or they will never make it to the floor.
I was honored to have the students of the Meridian High School AP Government class, taught by Steve Lawrence, and Lynden Christian School’s FFA students, taught by Jill Kocourek, come down and visit me in the Senate this week. We’ve also had students from Whatcom Community College, and the week before students from WWU were here. It has been so much fun answering questions, asking questions, and spending time with these groups around the Capitol! I’m always happy to host constituents who come down to visit us here in Olympia, but it’s particularly special when we have students down here to learn. Anybody who’s going to be coming to the Capitol, make sure to reach out and let me know at Sharon.Shewmake@leg.wa.gov! I’d love to take some time to chat.
Traffic safety survey results
Last week I asked you all to share some thoughts on some of the traffic safety bills that are before us in the Legislature this year by taking a survey, and I’m glad that nearly 350 of you did so! I’m under no illusions that the results are a statistically valid sample of the whole district, but it’s still interesting and helpful to see what you all said. As we’ve said, 745 people were killed on Washington’s roads and highways last year, and traffic safety is something we’re making the top priority in our transportation work this year.
Of the bills I asked you about, I was happy to see that your favorite was a bill I’m sponsoring – SB 5430, to help make driver’s education more affordable, with 81 percent of you saying you approved or strongly approved of the idea:
Why are we talking about this policy? If you look at the graphic below, you’ll see that generally young drivers get better with time, but you’ll also see that 18 year olds seem to be more dangerous than 16 year olds. Why? The answer is driver’s ed. A 16 year old can only get a license if they’ve been through a drivers ed class, while an 18 year old only needs to show up and pass the test. You can see that difference, and it puts us all at risk. Subsidizing driver’s ed for those who can’t afford it makes everyone safer.
These are the results for the other policies we asked about, and I was glad to see support for many of these ideas! As vice chair for the Senate Transportation Committee, I get to help move these bills through the process, and I think these are important steps to take to help make our roads and highways safer.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts and feedback at Sharon.Shewmake@leg.wa.gov.
Sen. Sharon Shewmake