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Online Town Hall meeting with Tharinger/Van De Wege

Representatives Van De Wege and Tharinger held an online town hall tonight. Hundreds of constituents from across the district called in. It was, very interesting.

In this year of crashing budgets, very little environmental questions were asked. (we did miss the first few minutes, but hope to get the transcript).

When asked what they felt their achievements in environmental legislation were, Tharinger started out by saying that It was a year of restoring cuts rather than trying to get new things done. Steve said that his restoration of Salmon Recovery Lead Entities to the budget was something that he was proud of, since this is a multiyear effort that would have been crippled by de-funding it.

Representative Tharinger also sited putting back into the budget the work of the Department of Ecology in Water Resource planning. Again, a multiyear effort would have been gutted.

Representative Van De Wege mentioned that he had tried to push through the Toxic Toy Bill, HB2266 and that it is still a possibility in the Special Session. It sounded as if Kevin had become educated to the dangers of toxic toys during this effort. He seemed genuinely surprised at the findings. The background on this is that the US is the dumping ground for Chinese toys that are unsafe for sale in Europe, as the EU has already banned these toys. We still allow them in. So guess who buys them? Us. Time to stop that from happening.

The oddest thing of the meeting was a question from a woman from Port Townsend, asking about the rumor that a failed candidate for city council has been making political hay on, which is that Kevin is a member of a very conservative think tank, the group ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council). While conspiracy theorists in PT have gone wild over this, Kevin admitted  that he is a member, that he represents many constituents in his district, and that some of them are quite conservative. He felt that, since this organization is so active in promoting conservative agendas, he should check it out (he didn’t mention if they asked him to join). He stated he has very little in common with their goals, and this reporter can state that no one seriously in bed with ALEC would ever support the legislation that Kevin has supported. Given that Kevin’s wife is an educator, and ALEC does support education initiatives that include electronic text books, it makes some sense to see him there.  Since ALEC seems to put forward ready made legislation for folks like Kevin to vote on, he likely sees their proposals come across his desk, and needs to better understand their goals. For now, it’s a tempest in a teapot to this reporter, and we’ll have to see if hanging out with folks that John Stewart regularly lampoons turns Kevin into a Forks vampire. Frankly, it seems more benign than cancerous. Kevin always has stood with environmental legislation, sometimes needing to keep an open mind to do it, but an open mind is something rare in politics today.  Case closed for now.

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