Meet some of the courageous state legislators who are working change the way business is conducted in Olympia. The old ways aren't working. Reforms are stepping forward.
THE Roadkill Caucus, a group of moderate Democrats in the state Senate and House are agitating against the entrenched status quo, some willing to face retribution from leadership.
Because of the tighter party margins in the Senate, roadkillers there have made a bit more headway than those in the House. Working with the Republican caucus, the Senate roadkillers are a major reason that significant K-12 education reform is still alive after making it a “go home” issue.
Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield: The Republicans’ brain on the budget is getting a hearing in both parties for his ideas to tighten up Washington’s overgenerous public employee pensions, to set new limits on overall spending and to repeal unfunded education mandates passed by voters 12 years ago.
Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island: This bipartisan, bicameral education reform tag team wrote the compromise that appears to have saved the teacher evaluation reform. Though it’s likely they’ll be targeted by the Washington Education Association at election time, their leadership deserves enthusiastic support
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Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle: While others talk about closing tax loopholes, this lawmaker advanced a solid plan to begin regular reviews of them over the long term. His research and development bill would redirect unneeded high-tech tax breaks to higher education slots in science, technology, engineering and math.
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens: This Senate Roadkill Caucus founder is in a tough fight to reform the K-12 health insurance system to assure equitable coverage and costs for all Washington school employees.
Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood: The senator is leading efforts to improve prevention, detection and prosecution of fraudulent activity in state government, including public assistance programs.