Opinion

District 31 representatives not doing us any favors | Gunn

On Nov. 22, 2013, 31st District Reps. Christopher Hurst and Cathy Dahlquist co-published a report on the 2013 session in the Washington State House of Representatives, congratulating themselves on overcoming the so-called "partisan divide" in American politics.

What our legislators fail to tell us is that their shared agenda in Olympia is not in the best interests of the people they represent. Dahlquist, a Republican, and Hurst, an "Independent Dem", claim to be "elected officials from different political parties working together." In fact, they find a shared agenda not in spite of their political party affiliation, but because they both support policies and legislation that benefit the wealthy and their corporatist allies at the expense of working people.

Hurst and Dahlquist have consistently voted against legislation that would keep toxic, cancer-causing flame retardants out of our babies' cribs. In 2013 this legislation (ESHB 1294) passed the House along mostly partisan lines, with all but 2 Democrats (if Hurst is included) voting in favor and only 1 Republican voting against. Ultimately passage of the Toxic-Free Kids Act was blocked in the Senate in large part due to the defection of Rodney Tom from the Democratic Party. Corporate interests frequently obstruct any regulation of business even when science shows such rules are needed to protect public health.

Hurst and Dahlquist also seem to agree that preventing discrimination in our electoral process is not a priority. They both oppose HB 1413, a bill that would prohibit election districts that are drawn or maintained in a manner that denies an equal opportunity for members of a race, color, or language group to elect candidates of their choice. This bill passed the House without a single Republican legislator voting in favor, while Rep. Hurst voted against it.

Giants in finance and industry have bankrolled legislation in many states through such agencies as the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity in order to undermine the Voting Rights Act, because that makes it more difficult for people who don't agree with them to exercise their right to vote. I am proud to live in a state where our legislature wants to make it easier for everyone to be fairly represented in our government. It is a shame that our state Representatives in the 31st District don't share that pride.

Hurst and Dahlquist also claim to support education in Washington state "to help train the next generation of workers," yet both opposed a bill to invest in the education legacy trust account. HB 2038 would provide funds for K-12 basic education and higher education by narrowing or eliminating tax loopholes that overwhelmingly benefit big businesses, including the multi-national mega-corporations BP and Shell Oil, but which do nothing to encourage or stimulate the growth of the local small businesses from whom our representatives say they get all their "good ideas."

Once again, the vote on this bill went along mainly partisan lines, with Hurst and Dahlquist both voting against this increase in funding for our troubled educational system and in favor of tax loopholes for Big Oil.

In conclusion, it is obvious that Reps. Hurst and Dahlquist do share an ideology. The fact that they agree so often demonstrates their allegiance to an economic dogma that favors wealthy, out-of-state special interests over their own constituents.

Brian L. Gunn is a political activist in the 31st Legislative District who is a member of the board of the Washington State Progressive Caucus. He is also state committeeman of the 31st LD Democrats. He made an unsuccessful bid for state Representative in the 31st LD in 2012.

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