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Angel expresses concern about ways of Olympia
When former Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in the 26th Legislative District last November, the freshman legislator from Port Orchard knew things would be different than on the county level.
But three months into her first session that would be an understatement.
“I thought when someone was elected they would have a free hand to represent for that position and I found more often than not that is not the case,” Angel said Tuesday afternoon.
Republican bills, including one sponsored by Angel regarding Level III sex offenders, have been suppressed by some Democratic committee chairman, she said.
Angel’s bill would have required the electronic monitoring of all registered sex offenders who are classified as risk Level III, have registered as homeless or transient or have a prior conviction for failure to register as a sex offender.
“These are the worst of the worst and they don’t play by the rules,” Angel said.
After numerous phone calls to the committee chairman seeking an explanation for his lack of action on the bill, Angel said she informed him that if another child or woman is victimized by one of these sex offenders, she will hold that committee chairman personally responsible.
On the budget front, Angel expressed her frustration in how the Democratic majority in Olympia has waited until three months into the current session to make any cuts.
“We knew we had to make cuts and if we had made them in January, we could have saved money already,” she said, noting the Democrats refused to accept the budget plan offered by Republicans in January.
Adding to that angst is the large number of bills, which have fiscal notes attached to them that don’t have funding, she said.
“Some of these bills don’t kick in for two years or so and we may not have the money then,” she said, adding that such bills have the potential of increasing the state’s existing budget woes.
Combine that with the secretive way Democrats are formulating the budget by excluding Republicans and declining all offers made by Republicans to aid in the effort, and Angel said it leads her to believe a couple of things could be on their way.
“They could be balancing the budget using the stimulus package, which puts us where we were two years ago, or they could be coming up with a tax package to go to the voters that isn’t ready yet,” she said. “I think there are probably some real ‘sneakies’ in there.”
When it comes down to budget priorities, Angel noted, “Education is the only thing in our Constitution that is ‘Thou shalt do this.’”
The next priorities should be protecting society’s most vulnerable people and providing public safety, she said.
For all of the frustration she’s experienced during her first session, Angel said there has been at least one bright spot, which directly ties into her eight years as a county commissioner.
“When I was elected, I said I would vote against any bill that places an unfunded mandate on counties or cities,” she said.
Recently, the Association of Washington Cities praised her for those efforts and expressed their appreciation for what she is doing, she said.
“I take that as high praise coming from them,” Angel said.