Locke, lawmakers to tackle transportation, taxes

Gov. Gary Locke used his state-of-the-state address yesterday to urge cooperation as Washington lawmakers tackle transportation and taxation issues in their new session.
Locke began his speech to the 57th Legislature with a somber recollection of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast, and he called for a moment of silence to mark the deaths of the two Washington men who died in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan: Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Chapman of Puyallup and Marine Sgt. Nathan Hays of Wilbur.
Meanwhile, the events of Sept. 11 and economic issues look to dominate the Legislature this session.
Repairing the financial damage wrought by the terrorist attacks and finding ways to resuscitate the state’s flagging economy top the agenda for Washington law-makers as they began their 60-day regular session in Olympia on Monday.
Legislators will be asked to make hard choices about the budget and transportation issues, two complicated and politically risky topics this election year.
In addition, the session will see debate on several anti-terrorism proposals.
Lawmakers will be asked to chop spending – including some pet programs of the new Democratic majority – and raise taxes such as gambling and liquor taxes. A spate of new fees will also come up for debate.
Transportation congestion and legislative redistricting issues will open the session with both chambers expected to work quickly on a transportation bill.