Legislative Forum Hosted by Govt Classes

The legislative forum in early January presented an opportunity for students to ask questions and speak directly to their representatives.

The American government classes held a forum with state legislators David Frockt, Javier Valdez, and Gerry Pollet on Jan. 3. History teacher Tony Renouard’s government classes hosted and ran the event in the Benson Forum.

“Government has to seem accessible to its citizens,” Renouard said. “If you have an idea or a complaint or a concern, you need to know that you can call these three people’s offices and get a response.”

Renouard required his students to attend the forum. He wanted to show his students that they can speak to their legislators.

“They purposefully represent a small group of people so that they can be effective in dealing with the concerns of a small group of people,” Renouard said. “If you are a state legislator, really representing a couple of big neighborhoods, then you have the ability to really understand and respond to the needs.”

Frockt is a state senator and serves on the Ways and Means, Higher Education, and Law and Justice committees. Ways and Means handles the capital budget.

Valdez is a state representative who serves on the Judiciary, Education, and Transportation committees. He was picked to fill the seat vacated by Jessyn Farrell, who ran for mayor in 2017.

Pollet is also a state representative and serves on Higher Education, Appropriations, and Finance committees.

The student forum covered a variety of topics, from net neutrality to free college. Another topic was whether or not Washington has adequately fulfilled its duty to fund public education.

“No,” said all three legislators when asked if they are fully funding public education.

In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state was not adequately fulfilling its constitutional duty to fund public education. Then, after a bill was passed to fund education in November 2017, the court ruled that the legislature had fulfilled its constitutional duty.

“There’s no doubt that there’s been progress made in the last seven years,” Frockt said. “But it’s not enough.”

“When will you pass a capital budget?” senior Kaia Hrachovec asked. The capital budget pays for state-authorized construction projects, like building public schools or parks. It also allocates funds for certain environmental studies and projects.

“[My dad] works in a small business to benefit the environment,” Hrachovec said. “These are good people who just want to make sure that they can keep doing what they’re doing.”

After the student forum, there was a forum that anyone in the community could attend in the PAC. Senator Frockt mentioned Hrachovec’s question as an example of the good that comes out of forums at schools.

Hrachovec’s dad, Mike Hrachovec, was at the later forum, and also asked about the capital budget. Frockt agreed that the capital budget needs to be funded and asked Rocky Hrachovec to testify.

“My dad drove down to Olympia and spoke for two minutes in front of the panel to speak of why they wanted the state capital budget to be passed,” Kaia Hrachovec said.

The capital budget was passed on Jan. 19.


Photo By: Robert Crist

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