2018 Legislator of the Year & 2019 Legislative Agenda

By: Yorik Stevens-Wajda and Esther Larsen, Legislative Committee Co-Chairs

The state legislature may take a break between sessions, but the chapter’s legislative committee has been staying active with wrap-up items from last year and preparations for the coming long session.

2018 Legislator of the Year

Representative Jake Fey was presented with the 2018 Legislator of the Year Award at the Chapter’s Annual Planning Conference Awards Presentation on Friday, October 5, 2018, in Spokane. Born and raised in Port Angeles, Rep. Fey’s experience in the YMCA Youth and Government program pointed him early on toward a life of public service. He was the first in his family to attend college, earning a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington and then an MPA from the University of Puget Sound. He has lived in Tacoma for more than 30 years.

Rep. Fey has been the Director of the WSU Energy program since 2001, providing leadership in alternative-energy and energy-efficiency. He has also coordinated community-volunteer efforts as a member of the Sound Transit and Pierce Transit Boards, working on the Pierce County Public Health Board, and serving as Vice Chair of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. Rep. Fey was a member of the Tacoma City Council and also Deputy Mayor of Tacoma.

Elected into the Washington State House of Representatives in 2012, Rep. Fey serves as Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee and as a member of the House Environmental Committee and Technology and Economic Development Committee. In addition, Rep. Fey serves as the Vice Chair of the Council of State Governments’ Transportation Committee.  

One of Rep. Fey’s top priorities in the legislature is ensuring that our state’s most vulnerable youth have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. He was the prime sponsor of the Homeless Student Stability Act, which provides housing support and school counselors for homeless families.

The Chapter has been appreciative of Rep. Fey’s work in the 2018 Legislative Session, including in particular his leadership role in addressing the state’s contribution to climate change—one of the most pressing issues of our time. Planners in Washington state have for years worked to help support a lower state-wide carbon footprint, and pricing carbon would go a long way towards supporting those plans and making a low-carbon Washington a reality. Rep. Fey’s efforts to enact a price on carbon advanced an important conversation, which has set the stage for this year’s initiative campaign. HB 1144, which Rep. Fey co-sponsored, also represented an important step in aligning the state’s legislative framework with best available science and international agreements.

The Chapter has also noted Rep. Fey’s support for addressing homelessness by extending the document recording fee for programs and services homelessness through HB 1570, a bill the Chapter supported. As set forth in the Chapter’s 2019 Legislative Agenda, Washington APA supports planning and funding for housing and services to meet all income levels. 

As we expressed to Rep. Fey at the Awards Presentation, helping to maintain and enhance Washington’s economy, livability, and environment is an ongoing, difficult, and often thankless job. The Chapter appreciates his leadership and success in 2018 and looks forward to a collaborative and productive 2019 Legislative Session.

2019 Legislative Agenda

At its October 3 meeting in Spokane, the Chapter’s Board of Directors adopted the Chapter’s 2019 Legislative Agenda. The agenda document is a concise statement of the Chapter’s priorities for state legislative action to help make great communities happen and is prepared annually by the Legislative Committee for board consideration. The document serves two purposes: (1) to share with legislators, peer organizations, and others, and (2) to provide a benchmark, along with APA Policy Guides, for committee members to review bills against during the hustle and bustle of the session. The Legislative Committee and Board of Directors worked to adopt the agenda in October this year instead of December, as in past years, to provide more time for the chapter’s lobbyist to shop it around in advance of this important 2019 session.

This year’s legislative agenda elevated housing and homelessness issues compared to previous years – reflecting an increasing focus on those issues both locally and within APA as a whole. Climate change remains a top priority this year, funding teacher training to implement the 1.0 credit of civics education the legislature added to high school graduation requirements last year is an exciting proposition, and perennial issues of funding for planning, infrastructure funding, support for annexation of urban land, and school siting remain in the document. Reach out to Legislative Committee co-chairs Esther Larsen ([email protected]) and Yorik Stevens-Wajda ([email protected]) for information on how to help make the Chapter’s legislative priorities a success this coming session.

Return to the September/October issue of The Washington Planner