EDITORIAL | Keeping track of the 2011 Legislative Session

The 2011 Washington Legislative Session began this week in Olympia and it’s clear that the No. 1 issue they’ll have to deal with is Washington’s projected $5 billion spending gap in the 2011-13 budget and the decisions made will affect every one of us.

That message was reinforced last week as two local state Representatives — Norma Smith of the 10th District and Kirk Pearson of the 39th District — stopped by the office of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times to meet with the editorial staff to discuss December’s Special Session and the 2011 Legislative Session which began Jan. 10.

Among the many issues discussed, both Representatives spoke about the importance, and challenges, of keeping in touch with their constituents during the legislative session. We agree that public input is a vital part of the political process so The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times will again be featuring the Legislative Tracker Blog on our websites at www.marysvilleglobe.com and www.arlingtontimes.com. It can be found in the pull-down menu under “Blogs.”

The Legislative Tracker Blog is a forum for our local state Senators and Representatives to provide information about the work they are doing in the 2011 Legislative Session. Last year was the first year for the blog and local state Representatives and Senators — from the 10th, 38th, 39th and 44th districts — provided more than 84 posts for the blog during the 2010 Legislative Session. The posts covered a wide variety of topics, including information about specific legislation they were supporting, or opposing; letting their constituents know about telephone town hall meetings; opinion pieces on various bills and more.

Because dialogue is a two-way street, we’ve also included some tools on the Legislative Tracker Blog to help members of the Arlington and Marysville communities keep in touch with their local legislator, and to look up and follow specific legislation.

Those tools include links for the Washington State Legislature, Find your legislator, Look up a bill and E-mail your legislator. So, if you’re not sure if you’re in the 10th District or 39th District you can look it up. Or, if you want to find a bill and track it as it progresses through the session, we’ve added a link for that. Most importantly, if you want to contact your state Senator or Representative, we’ve also included links to their e-mails.

Decisions will be made during the current Legislative Session that will impact all of us. It’s important that we stay informed and maintain a dialogue with those we sent to Olympia to represent us.

Managing Editor Scott Frank can be reached at 360-659-1300 or email him at sfrank@marysvilleglobe.com.

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