On Wednesday, state Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, gave a legislative update to the Grand-Mound Rochester Chamber of Commerce. After introductions and some brief business, Abbarno spoke to the room about a variety of issues, starting with a personal anecdote on the ongoing crime wave.
“I woke up this morning and found someone had broken into my car,” Abbarno said when he began speaking, discussing a vehicle prowl he had posted about on his Facebook page earlier that morning. “Accountability has really been lost.”
Abbarno then moved on to the issue of what he viewed as “Olympia” thinking it knows better than local governments.
“Olympia wasn’t trying to build stronger families but they were trying to pass legislation that, to my mind, made families weaker,” Abbarno said, adding: “We need to have school boards that can make decisions for themselves.”
Abbarno also criticized Democrats for failing to act on several issues, calling this year’s legislative session “a session of missed opportunities,” though he tried to avoid specifying Democrats directly due to him attending the meeting in an official capacity rather than attending a political event.
“I’ve toured tons of fire districts that are dilapidated,” Abbarno said, referring to efforts to get funding for rural fire departments, “but (Democrats) were more interested in passing an unconstitutional capital gains tax.”
The representative criticized the Legislature’s decision not to place limits on Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency powers, declaring, “There was no collaboration, there was no communication, there was just one guy using emergency powers.”
In Abbarno’s view, the cause of what he saw as bad policy decisions by the Democrats was extended Democratic control of the Legislature.
“When you have one party in control for too long, it breeds fringe issues,” he said, adding: “I’ve always considered myself pragmatic. I like negotiating … But it’s a very hard thing to do when the other side says they don’t need you.”
After he finished speaking, Abbarno invited state Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, of the 35th Legislative District, to speak. Griffey’s district was changed during redistricting and will include Rochester in the upcoming elections.
Griffey, who has lived in the 35th District his entire life, introduced himself to the chamber by declaring, “Rural values, rural things, things we do together, is just who I am.”
“I’m about public safety,” said Griffey, a professional firefighter who sits on the House Public Safety Committee.
Griffey then hammered on the issue of crime, criticizing Democrats legislators for laws limiting policing.
“Please do not do this!” Griffey described himself as telling his colleagues. “You will embolden the criminals … You will encourage vigilantism through your policies and inaction.”
Griffey then said the policing bills were part of “a King County-centric agenda that hurts rural America.”
After Griffey finished speaking, the two representatives took questions from the audience, including a question on equal legal treatment for the marijuana industry. Both Abbarno and Griffey agreed that there needed to be banking reform for the industry. Griffey then closed by speaking about the need to allow localities to keep more of the taxes collected from the marijuana industry within their boundaries as a way to incentivize greater acceptance of the industry by local governments.