39th Legislators give update for Monroe happenings

MONROE —  State Sen. Keith Wagoner and state Rep. Carolyn Eslick of the 39th Legislative District presented highlights of this year’s legislative session to the City Council on May 3.
Some of these highlights included that the Legislature committed $10 million toward 522 this session; EvergreenHealth Monroe hospital secured nearly $4.3 million to convert its birthing center into a behavioral health wing; and the Monroe Boys & Girls Club received $515,000 toward its Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). The Legislature also allocated $1.7 million this year to the Darrington Wood Innovation Center, which builds modular homes out of cross-laminated timber on-site.
Wagoner lamented that a bill to legalize fentanyl testing didn’t make it, nor did a bill to place stiffer penalties for robbing a cannabis store.
Republicans were shut out of preparing the state transportation package this year, which Wagoner called unusual. He said the Republicans’ package was tied to inflation and made sense.
Eslick noted the Legislature passed bills to separate food waste out of garbage among others.
The organic food waste law becomes requires local governments and businesses manage their organic matter. Cities, for example, must arrange that all residents have organic material collection — a yard waste bin, basically — as late as Jan. 1, 2027. It’s to keep decomposing organic material from creating methane in landfills, the law’s text reads.
Eslick praised a pilot project to encourage using biochar, which is charcoal-infused compost to create soil.
She also succeeded in a bill strengthening how the state helps families find behavioral health assistance for children. It also adds checks and balances requiring follow-through work to this end.
The legislators also discussed police reform changes introduced this year in response to clarify and adjust some of the police reform laws written in 2021.
From opening day Jan. 10 to the end March 10, within those 59 days the Legislature passed 309 bills out of 3,000 that were introduced, Eslick said.
39th Legislative District Rep. Robert Sutherland was not present. Sutherland did not return a Tribune inquiry earlier this month asking why he wasn't there.