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Bailey hosts whirlwind coffee talks
State Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) hosted a whirlwind series of “coffee talks” in Langley, Freeland, Coupeville, Oak Harbor, La Conner and Stanwood over the course of two days this week.
More than a dozen people attended her Oak Harbor engagement Tuesday morning at Angelo’s Caffe in old downtown. The cozy, informal meeting took place around a collection of small cafe tables pushed into a circle.
Representing a wide variety of interests and affiliations including Navy, health care, government and religious organizations, among others, the attendees ranged from small businessmen to retirees.
Bailey listened to each attendee as they introduced themselves and laid out their concerns, most of which revolved around monetary issues.
Treva Carter of Oak Harbor introduced herself as a longtime rural resident who grew up with a simple financial outlook.
“We never spent what we didn’t have,” she said, adding the government could learn a lesson from such rural tradition.
Pete Brady, a self-described “old Navy fighter pilot,” is most concerned over the county’s new septic system regulations, which he called “a sham.”
“Septic systems don’t pollute the Puget Sound,” he said. “And it’s costing some low-income people a considerable amount of money.”
The septic issue was also a popular topic at the Coupeville coffee klatch, Bailey said. Required inspections can cost several hundred dollars.
Bailey, who voted for the bill that allowed county government to control how to regulate septic inspections, called it, “The lesser of, maybe, two evils.” The bill’s purpose was to protect the Puget Sound from pollution.
“We all make mistakes,” she said. “You’re trying to do a good thing and it leads to something down the road like we have here.”
Health care popped up as another hot-button issue.
Bailey explained that health care reform is currently a federal issue, although in her opinion, it should be a state issue.
“States should exercise their autonomy in this situation,” she said. “Unfortunately, the Legislature has been acquiescing that authority to the federal government.”
A 10th Amendment-based bill would allow the state to regain control of health care, but it’ll take a constitutional amendment to do so, she said.
Bailey also addressed the $2.6 billion deficit in the Washington state budget.
“We’re going to have to make some very tough choices in this session,” Bailey said of the deficit, which is “likely to grow.”
Although she didn’t identify areas with fat left to trim, she said her goal is to support items that align with the “core mission of government,” including public safety and education.
Bailey garnered enthusiastic applause for her promise to oppose all new taxes.
“I will not vote for a tax increase. It is not the time and it is not good for the economy, she said. “Some things that are tax-incentive driven are maybe worth a look ... but I’m not there yet.”
Bailey held the coffee talks to collect the community’s input before the start of the 62nd session of the Legislature which begins Monday, Jan. 11 and is scheduled to last for 60 days.