This was the first time I went down to Olympia to support a bill. On February 23, 2016, after an hour of driving, we arrived at a beautiful house near the State Capitol Building to start our trip. After the pre-training, the 15 people in my group met with one senator and two representatives of District 43 to lobby for I-732. As a Chinese student, I didn’t know what to expect from this experience, and my imagination was full of scenes from the television series House of Cards. People working at the Capitol are all dressed up and always look like they’re in a hurry.
Back to the meeting, we met with 43rd Legislative District Senator Jamie Pederson and two other representatives for about 20 minutes to talk about our Carbon WA vision. At first the lead Constituent introduced how I-732 will impose the carbon tax, the rate and how it will impact our society. The context of I-732 includes: cut the sales tax by 1%, fund a tax rebate for working families, reduce the B&O tax on manufacturing and add a tax to fossil fuels. At the meeting, I was told that 732A didn’t work out because it would cost the state $900 million, and the group was working on 732B as alternative.
From my perspective, I-732 is necessary and consequently. By taxing carbon dioxide emissions, the State can successfully reduce those emissions, which will contribute to reducing global warming and climate disruption. This is not about ourselves, but more about the moral responsibility to our children and future generations. The solution doesn’t occur in one day and it will take time to change the current situation. Starting now we need to tackle climate change, to make sure we can leave our children a cleaner, healthier, safer world.
However, I could tell that the representatives’ attitude towards this bill wasn’t totally positive. Even through this may be a good idea in the long-term for the state, it’s such a big step for the senate to take. It will be hard to get support from the senator unless the funding problem is worked out. They won’t take risks until everything is ready and thought out. I can totally understand this when thinking about how many bills and constituents they need to deal with every day.
Another thing surprised me was the diversity of people in our group. Besides us, there were several other volunteers who came from the 43rd District, including an old gentleman who has lived in the U-District for 30 years, a couple who care about the environment and a teenager who seemed really interested in politics. They showed up highly interested in this event and were well prepared. I respect their involvement and enjoyed getting to know more about democracy in America. Back in China, all of the legislations are done inside of the government system. Even though we may get the chance to attend public hearing, there is not much room for audience to appeal for their opinions. Also, I cannot image a teenager coming in and talking with our government legislators!
Overall, it was such an educational trip. I enjoyed talking with all the volunteer constituents, and the chance meeting with the senator. I hope I-732B can get passed in the future.