PORT ORCHARD — Two of the 26th Legislative District’s lawmakers wasted little time in sponsoring legislation during the early weeks of the current session in Olympia.
As one of her first official acts since being sworn in a state senator, Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) testified Jan. 30 on behalf of her legislation to establish military benefit zones. On the House side, Republican state Rep. Michelle Caldier introduced a bill, HB 1635, that would require public libraries to adopt and enforce an internet safety policy preventing minors from accessing harmful online pornography and obscene visual depictions.
The House bill would require public libraries to use technology protections that prevent patrons from “gaining access to visual depictions that are obscene or child pornography, and prevents minors from gaining access to visual depictions that are harmful to minors.” Patrons needing access for research or other lawful purposes may request the protections to be temporarily disabled.
“Last year, a mother brought her daughter to the library in Gig Harbor,” Caldier said in a news release. “As they walked through the library, out in the open and on public display was a man watching pornography on a computer.
Concerned her daughter would see these graphic images, she complained to the library staff and was told they have an “open internet access” policy, Caldier said.
Although the library staff offered to politely ask the man to refrain and go to a private viewing area, the Port Orchard state representative said any lewd, lascivious images being displayed in a public library where children can see them “is completely unacceptable.”
Caldier said if a library wishes to be exempt from the bill’s requirements, it must adopt a resolution at a public meeting of the board of trustees after the public has had an opportunity to comment. She said the resolution must be placed on the next election’s ballot and receive a majority approval by the voters before an exemption is allowed.
Randall’s SB 5571 bill
The state senator’s bill, SB 5571, would stimulate economic activity around military bases by authorizing cities and counties near bases to establish military benefit zones. The designation would allow for tax incentives to fund investment in public infrastructure, including amenities such as streets, parks and broadband access.
Under the bill, local revenues could be supplemented with competitive awards from the state Department of Commerce. In a news release, Randall said the state has often supplied most of those funds in past cases.
“My grandparents on both sides moved to Kitsap to work at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Keyport, and my dad worked at PSNS for more than 25 years,” Randall said. “The Navy presence is a big and important part of why Bremerton’s such a rich, diverse community.”
In the news release, Randall’s office said similar programs also have proven to provide a substantial return on investment for the state. The office cited the Local Revitalization Financing Program, established by the state Legislature in 2009, which received $6.6 million from the state and returned a state benefit of $199.7 million by 2014.
“I have met and talked to a lot of veterans in our community who would like to see investment that’s good for them, for their families, for their grandkids and for the community,” Randall said.