The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate forum starting 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the new Yelm Community Center in Yelm City Park.
Candidates running for the state Senate, House of Representatives and county commissioner will discuss their position of the issues the state and county face.
Rep. JT Wilcox, R-Yelm, and county commissioner candidate Kelsey Hulse, D-Lacey, will not be attending due to schedule conflicts, said Line Critchfield, the chamber executive director. All the other candidates will be there.
Lunch is being catered by Casa Mia. The cost is $25 for non-chamber members and $20 for chamber members.
State Legislative Races
This upcoming session the state Legislature will address issues surrounding the McCleary v. the State of Washington decision from the Washington Supreme Court. In the decision the court ruled the Legislature is not adequately providing funding for basic education in the state. Since the decision was handed down in 2012, the Legislature has increased funding to basic education to 47 percent of the budget from the general fund. However, the court is still holding the Legislature in contempt for failing to fully fund education.
During this upcoming session the candidates hope to resolve the final piece of the decision that concerns teacher’s compensation. The issue of levy equalization will also be addressed so people in districts like Yelm pay the same, or similar, rate compared to people in districts like Seattle, and receive the same level of funding.
This session is a budget year, meaning the majority of the fiscal decisions for the next two years will be made during this session. This includes everything from health care to transportation.
One of the most prominent issues surrounding the county commissioner races is the county regulations concerning the Mazama pocket gopher. Currently the gopher is protected by the Endangered Species Act and the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance. The county conducts gopher reviews before building and other land use permits are issued.
The county has also proposed a septic system tax on systems in the unincorporated areas in the county. The idea behind the tax is to provide funds to help educate the public and to protect groundwater and the Puget Sound. The estimated cost range from $22 to $65 annually depending on the location of the system.