State lawmakers consider state and federal interests amid controversy in Trump administration

State GOP lawmakers are under pressure to be more open in their condemnation of Trump.

At their weekly press conference, they were pressed to comment on Trump’s immigration orders.

When press asked about their opinions on Trump’s travel ban and immigration stances on Monday, House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said he wanted to focus on state issues.

“It’s real easy for us, I think, to get distracted – any of us – a state legislator or a statewide elected official to get distracted from what the public really hired us to do here,” he said.

Other GOP leaders at the table were more direct and said they would continue to support state laws that supported legal immigrants.

But at the Democrats’ weekly press conference, Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said state GOP leaders should be reaching out to Congressional GOP lawmakers to compel them to criticize Trump.

“Right now our Republican colleagues need to start standing up and calling on their colleagues in Congress that they’re going too far in sitting and being silent with this president. It’s important,” she said Tuesday.

The national picture

President Donald Trump’s administration is under scrutiny amid a court-challenged executive order, a Congressional probe into the administration’s security protocols, slow-downs in the confirmation of cabinet picks, ethical concerns around conflicts of interest and new evidence that there was inappropriate communications between the campaign and Russian officials.

Information about campaign officials’ communication with Russian was breaking Tuesday evening after state lawmakers from both sides had their weekly press conference.

State and national interests

Right now, state lawmakers are trying to solve a critical problem with a tight deadline. They need to fully fund state education this year, under a Supreme Court order.

Gov. Jay Inslee has a proposal on the table which includes a capital gains and carbon tax to bring in more revenue. Republican lawmakers are working to restructure property tax to bring in more revenue. And one plan on the table is designed to appeal to moderates, headed by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, which would make current local levies permanent.

The work ahead for lawmakers is to find common ground and develop a plan.

But though education is a primary concern for constituents, national news is sucking oxygen out of the room and demanding attention from state leaders.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading the court challenge against Trump’s travel ban.

One Republican state lawmaker, Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Whatcom County, is currently working for the EPA under the Trump administration, and arguing he can balance both jobs.

Ericksen argues his work for the EPA is beneficial to constituents in his district.

Gov. Jay Inslee and Ferguson also argue that the case against the travel ban is in the interest of state residents. Part of Ferguson’s argument is built around the possible harm international workers could face due to Trump’s order.

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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