Covington Maple Valley Reporter
Covington and Maple Valley elected officials along with business and community leaders gathered to discuss key issues with Sen. Joe Fain at the Covington Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon.
“Speaking with and listening to our local leaders is essential to successfully represent our community before the entire state,” said Fain, who represents Covington in the Washington State Senate. “Hearing their concerns and ideas has helped us secure funding for much needed congestion-relief projects in the area, and this year successfully partner to expedite construction and help commuters sooner.”
Fain provided an update on major legislation including transportation projects, education funding and property tax reform, as well as work to strengthen DUI laws and better protect animals from abuse and neglect.
“It’s incredibly valuable when elected officials have the opportunity to share what they’re working on with a variety of constituents,” said Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner. “I appreciate Senator Fain keeping our local business leaders updated on critically important projects that help improve the quality of life for our residents and grow our local economy.”
Southeast King County has seen increased traffic congestion and commute times as a result of recent growth. Fain reviewed projects to: widen State Route 516 through Covington; add a connection between SR 516 and SR 18 to improve congestion and safety; and build a new interchange between SR 18 and Interstate 90, a stretch used by many Covington and Maple Valley residents, that has become a safety hazard and chokepoint. During the 2017 session Fain worked with state and local leaders to get these projects started earlier than initially planned.
Recent census data shows that more than 50 percent of residents in the 47th and 5th legislative districts — which include Covington, Maple Valley, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Issaquah — spend more than 30 minutes commuting to work, some of the highest rates in the entire state.
“Our chamber always enjoys hearing Senator Fain speak and inform our members of legislative issues that impact our business community,” said Scott Beusch, chairman of the Covington Chamber of Commerce. “Providing his insights into issues ranging from education to taxes and transportation, the senator manages to balance important issues with personal stories, making him approachable to everyone in attendance, from seasoned chamber vets to newer businesses just getting their start in our growing community.”
Also discussed were new education funding reforms, which include historic investments in K-12 education, as well as changes to how property taxes are collected to pay for schools, which will result in a net property tax reduction for Covington and Maple Valley property owners over the next four years.