Hello, and thank you for visiting my website.We’ve tried to make this a handy place for constituents to learn more about their state government, the Legislature, the bills I’ve sponsored, and my priorities and values as the senior member of your 23rd-district legislative team.
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Again, it’s an honor and a privilege to serve you and our Kitsap neighbors. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
State Rep. Sherry Appleton, the senior member of the 23rd-district legislative team and a former two-term Poulsbo City Council member, has called Poulsbo home for three decades. She was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2004 and is chair of the House Local Government Committee, as well as a member of the House Public Safety and Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs committees, and the Joint Committee on Veterans’ and Military Affairs.
Outside the Legislature, Sherry is member of the Washington State Council on Aging and the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She is a former member of the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission and chaired the Commission’s Juvenile Sentencing Committee, and serves on the state’s Public Defense Advisory Committee. She is a charter member of Legislators’ Leadership Council on HIV/AIDS at the Center for Women’s Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.
Sherry was appointed by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to serve on the Washington State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Washington Cities, on the Northwest Women’s Law Center Legislative Committee, as chair of the NARAL PAC, board member of NARAL, and vice-chair of the Washington State Women’s Political Caucus. In addition, she was elected in 2000 to represent the 1st commissioner district as a freeholder and serve with 20 other elected freeholders to review the Kitsap County Charter.
Since joining the House, Sherry, who was named Legislator of the Year by the Department of Veterans Affairs, has been a leading voice for veterans and active-duty military personnel and their families, and has worked on diverse policy issues ranging from criminal justice and health care to education and transportation. She helped draft and pass the Patients’ Bill of Rights and has been involved in negotiations at every level on the many issues that affect citizens of the state. She was instrumental in restoring funding for the Poulsbo Marine Science Center, for family planning clinics throughout the state, and for life-saving digital mammography services for low-income women.
Sherry has a blended family of five children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Appleton Update: 2016 Session
Dear friends and neighbors –
I love serving as your state representative, and am grateful every day for that privilege, but I have to say, it’s great to be back home now that the Legislature has adjourned for the year! Like every legislative session, this year’s was a mixed bag. We developed and passed some good bills, and defeated some bad ones. Unfortunately, some good bills died and some bad ones became law.
I’ve put together here a brief summary of some of the highlights from our regular session and short special session. Please take a look and let me know if you have any questions or comments. And even if you don’t have time right now to scan these items, please skip to the bottom for a note about some special rules that will affect me and other state legislators this year.
Thank you again for your engaged citizenship. Together, we’re part of a grand American experiment in representative democracy, and it’s an honor for me to work for you.
Defending and Improving the Growth Management Act
A quarter century after its passage, Washington’s Growth Management Act remains one of a kind: A comprehensive law charging both state and local governments with preserving and enhancing our quality of life by protecting sensitive areas and natural resources, limiting sprawl, and responsibly planning for growth.
Since its passage in 1990, the GMA has been under attack by forces who would happily pave, develop, and subdivide Washington into unrecognizability. During the last two sessions, more than three dozen bills were introduced with the goal of sidestepping or neutering the GMA and, in one extreme case, repealing it altogether.
Fortunately, these bills are routinely assigned to the House Local Government Committee, which I have the honor of chairing. It has been my privilege and responsibility as chair of that committee to prevent the destruction of the GMA, and Washington’s quality of life in the process.
Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that no piece of legislation is perfect, and the landscape has changed in the last 26 years. Washington’s populations has increased. Our cities have grown like weeds, and the shortage of affordable housing is undeniable. We all want our economy to grow, and for more good jobs to be created. It’s time to take a careful look at the GMA, and we’ll be holding a series of three workshops over the next several months to do just that.
The first workshop will be devoted to analyzing the GMA as it is here in 2016, to find out what, really, are the problems? The perennial critics will say the problem is that there are any rules at all. Other voices will say the GMA is not strict enough, and that it needs to be strengthened to the point that essentially no development could ever occur. I’m confident, however, that there’s a reasonable midpoint between those two extremes, and that reasonable people will be able to agree on where the law can be improved.
At the next meeting we will look for solutions. If there’s a problem, what needs to change so we can improve the GMA while holding true to its original intent? And the final workshop will focus on actual legislation that we can craft, introduce, and enact.
Improvements, yes. Destruction, definitely not. Our state nickname is the Evergreen State. If we ever allow the GMA to be done away with, I’m afraid we’ll be having to explain to our children and grandchildren not too long from now just what Evergreen State used to mean.
Strengthening our mental-health system
Washington’s mental-health system is in crisis. The Legislature addressed this in multiple ways in 2016.
- We created the Children’s Mental Health Work Group to identify ways to increase access to mental-health services for children and families.
- HB 1713 allows for involuntary hospitalization of persons in the throes of substance-abuse crises.
- HB 1448 helps police get people who are potentially suicidal the mental-health care they need, before a tragedy occurs.
- We nearly doubled (to $63 million) the funds dedicated to upgrading and expanding mental-health facilities.
- We created a joint select committee of representatives from the executive and legislative branches to oversee the state’s mental-health hospitals, including the troubled Western State Hospital.
Building a better Washington, and a better Kitsap County
The great dams, schools, parks and universities that form the foundation of our state took decades to build, with much of the work done by our parents and grandparents during the Great Depression. Today, it’s up to us to build an even better Washington, one that creates jobs and prosperity for our children and grandchildren.
One of the most important ways of doing this is via the state’s capital budget. It’s Washington’s construction fund, and almost everywhere we look in the 23rd legislative district, we can see evidence of the capital budget at work. Construction cranes hovering over Olympic College, vital wetlands being reclaimed along our coastline . . . the wonderful Marine Science
Center in Poulsbo, Kingston Village Green Community Center, the restoration of the USS Turner Joy on the Bremerton waterfront . . . the capital budget has a hand in all of these and more.
This year we passed a supplemental capital budget that put the bulk of its resources into three vital needs: building K-3 classrooms for our public schools, strengthening Washington’s mental-health infrastructure, and tackling the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness.
One of the best things about the capital budget is that it has historically been one item that is the product of bipartisanship in Olympia, regardless of which party is in the majority. These long-lasting improvements to our state are funded through proceeds from bond sales, rather than out of the general fund.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was proud to learn that Washington Conservation Voters, a non-partisan organization that describes itself as “the political voice for the environment,” had named me a member of its “Lifetime 100 Club.” That’s a reference to how consistently, over time, an elected official votes to protect our clean air, water and forests, while accelerating the transition to a good-job, clean-energy economy.
I thank the WCV for this affirmation, and for being such a staunch advocate for the people, wildlife, and natural wonders of our state. I also want recognize my seatmates, Rep. Drew Hansen and Sen. Christine Rolfes, who also were honored by the WCV!
Improving our public schools
The state constitution is clear: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”
I take those words seriously, and every day I hear from constituents who feel the same way. Great public schools are key to preparing our kids to compete in a global 21st-century economy, as well as rebuilding our eroding middle class.
The Legislature has invested more than $4 billion in our K-12 schools since the Supreme Court ruled that the state wasn’t fulfilling its paramount duty. We’ve now fully funded student transportation, as well as supplies and operating costs in our schools. The Legislature has expanded all-day kindergarten and reduced K-3 class sizes.
This year we passed legislation to eliminate the opportunity gap that has penalized students of color and low-income kids. We’ve instituted programs to educate homeless students. And to prepare for the final and largest step in complying with the Supreme Court’s ruling, we put it into statute that by the end of the 2017 session we would agree on a plan to end the reliance on local levies to pay teachers.
Solving that long-standing problem will cost as much as $4 billion in our next budget. Every lawmaker, Republican or Democratic, knows that can only be accomplished by fixing our state’s deeply flawed tax structure. That’s a tall order, and if this session wrap-up accomplishes nothing else, I hope it solicits the best ideas from everyone who reads it. What happens in the next session will affect all of us, and your opinion matters. Please let me know what you’re thinking.
A word about charter schools
In 2012, Washington voters approved an initiative authorizing charter schools by one of the slimmest margins in the state’s history; nonetheless, I-1240 passed. I voted against the initiative because it was, to me, clearly unconstitutional. Advocates for public schools brought suit against the initiative, and the Supreme Court indeed found that it was unconstitutional.
The ruling said, in essence, that charter schools, although they called themselves “public” charter schools, were not governed by publically elected boards, were mostly privately owned, and did not qualify for public school funding provided by Washington taxpayers. Regardless of how good they might be, or how popular they were with their students, they were for all practical purposes private schools.
I have no beef with private schools, by the way. Nor did the Supreme Court. The problem was the diversion of your taxes from actual public schools to support charter schools over which you and I, as taxpayers, have no control.
This year a bill to reinstate charter schools passed the Legislature with a narrow majority. I voted against the bill, for the same reason I opposed the initiative: a lack of accountability, and a firm conviction that our paramount duty, as stated clearly in the state constitution, is to fully fund our public schools. The new bill, which became law without Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, will again be challenged in the courts, and I fully expect it also will be found wanting.
This does a disservice to everyone involved: To the taxpayers who will have to pay for the state Attorney General to defend a flawed law in court; to the charter-school students, families and teachers who will once again be thrown into limbo and uncertainty if, as I expect, the new law is found unconstitutional; and most of all to the public-school students, families and teachers who have been waiting for years for the state support that they deserve.
Just one more thing
There’s nothing that can light up a legislator’s day like a visit from the people for whom they work. This year I had the pleasure of welcoming to the state Capitol many, many fellow Kitsap folks. Students on school field trips, families getting a look at our beautiful Capitol campus, civic groups, small-business owners . . . I always try to make time for people from back home.
I have to admit I have a special soft spot for our active-duty and retired military men and women. As many of you know, my late husband was a decorated Navy man, and on a day this year when the Legislature honored the U.S. Navy, I was honored to host some of our finest! I thank them for their service, and for contributing so much to the economy and the quality of life here in the 23rd district.
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Special Note: During an election year, incumbent lawmakers are not allowed to initiate mailings to constituents after a certain date. This is to make sure that there is not even an appearance of an office-holder using public resources to influence an election. This is a reasonable policy, and it’s one that I support. Accordingly, this electronic newsletter will be the last of its kind that my office will be sending this year.
However, while I will not be initiating contacts after today, I work for you 12 months a year. I am allowed to respond to constituent letters, phone calls, and emails, so please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have comments, questions, or suggestions for legislation, if you have problems with state agencies that you’d like my assistance in troubleshooting, or for any other reason.
LEG 132F Olympia WA 98504-0600
Rep. Sherry Appleton
OLYMPIA – Washington state has never before shut down the state government. So what would a shutdown mean for Kitsap County families and businesses if lawmakers can’t reach a budget agreement by June 30? “A shutdown, even of short duration,...
OLYMPIA – The state Senate gave its unanimous approval Monday (Apr. 10) to legislation that tweaks Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) to prevent unnecessary infrastructure spending. Sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23, Poulsbo), HB 1683 relieves counties, cities, and utilities...
OLYMPIA – The state House gave near-unanimous approval Friday to a bill requiring an increase in the amount Medicaid clients in community residential settings and assisted-living facilities can keep for their personal needs. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd,...
OLYMPIA – With a big bipartisan OK on the House floor, Rep. Sherry Appleton’s bill to make highly poisonous antifreeze less tempting to kids and animals headed for the Senate Monday afternoon. Through a strange accident of chemistry, ordinary antifreeze...
OLYMPIA — State Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) will wield the gavel once again as chair of the House Local Government Committee when the 65th Washington Legislature convenes in January. Appleton was reelected to the position by her colleagues in...
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