Frequently Asked (Political) Questions

Peter Schrappen On Watch

Have you noticed that on just about every website, there’s a section of frequently asked questions (FAQ) to help you even before you need help? Instead of a tick-tock chronology, or the highlights and lowlights or a blow-by-blow debrief of the most recent legislative session, I thought I’d share some of the more common questions that have come over my transom.

Why would anyone run for the state legislature?

They certainly don’t do it for the money. Washington state senators make $52,766 and state representatives bring home $48,731. I accept the premise that as a group, they want to leave our state better than they found it. While I don’t agree with how they always go about solving our state’s woes, I do find it easier to give lawmakers the benefit of the doubt. It’s what author Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly – “the assumption of positive intent.”

How can I find out who represents me?

That’s an easy one. Play around with href=”www.leg.wa.gov” rel=”noopener noreferrer” target=”_blank”>www.leg.wa.gov and the “find your legislator” tab or drop me a line and I can help you: Peter@nmta.net

Why is there so much money in politics and where does that money go?

Ah, a two-parter. They say that money is the mother’s milk of politics. As you know, advertising and marketing campaigns are expensive. That’s essentially what a political campaign is: Selling oneself to the middle part of the voters’ bell curve. Television ads aren’t free. Mail pieces do not receive complimentary postage at the post office.

As to where the money goes, keep in mind that over 90 percent of incumbents win re-election. This occurs for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that these candidates have more money than their opponents. If you donate to a safe incumbent in the state legislature, that money does not stay in that race. It is transferred to the entire caucus leadership. The party leaders then divvy up the money into swing districts and challengers. The more money an incumbent can transfer (technically, it’s called surplussing), the more influence the well-heeled incumbent has in the caucus.

How did the last session go for boaters?

You want some sunshine? I’m pleased to report that the bill to phase out copper-bottom paint from the 2021 deadline moved to 2026 and will only occur if there is a reliable and readily available option available. Senate Bill 6210 passed both chambers unanimously.

At last, boaters have a safeguard in place to alleviate the worry of having to go copper free. Another win for boaters had to with the Derelict Vessel Removal Program (DVRP). With the change in the law (SB 6528), there will be a pilot boat recycling program and an adjustment in the length of boats needing insurance. Now boats 35 feet or longer are required to have insurance, previously the minimum was 65 feet.

What’s next between now and election day?

When it comes to state legislative boating advocacy, now is the time when the lion’s share of the work gets done. After catching their breath, lawmakers head home and are willing to meet and visit boating businesses to learn more about our agenda. These first-hand experiences with decision makers make it easier to stand out from the crowd of interests in Olympia. With 3,674 bills introduced these past two years (aka “a biennium”), it’s too easy to get lost in the shuffle. As my friend Rick Gladych taught me, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”

How can I, as a voter, play a bigger role in the legislative process?

As someone who likes to read about history, it’s one thing to read history, it’s another thing to make history. Whether it’s boating (I hope it is) or another cause near and dear to your hearts, associate yourself with like-minded individuals in a larger group. Latch onto a group like the Recreational Boating Association of Washington (RBAW) and help us get more stuff done in Olympia. In our case, politics matter because an inordinate amount of decisions affecting our passion is decided by non-boaters. That’s just the way it is.

That said, why not help your lawmakers get more oriented around boating by befriending them with timely articles? Are your two state representatives and state senator interested in mental health funding in Olympia? I can help you with that one, by the way, if you contact me. Just mail them a copy of the book: Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.

And on that note, curling up with a good book seems like a good idea right about now. I’m going to head over to Captain’s Nautical in Ballard and get caught up with some reading.

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Peter Schrappen

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Peter Schrappen currently works for the Northwest Marine Trade Association as their Government Affairs Director and the Clean Boating Foundation as their Executive Director. Additionally, he serves on boards of the Boating Safety Advisory Council, the Washington Boating Alliance and the U.S. Superyacht Association.

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