Some 3,100 citizens participated in the telephone Community Conference, as it was called, in the district, and Newstalk 870 was monitoring the hour-long event.

The 8th Legislative District is made up of most of Benton County, from just south of Kennewick up to the border of Grant County in the North, Franklin County on the East Side, and Yakima County on the west.  It includes Richland, Kennewick, West Richland and Benton City.

The 8th District is represented entirely by Republicans in the state legislature, Representatives Larry Haler of Richland and Brad Klippert of Kennewick, and Senator Sharon Brown.  She is part of The Coalition, the 23 GOP and 2 Democratic Senators responsible for thwarting most of the controversial taxes and policies passed out of the Democratically controlled State House. These include last year's attempt to nullify hundreds of tax "loopholes" for a wide variety of Washington businesses,  and attempts to extend former Governor Gregoire's series of temporary taxes used to try to erase the budget defecit. Klippert and Haler are an active, influential part of the GOP minority in the House.

Newstalk 870 had an opportunity to listen in to the Conference.   Citizens across the District were randomly selected to receive a telephone call informing them about the Conference, and giving instructions on how they could listen in and participate.  They were also given an opportunity ask questions directly to Klippert, Haler and Brown.  At least 9 different people asked a variety of questions, and the legislators mixed in updates about bills and activity as the House and Senate wrapped up their first week of the 2014 session.

According to figures released Thursday by Senator Brown's office, some 3,100 people participated.

Participants were also given a chance to vote on three poll questions using their keypad.

Some of the questions asked included:

  • What are the legislators stand on Gov. Inslee's desire to implement green fuel standards?
  • What are their opinions about the controversial Common Core educational standards being adopted in many states across the country, including Washington?
  • What was their view on the House voting to expand the Dream Act, or additional college financial aid and tuition to students who are here illegally? Rep. Haler was the only legislator allowed to give a "no" speech on the measure in the Democratic-controlled House.
  • What was the legislators stance on the Food Labeling issue that was defeated last November?

Participants also answered several poll questions.  They included:

  • Would you favor raising the Washington state gas tax $.10.5 cents per gallon to fund a transportation package?  93% of respondents voted "no."
  • What are the most important issues to Washington citizens and the legislature in 2014?  Respondents voted this way:  State spending, 29%;  Healthcare, 25%, Job Creation, 25%.   Only 4% indicated transportation needs were a big priority to them, which is in sharp contrast to Gov. Inslee and some legislators.    Many state officials have been hammering the need to spend millions on roads, bridges and highways.

Brown, Klippert and Haler also indicated they, and other legislators, are pushing this session to pass legislation ensuring hydroelectric power is legally and officially considered a "renewable" energy in Washington.   This would require the immense energy generated by our dams to utilized alongside wind, solar and other alternative energies being pushed by environmental groups and the governor.

The legislators indicated they plan to utilize future telephone Community Conferences, and stressed the feedback they receive from YOU, the citizens and voters, helps shape the legislative proposals they sponsor in Olympia.