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Bill would allow businesses to refuse services based on religious beliefs

By | April 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Sen. Sharon Brown

Republican Sen. Sharon Brown of Kennewick has introduced a new bill allowing businesses to refuse service to customers due to their religious beliefs, drawing sharp criticism from some Senate Democrats.

Senate Bill 5927 would protect the “right of an individual or entity to deny services” if providing those services is contrary to their “sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.”

Last month, a florist in Richland refused to provide provide flowers for the same-sex wedding of Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed. The florist, Barronelle Stutzman, now faces legal action from both the state attorney general’s office and the American Civil Liberties Union for declining to provide flowers.

Stutzman has maintained that her refusal was because of her religious beliefs. Her attorney has said that Stutzman’s actions are protected by constitutional right to freedom of speech, association and religious exercise.

Ten Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation. The proposal drew a strong rebuke this week from Senate Democrats.

Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island) called the bill a “license to hate” in a press release issued Friday. And Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray said, in a press release of his own, that the bill is an attempt to “undo basic civil rights protections.”

“The whole notion that a business should have the right to discriminate against it’s customers is abhorrent,” Murray said.

There are only two days left in regular session, which ends Sunday. But Brown said in a press release that the measure could be considered during a special session or in the 2014 session.

Former Oklahoma congressman and NLF player testifies at Senate committee

By | April 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Steve Largent

Former Oklahoma congressman and NFL Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent testified in front of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on Wednesday to talk about the growth potential of the wireless industry in Washington state.

Largent is now the president and CEO of CTIA, an advocacy group for wireless companies.

“A lot of people don’t think about this, but our industry accounts for almost three percent of all U.S. employment in the country,” Largent said.

Committee chair Sen. Doug Ericksen, (R-Ferndale) called the work session to look at the “things we can be doing better to encourage job growth” of the wireless industry.

(more…)

Categories: Uncategorized

Eyman proposes new initiative to limit tax increases to one year

By | April 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

Voter initiative activist Tim Eyman released plans Monday for another attempt to require a two-thirds majority for the Legislature to raise taxes. This time he wants to change the state’s constitution.

In February the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that initiative 1185, which required the Legislature to have a two-thirds supermajority to implement any new tax hikes, was unconstitutional.

“When we tried to do it with 1185, they said we would need to make an amendment to the constitution to make it happen. So that’s what we’re doing,” Eyman said Monday.

Under the proposal, sent in an email to the governor, legislators and Eyman supporters throughout the state, the new initiative would mandate:

  •  Advisory votes every November asking voters if they support a two-thirds majority to raise taxes as a constitutional amendment.
  • Any new tax increases the Legislature adopts would be limited to one year.
  • Voters’ pamphlets would be required to include information about the governor’s and legislators’ voting records on tax increases under their picture.

The initiative also includes an escape clause to nullify these three policies if state legislators put a two-thirds constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters to decide on.

Eyman said he expects the difficulty of getting the more than 300,000 signatures required to get the proposal on a ballot by November will likely depend a great deal on what legislators do at the end of the current session.

“If they go nuts with tax increases over the next couple weeks, that will probably make it easier,” Eyman said. “If you don’t want the beehive to get upset, don’t kick it.”

Categories: Public Policy, tax
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Brewers rally against beer tax at Capitol

By | April 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

More than 100 brewers, bartenders and beer lovers amassed on the steps of the Capitol on Friday to protest a proposal to permanently extend a beer tax.

Several local brewers spoke at the rally, along with a few lawmakers, about the importance of the industry to the state.

“I know your margins are small – no one’s going to get rich making beer,” said Joe Korbuszewski, a home brewer and bartender in Tacoma who helped organize the protest. “But you know what?  You can support your kids and pay your mortgage doing it.  And I don’t want them to take that away.”

A temporary beer tax, which is set to expire this June, was levied on breweries in 2010.  Under the current law, smaller brewers are exempt.  But legislation proposed by both Gov. Jay Inslee and House Democrats would remove that exemption for smaller brewers, and extend those taxes permanently.

The proposals from Inslee and the House differ – Inslee’s plan would increase taxes to $.50 per gallon for all breweries, while the House’s proposal would increase tax on large brewers by $.25 and small brewers by $.15 – but either way means more taxes on small brewers.

Republican Senators Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner showed their support for the brewers by carrying beer steins.

“You folks have an industry that is growing, that is employing people. It’s serving a need, and we have to make sure that the actions taken inside these chambers do not put you out of work,” said Ericksen (R – Ferndale) told the crowd.

Supporters of the tax say it would bring in millions of dollars for K-12 education — as much as $128 million under Inslee’s plan and $59 million under the House’s proposal. But opponents say it will take away jobs, and could ruin an industry for which Washington has become known.

“With over 200 breweries, Washington is second only to California in number of breweries,” said Dick Cantwell of Elysian Brewing in Seattle. “That number will decline substantially if taxes are increased to the levels being discussed.”

The Senate’s budget does not include the tax extension. Budget writers from the House and Senate are working to negotiate a final budget.

“Together we’re not going to let this beer tax happen, because it’s about jobs, it’s about helping this economy,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R – Spokane).

Attorney General says florist lawsuit could go to state Supreme Court

By | April 11, 2013 | 0 Comments

Earlier this week Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against a florist in Richland who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony. On Thursday, Ferguson told “Inside Olympia” host Austin Jenkins that the florist violated the state’s consumer protection laws that protect against discrimination.

“Whether you are running a restaurant, or whether you sell flowers, when you have a public accommodation in that sense, you’re not allowed to discriminate,” said Ferguson. “If you choose to sell flowers to a heterosexual couple for their wedding, you can’t refuse to sell flowers to a same-sex couple.”

According to the Tri-City Herald, Robert Ingersoll and his partner, Curt Freed, went to Arlene’s Flowers to buy arrangements for their wedding. The shop’s owner, Barronelle Stutzman, refused to sell to the couple because of her religious beliefs.

Ferguson said that he had originally hoped to resolve the case informally, and started by sending the florist a letter asking her to simply state that she would no longer refuse service to same-sex couples. He said that if she had agreed with that, there would have been no fees or costs to her. However, she hired a lawyer to contest the claim, and Ferguson said that he had no choice but to continue with the lawsuit.

The attorneys for Stuzman deny that she is in violation of the law, and argue that she is exercising her First Amendment rights.

Ferguson said the case may be one that sets a new precedent.

“The issue around sexual orientation and marriage equality is a contested one around the country and the state,” said Ferguson. “I think it does up the ante that, potentially, it could go to the state Supreme Court.”

For the full interview, click on the video below. Jenkins also interviews Rep. Ross Hunter about the House’s budget proposal and state Capitol reporters, Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald and Jordan Schrader of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Dems say Senate’s budget puts special interests ahead of women and children

By | April 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

A group of Democratic female lawmakers held a press conference Friday to respond to the budget proposed by the Senate Majority Coalition earlier in the week.

The legislators, all leaders on health care and human services committees, stood next to a sign that read, “We can do hard things,” as they spoke about the ways in which the proposed budget fails to meet the needs of the state’s women and children, while simultaneously extending tax breaks and loopholes for big businesses.

“We have a problem in the Senate and it is a problem that aims right at women and children,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D – Kent).  “What we are looking at in that Senate budget is not acceptable.  It’s not acceptable in health care, it’s not acceptable in human services and it’s not acceptable in jobs.”

The lawmakers highlighted a number of programs slated for cuts, including Working Connections, which helps the working poor pay for childcare, TANF Services, which provides temporary cash assistance to needy families, and transitional housing programs.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D – Tacoma) said that the Senate budget would penalize women who receive benefits through TANF by not providing them with any additional money if they have another child.

“This is the Republican party, the religious party, the pro-life party, writing a budget that says a woman chose to continue a pregnancy and have a child, but we’re going to further discriminate against her for making that decision by saying you get to take care of three children on an award we’ve given you for two,” Darneille said. (more…)

Two gun bills pass out of Senate committee ahead of key deadline

By | April 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

Two firearm bills passed out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee Tuesday, including one to create a central registry for felony firearm offenders.

HB 1612 would require the Washington State Patrol to maintain a database of felony firearm offenders. If a person is convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a felony firearm offense, the court can require them to register with their local sheriff’s department.

“Over 50 percent of all offenders who have committed homicide have had a prior gun offense,” said Rep. Mike Hope (R – Lake Stevens), also a Seattle police officer. “This bill puts them on the radar screen for law enforcement.”

Hope said that similar legislation has been adopted in other areas of the country. After implementation in New York, the city saw a 17 percent drop in homicides.

Offenders would be required to provide their name, along with any aliases, their address, and information related to their gun offense. Registration would be required for four years following the offense and would only be used by law enforcement.

“It’s not going to solve all the problems, but it’s another important tool for law enforcement to know when they’re in contact with someone who has a prior firearm offense,” said Don Pierce with the Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Association of Washington State. (more…)

Bertha: The world’s largest tunnel digger arrives in Seattle

By | April 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

The world’s largest tunnel boring machine arrived in Seattle Tuesday.

The arrival marks the end of a two week journey of some 5,000 miles from the manufacturing plant in Japan where the machine was built.

Named after Bertha Knight Landes, Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha is five-story-tall, $80 million dollar machine commissioned by the Department of Transportation to assist in the construction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project – a 2-mile tunnel that will carry traffic on State Route 99 under downtown Seattle.

“It’s going to set a lot of firsts around the nation and around the world,” said Linea Laird, program administrator for the project. “Everyone is watching us as we move forward with this.  There’s nothing easy about the city of Seattle and boring something this large underneath it.”

Even though the equipment has arrived, it will still be a while before digging begins. Unloading the monstrosity alone will take several weeks, and it still has to be put together.

“It’s in 41 different pieces,” said Matt Preedy, deputy program administrator for the project. “The largest of those pieces weighs almost 900 tons all by itself. Over the course of the next two weeks, each one of those 41 pieces will be offloaded onto the pier, where it’ll make its way slowly several hundred yards over to the launch pit.”

Bertha will be assembled in the launch pit — a process that could take about two months. Officials said the actual digging should begin during the summer, and that completion of SR 99 is scheduled for late 2015.

Watch Bertha be unloaded on this live web cam. You can also follow Bertha on Twitter here.

Categories: transportation

Lawmakers look to tackle underage binge drinking

By | April 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

In light of the number of alcohol-related deaths over the past year at college campuses in Washington, lawmakers are considering a bill that encourages underage party-goers to call for help if a friend is in need.

House Bill 1404, sponsored by Rep. Marko Liias (D – Edmonds), is designed to encourage underage drinkers, who might otherwise be discouraged by the fear of an alcohol-related charge, to call 911 if a friend shows signs of alcohol poisoning.

“We want young people to know that when they call 911 the only thing that will come is help, not trouble,” Liias said Monday in front of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

The measure is structured after a similar bill that came out of the 2010 legislative session which does the same thing for people who call 911 to help a friend they believe are overdosing on drugs.

Speaking on behalf of the Washington State Council of Firefighters, and as both a firefighter and emergency medical technician himself, Michael White said he believes the bill will help save lives. (more…)

Categories: Public Policy

Self-checkout machines would freeze with alcohol purchases under bill

By | March 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Senate Commerce Committee discussed several alcohol related bills Friday morning. One of those bills deals with purchasing liquor at self-checkout machines in grocery stores.

“I walked through, paid for it, put it in my bag and there was nobody around. I walked out of there and nobody batted an eye at somebody buying alcohol through a self-checkout,” said bill sponsor Rep. Sam Hunt (D – Olympia), talking about the experience that prompted him to begin working on the measure.

The bill would require stores with self-checkout machines to halt any transactions that include alcohol until an employee comes to check the purchaser’s ID to make sure they are 21.

“We keep hearing stories that the machines do lock, that they don’t lock. This will end the debate,” said Holly Chisa, of the Northwest Grocery Association. “Self-checkout machines will lock up until an employee comes to check the customer’s ID.”

While there was no opposition to the bill, some say the legislation should do more to prevent theft and to protect workers, who could lose their job if they accidentally sell to a minor. (more…)

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Subsidized spays and neuters for low-income pet owners

By | March 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Low-income families with pets may get a break on costs for spay or neuter procedures next year with a bill under consideration by the Legislature.

The House Agricultural Committee held a hearing Wednesday to discuss a bill that would create a statewide program to subsidize the procedures, for low-income pet owners. The surgeries typically cost from about $75-$400, depending on the type of animal and how much it weighs.

The program would be organized by the Department of Health and funded by a $1 surcharge on pet licenses sold in the state.

“We need a community solution,” said Andrea Logan of the Washington Alliance for Humane Legislation. “We need to have aggressive spay-neuter program in all areas of the state to make an impact on the overpopulation crisis.”

Logan worked on a pilot project in Yakima that she said had a tremendous response from the appreciative pet owners.

“However, as a non-profit, we have limited funds and resources. To really make an impact in that area we need community support,” Logan said. (more…)

Categories: Public Policy

Senators hear testimony from global warming skeptic

By | March 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

The debate over climate change continued Tuesday in the Senate Energy Committee, where Republican chairman Sen. Doug Ericksen invited testimony from a professor who argued that global warming is not a man-made problem.

It comes on the heels of the House’s approval on Monday of a climate change bill. The bill, which was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee and previously passed by the Senate, creates a work group to study ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state.

Ericksen said in a press release he invited the professor so there could be  “multiple views” on the issue. “Earlier in the session, the governor gave his side of the issue and now we’ll hear from an expert with a different viewpoint,” he said.

Dr. Don Easterbrook, a geology professor emeritus at Western Washington University, spoke directly to some of the claims made during the previous day’s discussion of SB 5802.

“Global warming ended in 1998,” said Easterbrook. “Even the chairman of the U.N. group that has been pushing CO2 as the cause of climate change admits there has been no global warming in the past 15 years.”

Throughout the presentation Easterbrook presented data to support claims that global warming is cyclical. He also said that carbon dioxide cannot cause climate change, that the Antarctic sheet is not shrinking, but growing, and that severe storms are no more frequent today than they have been in years past.

“There’s nothing new about global warming,” Eastbrook said. “It’s been going on for thousands of years at much higher rates for much longer periods of time than we’ve experienced since CO2 levels began to become elevated.”

Eastbrook fielded several questions from senators who asked about contradicting studies that they’ve received from previous panels of experts.

“What you just put out on your slide goes contrary to the data that I have before me,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island).

“What you’re looking at is data that has been tampered with by NOA and NASA,” said Eastbrook in response.  “I’m not saying that they have done something which is spurious and evil, what I’m saying is they have what you call ‘adjusted’ data.”

Watch his presentation below:

Liquor Control Board discusses plans to tax marijuana sales

By | March 22, 2013 | 0 Comments

Members of Washington’s Liquor Control Board met with the House Finance Committee Friday to talk about issues they are facing as they come up with a taxing scheme for recreational marijuana.

Last fall, Washingtonians passed Initiative 502 to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in the state. Now, the state’s liquor control board is tasked with coming up with taxation and regulatory scheme.

“There’s a wide gap between some of the perceptions of revenue opportunities and some of the realities,” said committee chairman Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D – Seattle), addressing members of the board. “So we’re looking to you for some of the insights and counsel around how we can increase the probability of a successful taxation model.”

Pat Kohler, director of the control board, says marijuana taxation could bring in up to $2 billion over the next five years.

“This assumes that revenue would start coming in in January of 2014,” said Kohler.

Deputy director of the board Rick Garza said they hope to begin issuing producer licenses by mid-August of this year, and for processor and retailer licenses around the end of the year. But he also stated that the only deadline they actually have to meet is to have rules adopted by the beginning of December.

One of the biggest complications facing the board in their attempt to create a market for recreational use is the existing market for medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is unregulated and untaxed. About 90 percent of the people that purchase medical marijuana from dispensaries do not meet the qualifications of a medical marijuana patient,” said Garza. “Our concern is that you can’t have two markets running at the same time.” (more…)

Categories: Marijuana
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House Transportation committee considers motorcycle bills

By | March 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

The House Transportation Committee tackled several motorcycle bills Tuesday, including one that would allow bikers to continue through red stoplights if the light’s sensor fails to recognize the motorcycle.

Ron Friar, who has been riding motorcycles for more than 50 years, said he has been stuck at these lights before.

“I sat through three complete cycles, with cars lined up behind me, the light would not change,” Friar said, recounting a recent experience at a light in Olympia. “It took 10 minutes of sitting there with traffic building up. When I finally pulled out of the lane, the car behind me pulled up and the light changed.”

Friar said by the time the light changed, there were cars piling up in lanes behind him, creating dangerous congestion.

Speaking in opposition to the bill, Rob Huss of the Washington State Patrol said that what most bikers do in that situation is the same as what all motorists are supposed to do when they approach an uncontrolled intersection.

“We’ve all sat there for a period of time, exercised due care caution, made sure it was clear and proceeded on our way as necessary,” Huss said.

But putting that into statute, he said, would not be a good idea. He said doing so would create liability for the state and letting motorcyclists proceed through red lights could cause confusion for other vehicles.

Allison Albert of the Association of Washington Cities said there is a system for reporting lights that are not working properly.

“A bill that the Legislature passed in 2009 required that all traffic control signals routinely and reliably detect bicycles and motorcycles, and also clearly mark the detection areas,” Albert said.

The committee also discussed three other bills relating to motorcycles. One would add motorcycles to the list of vehicles that can use reserved highway lanes, such as carpool lanes. Another would allow bikers to pass pedestrians and bicycles in the same lane. And a third would allow private motorcycle skills training classes, which have previously had a price cap of $125, to charge students for the full cost of the program.

No action was taken on those bills Tuesday.

Categories: transportation

Bill would repeal state’s Veteran’s Day Raffle

By | March 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

After it failed to make a profit last year, the Washington Lottery’s Veteran’s Day Raffle may be finished.

On Monday the House Appropriations Committee considered a bill that would put an end to the raffle, which barely managed to cover costs last year.

The Veteran’s Day Raffle was created by the Legislature two years ago to benefit veterans and their families. Proceeds from the raffle’s sales go to the Veteran Innovations Program.

“The first year the profit was about $314,000. The second year there was no profit, as sales barely covered prize expenses,” said Arlen Harris of the Washington State Lottery Commission.

Without the raffle, however, the program, designed to provide crisis and emergency relief, as well as education, training and employment assistance to veterans and their families, would have no funding at all.

“Even though this raffle was not successful, currently it is the only funding source that we have to be able to support our Veteran Innovations Program,” said Alfie Alvarado, director of the state’s Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Speaking on behalf of the Veteran’s Legislative Coalition, Jim Sims said what they really need is a funding source they can rely on.

“More than anything else, the VLC is looking for a dedicated funding source so veterans don’t have to come back every other year and beg for funding for our veterans,” said Sims.

The committee took no action on the bill. However, in response to a question by Rep. Ross Hunter (D – Medina), the committee’s staff said legislators could make a general fund appropriation for the veteran’s program. Rep. Gary Alexander (R – Olympia) expressed belief that there would be strong bipartisan support for such a move.

Wolf bills still alive in the Legislature

By | March 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The debate over gray wolves in Washington’s Legislature can be expected to continue as three wolf bills remain alive following mid-session cut-off.

Perhaps the most controversial of the three, which passed off the Senate Floor by a narrow vote last Friday, allows ranchers to kill gray wolves without a permit if the wolves are caught attacking livestock or domestic animals.

“When and if an individual’s property or their livelihood is in imminent danger, I believe that they have the right to protect it,” said Sen. John Smith (R – Colville), who sponsored the bill. “This bill guards that idea.”

Anyone who kills a wolf that is not attacking livestock or a domestic animal would be in violation of laws protecting endangered animals. The law currently allows the killing of any wildlife that threatens human safety or, provided they have first received a permit from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, to kill an animal that threatens commercial livestock.

Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island) said the bill would allow wolves to be killed without a permit, which goes against the current wolf management plan. Ranker proposed several amendments to the bill that were voted down.

“Everyone agreed to that plan. This underlying bill erodes that plan,” Ranker said.

The bill passed with a vote of 25-23 (more…)

Stalking bill passes both chambers

By | March 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Victims of stalkers may may soon have a new law to protect them, with the approval of bills in both the Senate and the House that would create a new kind of civil protection order for stalking.

Jennifer Paulson

The legislation comes in response to the murder of Jennifer Paulson in 2010. Paulson was an elementary school teacher in Tacoma who was killed by a former co-worker who had stalked her for seven years.

“If we had had further protection for someone like Jennifer through the court system, we could have prevented her death,” said sponsor Rep. Roger Goodman (D – Kirkland) during a floor session in the House on Monday.

Goodman’s bill expands the behaviors that qualify as felony stalking and increases criminal penalties for the crime.

The law currently allows people to get no-contact orders or protection orders for domestic violence or harassment. Both of the new bills would create another type of protection order specifically for cases of stalking.

“It is obvious that we need more protection for those who are stalked,” said Sen. Steve Conway (D – Tacoma) as he introduced a similar bill on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

Conway’s bill doesn’t go quite as far in increasing penalties for stalking as Goodman’s, but it too would create a new anti-stalking protection order.

Both bills received unanimous approval in their respective chambers.

Senate passes series of education reform bills

By | March 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Washington state Senate passed a series of education reform bills this week, including a measure that assigns letter grades to schools, a bill repealing unfunded mandates and another that targets low-performing schools. The bills come as the Legislature approaches the midpoint of a session dominated by the state Supreme Court’s decision in McCleary, which demands lawmakers fully fund basic education.

On Thursday, the Senate debated a bill that would provide funding and an intervention plan for the state’s 10 lowest performing schools.  It would allow the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to take control of schools that fail to improve after a period of three years.  If intervention efforts continue to fail, the school could eventually be closed.

“We know what these schools are.  We know where they are.  We need to make an intervention into these schools,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Litzow (R– Mercer Island).  “If they cannot succeed after three years in turning around that school, then OSPI has the option to go in and take these schools over and work with them for another three years.”

Spokane Democrat Sen. Andy Billig said he has seen  positive results for such programs in his own district.

“I’ve seen this process work in my own community and I am optimistic that it will help other schools and students,” he said.

Several opponents said they are concerned about the loss of local control.

“The ability of somebody in Olympia to hire and fire teachers based on their perspective from Olympia – that is very concerning to me.  I think it’s critical that we keep that hiring and firing ability in our local districts,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker (D – Orcas Island).

Sen. Christine Rolfes (D – Poulsbo) said the legislation is just a small step towards reform, and cautioned fellow lawmakers about being too excited about the bill.

“It is a pilot project masquerading as school reform,” Rolfes said.  “It will help ten schools.  There are hundreds that could qualify for this kind of assistance.”

The bill passed 30-19.

The Senate discussed another education bill Thursday that would do away with a number of unfunded education laws that supporters say have been weighing down the budget.

(more…)

House committee passes paid sick leave bill

By | March 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Sick Washingtonians may feel a little better soon, as they may be able to stay home without giving up their pay. The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill on Friday that would require employers to allow employees to take paid sick days.

“It’s estimated that we have over a million workers in this state that don’t have the ability to take paid sick leave when they need to stay home to take care of themselves or a family member,” said sponsor Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma).

House Bill 1313 would require employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid sick leave for workers, or sick members their family. It also allows employees to take sick leave in cases of domestic violence, or if a public health emergency shuts down businesses or schools.

Jinkins said the bill will help the state’s low-wage workers. “They are frequently making choices about whether or not to got to work sick or put food on the table,” she said.

HB 1313 passed out of committee along a party line vote of 18-13.

Before voting no, Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm said the bill would weaken the state competitively, and that isn’t something Washington’s economy can afford right now.

“We all know that we have a very fragile economy and that a lot of people are hurting,” Wilcox said. “I believe building the economy and providing more jobs for people to go to work is the most important way to help those most in need.”

The bill now goes to the Rules Committee before heading to the House Floor.

Categories: Public Policy

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll makes guest appearance at the Capitol

By | February 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll made a visit to Olympia Wednesday where he was honored with a resolution congratulating the team on its success last season.

But football was not the only topic of conversation.

Carroll made appearances on the House and the Senate floors and met with Governor Jay Inslee as part of a campaign to raise support for “A Better Seattle,” a community outreach program aimed at curbing youth violence.

Carroll created a similar version of the program while coaching at the University of Southern California.

“I was driving in on a Monday morning on Notre Dame week and I heard a report on the radio where four kids got killed in the streets over the weekend,” Carroll said in a speech to the Senate. “In related incidents, 3 more kids were killed from what had happened over the weekend. And then by Thursday, 11 kids had been killed in retaliations.”

After spending time talking to kids on the streets, Carroll said he realized they had no hope for a better existence.

“Our job became helping people sculpt and change a vision of hope to give them a chance and a plan to get out,” Carroll said.

The program has been up and running in Seattle since September of 2011, but Carroll thinks they have taken it as far as they can on their own.

“We’re here today to say we need your help,” Carroll said. “We need to get to the next level because private funding won’t get it done. We need state support, and we’re going to need federal support as well.”

“He’s not looking for a bunch from us,” said GOP House Leader Richard DeBolt later when asked about Carroll’s visit. “I think he really has the best interest of bringing Washington together. To have someone who is willing to champion that is fantastic.

Categories: Youth Violence
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