Author Archive

Thursday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | January 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s Thursday’s edition of “Legislative Review.” The show includes details about a drunk driving bill that aims to stop repeat offenders. It would make a DUI a felony on the fourth offense. Plus, we’ve got two segments that deal with medical marijuana — including a proposal to create a new license that would allow biotech companies and universities to grow their own products for research purposes.

The show airs every night at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW

Wednesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review.” We cover a bill that aims to stop scalpers from using computer bots to buy tickets to popular concerts and sporting events. We also have highlights from the testimony on Gov. Jay Inslee’s revenue proposal. Plus, a bill that would make changes to how landlords could charge rental application fees.

The show recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW

Tuesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | January 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Watch Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review” right here. We cover the so-called “ag-gag” bill that would make it a crime to secretly record video on farms, as well as a bill that aims to end the elephant ivory trade in Washington state. Plus, an effort to reopen cigar bars. The show recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW

Wednesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | January 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Watch Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review” right here. The show recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Categories: TVW

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Inslee’s state of the state, Republican response and revenue forecast bill

By | January 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address, as well as the Republican response. Plus, the Senate budget writing committee considers a bill that supporters say would help lawmakers finish their work on time without going into special session. The measure would move up the quarterly revenue forecast from March to Feburary during long sessions.

“Legislative Review” recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Two-thirds vote to raise taxes, opening day activities

By | January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

On Monday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from the Senate floor debate over changing the rules to make it harder to raise taxes. We also cover Sen. Pam Roach‘s election as president pro tem, House Speaker Frank Chopp‘s speech and other details from the first day of the 105-day session. Plus, transportation leaders discuss gas taxes during TVW’s opening day show.

Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m., recapping each day’s legislative activities.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Gov. Jay Inslee defends tax proposal

By | January 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday defended his plan to raise $1.4 billion in revenue with a capital-gains tax, cigarette taxes and other changes, saying he embarked on a “long and arduous” process to come to that conclusion.

“I’ve been wrestling with these budget numbers for several months,” Inslee said at the Associated Press Legislative Preview forum. “Legislators are just now returning from their private lives and businesses and farms. They’re now going to have to look at the hard numbers, and they will see we have some real challenges.”

Responding to Republican criticism that a capital-gains tax would be too volatile, Inslee said that 43 other states use it as a “well-known, well-tested, predictable source of financing.” The governor’s budget proposal calls for a 7 percent tax on capital gains earnings from stocks and bonds above a certain threshold, which he says would affect less than 1 percent of Washingtonians.

Gov. Inslee speaking at AP Legislative Preview

Inslee’s budget would also increase the state cigarette tax by 50 cents and add a tax to e-cigarette and vapor products. He said on Thursday that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to nicotine addiction for kids — not a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, as many smokers say.

The governor said he’s not surprised at the “heavy skepticism” that is being expressed at his budget ideas, including a proposal raise $380 million by charging polluters for carbon emissions.

Much of the new spending would fund education. Inslee said he is open to other solutions offered by Republicans.

Lead Republican budget writer Sen. Andy Hill said earlier in the day it is a “myth” that the state is facing a budget deficit, and believes it is a tactic to “scare” people to raise taxes. He says he believes the issues can be solved with existing revenue.

Inslee disagreed, calling it a “rhetorical debate.”

TVW taped the forum — watch the governor’s segment here.

Categories: Governors Office, tax

DSHS seeks legislation for mental health competency services

By | January 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

The state Department of Social and Health Services will seek legislation this session that would allow it to provide some competency rehabilitation services outside of state psychiatric hospitals. The move comes after a federal judge ruled in December that wait times for criminal defendants in jail to be evaluated for competency to stand trial were too long and unconstitutional.

Jane Beyer, Assistant Secretary of Behavior Health and Service Integration at DSHS, told a joint legislative committee on Wednesday that the department acknowledged that some of the wait times were “inappropriate.”

“We do not agree with people waiting in jail as long as they are waiting in jail, and that’s why the governor in his budget had the funding request for additional evaluators and additional forensic beds at state hospitals,” she said.

Inslee’s proposed budget includes $8.8 million to open a new 30-bed forensic ward at Western State Hospital, five beds at Eastern State Hospital and additional staff to address court-ordered competency restoration services.

Currently, restoration services for people found by the court to be incompetent to stand trial are only offered at state psychiatric hospitals. Beyer said DSHS will ask for legislation that would authorize it to offer some of those services in other facilities, possibly modeled after crisis diversion centers in Fife and the Tri-Cities.

“There are individuals who have been charged with a misdemeanor or other low-level, non-violent felony that are willing to take medication,” she said. “I think we can appropriately balance public safety and clinical needs so we can provide competency restoration in places other than state hospitals.”

Otherwise, Beyer said the state will be “confronted with another ward and another ward at the state hospitals” at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in the future.

A trial has been scheduled for March 16 in the lawsuit against DSHS, which was brought by disability rights groups and ACLU of Washington.

Elway Poll finds education a top priority, with voters open to taxes to fund it

By | January 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

A new Elway Poll shows that voters think education is the most important legislative issue this year, replacing the economy as the top priority for the first time in seven years. To pay for education, a majority of voters are willing to set aside some mandates.

Lawmakers are facing a $2 billion budget gap and an order from the state Supreme Court to fully fund basic education. They were also handed a $2 billion dollar mandate from voters to reduce class sizes with the passage of Initiative 1351 in November.

“Budget writing comes down to cutting programs and/or raising taxes,” wrote pollster Stuart Elway. “As usual, most voters don’t want to do either. To be fair to the voters, most legislators probably don’t want to do either. The essence of public opinion was probably captured in response to a question about how to deal with the education mandates.”

“Two-thirds of respondents said an acceptable solution would be ‘Doing as much as possible to fund education and reduce class sizes without raising taxes and without deep cuts to other programs — even if that means we do not fully implement the education mandates,”‘ Elway said.

Voters appear split on raising taxes to fund education mandates — 48 percent found the idea acceptable, while 49 percent were opposed.

Specific taxes found some support, however. Seventy-seven percent of respondents approve of higher cigarette taxes as proposed in Gov. Jay Inslee‘s budget, and 71 percent say a new carbon tax on industries could be an acceptable part of the solution.

Capital gains taxes and a tax on bottled water are less popular, with 57 and 56 percent of respondents in favor.

Categories: Education
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On TVW this week: AP Legislative Preview, joint transportation committee

By | January 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Here’s what TVW is covering this week:

Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m.: The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee is meeting to discuss several items, including an update on competency to stand trial and a final report regarding WSDOT’s cost estimates. TVW will be live on television and the web.

Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 1 p.m.: The Joint Transportation Committee will get an update on the ferry system, fish culverts and other items. TVW will be live on television and the web.

Thursday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m.: TVW will be live with the annual AP Legislative Preview moderated by AP Correspondent Rachel La Corte. The event starts with a leadership panel with Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville; Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island; House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

The preview continues at 10 a.m. with a budget panel, which will focus on how lawmakers will try to improve funding for basic education. Panel members include Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee; Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

At 11 a.m., Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver a speech and answer questions.

Categories: Governors Office, TVW

On TVW: Joint transportation committee, audit and review committee

By | December 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

Here’s what TVW is covering live:

Wedensday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m.: The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee is meeting to discuss several items, including the reauthorization of a process that allows the University of Washington to pre-qualify contractors for certain medical facility construction projects.

Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.: TVW will be live with the Initiative 900 subcommittee.

Thursday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m.: The Joint Transportation Committee has a number of items on the agenda, including a rail update. TVW will be live on television and the web.

Friday, Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m.: TVW will be live with the Clemency and Pardons Board.

Categories: TVW

Minimum wage debate revived at Capitol

By | December 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

People rally at the Capitol for higher minimum wage

Advocates for a higher statewide minimum wage rallied at the Capitol on Thursday following a hearing in the House Labor & Workforce Development committee on the issue.

Lawmakers heard from supporters who say the state’s minimum wage of $9.32 an hour isn’t keeping up with inflation, as well as detractors who warn it will drive business out of the state.

David Burroughs, vice chairman of Cascade Design, told legislators that Seattle’s $15 dollar-an-hour wage campaign took him by surprise. He estimates it will cost his business $2 million dollars per year.

The company, which makes outdoor gear and equipment, will have three to five years to phase in the higher wage under Seattle’s new law. But Burroughs says he has been “forced to look at alternatives,” including possibly moving some work outside of Washington.

“Our lowest-skilled positions won’t be viable in Seattle,” he said.

Ben Henry of the Alliance for a Just Society was among supporters of a higher wage who told legislators the wage should be increased to keep up with the cost of living. He said people are being forced to make trade-offs to make ends meet, such as foregoing health insurance.

“Our current minimum wage is indexed to inflation, but we see evidence that it isn’t enough,” he said.

TVW taped the hearing. Watch it here.

Categories: Minimum Wage

Senate, House leaders talk about priorities for session

By | December 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

Newly elected Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler says some Democrats will be starting session with a “preordained goal of raising taxes” to pay for education — something he says should only be a “last resort.”

The GOP-led Majority Coalition Caucus is focusing on “efficiencies and savings” to close the budget gap, Schoesler said. As an example of inefficient spending, he cited a $600,000 workshop in Tacoma for Department of Social and Health Services employees at the same time the agency was facing layoffs.

“The agency directors down through mid-management have to understand, we think lean management is a great idea,” he said. “They need to get it, or get out.”

Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said that after five years of budget reductions, “finding additional room for cuts is more difficult than ever.”

Sullivan said Democrats are focused on funding education while also protecting services. “That’s got to be foremost goal,” he said. “Whether we pay for it in existing revenue is the debate we’ll have.”

Both leaders spoke on this week’s edition of “The Impact” – watch it below.

Categories: WA House, WA Senate

Mark Schoesler elected Senate majority leader

By | December 2, 2014 | 0 Comments

Mark Schoesler

Senate Republicans on Monday elected Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville to be the new majority leader.

Schoesler succeeds Sen. Rodney Tom, a Democrat who joined with Republicans two years ago to form the Majority Coalition Caucus. Tom did not seek re-election to his seat.

The Majority Coalition Caucus will continue to use the name. The group controls the Senate with 25 Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch. Democrats hold 23 seats in the chamber.

Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee will continue as chair of the caucus. Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, will be deputy leader, Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, will serve as whip and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, was re-elected as floor leader.

Democrats control the House with a 51 to 47 vote majority. The party selected its leaders last month.

Rep. Frank Chopp of Seattle will continue as speaker, Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, will serve as majority leader and Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, will be the caucus chair.

On TVW: House committee week, legislative ethics board and nuclear energy

By | December 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s committee week in the House, and TVW will be covering several meetings live on television and on TVW.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Noon: The Legislative Ethics Board is meeting to discuss the number of free meals that legislators should be allowed to accept from lobbyists, and how to define “travel” for lawmakers. TVW will broadcast the meeting live on television, and it will be webcast at this link.

Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m.: TVW will be live on television with the Joint Task Force on Nuclear Energy. The meeting will be webcast at this link.

Thursday, Dec. 4 at 8 a.m.: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will be broadcast on TVW. The panel is holding a work session on several items, including the impact of Initiative 1351, which mandates smaller class sizes.

Thursday, Dec. 4 at 12:30 p.m.: TVW will be live with the Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

Thursday, Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m.: The House Labor and Workforce Development is holding a work session to discuss minimum wage, and paid sick leave. TVW will carry the meeting live on television.

Thursday, Dec. 4 at 3:30 p.m.: TVW will be live with the House Appropriations committee as members get a budget preview for the 2015 session.

All other committee hearings held on Thursday, Dec. 4th will be live webcast on TVW.org.

Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 a.m.: TVW will be live with the House Finance committee, and taping the House Capital Budget hearing for air later.

Friday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m.: The House Public Safety Committee will get an update on sex trafficking in Washington.

Friday, Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m.: Protecting student data is on the agenda for the House Education committee, which TVW will air live.

All other committee hearings held on Friday, Dec. 5th will be live webcast on TVW.org.

Categories: TVW

School districts cutting programs since losing No Child Left Behind waiver

By | November 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Schools have been forced to cut after-school programs, preschool sessions and other extra services for students since the state lost its No Child Left Behind waiver earlier this year, school district representatives told a legislative committee Friday.

The U.S. Department of Education revoked the state’s waiver because the Legislature failed to pass a bill last session requiring student test scores to be a factor in teacher and principal evaluations. As a result, public schools no longer have flexibility in spending about $40 million in federal funding.

“Since we haven’t had the waiver, it’s been devastating,” said Linda Sullivan-Dudzic, the director of special programs and elementary education for the Bremerton School District. “We can’t take another year without the waiver.”

“Quite frankly, I’m wondering why we have to chose between tying our teacher evaluations to an assessment that we have not even taken yet and having the flexibility and doing the best by No Child Left Behind,” Sullivan-Dudzic told the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee during a work session Friday.

Before the waiver was revoked, the district had an after-school program that served 360 students with 70 hours of instruction. That’s since been cut to 20 student who receive 18 hours of instruction, Sullivan-Dudzic said.

Other school districts are experiencing similar reductions.

Rosalind Medina of Tacoma Public Schools said the district had to cut some services to students, including before and after-school programs and extended learning opportunities.

Wapato School District cut two sessions of preschool and teacher interventions for at-risk students, according to superintendent Becky Imler.

“When we had the waiver, there was a difference for kids. My story is not just true in Wapato, it’s true throughout the Yakima Valley. We’re an area of high Title 1 need. We need the flexibility, we need the local control because with it we can make a difference,” Imler said.

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe,  D-Bothell, questioned why the districts haven’t applied to be a NCLB provider, which would provide supplemental educational services for disadvantaged students.

“I think what you’re facing here is the current underfunding of basic education. If this Legislature steps up and funds basic education, you won’t have these stories,” McAuliffee.

Committee chair Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, said after the hearing that not having the waiver has been a “huge detriment” to the students who need the help the most. He said he is working on a bill for the upcoming session that would require test scores to be part of teacher evaluations.

“There’s clearly an impact in the school districts not having access to that funding,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, who also sits on the committee.

“If we were funding a lot of the programs that the state is supposed to be funding, would this loss of flexibility from federal government have been as big a deal?” Rolfes said.

Rolfes and Litzow discussed the waiver, along with other K-12 education issues, on “The Impact.” That show will air Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 7 & 10 p.m.

Community struggling with PTSD, economic recovery in the wake of Oso mudslide

By | November 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Eight months after the deadly Oso mudslide, people in the community continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and are struggling to move forward, local officials told lawmakers Thursday.

There is also a “tenseness” because of the uncertainty of what will happen to the Stillaguamish River during the flooding season, said Arlington mayor Barbara Tolbert at a meeting of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.

“We have very resilient people in the community,” said Tolbert, who said the region’s next challenge is recovering economically from the disaster. A federally-funded economic review is underway, and the report should be completed early next year, she said.

The Oso mudslide on March 22 killed 43 people, burying dozens of homes and part of State Route 530. The road reopened to two-way traffic in September.

The committee also heard testimony from people involved in the recovery effort at the mudslide. Retired forest service member Peter Selvig listed several problems he encountered in the days after the mudslide as he helped organize efforts on the Darrington side of the disaster.

He said he was twice denied flood lights, and he also received pushback on the number of portable toilets and body bags he ordered. Communications were focused on the Arlington side of the disaster, he said, leaving the Darrington side with minimal services.

“These are some of the confusions that just rip your gut apart thinking that this was happening and there was nobody there to respond,” Selvig told the committee.

Watch the hearing below:

Lawmakers facing budget shortfall, say Initiative 1351 ‘creates a problem’

By | November 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Economic forecasters said Wednesday the state is on track to collect $36.9 billion in the next two-year budget cycle, about $275 million more than they previously forecasted.

But it is still not enough to cover current government services and K-12 education obligations. Lawmakers will be facing about a $2.2 billion dollar shortfall for the 2015-17 budget.

Initiative 1351, a new measure approved by voters to reduce class sizes, added a significant cost to the budget projections — costing about $2 billion during the same budget cycle.

“If you look at the outlook as it stands today, we’re $2 billion short which matches pretty close to 1351,” said Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond.

“Overall, 1351 creates a problem. But if you take that out of the equation, it is kind of what we expected,” Hill said.

He said it is “too soon to tell” if the Legislature will vote to suspend the initiative. It would require a two-third supermajority vote of the Legislature to change a voter-approved initiative.

“I think we have to figure out, do we have two-thirds to change an initiative that just got passed by the people? There’s typically a lot of reluctance to change those,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter noted the budget doesn’t include collective bargaining agreements for state employees “who have had a 15 percent reduction in real salaries in last six years,” nor does it include half of the state’s McCleary obligations. Looking ahead, the state can expect a $4.7 billion dollar gap by the end of 2019, he said.

Gov. Jay Inslee will propose a budget in December. The House and Senate will each release budget proposals during the 2015 legislative session.

Read the budget outlook from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Watch today’s meeting below:

Categories: economy
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On ‘The Impact:’ State auctions off unclaimed treasures, carbon emissions update

By | November 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

An unauthenticated Pablo Picasso sketchbook is up for auction

This week on “The Impact:” Look inside dozens of unclaimed safe deposit boxes that will be auctioned off by the state Dept. of Revenue.

A possible Pablo Picasso sketchbook, jewelry, coins, stamps and other collectibles are among thousands of items that have been turned over to the state after the owners of the safe deposit boxes defaulted on their payments. If the owners haven’t been found within five years, state law allows the Dept. of Revenue to auction off the contents.

James G. Murphy, Inc. will hold the auction on Nov. 19 and 20 in Kenmore. The Dept. of Revenue holds the cash proceeds — minus fees — in the safe deposit box owner’s name in case the owner comes forward later to claim the money.

The department is currently holding more than $1 billion in unclaimed funds. To check for a claim, go to claimyourcash.org.

Also on the show, an update on the report released this week by the Carbon Emissions Reductions Task Force. Interviews include Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen and task force member Perry England.

Update: Watch the show below:

Categories: TVW

Carbon task force issues report on cap-and-trade and carbon tax approaches

By | November 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

A task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee to help craft a carbon pricing policy released a report on Monday that examines both a cap-and-trade system and a carbon tax, although the group stopped short of making a policy recommendation.

The cap-and-trade approach sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that can be emitted during a specific time period. A fixed number of emissions “allowances” would be issued, and those allowances could be traded or auctioned off.

A carbon tax sets a price on each unit of carbon that’s emitted, with the price typically set in advance.

The task force said in its report that both strategies can “help the state build a coherent carbon emissions reduction strategy that aligns private incentives” to reach the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by the end of the decade.

However, the group cautioned that there are “substantial design challenges” in developing a policy.

Inslee talked about the report later in the day at a South Seattle community meeting about air quality.

“This morning, my task force gave me a report on a way to move forward to cap the amount of carbon and put a price for polluters to pollute our air and to me it makes sense that polluters who pollute our air ought not to be able to do that for free in unlimited quantities,” Inslee said.

“I’m excited to tell you we are going to be pursuing this in the next year in the state of Washington,” he said.

The task force wrote in the report that carbon prices should be established in a way that will “limit volatility and provide long-term certainty,” and take into consideration the impact it will have on businesses. The report also notes that the policy should “address equity and affordability concerns” for low-income and minority communities.

The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon emissions in the state, according to the report.

“With an explicit cost placed on carbon, the price of transportation fuel will increase,” it said.

The group recommends a comprehensive policy that addresses transportation-related issues, such as incentivizing the use of low or zero emission vehicles, expanding public transit and building alternative fuel infrastructure.

The task force concluded by saying that “certain important questions remain unanswered and further analysis will be important” to crafting a carbon pricing approach.

Read the full report here.

The 21-member group included representatives from business, labor, public health, tribal and government entities. The task force met half a dozen times throughout the year to draft the report.

The report will serve as an “important foundation” in developing a policy, Inslee wrote in a reponse letter to the report. “I understand your finding that each of the policy approaches under consideration offers strengths and weaknesses for Washington, and that market based approaches can make a unique contribution to reaching our statutory carbon emissions limits,” Inslee wrote.

Watch Monday’s carbon task force meeting below: