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Governor Inslee proposes capital gains tax to fill budget gap

By | December 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to “buck up” and invest in the state of Washington. He’s recommending a new capital gains tax to help close a $2 billion dollar gap in the next two-year budget.

“It is time to reinvest in our state and this budget does that,” Gov. Inslee said.

The Governor released his 2015-17 budget proposal Thursday. The $39 billion plan is a combination of cuts to current programs and new revenue. The focus is on four key areas: stronger schools, healthier kids, cleaner air, and a fairer tax system.

“There is one simple fact: we cannot balance this budget and educate our children on cuts alone.”

In addition to the charge on carbon polluters unveiled earlier in the week, Gov. Inslee proposes a seven percent capital gains tax on money made from the sale of stocks and bonds above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers. It would begin in 2016 and is estimated to raise $800 million dollars in the first biennium.

“This is a tax on fewer than one percent of Washingtonians,” the Governor explained.  “For those folks who have retirement accounts, stock in those accounts when they sell that stock, there will be zero capital gains on that.”

The Governor says Washington’s capital gains tax would be less than similar taxes in Idaho, Oregon and California.  Also exempt is money earned from the sale of homes, farms, and forestry.

“This is not intended to show any lack of respect for those who would pay under this proposal. We honor success in Washington. In fact, we treasure it, but we always have to push for fairness.” The Governor later explained why he believes a capital gains tax is a better option over a sales tax increase. “It would be unfair to working families in this tough economy, where you have such incredible income inequality, to put more tax burden on working families. I believe, in this circumstance where we’ve had such wealth creation in this state… That giving a beginning teacher, or a person who’s making $500,000 selling stocks and bonds, at this point we outta ask that wealthier person to step up to the plate.”

Among the other ideas on the list of new revenues, Gov. Inslee wants five tax breaks repealed, the state cigarette tax increased by 50 cents a pack, a new tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products, and a tax on bottled water.

Those new revenues add up to $1.4 billion dollars.

Given the size of the budget shortfall and the State Supreme Court mandate on McCleary, the Governor says statewide cuts are also needed. His budget proposal includes $211 million in General Fund spending cuts. Another $212 million was found by shifting General Fund costs to other fund sources and maximizing federal funds.

“The fact of the matter is we have made reductions of $12 billion dollars since the recession started. We have already slashed mental health way past the bone. We’re in the arteries.”  Governor Inslee said as a result the courts have held the state in contempt. “The point is this recession has put us $1 billion dollars in the hole, and we have slashed to the bone and now we’re looking into the cartilage to the tune of about $400 million dollars.”

The largest chunk of Gov. Inslee’s budget is dedicated to schools. He wants to spend $18.2 billion in order to meet McCleary. That would include money for smaller K-3 classes and full-day kindergarten for all students across the state.

Social and Health Services would get $6.4 billion. Washington colleges and universities would be allocated $3.4 billion, but in-state undergraduate tuition would be frozen.

When asked whether he changed his tune from the 2012 campaign when then-candidate Inslee vowed not to raise taxes: “The combination of the legislature not closing these loopholes… and increasing demands in education and mental health, we simply have not been able to generate the revenues necessary to provide vital services to Washingtonians. I have hoped to avoid this route. I have tried to avoid this route, but we now have an obligation to our children. They oughta have a first class education. It is a duty of ours and I intend to fulfill it.”

Immediately following the Governor’s news conference, the Senate Republican’s chief budget writer issued a statement. Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond) said, “Investing in student achievement and providing essential services should not depend on risky tax schemes that threaten our economy. Educating our children, caring for those in need and supporting our local economy demands thoughtful, bipartisan budget leadership. Tax increases should be the last resort, not the first response.”

You can see more of the details of the Governor’s 2015-17 budget proposal here.

You can also hear more from Governor Inslee’s budget director, David Schumacher.  He is the  guest on this week’s “Inside Olympia.”

Governor Jay Inslee to Release Entire Budget Proposal Thursday

By | December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Governor Jay Inslee will release the entirety of his proposed 2015–17 biennial budget on Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

TVW will carry the event live, both on TV and on our website.

Here’s the link to watch it live from your computer.

Washington Works to Protect Students From Natural Disasters

By | December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Oso landslide and fierce summer wildfires show how natural disasters might impact Washington schools. And to help school districts plan ahead, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has released its final “K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan.”

For three years, staff researched the natural dangers facing our schools, making us one of the first states in the country to tackle such a large study.

The six major natural disasters most likely to occur in Washington: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, volcanic events and landslides.

The hope is school districts will use the report to help plan renovations to old buildings, and safer designs for new ones that can be ready for the disasters pinpointed for their region.

The final report is available here.

It’s also one of the topics on “The Impact” this week which airs on TVW Wednesday at 7 & 10 p.m.

Also on the show this week: The Governor’s budget proposal, including a carbon pollution charge to raise money for schools and transportation, and the school district building an innovative new school to protect kids from an earthquake followed by a tsunami.

Categories: The Impact, Uncategorized

Inside Olympia: Paroles & Pardons

By | December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Deciding whether to parole or pardon prisoners is a difficult, politically dicey task. Austin Jenkins interviews Gov. Jay Inslee’s General Counsel Nick Brown, Clemency and Pardons Board Chair Jennifer Rancourt, and Indeterminate Sentence Review Board Chair Lynne DeLano.

Watch here:

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

By | December 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

It’s Officially Christmas at the Washington State Capitol. For the 26th year, the annual Holiday Kids’ Tree is lighting up the Capitol rotunda.

Photo: Courtesy AWB

It’s a noble fir grown in Olympia and donated by the Winkleworld Noble Fir Tree Farm. The tree is 35 feet tall and wrapped with five-thousand LED lights. The 200 decorations covering the tree fit the theme of Disney’s “Frozen.” Once the tree is taken down after Christmas, all the stuffed characters will be wrapped and given to patients at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.

The Tree is sponsored by the Association of Washington Business and also helps raise money for rural families in need.

You can get in the holiday spirit and watch the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony here.

Categories: Uncategorized

House Democratic Leaders Reorganize Committees

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Democrats have a new structure for House committees for the 2015 legislative session. Some committees have been canceled, others added, and some of the remaining will have new names and roles.

According to a document given to House members, there are now 21 committees instead of 23. The committees canceled include the appropriations subcommittees on education and the one on health and human services, along with the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee.

There is a new committee being formed to deal specifically with issues related to marijuana and gambling. It’s called the Commerce and Gaming Committee. The description on the document: “The House Commerce & Gaming Committee considers issues relating to commerce in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis and issues relating to the regulation and oversight of gaming, including tribal compacts.”

Also new next session, a State Government Committee. It will take over the ethics, campaign finance and other state agency issues often heard by the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

There is a new name and focus for the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Information Technology. It’s no longer considered a subcommittee and will address issues of state government, LEAN management, and audits.

The new Labor Committee has a shorter name. The Workforce Development part was dropped from that committee and moved to the Higher Education Committee.

To read the House committee descriptions: 2015-16 committee issue areas (2)

Majority Coalition Caucus Selects all Republican Committee Leaders

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

With Republicans firmly in control of the Washington State Senate, the Majority Coalition offered all committee chairmanships to members of the majority party. No Democrats were included on the list of chair assignments released by the caucus Tuesday afternoon.

For the last two year, with two Democratic members of the MCC, the caucus had given the chair position to Democrats on two committees: Financial Institutions & Insurance, chaired by Sen. Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), and Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development, chaired by Sen. Brian Hatfield (D – Raymond). In 2014, Sen. Hobbs was demoted to co-chair in order to share the position with Sen. Jan Angel (R – Port Orchard). Former Sen. Tracey Eide (D – Federal Way) co-chaired the Transportation Committee. The Democrats turned down other chair positions that had been initially offered.

This year the only Democratic member of the Majority Coalition Caucus is Sen. Tim Sheldon (D – Potlach).

New this year, the Majority Coalition created the Accountability & Reform Committee. Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, who was once a Democrat, (R – Federal Way) will chair that committee. In a Senate Republican press release, new Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R – Ritzville) said the committee is a priority for the caucus. “We have a crisis of confidence and competence,” said Schoesler. “Our main focus will be to restore people’s trust and to make sure state government works for the people who pay the bills and not just special interests.”

Other committees that will be lead by new chairs:

-Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
Chair: Senator-elect Judy Warnick (R – Moses Lake)

-Commerce & Labor
Chair: Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R – Spokane)

-Financial Institutions & Insurance
Chair: Sen. Don Benton (R – Vancouver)

-Trade & Economic Development
Chair: Sen. Sharon Brown (R – Kennewick)

-Transportation
Chair: Sen. Curtis King (R – Yakima)

The remaining committees will be led by the same chair:

-Early Learning & K-12 Education
Chair: Sen. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island)

-Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
Chair: Sen. Doug Ericksen (R – Ferndale)

-Governmental Operations
Chair: Sen. Pam Roach (R – Auburn)

-Health Care
Chair: Sen. Randi Becker (R – Eatonville)

-Higher Education
Chair: Sen. Barbara Bailey (R – Oak Harbor)

-Human Services, Mental Health & Housing
Chair: Sen. Steve O’Ban (R – Tacoma)

-Law & Justice
Chair: Sen. Mike Padden (R – Spokane Valley)

-Natural Resources & Parks
Chair: Sen. Kirk Pearson (R – Monroe)

-Ways and Means
Chair: Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond)

Gov. Inslee details plan for new clean water standards

By | July 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing new clean water standards that are partly based on an assumption of how much fish Washingtonians eat each month.

Inslee’s plan would raise the state’s fish consumption rate from 6.5 grams a day — or about one serving of fish a month — to 175 grams a day, or about a serving of fish every day of the month. He said the new standard is more “realistic” and protects those who eat locally-caught fish as a regular part of their diet, including tribal members and recreational fishers.

The fish consumption rate is part of a formula that determines how much pollution can be discharged into the state’s waterways by factories, municipal sewage plants and other industries.

Businesses have previously opposed stricter water quality standards because of the high cost of upgrading equipment. Boeing on Wednesday issued a statement saying the proposed standard could result in “little to no improvement to water quality and be a substantial detriment to Washington jobs and economic health.”

As part of his plan, Inslee intends to send a proposal to the 2015 state Legislature that would reduce toxics in the water by targeting four chemicals: PCBs, phthalate plasticizers, toxic flame retardants and zinc.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler says any new standards must balance environmental benefits with protecting family budgets and jobs.

The Department of Ecology must come up with a preliminary draft rule that matches Inslee’s proposal by Sept. 30. The full package won’t be submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency until after the 2015 legislative session to allow for the passage of the toxic reduction bill, Inslee said.

Watch TVW video of the press conference below:

Categories: Uncategorized

Environmental review set to begin for Grays Harbor oil storage proposals

By | April 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Environmental reviews begin this week for two proposals to build storage facilities to handle hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil and other fuels at the Port of Grays Harbor.

The state Department of Ecology and the city of Hoquiam will begin collecting public comments starting Thursday for environmental impact statements.

Westway Terminal Company has proposed expanding its current facility so that it can receive, store and ship crude oil. It would allow the terminal to receive about 9.6 million barrels of oil a year and store 800,000 barrels of crude oil.

Imperium Renewables wants to build nine storage tanks for up to 720,000 barrels of biofuels, petroleum products, crude oil and renewable fuels such as diesel and jet fuel.

The public comment period is open from April 10 through May 27. Public meetings will be held April 24 at Hoquiam High School and April 29 at Centralia High School. The meetings are from 5 to 9 p.m., with public comment beginning at 6 p.m. People can also submit comments online here.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lawmakers pass two unpaid days off for religious reasons for state workers, students

By | March 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

State employees would be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons under a bill passed by the Senate Tuesday. It also excuses public school children for two days.

Sen. David Frockt, D- Seattle, who is Jewish, said he could relate to the issue.

“Growing up in the south and not being from the majority faith (in the) community I grew up in, this is a really big deal for children and students to make sure they’re excused,” he said. “It’s hard to explain when you’re in third or fourth grade how it feels —  not in a bad way, but you learn to respect everybody’s traditions — but just that you’re a little different.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, urged support of the bill.

“This bill for more personally signifies one of the most important thing this session quite frankly and it costs no money,” Hasegawa said. “What we’re doing is recognizing the core American value of religious freedom.”

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, agreed.

“I think this is a really important bill. We’re a nation of many faiths and many traditions and we need to have the ability to respect all of those,” he said.

The bill passed unanimously. SB 5173 passed 64-32 out of the House last week. The bill can head the governor’s office.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tanning bed ban for teenagers passes Senate

By | March 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Teenagers under the age of 18 years old would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds under a bill passed out of the senate Tuesday.

Bill sponsor Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, urged the Senate to concur with a House amendment to allow tanning beds with a doctor’s prescription.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, stood in the support of the bill.

“It’s going to make a huge difference i think in saving young people’s lives from melanoma,” she said.

Salons that allow a minor to use a tanning bed could be fined up to $250, according to the bill.

SB 6065  passed 42 to 6, and heads to the governor’s desk for signature.

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Washington issues first recreational marijuana business license

By | March 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

When Sean Green of Spokane became Washington’s first licensee to produce and process recreational marijuana, he likened it to the end of an era.

“Cannabis prohibition is over,” he said.

Green’s license were issued at a Washington State Liquor Control Board meeting on Wednesday to a flurry of publicity.

“We are living the dream today here right now,” he said.

Green will operate a 21,000-square-foot growing operation in Spokane under the business name Kouchlock Productions. (Couch lock is slang for too stoned to move.) He said he’s invested $6 million in the growing and processing operation.

Sean Green of Spokane displays the first recreational marijuana producer and processor license issued in the state.

Green has operated a medical cannabis dispensary since it was legalized in Washington in 2011, and has dispensaries in Shoreline and Spokane.

Green said there still were obstacles for entrepreneurs, citing the ongoing difficulty in finding a bank willing to work with marijuana businesses.

While Green was the first licensee, the Washington State Liquor Control Board is going through 2,800 applications for producing and processing, said Becky Smith, Liquor Control Board Marijuana Manager.

Several more producer and processor licenses are in the final stages and will be issued this week, according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Sean Green of Spokane hugs a staff member of the Washington State Liquor Control Board as he receives the first recreational marijuana producer and processor license in the state.

Retail licenses will be issued after a lottery later this spring, and the state is still set for the first pot stores to open this summer, according to Liquor Control Board agency director Rick Garza.

Board member Chris Marr said he expects the retail stores to roll out, rather than all be ready to open on the first day. The state will issue 338 retail licenses.

The Seattle Times raised questions about Green after uncovering labor complaints made by Green’s employees.

Marr told reporters that the board’s staff felt that Green satisfied all the requirements and criteria for receiving a producer and grower’s license.

House Finance approves ending four tax breaks to raise money for education

By | March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

A proposal to end four tax breaks, which would raise $100 million dollars for education, passed out of the House Finance committee Tuesday morning.

The four tax proposed tax breaks in HB 2796 are the following:

  • Implementing a sales tax for bottled water.
  • Taxing extracted fuel used by oil refineries.
  • Ending a preferential tax rate for prescription drug warehousing.
  • Changing the sales tax exemption for out-of-state shoppers into a refund program.

While the bill does not earmark the revenue for education, the House’s supplemental budget proposal, and the Democratic minority in the Senate have both identified ending these tax breaks as a way to raise state revenue.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, opposed the bill, saying that the refund program would hurt stores in border communities that depend on out-of-state customers.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle

Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama

 

“They are going to go, ‘I ain’t filling out no form.’ What they’re going to do is they are going to stand there and they are going look at the clerk and say, ‘ You keep your goods. I’m going somewhere else,’ ” he said.

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, committee chair and bill sponsor, urged the bill’s passage.

“There’s a strong case that the value to the public is the greatest to invest these dollars in our one million school kids in the state of Washington,” he said.

The bill passed out of committee 8 to 5.

Mental health commitment bill passes in Senate Ways and Means

By | March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Updated March 4, 2014, 8:50 a.m.

Families would be able to petition the courts to order their loved ones into mental health treatment, starting in 2017, according to a bill passed in Senate Ways and Means Monday night.

Doug and Nancy Reuter, who say that the life of their son Joel could have been saved by such a law, stayed for the committee’s vote, made after 8 p.m. Monday night.

Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) proposed the amendment to delay the law until July 2017.

Hargrove said Washington’s involuntary commitment system already is set for a major change that is expected to increase the number of people ordered into mental health treatment.

HB 5480, which lawmakers approved in 2013, changes the criteria for involuntary commitment from “dangerous to self or others” to “gravely disabled.” That change in criteria starts this July.

Hargrove said his amendment “will give us some time for our whole system to catch up before this next provision comes into play.”

Senate Ways and Means passed the amended bill, with two Democratic Senators, David Frockt and Bob Hasegawa, both of Seattle, voting against it.

Original story posted March 3, 2014:

Nancy and Doug Reuter told the Senate Ways and Means committee Monday that the life of their son Joel might have been saved, if they had been allowed to petition the court to order their son to get involuntary treatment for his mental illness.

Joel Reuter was killed in a shootout with Seattle police last year. His parents testified in favor of HB 2725, which would allow families to petition the court to order their loved ones to get treatment for mental illness.

“There is a very, very real possibility that if this bill had been in effect last March 1st our son would be alive and back to work,” said his father, Doug Reuter. “But he’s not.”

Joel Reuter

Nancy Reuter testified to what might have been prevented if their son had been committed when friends and family recognized problems:

“An intervention by crisis teams after Joel flew to London and was deported. Days later, a suicide attempt and hospitalization in Canada. A high speed chase and crash on I-5 in April. A hearing and hospitalization in Everett. A Secret Service investigation. A hospitalization in Harborview that cost $65,000. On July 5, eight hour standoff with police. Medic, medical examiner, autopsy, and lastly a 3-day inquest estimated over a quarter of a million dollars.”

Doug and Nancy Reuter have been visiting Olympia from Texas since the start of session to convince lawmakers to take action on the proposal.

Currently, people with mental illnesses can be involuntarily committed if a designated mental health professional determines that the person is a danger to themselves or others. The bill would allow immediate family members to petition the court to reconsider if it is determined that the person doesn’t need involuntary treatment.

Nancy and Doug Reuter

Public defender Mike DeFelice testified against the bill, saying a new law is unnecessary. He said there is already a change in the law that allows designated mental health professionals to use the patient’s history as part of the assessment for involuntary commitment.

“It will look at the history of an individual much more, which will come from the family,” he said.

DeFelice says the state is underestimating the potential costs of the bill.

“The designated mental health professionals will be called into court much more often. It will keep them off the street and that’s not in anyone’s interest,” he said.

Chris Kaasa of the ACLU says the group had concerns about putting such decisions into untrained hands.

“Involuntary commitment should be informed by a thorough review by medical professionals with specialized expertise in the field of mental health. A judge without this expertise may feel pressure to order an initial detention to be on the safe side,” Kaasa said.

However, Kaasa encouraged senators to pass increased funding for mental health in the state to help patients before a crisis.

“That is what will help most families,” he said.

According to bill’s fiscal note, this change could cost the state up to $8 million a year in court, caseworker and hospitalization costs.

Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) sponsored the companion bill, and thanked the Reuters.

“We’re not ever going to avoid every situation but we can at least work towards it,” she said.

The House Bill passed off the floor unanimously last month.

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Industry and business argue against ending tax breaks

By | February 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

The House’s proposal to raise state revenue by changing the non-resident sales tax exemption brought business and industry representatives to argue against the changes on Friday.

“Imposing an education obligation on just a few companies or out-of-state shoppers, we do not believe is a responsible way to fund our education obligation,” said Amber Carter, of the Association of Washington Business, who testified before the House Finance Committee, which considered HB 2796.

The four tax proposed tax breaks in HB 2796 are the following:

  • Implementing a sales tax for bottled water.
  • Taxing extracted fuel used by oil refineries.
  • Ending a preferential tax rate for prescription drug warehousing.
  • Changing the sales tax exemption for out-of-state shoppers into a refund program.

While the bill does not earmark the revenue for education, the House’s supplemental budget proposal, and the Democratic minority in the Senate have both identified the tax breaks as a way to raise state revenue.

The Washington Supreme Court issued a report in January ordering the Legislature to come up with a plan by April for education funding through 2018 to comply with the terms of the McCleary lawsuit to fund public K-12 education.

The House proposal makes $173 million in adjustments to the 2013-15 budget, including increased K-12 education spending of $64 million and $21 million for child care.Shawn Lewis, of the Washington Education Association, testified that the state will have to raise revenue, if lawmakers hope to comply with the court order.

“Without identifying revenue sources at this time, you’re going to be further and further behind as we get to the 2017-18 year when basic education is supposed to be amply funded,” he said.

But, Bruce Tornquist, of Competitive Edge Marketing, a supplier to bottled water businesses, argued that bottled water, which is exempt from tax because it is currently classified as food, should continue to have that exemption.

“This is a healthy product. It is a food product, and putting a sales tax on this product has in the past shown a 10 percent drop in revenue to family-owned businesses that are the local bottlers,” Tornquist said.

However, Nick Federici of Our Economic Future Coalition, said the targeted tax breaks make sense, commenting on each of the taxes.

“Oregonians should pay the same sales tax in Washington that Washingtonians have to pay. By definition, none of your constituents would have to pay this tax,” he said.

But Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Felida) said he has heard from constituents in his district in Clark County are concerned about losing business if the state switches to a tax refund system for non-resident tax exemptions.

“I’ve heard from some specialty stores and up to 40 percent of their businesses come from Oregonians,” he said.

However, some people did testify in favor of ending those tax breaks.

Steve Leahy, Washington state director of business group America’s Edge, said it was time for the state to revisit the tax preferences.

“They don’t make sense anymore. There’s a higher purpose for those revenues,” he said.

The Finance committee took no action on the bill on Friday. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

TVW aired the public hearing. The hearing will be posted in TVW’s archives.

Categories: Education, Uncategorized

Bill proposes support for parents with developmental disabilities

By | February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

For Brittany Graves, autism is just a part of her identity. She is also a fiancé, daughter and friend. One day, she hopes to be a mother.

“I just might need a little more help,” said Graves, during Thursday’s Senate Human Services and Corrections hearing in support of a bill that would provide help to parents with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are at risk of losing their kids.

House Bill 2616 would require the Developmental Disabilities Administration, a part of the Department of Social and Health Services, to create a service plan for parents with developmental disabilities that is tailored to the parent’s needs and offer assistance based on his or her disability if a “reasonable accommodation” can be made. The bill passed unanimously out of the House.

Rep. Roger Freeman, D-Federal Way, the bill’s prime sponsor, called the bill his “baby.” He said it would not only give mothers and fathers the tools to keep their children, but also heighten awareness that people with certain disabilities are capable of being parents.

“They love them just the same,” said Freeman.

Many advocates and adults living with developmental disabilities agree.

Diana Stadden, the mother of Graves’ fiancé, is the policy and advocacy coordinator of Arc of Washington State, an organization that seeks to empower people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She explained that people living with disabilities have the same desires to start families as everyone else.

She said that while developmentally disabled parents may make mistakes, structured help should be available to allow families to stay together.

The bill was approved at the Senate committee.

Dream Act becomes law in Washington, as REAL Hope Act

By | February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Dream Act, known in Washington as the REAL Hope Act, into law, as students and legislators crowded the room on Wednesday.

To his right was Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), who sponsored the bill and got it passed in the Majority Coalition controlled Senate, and to his left was former Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, the first Latina elected to the House of Representatives who left the Legislature in 2012.

“Today we’re allowing dreams to come true with the passage of the Dream Act,” Inslee said.

The Dream Act, as it has been called, would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day.

The Senate passed SB 6523, another version of the Dream Act, renaming it the REAL Hope Act, and adding $5 million to the state need grant. REAL stands for “Realizing Educational Access; changing Lives.”

The room was filled with students from all over the state, who had lobbied with the Latino/Latina Educational Achievement Project and One America, to encourage the passage of the bill.

“The young people who are here today are the ones who ultimately made this happen,” Inslee said.

“Looking into their eyes, so full of ambition and eagerness and energy, I thought, ‘How can we possibly say no to these young people? ‘ ” he said.

Bailey held second celebration of the law with students from Mount Vernon, which is in her district. Students from her district visited the Legislature multiple times to convince lawmakers to pass the act.

“I’m proud that we have been able to find a solution to this issue. These students were raised in our state, have gone through our K-12 schools and now have chance to afford college in our state,” she said in a released statement.

2.1.12

Legislators take aim during 2014 Legislative Shootout

By | February 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lawmakers took up arms on Tuesday at the 2014 Legislative Shootout, held at the Evergreen Sportsmen’s Club.

The event, which has been held on and off for nearly 27 years, was organized by Sen. Pam Roach (R-Auburn), as a way to introduce legislators to recreational firearms and as an activity off the Capitol campus, she said.

At this year’s event, Roach invited several conservation groups and hunting and fishing related businesses, stressing the economic impact of the more than 1 million fish and hunting licenses in Washington state.

Democratic and Republican legislators in organized in teams tried their hand in rifle, pistol and shotgun competitions, which was slated for the entire afternoon.

Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) led the Democratic team, and said it was important to maintain the second amendment right to bear arms.

“In this state, we’ve spent the money in the right places to make sure that our state is one of the safest in the nation already,” he said.

Hargrove said that especially in rural areas, firearms are an important protection against human and animal dangers.

“When you live in a rural area… you’re pretty much on your own,” he said. “It’s a tool that should be used safely and should be respected.”

The event occurred as the state gears up to consider two opposing gun initiatives: Initiative 594 would expand background checks in the state to include gun  shows and online sales; Initiative 591, which is an opposing measure that would bar the state  from requiring background checks more rigorous than those required by federal law.

Both citizen-led initiatives were sent to legislators and hearings were held, including one where former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, testified. However, state lawmakers took no action on either initiative, so voters will decide on both measures in November.

Roach told a reporter that she intended to be active during the campaign in favor of Initiative 591, saying that the state already has good background checks.

“Anything further, we are taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens,” she said.

2.1.12

Real Hope Act, Washington’s version of Dream Act, passes House

By | February 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo) speaks in support of the Real Hope Act, the Washington Senate's version of the Dream Act, whichpassed in the House on Tuesday.

The House passed the Real Hope Act, the Washington state Senate’s version of the Dream Act, 75-22, Tuesday night.

The bill’s next stop is to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk. Inslee, who has been vocal in his support of the Dream Act, has not indicated when he will sign the bill.

The Dream Act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day.

The Senate passed SB 6523, its version of the Dream Act, three weeks ago, naming it the Real Hope Act. The Senate bill also adds $5 million to the state need grant.

“I have stood beside community members, beside students and parents as they have lifted their voices, and asked this body to please provide opportunity for all its citizens and students, ” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz- Self (D-Mukilteo). “For years, I have stood besides students as they cried and shared their stories with me, as they tried to hold on to hope, as they tried to dream of opportunity.”

Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-Covington) speaks about his concerns on the Real Hope Act. He voted against the measure.

Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-Covington) opposed the bill, and said that middle class students won’t be helped at all by the bill.

“When he walks around with his classmates of his, one of those two pay no tuition or fees,” Hargrove said. “It’s kind of frustrating for him to be in that situation.”

Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) told TVW’s “The Impact” Tuesday morning that the House could take action on the bill. Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), the main sponsor of the Senate’s Real Hope Act, also spoke about her bill on the live show.

The floor debate was broadcast live on TVW. It will be available in TVW’s archives here, and we will post it to this article when it’s available.

Categories: Education, Uncategorized

Boost to early learning passes House

By | February 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

A bill that would require child care and preschool providers who receive state money for children could be required to do more to prepare them for kindergarten, as the House approved  HB 237764-33.

The Early Start Act aims to push child care providers that receive subsidies into becoming early learning programs, by requiring them to meet standards in the Department of Early Learning’s Early Achievers program.

House bill sponsor Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) said the changes would help close the achievement gap and urged passage of the bill.

But Rep. Jay Rodne (R-Snoqualmie) spoke against the bill, saying that subsidized early learning programs are expensive and the effectiveness is unproven.

TVW webcast the debate and vote. It will be posted in our archives.

You can also read TVW’s earlier coverage of the bills:

The roll call is posted on the Legislature’s website.

Categories: Uncategorized