Archive for Uncategorized

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.

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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.

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Dream Act could reach Governor’s desk Tuesday night

By | February 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

A version of the Dream Act could reach Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk  by Tuesday night, House majority leader Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) told TVW Tuesday morning.

Sullivan made his remarks in a joint live appearance with Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) on a live edition of “The Impact” with host Anita Kissee.

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 Washington Dream Act, HB 1817 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.

According to the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project’s Facebook page, a group whose members have advocated for the Dream Act, says the group expects the House to take up the Senate bill after 5 p.m.

Categories: Education, Uncategorized

House passes restrictions on government drones

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Governments would be limited in their use of drones, remote-controlled monitoring devices, under a bill passed by the House Monday night. 

According to HB 2789 an agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under one of the following exceptions:

  • For a non-criminal emergency, such as a fire, with immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  • For training or testing if no personal information is collected.
  • For emergency response during a  governor-declared state of emergency.
  • Environmental or wildlife monitoring or  assessment, when collection of personal data is unlikely.

A drone also would be allowed to be used without a warrant in a life-threatening criminal emergency, but a warrant would have to be obtained afterwards, according to the bill.

Supporters of the bill say that the technology has the potential to invade the privacy of citizens. Opponents argued that the legislation was unnecessary.

Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) says the bill is premature, and possibly hurts the development of the technology for potentially life-saving purposes.

“If we were having this debate a few decades ago, this exact same debate on satellites, we would be turning back the clock to an unthinkable period in our nation’s history, when we found out about hurricanes when they arrived,” he said. “It’s time to let the technology to develop and when we have harm, put limitations on it.”

Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) says that bill discourages agencies from using the technology to fight fires and crime.

“And there are criminal activities that we could stop with these vehicles if they’re in the air. but this says we can’t,” he said.

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) says the bill has enough allowances for drone technology to develop for multiple purposes.

“We’ve allowed for situations in which there is that immediate need without warrant, that are defined in the bill. so that you can deal with those issues for surveying for a potential fire hazard, for criminal activity, those sorts of things,” she said.

Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon) warned that sometimes governments need to have limitations outlined in law.

“We also respect the fact that oftentimes it’s government who is the worst at deploying new technology,” he said. 

The bill passed 83-15, and will head to the Senate for consideration. The Senate has been considering another bill on drone limitations.

The House also passed HB 2178, which would prohibit private drone operators from collecting other people’s personal data using surveillance devices.

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Advertising in state parks could help raise funds

By | February 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Advertising in state parks could help the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission raise funds, under a bill passed by the Senate Wednesday.

Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland, 2009. Photo by Leslie Seaton/Flickr.

“I know that some people will say does that mean we’ll have big neon signs and everything,” said Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe), who sponsored the bill. “No, we have a great parks commission and anything will be done in our state parks will be done tastefully and it will fit the natural aesthetics of the park.”

Pearson amended his own bill to restrict the state parks commission from naming a park after a company.

The bill also allows state parks to team up with businesses, organizations and tribes to provide interpretive activities. 

“I understand there are small businesses at Fort Worden that are operating outside of historic park buildings, providing the public with wonderful amenities. I think that’s the kind of partnership we are looking toward,” Sen. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) said.

However, Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline) opposed the bill.

“My emails now are going to say, “Have you no shame?’ to me,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Why in the world would you commercialize our state parks. To have advertising — the one place we can go in our society without the commercialization and the signs.’ ”

SB 6034 passed with a vote of 45-3.

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Senate Majority Coaltion proposes updated $12 billion transportation package

By | February 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus presented an updated $12 billion transportation package on Thursday, connecting the funding package to major changes in the way that the Washington State Department of Transportation manages state road projects.

Construction near the State Route 520 Bridge

Photo by WSDOT

One of the key changes would be transferring the sales taxes from road projects into a fund for future road projects, instead of putting the money in the state general fund. Democrats have previously criticized the idea, saying it takes money away from education.

Sen. Curtis King, the co-chairman of the Transportation committee, said that the economic development from the projects will more than make up for the loss in general fund revenue and the hit that education funding might take. 

Senate Majority Coalition Leader Rodney Tom agreed. “You create the property tax base and from the state level we get the property tax and also gets that toward schools,” he said. “It really works from an economic development standpoint.”

Tom and King were joined by Republican senators Linda Evans Parlette (Wenatchee), Joe Fain (Auburn), Michael Baumgartner (Spokane), Randi Becker (Eatonville) and Andy Hill (Redmond).

The proposal includes a 11.5 cent increase in gas taxes as well as several major changes. Among the bills they’ve proposed:

  • Transfer the sales tax on road projects from the general fund to the Connecting Washington Account, which selects road projects strategically for economic development.
  • Reducing WSDOT apprenticeship requirements from 15 percent to 12 percent.
  • Streamlining the permitting process for construction staging for WSDOT projects, including environmental reviews.
According to King, the changes would enable the state to complete dozens of projects, including 520 Bridge project’s unfunded west end, the Red Mountain Project near Richland, and State Routes 9 and 209 interchange in Snohomish County. The project also funds many rural road projects.

King said he has at least 13 votes from the 26-member Majority Coalition, and invited Democrats and Gov. Jay Inslee to negotiate. He said the package represents a move toward the Democratic position, including more money for transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

“We’ve moved. We’ve tried, but we must have these reforms,” King said. “It’s the only way we can sell this package to the public.”

However, Senate Democrats were critical of the package and the way that the Majority Coalition called a press conference to unveil it. The package would need at least 25 votes in the Senate to pass.

Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way), and King’s co-chair on the Senate Transportation Committee, said the proposal was not made in good faith, and described it as “holding the transportation package hostage with partisan demands.”

“At first blush, this relies on fund shifts and accounting tricks,” Eide said. “You’re robbing Paul to pay Peter. It’s not a balanced solution.”

Eide made her remarks at a quickly organized press conference, joined by Democratic senators Steve Hobbs (Snohomish), Marko Liias (Mukilteo), David Frockt (Seattle) and representatives Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) and Jessyn Farrell (D-Vancouver).

Hobbs also said the package would not pass muster with voters because it is so heavily weighted toward rural projects, and away from public transportation, bicycles and pedestrians.

Since last year, the Democrat controlled House and the Majority Coalition controlled Senate have been negotiating a transportation tax package that would pay for roads and transportation throughout the state. The House passed a $10 billion transportation package that included a gas tax rise of 10.5 cents last year.

The Senate first introduced the $12 billion transportation package in November, but never voted on it. Eide said Thursday that package had been five votes short of passing the Senate.

Categories: Uncategorized

Sen. Paull Shin honored by colleagues

By | February 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Paull Shin

Senators from both sides of the aisle honored former Sen. Paull Shin, and passed a resolution  to commemorate his service in elected office.

Shin, 78, of Edmonds, resigned from his seat mid-session after 18 years in the House and Senate, citing health problems and a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Sen. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo), who was appointed to fill Shin’s seat, introduced the resolution.

“As much as he joked about how I was his son, I think that Sen. Paull Shin truly views the people of the state of Washington as his brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. And when you look at his vast legislative record, he took care of his family over the last 18 years,” he said.

Shin, originally from South Korea, was adopted by an American serviceman during the Korean War. With the help of his adopted family, he learned English and eventually taught in Washington state’s higher education system.

Paull Shin and his wife Donna

He says he owes everything he has to the United States.

“If it weren’t for the help and love that I got from America — the United States of America — I would not be here today. In my opinion it’s been payback time, folks. Thank you, America. Thank you my brothers and sisters, thank you, my friends.

Shin’s wife, Donna, his children and others also were attendance to see him honored.

Categories: Uncategorized

Latino lobby calls for Dream Act, labor issues

By | February 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

About 500 people from all over the state came to Olympia Monday to lobby for the passage of the Dream Act, labor issues and anti-trafficking laws at the annual Latino Legislative Day.

2.1.12

The Latino Civic Alliance organized the event, and speakers included Gov. Jay Inslee, and legislators including Representatives Luis Moscoso, Lillian Ortiz-Self, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, Cindy Ryu, Brady Walkinshaw, Norma Smith, Zack Hudgins, Jessyn Farrell and Monica Stonier and Senators John McCoy,  Mike Padden, Curtis King and Linda Parlette. Justice Steven Gonzalez and Mexican Consul Eduardo Baca Cuenca also spoke.

Inslee pledged to make the Dream Act, which has passed in some form in both the House and the Senate, a reality this legislative session, and asked the lobbyists for support in getting adequate funding.

“We need adequate funding so all our students, including Latino students, have adequate education from age 3 to college,” he said.

Rep. Moscoso, who is Peruvian-American, told the crowd that their efforts to make change in the state were working.

“This is your house,” he said. “Our job here is to listen to you.”

Sen. King, who represents Yakima, said while the Dream Act has supporters in the House and Senate, that the bulk of the work to succeed in the United States is still up to families to prioritize education and give students the hope of continuing education after high school.

“Hopefully with the Dream Act, we’ve given you some motivation to do that. But, I’m telling you, it’s up to you,” he said. “Don’t think because we’ve passed one bill that it’s going to be a rosy path, because it isn’t.”

Part-time faculty unions bill passes in Senate committee

By | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

A bill that would allow part-time college faculty to form unions separate from tenured faculty passed in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Friday morning.

Part-time instructors Jack Longmate of Olympic College and Keith Hoeller and Dana Rush of Green River Community College urged the committee to pass the SB 5844, saying the established unions at their colleges do not adequately advocate for part-time faculty, and favor tenured faculty. Part-time faculty members face retaliation from tenured faculty when they push for changes in leadership, they said.

However, Seattle Central Community College part-time instructor and American Federation of Teachers member Esther “Little Dove” John said there is no widespread issue with a lack of representation. Part-time faculty have taken on leadership position at Seattle Central and other colleges throughout the state to make sure that their concerns are not secondary to the tenured faculty’s concerns, she said.

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D- Seattle) questioned the split, saying that fostering divisions within unions has been a union-busting tactic in the past. He also asked the part-time faculty in favor of the bill why they could not use the process within the union to get the changes they wanted.

Sen. Janea Homquist Newbry (R-Moses Lake) said the intent of bill sponsor Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) was to make sure that those employees’ voices were heard.

You can watch the discussion in TVW’s archives.

Categories: Labor, Uncategorized