Gov. Gregoire meets with feds about Washington’s marijuana legalization law

By | November 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire met with Deputy Attorney General James Cole in Washington, D.C. today to discuss the state’s new marijuana legalization law.

Gregoire’s office said the state intends to move ahead with implementation of Initiative 502, which legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana.

Voters approved the initiative with 55 percent of the vote. Starting on Dec. 6th, it will be legal for adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but the legal framework to sell marijuana in retail stores won’t be in place for at least a year.

Gregoire asked the Department of Justice to clarify their position on marijuana.

The Associated Press reports that federal officials have not yet made a decision on the issue. Gregoire told officials she wants to know soon if they plan to block the new law before the state begins spending money to implement it.

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TVW exclusive interview with Gov. Gregoire from South Korea

By | October 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire just wrapped up a trade mission in India, and is now in South Korea to talk up Washington’s agriculture products. I interviewed her from South Korea today using one of our mobile video units that her staff brought along on the trip.

Gregoire said the 10-day trade mission may have “the greatest potential of all the trade missions I’ve done.” She’s been meeting with business leaders, and said two unnamed companies in India are considering locating in Washington. The move is “very promising” and could bring a couple hundred jobs, she said.

In South Korea, she’s focused on promoting Washington’s agriculture products and will be serving french fries at a local Costco and Popeye’s restaurant. “We really want to break this market for our french fries,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”

She pointed to cherries as an example of what could happen with Washington’s potatoes. In March, the U.S. signed the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea. Tariffs on cherries dropped from 24 percent to zero, and exports of Washington cherries to South Korea skyrocketed 86 percent.

“That’s the kind of opportunity we’re seeing in South Korea here,” Gregoire said. She’s also touting Washington wines in Asia, which have a “huge opportunity with a growing class of folks who really enjoy fine wine.”

Watch the full interview below. “The Impact” host Anita Kissee interviewed Gov. Gregoire from India last week — you can watch that video here.

Gregoire signs $1 billion capital budget, includes vetos

By | April 23, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the $1 billion capital budget today at a ceremony at Tacoma Community College, which is receiving $39 million as part of the deal to build a new training center for health-related careers like nurses and radiology techs.

Dozens of other construction projects ranging from sewer improvements to roof repairs are included in the capital budget, which is backed in part by bonds.

Gregoire vetoed parts of the bill, including a $2 million “concession and event facility” at Lake Sammamish. She also vetoed a provision that would have created a loan consolidation board to look at state lending programs — including student loans –  which Gregoire said was not appropriate to mix with infrastructure loans.

The capital budget is expected to create 18,000 construction jobs across the state, and Gregoire said at the ceremony that it will also drive long-term economic development. “If you want a business here, you’ve got to show them you have infrastructure,” she said.

Gregoire cited a number of projects that she says will help spur growth — including one that she described as her “personal favorite” on the list: $5 million to build a wine research facility in Richland.

Rumors about a third special session ‘abhorrent,’ Gov. Gregoire says

By | March 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Budget writers are making progress on putting together an all-encompassing budget package, with about six major issues that remain to be resolved, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today at a news conference.

“Rather than piecemeal, I’m trying to put the whole agreement together,” so that party leaders can take it to their members and determine if it has enough votes to pass, Gregoire said.

Special session is now more than half over. Despite the closing window, Gregoire said she wanted to squash rumors that there would be a third special session, calling the idea “abhorrent.”

Her remarks came just before she was set to begin a marathon day of bill signing. Gregoire has been refusing to sign the vast majority of bills into law until lawmakers made progress on the budget.  That strategy worked, she said, and it forced legislators to come to the table.

“Their members were very upset,” she said. “We heard from them loud and clear.”

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Watch the latest Legislative Review right here

By | January 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

On today’s edition: Gov. Chris Gregoire’s State of the State address, the Republican response and a briefing on the McCleary case. Watch it all here.


Updated: Gregoire announces legislation for same-sex marriage in Washington

By | January 4, 2012 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire just announced that she’s introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington. 

Watch the full video of the press conference here.

“As a wife, a mother, a student of the law and a lifelong Washingtonian committed to equality and justice … it is time, it is the right thing to do and I will introduce the bill to make it happen,” she said.

After the governor spoke, she took questions from the press as supporters in the room clapped and cheered. Sen. Ed Murray was asked whether the Senate has the votes to pass the bill. He said the Senate is a few votes short. Gregoire interrupted: “We got a very important vote today. We’ll get the rest we need to get it to my desk.”

Asked about the political reality of getting the bill through in a short session, she said everyone is capable of multitasking. “This is about our values. This is extremely important in the history of our state,” she said. “They’re going to get the job done.”

Gregoire was asked what the title change will mean — from domestic partnerships, which are currently legal, to marriage. She said when she thinks of her marriage, she doesn’t consider it a contract. “It’s love, it’s responsibility,” she said, not just a contract. “To deny that equality is just wrong.”

She said this has nothing to do with elections, politics — or her decision not to run for re-election. She said in the past, she’s questioned same-sex marriage because of her religion. But she’s come to understand that individual religions can decide whether to recognize each marriage, but the state shouldn’t discriminate.

With that, she ended the Q&A period as supporters clapped. Then, several legislators, including Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen, took the podium to answer additional questions.

First: There isn’t going to be an emergency clause in the bill — that means that it can go to referendum. “I think we need to be prepared” with the idea that supporters will need to fight it at the ballot, Pedersen said.

“This bill will not pass unless there is a bipartisan vote for this bill,” Murray said. He said he’s having conversations with legislators in every district, “but again, it’s about where people are personally.” He said he’s optimistic that the bill will pass this session and he knows of “a few” Republicans in the Senate who support for the bill.

As for the timing: “The time is just right,” said Rep. Marko Liias.

When asked what would happen with existing domestic partnerships, Murray and Pedersen said they haven’t ironed out all the language just yet. “We’re still in some discussion with the governor’s office,” Pedersen said, but the goal is ending the inequality in the existing law.

There were a lot of questions about how this legislation would politically affect the effort to balance the budget, which may involve an effort to raise taxes. The legislators repeatedly said in different ways that this is an issue of equality and shouldn’t have anything to do with budget talks.

“Suddenly, gay marriage has become easier than raising taxes,” Murray said, to laughs.

Gregoire: Slashing budget by $2 billion is “dreadful”

By | October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire is unveiling her preferred cuts budget now. Watch live on TVW.

“Another $2 billion in the hole and citizens will get a lot less of what they expect,” she said. “This morning, it’s not about cold, hard numbers: This is very personal. We’re talking about real Washingtonians.” She said these cuts will hurt many in the state, including seniors who won’t be able to afford prescriptions, those just out of prison with nowhere to go — tempted back into crime, a community corrections officer who worries about the safety of neighborhoods, and the homeless mentally ill who won’t be able to get help, among others.

“The people of our state are not spending. Businesses are not hiring. We need to cut $2 billion more,” she said. “We’re done with what I call the Pac-Man budgeting approach,” she said, where the state has taken bite after bite of budgets. Now, it’s time for full program eliminations. She said these cuts, on top of the $10 billion in cuts over the past three sessions, will hurt.

Gregoire was asked repeatedly about new revenue. She said she hasn’t done the work on revenue ideas, but she has been asked by all four caucuses about the issue.

Gregoire’s office just sent out a list of some of the cuts:
-  Eliminate the Basic Health Plan, ending subsidized health care to 35,000 low-income individuals.
-  Cut off medical services to 21,000 people enrolled in the state’s Disability Lifeline and ADATSA (Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treatment Support Act) programs.
-  Trim 15 percent from the support the state provides to colleges and universities.
-  Reduce levy equalization, which helps property poor districts, by 50 percent.
-  Cut the length of supervision for all offenders, based on severity of offense. Sex offenders will be supervised for 24 months, and all other offenders, for 12 months.

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DSHS secretary Susan Dreyfus will leave at the end of the year

By | October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus will leave at the end of this year to lead Families International, Inc., the nonprofit parent organization of three national nonprofit organizations: Alliance for Children and Families, United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA), and Ways to Work. The group also inclues one for-profit company, FEI Behavioral Health.

DSHS is the largest state agency. In a statement sent out by Gov. Chris Gregoire, it says Gregoire is “expected” to name an interim replacement by the end of special session.

“I want to thank Governor Gregoire for the opportunity to serve in this beautiful state. I have come to love Washington and to respect and admire its people and those who have devoted their lives and their careers to public service,” Dreyfus said in the press release. “My life is forever blessed for the time I have spent here.”

Dreyfus, who was appointed to her current role in mid-2009, will continue to head the agency through the special session that starts Nov. 28.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said in the statement that her departure “is a loss to our state and to my team,” but that she understands and respects her personal and professional decision to return to Wisconsin.

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State agency consolidation begins

By | July 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

The plan to consolidate state agencies is moving forward: Gov. Chris Gregoire announced her transition plan today that will take five state agencies down to three and move some responsibilities around, too. The transition, which her office said in a press release is the “most significant transformation of state government in the past 20 years,” will take an estimated 11 weeks.

A brief outline: The Department of General Administration, Department of Personnel, State Printer and the Department of Information Services will be merged to create the “Department of Enterprise Services” and the “Consolidated Technology Services.” Both of those new agencies will replace the previous four. Other departments affected include the Office of Financial Management and Personnel and Information Services — portions of those operations will be swapped around for efficiency’s sake.

Joyce Turner, General Administration director, Mike Ricchio, Information Services director, Marty Brown, OFM director, and Eva Santos, Personnel director, will all serve on the transition team — and Turner will lead it. Work begins immediately.

“This team will help guide state government through its most significant overhaul in 20 years,” Gregoire said in the press release. “We saw Joyce’s skill at overseeing major transitions when she helped form the Department of Early Learning. She has worked in nearly every agency affected by these moves and served as my deputy chief of staff. Joyce’s experience will be valuable as we blend workplaces and cultures. Mike’s previous experience with the Department of Information Services and extensive knowledge of state government make him a perfect fit for the state’s new information technology agency, Consolidated Technology Services.”
The remainder of the press release is after the jump. (more…)

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Jay Manning’s replacement named: Marty Loesch will be Gregoire’s chief of staff

By | July 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

Last month, Jay Manning announced his resignation from the role of chief of staff for Gov. Chris Gregoire. And today, she’s announced that Marty Loesch will replace him. He begins next Monday, July 18.

Loesch is currently Gregoire’s director of external affairs and senior counsel. He’s held that position since January, 2009. He has also worked for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and has practiced law privately.

“With his strong legal and policy background, Marty is a natural fit for the office’s chief of staff,” Gregoire said in a press release. “We have an aggressive agenda for the next 18 months. I’m glad to have Marty by my side as we work through these unprecedented times.”

Loesch said he was honored to have the opportunity to serve the governor and the state in an effort to climb out of the recession.

Congressman Jay Inslee will join Attorney General Rob McKenna in Governor’s race

By | June 23, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Seattle Times is reporting that Congressman Jay Inslee will announce early next week that he’s running for Governor. You can read the full story, which was verified via someone with “direct knowledge” of Inslee’s plans, here.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, has already announced his candidacy. When Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she won’t run for a third term, she said she’s support Inslee’s bid for her job.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, Microsoft, Boeing announce details of new education endowment

By | June 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Earlier today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law the bill to allow universities to set their own tuition — but she also signed a bill to create a new higher education endowment, funded by Boeing, Microsoft and (hopefully) other businesses.

Watch the whole thing here:

Gov. Chris Gregoire signs a long list of bills into law

By | April 11, 2011 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed a long list of bills into  law. Here’s the list, courtesy of her office:

  • House Bill No. 1016, relating to firearm noise suppressors.
  • Engrossed House Bill No. 1028, relating to using state correctional facility populations to determine population thresholds for certain local government purposes.
  • Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 1055, relating to streamlining contractor appeals.
  • House Bill No. 1069, relating to the disposition of unclaimed remains.
  • House Bill No. 1129, relating to a bicycle and pedestrian traffic safety curriculum.
  • House Bill No. 1150, relating to extending the time in which a small business may correct a violation without a penalty.
  • Substitute House Bill No. 1247, relating to the staffing of secure community transition facilities.
  • Substitute House Bill No. 1294, relating to establishing the Puget Sound corps while reforming the state’s conservation corps programs.
  • House Bill No. 1298, relating to child support order summary report forms.
  • House Bill No. 1345, relating to the uniform unsworn foreign declarations act.
  • House Bill No. 1347, relating to sales and use tax exemptions for certain property and services used in manufacturing, research and development, or testing operations, not including changes to RCW 82.08.02565 and 82.12.02565 that reduce state revenue.
  • Engrossed House Bill No. 1357, relating to providing the department of revenue with additional flexibility to achieve operational efficiencies through the expanded use of electronic means to remit and report taxes.
  • House Bill No. 1412, relating to high school mathematics end-of-course assessments.
  • House Bill No. 1424, relating to administrative consistency between conditional scholarship and loan repayment student financial aid programs.
  • House Bill No. 1488, relating to updating the authority of the state board of health.
  • Substitute House Bill No. 1571, relating to electric vehicle battery charging facilities.
  • Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 1572, relating to authorizing public utility districts to request voluntary contributions to assist low-income customers with payment of water and sewer bills.
  • House Bill No. 1618, relating to public utility districts and deferred compensation and supplemental savings plans.
  • House Bill No. 1694, relating to unauthorized insurance.
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Gov. Gregoire on Monroe correction officer killing

By | January 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Eldon Vail just held a very brief press conference on the correction officer killing in Monroe.

The takeaway: Gregoire says there had been no staffing reductions there, but that’s not the issue. “This is not about budget cuts, this is about are we adequately staffed,” she said.

She only took a couple of questions and then left.

17 counties are in a state of emergency from December weather

By | January 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

The December snowstorms have put 17 counties in a state of emergency, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office said today. Those counties are Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum, and Whatcom counties.

Important to note: This is from the December snowstorm, not the overnight slushfall.

“We are trying to offer as much support as possible to families, businesses and communities as they continue to recover from this period of bad weather,” Gregoire said.

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Senate Transportation chair, fellow Democrats react to Governor’s ferry proposal

By | January 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and four of her colleagues on the Senate Transportation Committee said in a statement today that the Governor’s plan to create a new layer of government to manage ferries is not the solution.

Isolating the needs in our ferry system and creating another layer of government to address them is not the solution. Users of ferries already pay into the highway system just like everybody else when they pay gas taxes, in addition to ferry fares.”

The statement also points out that Seattle and Vancouver residents aren’t being assessed special taxes for the 520 bridge or Vancouver Crossing. The letter calls for a transportation budget that takes all of the states needs into consideration.

The statement was signed by Haugen and Sens. Jim Hargrove, Derek Kilmer, Kevin Ranker and Tim Sheldon.

Gregoire proposes Regional Ferry District, new taxing authority for ferry system

By | January 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

“It goes without saying that we find ourselves in historic times,” she said. “We are on the road to economic recovery but it is truly a bumpy path to get there,” she said. The solution: Find creative, “transformative” ways to do business.

First up: The ferry system. “Around the globe, people equate our region with Puget Sound and our iconic green and white ferries,” she said, which carry 23 million passengers a year. She said the ferry system has a “stellar safety and on-time record.”

The problem, she said, is that ferries have been dependent on highway funds for the past decade or so because MVET funds disappeared. The ferry system faces a $900 million shortfall over the next decade, even if efficiencies are found, she said.

She said full privatization isn’t a realistic solution. “Passenger fees alone cannot sustain the system,” she said, adding that fares have probably been “tapped out” because as fares increase, ridership decreases.

She proposes forming a Regional Ferry District, with representatives elected by those in the area and others appointed by the governor. (more…)

Gov. Gregoire: “It’s not a budget that I think anybody is going to embrace”

By | January 4, 2011 | 0 Comments

Now it’s Gov. Chris Gregoire’s turn to speak at the AP Legislative Preview. With her is her budget director, Marty Brown.

“The September forecast put us down $1.4 billion,” she said, and resulted in the 6.3 percent across-the-board cut. She said the November forecast meant across-the-board cuts were no longer feasible. “So that’s why the special session.” She said that one-day special session was historic because legislators “really did come together” to save $580 million. She said they have more work ahead: The 2009-2011 budget is still $400 million short, and the legislature will need to make those cuts first.

She said she’s instructed every state agency director to look at their budgets and ask eight critical questions, like: Is there a more efficient and effective way to get the job done? Who else could or would pay for or perform this service? And is the service essential? She said the answers to those questions were used to formulate fundamental changes to state government.

“We’ve got a significant challenge on our hands,” she said. “We will lay off aout 10,000 people,” she said, and state employees have already seen healthcare costs increase and wages decrease.

She said one proposal to Washington D.C. would allow Washington to pilot healthcare reform “without the hamstringing we have with rules and regulations with respect to Medicaid,” she said, which could save billions if the state is able to limit healthcare inflation to a reasonable level. (more…)

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Gregoire: Pensions and healthcare will have serious consequences if not reformed

By | December 13, 2010 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire just began her press conference on the budget, which you can watch live on TVW now.

She began by saying healthcare and pensions are growing and, if not retooled, will have “serious consequences.”  “Today, I’m announcing proposals that will help us rebalance that growth,” she said.

She there is a $7 billion gap between what’s been promised under PERS 1 and Plan 1 and what the state has funded.

“The increases that were provided in 1995 were not linked to inflation. The result is something unlike that which you experience in Social Security Benefits,” she said, meaning the plan values increase even when inflation is at zero. “Doing so would cut our unfunded liability by more than 60 percent immediately,” she said. The state would save over $2 billion over the next 2 biennium.

She said she and her husband are both part of Plan 1, and she understands the sacrifice.

In Pers 2 and 3, she said the plans are more sound but that they allow employees to retire early without penalty. She is proposing an end to that for all new employees. “With regard to higher education, we make to recommendations,” she said. First, a limit. “We recommend capping the state’s contribution at six percent,” she said, similar to the state employee pension. Second: No more retire/rehire. “These … will save us $57 million in the (20)11-13 budget.”

The complete pension proposal means $425 million in savings in the biennial budget.

Next, she said healthcare needs to be addressed. “In the past decade, the amount the state pays for healthcare each year has doubled,” she said. She said keeping up with that is impossible. The state needs to pay for outcomes — quality care — and not simply office visits.

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Gregoire: Thursday will likely bring 7 percent cuts or higher

By | September 13, 2010 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire just held a press conference in her office to discuss her trade mission to Asia and the upcoming Economic and Revenue Forecast. Here are some notes and quotes:

On the Revenue Forecast:

- Gregoire signed an executive order today that dictates what across-the-board cuts should be made to correspond with a drop in the revenue forecast. She earlier called for agencies to ready for 4 to 7 percent cuts. Now, she said, she thinks it could be more dire.

- “I don’t see 10 percent, but I do think it’s above 7 percent,” she said. She also said there’s “no question in my mind” that the news on Thursday will be bad.

- A 1 percent cut is equal to $82 million, she said.

- “Assuming we’re going to see some better (economic) trends, I don’t expect it this year.”

- Podiatry, hospice care: “Some of these programs are going to be gone this year.” (more…)