Now you can watch legislative hearings right from the bill information site

By | January 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

TVW has partnered with the Legislature to make it easier to get information about the bills that you care about: Now, you can watch video of bill debate and public hearing on the bill information page.

Let’s say you’re interested in revising the lien for the collection of sewage charges by counties — previously, you’d have to read the bill page, then search TVW’s web site for the hearings. Now, you can see all the related videos right from the bill’s page.

And if you’re really interested in tracking public policy, don’t forget our new, free service, Scout. Scout tracks all the issues, bills and court cases you care about and compiles video, committee materials and more in an easy-to-read home page.

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Scenes from the opening ceremony

By | January 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Senate and House just wrapped up opening session. Here’s a scene from the House.

Rep. Frank Chopp outlined his priorities, including education taking early learning “to the next level.” He also said one goal this session is to save the state’s safety net.

“One thing we’ve learned is that an overtaxed industry stifles innovation,” said Rep. Richard DeBolt, in a response. He also said the state has to break it’s dependence on the federal government, move Medicare to block grants and put pressure on the federal government to give the state more flexibility on federal match programs.


Supreme Court announces McCleary decision, says state is not fully funding schools

By | January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

This morning, the TVW crew is at the capitol for the Associated Press legislative preview, where legislative leadership, the governor and human services and education advocates are talking to the media  – you can watch along live on TVW.

In the meantime: The Supreme Court announced this morning that the state is not fully funding education. You can read the full McCleary decision here.

We’ll post more on it after the AP forum.

Senate Majority Leader: Budget writers are close on a package of cuts

By | December 9, 2011 | 0 Comments

House and Senate budget writers are close to a compromise on several hundred million dollars in cuts, according to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. Brown held a press availability this morning.

She said that budget writers are neither ready to adopt Gov. Chris Gregoire’s full package of cuts to bridge the $2 billion spending gap in the budget nor to pass a tax package. But, she said, after hearing from hundreds of citizens on the proposed cuts and negotiating, she’s optimistic that a package of cuts will be announced on Monday.

Brown did not provide details on the cuts: She said she’d leave that to budget negotiators, including sens. Ed Murray and Joe Zarelli.

“We still have a long way to go after that’s over,” she said, referring to more than a billion more in cuts — and possibly a tax package — that would need to be handled during regular session, which starts in January.

Lawmakers are also planning to pass a resolution urging Congress to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require internet retailers to collect sales tax on their sales. The bill could net the state $400 million in additional revenue if passed, Brown said.

This Week’s TVW Coverage: Revenue Forecast, Redistricting Maps, More…

By | September 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

A new and possibly budget-busting state revenue forecast and plans to carve out new state congressional and legislative district boundaries highlight TVW’s coverage for this week.  Both those events, and others, will be shown live on TVW and live on the web at — check TVW’s air schedule here.

We’ll also have live coverage of two legislative hearings, Senate Ways & Means on Monday, and a joint House hearing on Tuesday, both looking at K-12 school issues.  The State Supreme Court’s fall docket kicks off Thursday, TVW will carry three of the four cases live.

We’ll be at Seattle CityClub Tuesday covering a conversation with new UW President Michael Young, and at The Olympian Editorial Board Wednesday recording pro-con interviews on I-1163, the in-home care initiative.  On Saturday we’ll be in Port Angeles for the ceremony that begins the removal of the Elwha River Dams, and at the Seattle U Law School for a conference on civics education and the law.  All these events will be recorded and televised this week and/or next.

Q&A with Bruce Beckett: Proponent of privatizing liquor sales via Initiative 1183

By | July 15, 2011 | 1 Comments
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

This week’s Q&A is with Bruce Beckett, Government Affairs Director of the Washington Restaurant Association and a spokesman for the Yes on Initiative 1183 campaign. I wanted to talk to him about this year’s effort to privatize liquor sales in the state. I’ll be following up next week with someone against the initiative. Here’s what Beckett had to say.”

Q: First, what does this initiative do?

Beckett: Well, it simply removes state government from its role as the sole retailer of liquor in the state and allows private retailers, distributors or even manufacturers to enter into the market. It does so by allowing a limited number of qualified retail stores to sell liquor. They have to be 10,000 square feet or larger, and it also will increase revenues to state and local government over and beyond what they’re currently receiving from the liquor distribution center in Washington. And it strengthens regulations on the liquor sales to minors in particular.

Q: You were involved in an initiative last year to privatize liquor. What are the main differences this time around?

Beckett: Last year, the voters responded quite strongly to the campaign that was put out in opposition. (The opposition) focused on public safety and on revenues to state and local government. There were some legitimate issues raised by stakeholders. This initiative responds to those concerns in a number of ways.

(Initiative 1183) will increase revenue to state and local government by the imposition of license fees on retailers and distributors. The fee is 17 percent for retailers on gross sales, 10 percent for distributors or wholesalers. (The 10 percent rate) does decline to 5 percent once there’s the replenishment of the revenue the state would lose. So on the revenue side, that’s how that’s been addressed.

On the public safety side, there’s a number of things. First, it limits retail outlets to 10,000 square feet or more. That’s a pretty good-sized grocery store. That’s to eliminate the concern over liquor being in convenience stores or gas station mini-marts. Second, it increases education and training requirements for those employees that will be handling liquor in those stores. Third, it doubles the penalty for selling to a minor — doubles it over what would occur on beer and wine sales.

The revenue increase, which is being evaluated right now, is projected to be over $200 million more in the first biennium and then 10s of millions of dollars thereafter. Ten million of the increase is dedicate to public safety. (more…)

The latest on Sine Die

By | April 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

I went up to Sen. Lisa Brown’s media availability today and she got a lot of questions from reporters about when the Legislature might be done with the people’s work.

One reporter shared a rumor that the Legislature would adjourn on Thursday. “I don’t know anything about Thursday,” she said. But adjourning for good on Friday or Saturday would be “fairly ambitious.”

She said if they’re not finished by Friday, her preference is to let people have a weekend then come back to work on Monday. That’s “getting pretty close to inevitable.”

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Sen. Pam Roach wants to criminalize lying in voters’ pamphlets

By | February 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

A bill before the Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections would make it a crime to put false information in a voter’s pamphlet (the one paid for by the state that arrives with your ballot).

Anyone who does this, or allows a false statement to be made on his/her behalf would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. According to the bill’s language a “false statement of material fact” would be a statement that would lead a person of ordinary intelligence to reasonably understand the statement as conveying information that is false. The proposal would give the Public Disclosure Commission the authority to fine someone up to $5,000 for lying.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Pam Roach, said she spent $1,700 last year to fight false statements that another candidate put in the voters’ pamphlet. In the end, she said, the judge ruled in her favor but the candidate was not punished. According to Sen. Roach they were only scolded for not acting in a respectful way.

Thanks to a measure passed by the Legislation a couple years ago, she said, candidates have 10 days after information has been turned in the voters’ pamphlet to challenge any alleged falsehoods. According to Sen. Roach about 35 communications were received last year alerting candidates that they may want to take a look at the statement made by their opponent.

“Today we have no penalties for lying in a voters’ pamphlet statement,” said Sen. Roach. She is not talking about the mailers that candidates pay for, she said, but the information that voters pay for. “It really is an important thing. I believe that we need to look at what we’ve done so far.”

Janet Jordon, a member of the Green Party of Washington testified in favor of the bill. She said she would also like to see legislation that would give political parties a space under a candidate, who claims affiliation with the party, to say whether or not they sponsor them.

“We don’t believe that government should be in the business of determinating truth or faslehood in political speech,” said Shankar Narayan with American Civil Liberties, who oppose the proposal. In 1998 and 2007 the Washington Supreme Court ruled against two state laws that aimed to prohibit lying in campaigns. Narayan said the bill takes the same unconstitutional approach and aims it at voters pamphlets. “We believe the court would strike this bill down as well.”

“Do you recognize that there is a difference between speech that is payed for by the candidate and that that is payed for by the tax payer?” Sen. Pam Roach said to Narayan.

“This is speech that is going directly to the public that this a representation of the candidates views,” said Narayan.

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Q&A: DOR’s Janetta Taylor on the 68 tax changes coming to Washington

By | April 30, 2010 | 0 Comments

This week’s Q&A is with Janetta Taylor with the Department of Revenue. I was interested in finding out how the department is dealing with nearly 70 changes to the tax code worth $800 million that go into effect on a handful of different dates — including tomorrow, when cigarettes will cost $1 more per pack.

Taylor told me about some big changes to the tax code that could help local businesses, what it would take to implement an income tax, and much more.

Q: How many changes did the Legislature make, and what does the DOR have to do to implement those changes?

Taylor: With this session we have 68 changes that came through, which is quite a few. It will be a challenge for the department to make sure that we contact all the businesses that are affected. That really is our focus: educate, educate, educate.

We have a wide variety of mechanisms to do that. In Washington, most businesses and household are connected to the Web. The first thing we did is post the information on our Web page. There’s a link to all the information with the write-ups. Of course, also some of Mike’s (Mike Gowrylow, communications director at DOR) media releases. And we also try to target mailings to the specific businesses that are impacted. We have about 450,000 registered businesses. Not all of these changes affect all businesses. We look at businesses by their activity and we tailor specific mailings to them and try to get them all the information they need.

We also have special things going on with electronic filing. A large number of our tax payers actually file electronically so we can send them e-mails or send them alerts in the system.

Q: The $1 per pack addition to the cigarette tax goes into effect tomorrow (May 1). What did you have to do to implement something like that?

Taylor: The ones that start tomorrow were quite challenging because we did have a short time frame. We actually started planning before the bill was signed. (more…)

2010 Legislature – a morning-after recap

By | April 13, 2010 | 0 Comments

Good morning!

- In case you were sleeping: The Legislature adjourned early this morning (around 1 a.m.) after passing the tax package, passing all the budgets and honoring Rep. Lynn Kessler and Sen. Joe McDermott, who both announced last night that they won’t seek re-election. All of the House and about half of the Senate is up for re-election this year.

- Right now, you can watch Gov. Chris Gregoire give a post-session round-up on TVW. I’ll post it here as soon as it’s available.

- Tomorrow at 7 and 10 p.m., watch The Impact with host Jessica Gao. She’ll have a round-up of what went down last night.

- Thursday, be on the lookout for Legislative Year in Review. That’s right: A year worth of fun in one hour!

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Day 1: Let’s review. From privatized liquor sales to some good economic signs.

By | January 11, 2010 | 1 Comments

Here’s a handy run-down of what happened today:

- Chief economic forecaster Arun Raha said revenue collections for the past two months are actually higher than he forecast in November. Yet …

- A comprehensive review showed the state’s economic climate hasn’t improved relative to other states.

- The state could save around $10 million by streamlining information services for five agencies and potentially $277 million for privatizing liquor stores.

- House Speaker Frank Chopp said the state needs to create a moral budget without cutting the most vulnerable and Rep. Richard DeBolt said the state needs to encourage business development, which will finance a healthy future.

- The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee discussed banning BPA.

- Chief Justice Barbara Madsen was sworn in.

Want more? Watch Legislative Review at 11 o’clock tonight or 7:45 tomorrow morning.

Session starts today. Here’s what you need to know.

By | January 11, 2010 | 0 Comments

Today marks the first day of this year’s 60-day legislative session. Here’s what’s happening:

- At 9:30 a.m., TVW will be live with the swearing-in of Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen.

- At noon, both the House and Senate will hold their first floor session. Watch the House live on TVW. We’ll replay the Senate ceremonies tonight at 5:30.

- At 1:30, the first wave of hearings will begin. See the full schedule here. TVW will be live with the Senate Economic Development and Innovation Committee. The state’s chief economic forecaster, Arun Raha, will be there to discuss the economic climate and outlook.

- At 3:30, we’ll be live with the House Ways & Means Committee, where Auditor Brian Sonntag will cover the statewide performance review.

- And at 8 p.m., you can catch Friday’s taping of the Seattle City Club. They hosted legislative leaders for the annual session preview.

- If you don’t have time to watch all of this but still want to know what happened, watch TVW at 11 p.m. for Legislative Review.

Rep. Richard DeBolt: “We have to keep up.”

By | January 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Finishing up the first panel at the AP Legislative Forum is Rep. Richard DeBolt. He said he feels like you could go back to any year, rewind and hear the same things at the opening forum. “We have to think about it from a simple perspective, we have to break it down from the people at home … that is putting people back to work. Washingtonians want to work.”

He said the state has to keep up and make sure “Washington businesses can compete.” He said the state has done everything it can in the past 12 years to “push manufacturing out of Washington… we have not done the best we can do.”

“It doesn’t seem that difficult to me,” he said, to figure out how to reinvigorate business in the state: Make it easier to permit businesses, for starters.

Rep. Lynn Kessler: “The world economy collapsed and we are in this situation”

By | January 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sen. Lynn Kessler, filling in for House Speaker Frank Chopp, followed Sens. Hewitt and Brown (see below) at the AP Forum. She said she wanted to make clear how the state got into this situation — being $2.6 billion short: “The world economy collapsed and we are in this situation.”

She said she also wanted to make a distinction between business and government: When times get tough for businesses, they lose customers and must get leaner. Not the state, she said: There are more unemployed, more on food stamps, more students in schools.

She said House Democrats are also working on public safety bills to address the police officer killings in the last few months.

At the AP forum: Sen. Lisa Brown goes first, talks budget

By | January 6, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sen. Lisa Brown at the Legislative forum:
“I think there isn’t a question about the kind of state people of Washington want to live in,” she started out with, “So the question for us this Legislative session is … how will we do that?”

“The Senate Democrats, when we went on our retreat, were clear: We’re committed, despite the economy, to moving forward … and preserving that quality of life that makes Washington so special.”

She said they’ll “start soon and act quickly” on the budget problem. “I was pleased to see that the Governor was not content with the Book One budget,” she said — Gov. Gregoire’s Constitutionally required all-cuts budget released last month.

Tune in tomorrow for the AP forum

By | January 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

Tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock, I’ll be at the annual AP forum, where lawmakers will talk to the media about what’s in store for the year. I’ll be blogging as it happens, so if you want a glimpse into the next 60 days — from the people who will actually be making the decisions — check back here.

And tomorrow night, don’t miss The Impact at 7 and 10 p.m. on TVW. Host Jessica Gao will interview Victor Moore from the Office of Financial Management. And more.

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Small wineries, mute swans and income tax: A look at prefiled bills

By | January 5, 2010 | 1 Comments

Next Monday, the 60-day legislative session will begin, bringing Legislators, lobbyists and extra staff members to Olympia to try to solve the $2.6 billion budget problem.

Since this is an even-numbered year, any bills that were introduced but failed to pass last year are still in play. On top of that, many members have introduced new bills. You can find them all here, but I’ve listed a few below to pique your interest.

A sampling:
- A pinioned pair of sexually altered mute swans living on a private lake of 20 acres or fewer would not be considered deleterious livestock under this bill.
- Small wineries would only have to file annual reports to the state, rather than the monthly reports required of larger wineries and distributors, under this one in the Senate and this one in the House.
- Baby food containers and sports bottles would be barred from containing bisphenol A, or BPA. See that bill here.
- This one would amend the Constitution to allow for an income tax.
- And this one would take make it legal to possess up to 50 lbs of black powder (gunpowder) if it contains Potassium Nitrate. It’s currently legal to have up to 5 lbs. of the gunpowder.

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Care about graduating? Public schools? Watch the Quality Education Council LIVE now.

By | November 30, 2009 | 0 Comments

Tune into TVW now to watch the Quality Education Council. This is the group that is tasked with studying public education in the state and coming up with ways it can be improved.

So far, they’ve discussed new teacher mentor programs and graduation requirements may be on the horizon. Stay tuned.

And don’t forget that later this week is Assembly Days, when lawmakers will return to Olympia for a pre-session set of hearings.

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Catch up on what lawmakers have been up to today through Friday

By | September 30, 2009 | 0 Comments

This week, lawmakers are in town for committee days. You can see the full slate of committee hearings and schedules here.

TVW will be covering many of the hearings live. Go here for the schedule.

Tomorrow, don’t miss the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 1:30 p.m. (and live on TVW) — they’ll undoubtedly discuss the recent revenue forecast and the state budget. At 8 a.m., we’ve got the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and at 3:30 p.m., we’ll show the Senate Health and Long-term Care Committee. Don’t miss it.

What bills have passed? Not passed? Await signature?

By | May 7, 2009 | 0 Comments

Joe Turner at The News Tribune is compiling lists upon lists of bills that have passed but await Gov. Chris Gregoire’s signature, bills that have been signed, and bills that just plain old failed.

The lists are worth a read — from newspaper tax breaks to mole trapping.

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