E-newsletter- Inspiring future scientists

September 22nd, 2014|

North Central High School: Institute for Science and Technology

The Institute of Science and Technology at North Central High School opened recently and I was glad to have the opportunity to attend the dedication ceremony. While the new facilities are exciting, I was even more impressed by the dedication of the teachers, administrators and students that made the Institute a reality, particularly teacher Randy James, who has been the driving force behind the Institute and its new building.

Randy James has been a teacher in Spokane Public Schools since 1978 and his positive impact on students and the community is clear. He has pioneered new methods for teaching molecular bioscience and genomics, and helped students to not just learn about DNA sequencing but to also achieve real advances in DNA research. At the dedication ceremony, two of Randy’s former students who are now successful scientists talked about how he guided them, inspired their scientific curiosity, and launched them on a path to success.

Congratulations to the entire community on the opening of the Institute of Science and Technology building and thank you to Randy for continuing to inspire students every day!

Oil by rail study

Last session, we considered a Senate bill to improve the safety of oil by rail through our state. I spoke in support of an amendment that would require increased transparency of these shipments so first responders could be better prepared and require a broader look at rail safety throughout the state. You can watch my floor speech HERE.

While the amendment ultimately failed I have continued to push for transparency and, along with many in our community, I’m still concerned about increasing shipments of crude oil by rail through Spokane and across Washington State.

To help address this growing concern, Governor Inslee has asked the Department of Ecology, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, and the Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD) to complete a Marine and Rail Oil Transportation Study.  The goal of the study is to assess the risk of accidents along rail lines and waterways, review existing rail safety laws and rules to identify regulatory gaps, and propose state actions that will improve public safety and spill prevention and response. 

The agencies hope to submit a draft report with initial findings and recommendations by October 1st. Ecology has a website for you to comment and I urge you to do so before the end of the month.

Washington Healthplanfinder provides more health options this Fall

Washington continues to lead the way nationally in implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Last month our state was ranked 4th best in the country at reducing the rate of uninsured adults, falling from 16.8 to 10.7 percent according to a recent Gallup Poll.

We should continue to see those results improve as the Health Benefit Exchange recently announced the number of health plan options has doubled in just one year and the next open enrollment period (Nov. 15, 2014 – Feb. 15, 2015) begins soon. 

You can find information about the health plans that will be offered on Washington Healthplanfinder HERE.

Keeping In Touch

If you have a comment, idea, question or an invitation for me to attend an event or tour a business/organization in Spokane, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! You can reach me by e-mail ( andy.billig@leg.wa.gov ) or by phone at 509-209-2427. And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter.”