(360) 786-7604|Andy.Billig@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: November 2014

E-newsletter- I’ll keep my day job

November 25th, 2014|

Community Leadership Summit on Transit

community transit

Earlier this month, I participated in a transit summit with other elected officials, non-profit and business leaders and other transit riders. We completed a challenging transit planning exercise and expressed our priorities for transit in Spokane.

Organized by the Spokane Transit Authority, the goal of the planning exercise sounded simple enough: To play transit Czar (or planner) and design a network for the fictional town of Prairieville. I learned a lot about the many worthy community transit priorities competing for service in a world of finite resources but, needless to say, I’ll keep my day job and leave the transit planning to the pros!

The robust discussion was facilitated by Jarrett Walker, the author of “Human Transit: How clearer thinking about public transit can enrich our communities and our lives” and it was exciting to get his take about the future of transit in Spokane.

One of the biggest takeaways was the strong support for the Central City Line, Spokane’s planned electric trolley bus service. I believe this project not only offers a great transportation solution to our region but it also promises to bring economic development and job opportunities that would not occur otherwise.

KSPS Expert Panel on Early Learning

I was honored to be invited to join an expert panel appearing on Spokane Public Television to discuss the importance of investing in early learning programs.

The dialogue was part of an hour long special titled “Raising America.” It has been demonstrated repeatedly that investment in high quality early learning reduces the learning achievement gap, which is one of the most pressing challenges the public education system faces. If we want to improve outcomes for children in school and in life, high quality early learning must be a key component of our state’s overall education system.

I was joined on the panel by Dr. Bette Hyde, director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning; Lee Williams, director of Child Care Aware of Eastern Washington; and Dr. Vincent Alfonso, dean of Gonzaga University’s School of Education. The full program is available online and can be accessed by clicking the following link at KSPS.

Senate Committee Assembly

Last week, the Senate returned to Olympia for the two day Committee Assembly. It’s like the legislative pre-season, an important time to work on legislation, meet with other legislators, and hear the policy and budget updates in our respective committees in advance of the 2015 session.

The 2015 regular session of the State Legislature is scheduled to begin on January 12 and end on April 26, 2015. To see what committees were meeting last week and to watch tapes of hearings, you can visit TVW’s programming guide HERE.

Keeping In Touch

If you have a comment, idea, question, 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.”

Onward!

Andy

  • Permalink Gallery

    Billig appears on public television to discuss early learning investments

Billig appears on public television to discuss early learning investments

November 12th, 2014|

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, joined a panel of experts last night on Spokane Public Television to discuss the importance of investing in early learning programs. The dialogue was part of an hour long special titled “Raising America.”

“The top priority for all of us working on early learning is to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities for all children throughout Washington state,” said Billig during the program.

In recent years, numerous academic reports have acknowledged the impact early learning can have on a child’s long term development. In fact, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that investment in early learning can reduce the learning achievement gap which is one of the most pressing challenges the public education system faces.

“I want to make sure that we don’t just have a K-12 funding plan but a comprehensive funding plan that invests in early learning and higher education so that we know we are getting the best return on our investment,” said Billig.

Billig co-chaired the Child Care Improvements Task Force which worked to integrate the state’s child care and preschool programs to better serve families with a high-quality full-day learning experience. Recommendations from that task force have been incorporated into legislation to further improve the quality of early learning programs in our state.

“Child care and pre-school used to be seen as two separate programs. Now, we know it makes more sense to view these two programs together. We can best achieve our goal of helping every child arrive at kindergarten ready to learn by combining child care and preschool into a full-day experience,” said Billig.

Billig was joined on the panel by Dr. Bette Hyde, director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning; Lee Williams, director of Child Care Aware of Eastern Washington; and Dr. Vincent Alfonso, dean of Gonzaga University’s School of Education.

The full program is available online and can be accessed by clicking the following link: http://video.ksps.org/video/2365364962/

E-newsletter – Oil Trains, A Golden Crayon, and Your Most Basic Right

November 3rd, 2014|

Oil Train Hearing

Spokane was the site of one of two public hearings last week on the Governor’s Rail and Marine Oil Transportation Study. I testified at the hearing on the growth of oil transportation by rail through our state and the significant impact that oil trains could have on two important community priorities: safety and prosperity.

Our safety could be impacted dramatically by an oil train derailment in Spokane. There have been nine serious oil train derailments in North America in the past 18 months and it does not take too much of an imagination to know that such an accident in downtown Spokane would be catastrophic.

The safety concern from an explosion is obvious but I also highlighted another safety concern specific to our community.  A derailment, even a minor one, along the Spokane River, could leak oil into our River-Aquifer system and contaminate the single source of drinking water for over 500,000 people in our community.

The other priority I addressed was prosperity.  Eastern Washington produces grains, fruits and vegetables that are shipped all over the U.S. and the world. Unfortunately, the increase in oil and coal trains is already having a direct and negative impact on agricultural shipments. There is a finite amount of rail capacity, so every additional oil or coal train car means a load of wheat or potatoes or lentils produced by a Washington family farm is getting delayed –  or completely shut out – from rail as a freight option.

There is virtually no prosperity derived from oil and coal trains travelling through our community, but those trains threaten the very industry that drives prosperity in our region, agriculture.

I urged the team writing the study to include the strongest possible recommendations and I look forward to passing oil train safety legislation that will help protect Spokane and our entire state during the upcoming legislative session.

I appreciate all of the comments we’ve received from constituents regarding oil trains and I thank the 200+ citizens who attended the hearing. You have until December 1st to provide feedback on the study, which I urge you to do HERE.

Golden Crayon Award

I am grateful to the Early Learning Action Alliance for naming me the 2014 Golden Crayon Award winner for the work we have done together to improve access to high quality early learning opportunities for our state’s children over the past two years.

Here is a link to a media release on the award.

VOTE!

“The right to vote is the most basic right without which all other rights are meaningless.” – President Lyndon Johnson.

The time is now to exercise your most basic right, but as of today,  only 30% of voters in Spokane County have returned their ballots.

You have until 8 p.m. tomorrow night and please remember, there are two ways to get your vote in on time: You can mark your ballot, seal it, sign the outer envelope and put it in the mail — with a stamp — so that it is postmarked by Tuesday. If you’re still holding on to that ballot, take it to the post office (now!) to make sure it’s postmarked by the deadline.

Or you can visit one of these drop box locations before 8pm Tuesday night. You can also track the status of your ballot.

Keeping In Touch

If you have a comment, idea, question, 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.”

Onward!

Andy