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

Monthly Archives: February 2015

E-newsletter – Bikes, Buses & Automobiles

February 24th, 2015|

Transportation Investment Package

Last week, we saw the introduction and committee action on the Senate’s transportation investment proposal. While there is a lot to like in the underlying transportation package, there are some concerning policy bills that have been attached to the package by the Senate majority.

First, a quick summary of the base package: An 11.7 cent gas tax would be phased in over three years. Along with that revenue, the raising of some vehicle fees would support transportation infrastructure construction, road maintenance, and fund transit, bike and pedestrian grant programs. Among the Spokane projects that would be funded in this package are $861 million to construct the rest of the North Spokane Corridor and connect it to I-90 as well as $10 million for the STA’s Central City Line electric trolley bus.

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Spokane Transit Authority Central City Line

I am confident the base transportation package would pass fairly easily off the Senate floor, but it is being weighed down by a number of attached policy provisions that the Senate majority wants passed before they will let the base transportation package become law.  A few of the policy bills are real reforms that make sense and I support those. However, the rest of the conditional policies are not essential and don’t represent reforms at all, including anti-clean air provisions, labor concessions that hurt workers without significantly lowering costs, and the diversion of funding from education to transportation.

We are still early in the process of passing a final transportation package, and I remain optimistic that we will find a responsible compromise regarding the policy bills. In the meantime, I welcome your comments regarding the proposed package.

Policy Bill Cut-off Deadline

Last Friday, bills in the House of Representatives and Senate faced their first major hurdle: any non-budget legislation that did not leave its initial committee is considered “dead” until next year. The various cut-off dates are part of a funneling process. This cut-off brings 2,200 bills that were introduced down to a more manageable group of priority bills for additional consideration.

Bills with fiscal impacts, including the various budgets, are not subject to this first cut-off date.

Town Hall in Spokane

With the legislative session almost halfway over, my seatmates Rep. Marcus Riccelli and Rep. Timm Ormsby and I will be hosting a town hall meeting to hear from our constituents and answer questions on Saturday, March 14th at 1:00PM. Topics will include education, transportation, job creation, the state budget and others.

 

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  • Saturday, March 14th 1:00-2:30 pm
  • WSU Spokane – 600 N. Riverpoint Blvd
  • Academic Center Auditorium – RM #20 (Click here for a map of campus)
  • Parking in Orange Lot: enter code 2427 into the kiosk for free parking

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Rep. Riccelli, Rep. Ormsby and Sen. Billig

Town Hall meetings are a crucial part of the dialogue between legislators and constituents. As we move into the second half of the Legislative Session, it is important that we hear your comments, questions and opinions on pending legislation and community priorities. I encourage you to join us on March 14thfor our Town Hall Meeting.

Keeping In Touch

If you have a comment, idea, or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! You can reach me by e-mail at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.
If you know someone who would like to receive their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website athttp://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter.”

 

Onward!

-Andy

E-newsletter – Safe Routes & Town Hall

February 16th, 2015|

Safe Routes to School

Three of state government’s most important responsibilities are education, transportation and protecting the health and safety of the state’s residents. It is rare that we have a program that delivers on all three of these priorities, but that is exactly the case with the successful Safe Routes to School program.

Safe Routes to School encourages children to “actively commute” to school by providing grants to local governments to pay a portion of new infrastructure projects including safer sidewalks, bikeways, and intersection improvements.

To further support Safe Routes to School, I am prime-sponsoring SB5724, a bipartisan bill which will provide sustainable funding for this program and help reverse a nationwide trend of fewer students walking and biking to school. Last week, we had a productive hearing on SB 5724. I am optimistic that either the bill will pass or its provisions will be incorporated into the 2015 transportation budget.

Click HERE to check out Washington Bike’s blog on this issue!

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Sen. Billig with Kate Johnson and Barb Chamberlin from Washington Bikes

Spokane Town Hall

Thank you to all who participated in our telephone town hall on Wednesday night!

I was joined by my seatmates, Representatives Ormsby and Riccelli, as we fielded questions and heard comments on some of the biggest issues facing the legislature this session: Education, the transportation revenue package, living wages, and job creation. Your questions were thoughtful, relevant, and challenging—Spokane knows how to hold its legislators accountable!

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If you didn’t get a chance to ask your question, or if you missed the call, you can listen to the entire conversation HERE.

If you weren’t able to join us on the phone, don’t worry, because we will be hosting an in-person town hall event in Spokane next month. This town hall meeting will take place on Saturday, March 14th, so mark your calendars and stand by for details!

Thank you for participating in these citizen engagement events. I work for you, and I am able to do my job most effectively when I receive your input.

TVW Capitol Classroom 2016

TVW (Washington’s State’s version of C-Span) has a dynamic experiential education program that lets students participate directly in the state legislative process via TVW video connection.

In Capitol Classroom, students and teachers work with a lobbyist and legislators to choose legislation to support, oppose, or amend, and then participate in the legislative process as their bill makes its way through the Legislature.

Are you, or do you know, a teacher from Spokane who would be interested in having their class participate next session in a great learning experience such as this? If so, please let us know by e-mailing Kate Burke at kate.burke@leg.wa.gov and we will connect you with TVW for possible participation in Capitol Classroom next session.

Keeping In Touch

If you have a comment, idea, or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! You can reach me by e-mail atandy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.

If you know someone who would like to receive their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website athttp://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter.”

Onward!

-Andy

E-newsletter – Creating Future Doctors and Voters

February 10th, 2015|

WSU Spokane

An outdated state law from 1917 dictates that Washington is only allowed to have one medical school, but in recent months, momentum has been building to change that law and allow WSU to establish a second medical school.

Last week, Senator Baumgartner and I testified to support of SB 5487, which allows the creation of a WSU medical school in Spokane. It is unusual for two senators to testify together on the same bill, but the fact that we appeared together demonstrates the strong, bipartisan support for this bill. The House version of the bill, HB 1559 has similar bipartisan support. It is prime-sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli and has an astounding 65 co-sponsors.

 

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WSU Spokane’s recently constructed health science building on the Riverpoint Campus near downtown Spokane.

This initiative is important for the Spokane community. The WSU Medical School, along with expansion of the University of Washington-sponsored WWAMI program (which I also support), provides more opportunities for young people who want to practice medicine in their home state. It also opens the door for better access to healthcare in our region, and generates economic development in Spokane. Both the House and Senate versions of this bill are scheduled to be voted out of their respective committees this week.

Hearings, Hearings, Hearings

The first few weeks of each session are packed with public hearings on a wide variety of bills. Last week we had a public hearing on one of my prime-sponsored bills, SB 5140. This bill would extend a pre-registration option to motor voter (registering to vote when you get your driver’s license). This change would allow 16 and 17 year olds to have equal access to motor voter, which is the easiest and most effective way to register to vote.

Public hearings are a particularly important step in the lawmaking process, because they give interested parties, including individual citizens, a chance to voice their opinion about a bill to the Legislature. This is how we put a human face on a bill.

Among the faces testifying on Monday was one very familiar to me—my daughter, Bella, who asked to speak on behalf of SB 5140! Click HERE to watch the a media report on the hearing.

We also heard supportive testimony from the Washington Student Association and the League of Women Voters. The next step will be for the Senate Government Operations Committee to vote the bill on to the Rules Committee.

Spokane Telephone Town Hall

Join your 3rd District Legislators for a Telephone Town Hall:

Wednesday
February 11, 2015
6:00-7:00PM

If you have a landline, you should get a call at 6PM!

Don’t have a landline? Dial in at 1-877-229-8439. When prompted, dial the access code: 18646. We hope you can join us!

 

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 360-786-7604.

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 athttp://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter.”

 

Onward!

-Andy

E-newsletter – Budget Work Begins

February 3rd, 2015|

Beginning Our Work on the Three State Budgets

Every two years, the Legislature passes three major biennial budgets: An operating budget, which outlines spending for the majority of our government including education, corrections, health care and human services, a capital budget, which funds building and construction projects such as K-12 schools, higher education facilities and other permanent structures, and finally the transportation budget, which covers investments such as roads, bike & pedestrian grant programs, and the State Patrol.

All three of these budgets are important for Spokane, and a big part of my job as your senator is to advocate for programs and projects in these budgets that will build opportunity and prosperity in Spokane and throughout the state.

 

Capital Budget Spotlight: Women & Children’s Free Restaurant

While the operating budget will get much of the attention this year because of our legal and moral obligation to fully fund basic education, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the capital budget. I will be advocating for several important Spokane area projects in the in the capital budget this year, including a state grant for funding of a portion of building improvements at the Women & Children’s Free Restaurants new location.

Spokane’s low-income families deserve more than basic assistance. They should also be afforded the dignity and relaxation that comes with something we often take for granted: a night out with our families. The Women and Children’s Free Restaurant provides just this type of service, nutritious food for families in need along with a big helping of community engagement.

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Happy kids eating their hot meal at the Women and Children’s Free Restaurant

The Women and Children’s Free Restaurant project grant application rated highly in the Building Communities grant program independent review and I am optimistic about the chances it will be funded in this year’s capital budget.

 

Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame

Are you inspired by someone’s accomplishments in our community? The Spokane Public Library is hosting our community’s first-ever Citizen Hall of Fame. To nominate someone, click here.

 

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea, or 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 360-786-7604.

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