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

Monthly Archives: March 2015

E-newsletter – Zombies Invade Olympia

March 26th, 2015|

Zombies Lobby for Tax Incentives

Last week, a horde of zombies stormed the capitol for an important cause: the growing film industry of Washington State. Cast and crew from Spokane’s very own “Z Nation” filmed a promotional video encouraging my colleagues to support SB 6027, which promotes job creation through the movie and TV production industry.

As part of the Filmworks program that began in 2007, film and television producers who work in Washington State may qualify for a tax credit for their projects. This incentive draws thousands of jobs to our economy, while also promoting Washington State in national and international media.

Sen. Kohl-Welles and Billig with advocates of SB 6027.
Sen. Billig and Sen. Kohl-Welles fight off the zombies

Although I support this program because we have seen well-documented job creation, we do have to be careful with this kind of tax credit. When industry-based incentives become too prevalent, states can face a “race to the bottom,” where we compete with each other at the expense of our other obligations.  SB 6027 has a public hearing this week in the Senate Ways & Means Committee

Senate Bills in the House

As we move back into committee hearings, we will be considering House bills that passed across the Capitol to the Senate. At the same time, three of my prime-sponsored bills are making their way through House committees. This mid-session switch from chamber to chamber is another way we pare down the amount of bills that become law: only about 20% of all the proposed legislature actually makes it all the way through the process.

ESB 5153, our bill to increase campaign finance transparency, passed with a unanimous Senate vote. We had a good hearing in the House State Government Committee earlier this week and I am optimistic about the opportunity to pass this important bill.

SB 5721 will help improve the Expanded Learning Council which is working to close the educational opportunity gap in Washington State through after school and summer education programs. SB 5721 also received unanimous support in the Senate, and we had a productive hearing in the House Education Committee yesterday.

SSB 5381 is our third bill moving to the House. Also known as the Sheena Henderson Act, this legislation would create a protocol for returning firearms to owners who had them confiscated by law enforcement. This bill, too, passed unanimously in the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

32 days of session to go! In that time, I am eager to keep these bills moving through the House and complete our budget work. More on the budget in the next newsletter. Until then, please keep in touch.

 

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

Onward!

-Andy

E-newsletter – Honoring a Spokane Hero

March 17th, 2015|

Honoring a Hero in Our Community

Last Tuesday, I had the honor of sponsoring Senate Resolution 8623 which recognizes a Spokane hero, Carla Peperzak. Carla, who has lived in Spokane since 2004, served in the Dutch Resistance as a teenager during Nazi occupation. With courage and selflessness, Carla helped dozens of families escape Nazi persecution while facing grave danger herself.

Click the photo to watch Carla’s Resolution on the Senate Floor!

Now retired and a great-grandmother, Carla has spent recent years telling her story to make sure future generations don’t forget this chapter of history that contains the horrors of war and Nazi persecution as well as the inspiring and altruistic actions by people like Carla. To learn more about Carla’s impressive story, I encourage you to read the January article about her in the Spokesman-Review.

 

Standing Room Only at 3rd LD Town Hall Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended our 3rd LD town hall meeting. It is always a privilege to engage in dialogue with constituents about the important issues facing Spokane and all of Washington State. I was thrilled with the large turn out and impressed with the questions.

Issues raised by town hall attendees included: tax fairness, college affordability, K-12 education, vaccinations and early learning.

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If you did not have the opportunity to get your question addressed, I would like to encourage you to contact our Olympia office (contact information is on the right sidebar). Your input is incredibly valuable to me as I work to represent you in the Washington State Senate.

 

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

Onward!

-Andy

Campaign Finance Transparency Legislation Passes Senate

March 11th, 2015|

Bipartisan legislation to bring more transparency to campaign finance in Washington passed the Senate floor today on a unanimous 49-0 vote.

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane and author of SB 5153, applauded the Senate for acting on the important bill to ensure transparency for voters, and encouraged the House to pass the bill to the governor’s desk for signature.

“For the past several years, I’ve worked to advance legislation that would bring much-needed transparency to Washington political campaigns,” said Billig. “Voters count on accurate and complete information about who is funding the electoral campaigns in our state, and in recent years increasingly sophisticated political operations have found and exploited loopholes in our laws. This long-overdue measure would close these loopholes and ensure that voters get the information they count on.”

Billig’s legislation as amended on the Senate floor would require organizations participating in state and local political campaigns not previously registered as political action committees, including 501(c)4s and (c)6s, to register with the state Public Disclosure Commission and disclose their contributions and expenditures.

The bill would require disclosure of their top ten largest sources of funds that are greater than $10,000, and any additional donors in excess of $100,000. It would not require an organization to file with the Public Disclosure Commission until the organization has spent or contributed at least $25,000.

“We heard some concerns about whether the reporting requirements would even be feasible for some types of organizations that hardly participate in campaigns, so it seemed reasonable to amend the bill to focus on the organizations that most often participate in state political campaigns, to allow the bill to move forward,” said Billig.

“Increased transparency in campaigns leads to better-informed voters, reduces the opportunity for corruption, and holds accountable those attempting to influence our elections. In short, transparency in in campaigns leads to a healthier democracy.”

The limits of Washington’s current campaign finance disclosure laws have become evident in the past two years as the financial structures of political committees have become increasingly sophisticated and opaque. In the 2014 election cycle, an independent organization spending money in a legislative election was able to use its non-profit status to avoid disclosing its donors. In 2013, political committees on both sides of the aisle used their non-profit status to avoid disclosure of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. The Grocery Manufacturers’ Association avoided disclosure for donors after spending more than $11 million to fund an organization opposed to Initiative 522. It was only after the discovery of a specific fundraising e-mail that the attorney general was able to require disclosure. Also in 2013, Working Washington — a registered nonprofit — raised more than $250,000 in support of the SeaTac minimum wage initiative but did not release the names of its donors. SB 5153 would have applied to all of these cases and required timely disclosure of donors.

E-newsletter – Half-way to Sine Die

March 9th, 2015|

Mid-Session Recap

As we reach the halfway mark in this year’s legislative session, bills face another major step in our funneling process – the house of origin cutoff. ByWednesday, all non-budget related bills must pass out of their initial chamber (either the senate or house of representatives), and be on the way across the capitol rotunda for consideration in the opposite chamber.

The Sheena Henderson Act, SB 5381, is a bill that would provide notification to family members when a firearm is returned to someone from police custody. This bill will make our community safer and increase peace of mind for families experiencing a challenging situation. The Sheena Henderson Act passed out of the senate unanimously and will now be considered in the house.

There are several other bills I have been working on this session that need to be voted out of the Senate by Wednesday, including SB 5153 – a bill to promote campaign finance transparency, SB 5559 – providing tuition waivers for classified school employees, SB 5740 – furthering extended foster care, and SB 5487 – allowing for the creation of a WSU Medical School in Spokane.

 

A Special Guest at the Capitol

I was treated to a visit from an honored guest this week in Olympia. Traveling all the way from Hutton Elementary in Spokane, “Flat” George Washington himself stopped by to see the sights and learn a little bit about our state’s Capitol.

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The “Flat George” project is a wonderful way for Spokane students to learn about their state. Fourth-graders at Hutton mailed Flat George to different locations all around Washington, and asked their friends and family members to return him with photos and stories about his adventures. I was pleased to have the opportunity to host George on the Senate floor.

Thanks to George and all the active, engaged learners at Camp Hutton!

 

Town Hall Reminder

Don’t forget about Representative Ormsby, Riccelli and my town hall meeting this Saturday, March 14th from 1pm to 2:30pm.

Join us for a conversation about our current work in Olympia, including education, health care, transportation and the biennial state budgets. This dialogue between constituents and legislators is crucial to our work, so we hope you can attend.

 

Town Hall Meeting Details:

      • Saturday, March 14th 1:00-2:30 pm
      • WSU Spokane – 600 N. Riverpoint Blvd
      • Parking in Orange Lot: enter code 2427 into the kiosk for free parking

 

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

Statement on transportation package

March 3rd, 2015|

“The transportation investment package voted on today in the Senate had both good and bad elements for the Spokane region. While I voted ‘no’ today, I plan to continue to work to pass a transportation package that responsibly invests in Spokane’s infrastructure needs.

“I was glad to see the package recognized Spokane’s major and growing transportation needs. It would have provided a major investment for the North Spokane Corridor, provided funding for the Central City Line, and funded maintenance on our roads and bridges. These are all good things that I believe need to be included in a transportation package.

“Despite some promising investments for Spokane, these came at a major cost. The proposal would move a billion dollars out of our operating budget, money which we critically need for students in our schools. Our state’s paramount duty is education and I don’t think it makes sense to lay asphalt at the expense of lower tuition at our colleges, smaller class sizes for our students or better pre-school for the youngest learners. At a time when we are under a contempt of court order to fund our schools, our students and their needs should come first. The package would also have prevented the state from taking important steps to keep our air and water clean and failed to include some key projects like the U-District pedestrian bridge, and these issues need to be resolved before the package can become final. I supported an attempt to amend the package to resolve some of these issues so the package could have had stronger Democratic support – that amendment was not accepted by the majority in the Senate.

“I am encouraged that the package made its way over to the House where work on the proposal can continue and these problems can hopefully be resolved. Transportation investment remains one of my top legislative priorities and I am optimistic that I will be casting a ‘yes’ vote on a true compromise transportation package before the end of the legislative session that responsibly invests in our roads, bridges, and transit.”