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

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Billig’s campaign transparency bill blocked in the Senate

February 18th, 2016|

OLYMPIA – With an important legislative deadline looming, an attempt to bring a bipartisan campaign finance bill to the Senate floor for a vote was blocked by Senate Republicans today. This marks the third year in a row that the Republican majority has blocked this bill from moving forward.

“I’m disappointed and somewhat shocked that this legislation, which has bipartisan support, has again been prevented from receiving a thoughtful debate,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, the legislation’s sponsor.

Billig noted that earlier in the legislative session he had worked with some of the groups that opposed the bill and prepared an amendment that would have addressed many of their concerns. Even after these good faith efforts were made, the Senate Republican majority still blocked his move to bring the bill up for a vote.

“It’s becoming clear to me that the Senate Republicans are comfortable with allowing dark money and secret political donations to continue to influence Washington state elections,” said Billig.

The bill, SB 5153, would require non-profit organizations participating in state and local political campaigns to disclose their contributions and expenditures. Currently, some non-profits are funneling undisclosed “dark money” into political campaigns.

SB 5153 would also require disclosure of the organizations’ top 10 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.

“Washington has good disclosure laws but there is a glaring loophole that needs to be closed to strengthen our Democracy and this bill would do just that,” said Billig.

The limits of Washington’s campaign finance disclosure laws have been made clear in recent years. In 2013, political committees on both sides of the aisle used their non-profit status to avoid disclosure of millions of dollars in donations. In another example, the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association avoided disclosure for donors after spending over $11 million to fund a committee 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 donors.

In 2014, when an independent organization spending money in a legislative election was able to use its non-profit status to avoid disclosing its donors, it drew outcry from numerous legislators. SB 5153 would have applied in all of these cases and required timely disclosure of donors.

“This isn’t a partisan bill, it doesn’t benefit any particular party,” said Billig. “Unfortunately, the disclosure loophole that this bill hopes to address is being exploited by both Democrats and Republicans. Ultimately, the people this bill benefits the most are the citizens of our state. They deserve to know where the money is coming from in political campaigns.”

E News- Cutoff Day & Town Hall

February 17th, 2016|

We are fast approaching another important legislative milestone. After 5pm today, any bill that hasn’t been passed out of their chamber of origin (House or Senate) will not continue to move forward this session, unless it is necessary to implement the budget.

Here’s an update on some of the bills I have been focused on this session.

Full funding of basic education

Senate Bill 6195, which was created as a result of the governor’s bipartisan education funding task force that I served on, is a plan to meet our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education. This bill passed out of the Senate yesterday.

Campaign Finance and Expanded Voter Access

Last week, Senate Bill 5153, which would add additional transparency to political donations, was brought one step closer to a vote in the Senate when it was pulled from the Rules Committee to the Senate floor calendar.

We are also trying to make progress to expand voting access. House Bill 1294, which would allow young citizens to pre-register to vote starting when they turn 16, passed out of the House. So did House Bill 2682, which would allow automatic voter registration.

I am a sponsor of the Senate version of both of these voter access bills. The Senate versions did not move forward but I am hopeful the Senate will take action on the House bills before the end of session.

College Savings

Senate Bill 6601 would authorize the creation of the Washington College Savings Plan account, which will help families save for college. SB 6601 was passed out of the Senate yesterday. It now heads to the House.

Homelessness

To combat the rising homeless crisis in our state, I have co-sponsored Senate Bill 6298 and Senate Bill 6647. SB 6647 would implement and expand a variety of proven tools to address homelessness while SB 6298 specifically targets student homelessness. Both bills are stuck in the Senate Ways & Means Committee but may still have a chance to pass as they are connected to the budget.

Spokane Town Hall

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With the legislative session flying by, the other 3rd District legislators and I will hold a Spokane town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m. This meeting is a perfect opportunity for constituents to provide feedback and get their questions answered on a variety of topics including education funding, job creation, health and wellness, transportation improvements, etc.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  • Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Northeast Community Center— 4001 N. Cook, Spokane

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can email me at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or call me at 360-786-7604.

Due to election-year restrictions, we had to restart our e-newsletter distribution list. If you or someone you know would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, please forward them this email and tell them to click here to sign up.

Onward!

Andy

 

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    Town Hall with Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli this Saturday

Town Hall with Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli this Saturday

February 17th, 2016|

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli

What: Town hall meeting

When: 10-11:30am, Saturday, February 20, 2016

Where: Northeast Community Center 4001 N. Cook Street Spokane, WA 99207

Why: To talk with constituents about their work in the state Legislature and the issues that matter most to them.

E News- Washingtonians deserve better

February 8th, 2016|

We deserve better 

We are halfway through the legislative session. At this point in the process, the action moves from the hearing rooms to the Senate floor as we hit high gear sending bills to the House, and vice versa. Unfortunately, our work on Friday was interrupted in a disturbing way.

I often talk about the large degree of bipartisanship in the Legislature and that is still largely the rule, not the exception. However, on Friday, the Senate Republican majority exercised their power in such a politically-motivated and unproductive way that I need to mention it here.

With no notice, the Senate Republicans used a nomination vote to fire the Secretary of Transportation, an appointee of the Governor. It was obvious that this was simply a move to undermine and embarrass the Governor. The implications are serious. If the Senate is going to arbitrarily fire a cabinet secretary, how are we going to get competent people to take these important jobs? Plus, this surprise move, which took up considerable time on the Senate floor, is a complete distraction from our other work, particularly our paramount duty to fund basic education in our state.

We are under a Supreme Court order to fully fund education but the Senate Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan plan to meet this Constitutional obligation. Instead, they are trying to deflect attention by attacking the Governor. The citizens of Washington State deserve better.

Spokane town hall

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With the legislative session flying by, my 3rd Legislative seatmates and I will host a Spokane town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m. The meeting is a perfect opportunity for constituents to provide feedback and have their questions answered on education funding, job creation, health and wellness, transportation improvements, and much more. Please join me for what should be a rewarding discussion.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 20, 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Where: Northeast Community Center — 4001 N Cook, Spokane

Feel free to contact my office for directions or if you have any questions about the event at 360-786-7604 or andy.billig@leg.wa.gov.

Tele town hall tonight

If you are unable to attend the in-district town hall, I encourage you to participate in a telephone town hall hosted by my seatmates and me.

Under this format, thousands of constituents will receive telephone calls just before 6 p.m. tonight, Monday, Feb. 8, asking if they would like to stay on the line and participate. Participants may ask questions of their lawmakers and hear answers to other questions as well.

If you would like to participate, you may call in at 877-229-8493 and enter the ID code 18646.

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can email me at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or call me at 360-786-7604.

Due to election-year restrictions, we had to restart our e-newsletter distribution list. If you or someone you know would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, please forward them this email and tell them to click here to sign up.

 

Onward!

Andy

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    3rd LD legislators to host Telephone Town Hall on Monday, February 8

3rd LD legislators to host Telephone Town Hall on Monday, February 8

February 3rd, 2016|

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, State Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli

What: Telephone town hall

When: 6 – 7 p.m. Monday, February 8

Where: 3rd Legislative District

Why: Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli will give a brief update about what has happened during the first half of the 2016 legislative session, and what lies ahead.  The majority of the live town hall will be spent answering questions from constituents on the line.

Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive automatically generated telephone calls to their homes in the 3rd Legislative District just before 6 p.m. Monday, February 8. The constituents may ask questions for their lawmakers by pressing *3 on their phones during the call to speak with a volunteer screener. They will also have the opportunity to listen questions from their neighbors and the legislators’ answers to those as well.

If constituents would like to call-in, they may do so at 877-229-8493 and enter the ID code 18646.