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

Monthly Archives: March 2016

  • Permalink Gallery

    New law paves the way for improved intervention services for children with disabilities

New law paves the way for improved intervention services for children with disabilities

March 29th, 2016|

OLYMPIA – On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that will lead to improved accountability and effectiveness when it comes to providing services for infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities.

Senate Bill 5879, sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, requires that a detailed comprehensive report be developed about how funds for early intervention services for eligible children are currently being distributed. The bill also calls for a study to find out how to integrate early intervention services with other critical services to better assist children with disabilities and their families.

“We need to do a better job gathering information about how to most efficiently and effectively fund early intervention programs,” said Billig. “This bill will help us fully examine the process by which these dollars are allocated. Fine tuning this process will help us deliver support to children early enough to make a difference and help them overcome some of their developmental challenges.”

Senate Bill 5879 also designates the Department of Early Learning as the lead agency in charge of early intervention services.

“These vital intervention services have the capacity to change the trajectory of a child’s future,” said Billig. “We owe it to those children to ensure these services are delivered in the most effective way possible.”

E News- Sine Die

March 11th, 2016|

Sine Die

The Legislature is in the final hours of the legislative session. We have yet to pass a supplemental budget but I am optimistic we will have an agreement soon. It is likely that the Governor will call a special session so we can finish our budget work in the coming days.

In this “short” session, we were able to make progress in several areas. We created a new college savings plan for families so that they have more options when investing in their children’s future. We also passed important legislation to close the educational opportunity gap to help give every kid an equal shot at a successful and prosperous life.

Today I joined Sen. Nelson on TVW to discuss the highs and lows of the legislative session. Click here to watch the entire interview.

The impending levy cliff

As we work toward a final version of the budget, one of my priorities is to ensure we address the “levy cliff,” which would require local school districts to automatically lower their levy levels. Failure to address this issue, would create the largest education funding cut in the history of our state.

Charter schools

The Legislature passed legislation today that attempts to resolve the Supreme Court’s ruling that charter schools are unconstitutional.

I am impressed by the work I have seen at Spokane’s two charter schools and want to see them remain open. However, I have concerns about this charter school bill because its constitutionality is still in doubt and another Supreme Court challenge which would lead to further uncertainty for the children who are currently enrolled in charter schools.

This session, I have worked to find a solution that provides educational certainty for the children currently enrolled in charter schools, and ensure that local school boards (and the local voters that elect them) have a strong role to play in any charter schools within their district.

I did not support the charter school bill that passed today but I am hopeful we can take action in the future to ensure these schools have reliable funding and strong local control.

Top prospects

Sen. Billig with staff

This session, we had the pleasure of sponsoring two pages from Spokane, Jackson Snyder and Zachary Deutschman. Zach and Jackson spent a week at the Capitol, helping assist my staff and me. It is always inspiring to have young people from our community come and learn about the role of state government.

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.

Onward!

Andy

E News- Bottom of the 9th and trivia answers

March 8th, 2016|

The legislative session is scheduled to come to a close on Thursday. We are working to come to a final budget agreement before then and I will have a full budget update before the end of the week.

I concur…

In addition to budget negotiations, the next few days will be busy with concurrence votes. For bills that have passed the House and Senate with different amendments, the chambers have to reconcile the differences and pass the bill in exactly the same form before it can go to the governor to be signed into law.

I have one prime-sponsored bill in the concurrence process, Senate Bill 5879. This bill improves the process by which funding for toddlers with disabilities receive state assistance. The House amendments were minor and improved the bill, so I anticipate the Senate will concur.

And the winner is…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Spokane legislative trivia contest last week. Congratulations to our winner, Sam Cassel, who was selected randomly from among all those who submitted correct answers.

We had a nice response and appreciated everyone playing along. Here are the correct answers to our legislative trivia questions…

1) Senator Reba Hurn from Spokane was a groundbreaking pioneer as the first woman in the Washington State Senate. She served in the Senate from 1923 to 1930. The Senate changed their customary address once she was elected. “Gentleman of the Senate…” became “Senator Hurn and gentleman of the Senate….”

reba hurn1

2) House Bill 1489, passed by the legislature in 2011, eliminated unnecessary phosphorous in lawn fertilizer to help reduce harmful algae blooms in the Spokane River and waterways throughout the state.

3) My colleague from the 6th Legislative District, Sen. Michael Baumgartner, was the only other Spokane area Senator who voted for the U-District Bike and Pedestrian Bridge and the rest of the transportation infrastructure package last year.

Campaign finance transparency

For the third year in a row, my bill to curb the flow of “dark money” into political campaigns (SB 5153) was blocked from moving forward by the Senate majority. I am disappointed that this bill was not allowed to the Senate floor for a meaningful debate.

Despite this setback, I will continue to work with concerned citizens and other elected officials to ensure we make progress on campaign finance transparency next session. The citizens of our state deserve no less than a healthy and fair democracy.

To learn more about the bill, I encourage you to read this article that was published last week in the Spokesman Review.

I couldn’t do it without them

Sen. Billig with staff

Sen. Billig with staff

As the session winds down, I would like to take a moment to thank our wonderful staff. Kate, Erin, and Reed worked hard to serve the citizens of our district and keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. I have been so impressed with the three of them individually and with their teamwork together. Thank you!

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.

Onward!

Andy

 

 

E News- The homestretch & pop quiz

March 2nd, 2016|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are entering the homestretch of the 2016 legislative session that is scheduled to wrap up by the 60th and final day on March 10.

A successful town hall meeting

IMG_0851

Thank you to everyone who attended our recent 3rd Legislative District town hall meeting. We had over 250 in attendance and I appreciated all the input on issues of importance to Spokane. It was a productive and substantive conversation. If you have any further comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Your feedback is essential as we work to represent you and the entire Spokane community.

Securing funding for YWCA

Last week, the Senate voted on the Supplemental Capital Budget. At first I was disappointed that funding was not included for the Spokane Family Justice Center at the YWCA. This collaborative effort that includes police, prosecutors and domestic violence advocates has been effective in reducing domestic violence in our community.

As the budget came to the Senate floor, I offered an amendment to add $75,000 to the budget for completion of the Family Justice Center’s physical space. The full Senate passed the amendment and I am hopeful that this funding will be included in the final capital budget negotiated by both the House and Senate.

Spokane legislative pop quiz

To honor my favorite city, I decided to have a little fun this week by sponsoring our very own Spokane legislative trivia contest.

Please respond with your answers to the following questions. Everyone who answers correctly will be entered into a drawing to receive a Spokane gift bag full of locally procured treats. Just hit reply to this email and list your answers.

Ready? On to the quiz:

1)       In 1923, this Spokane senator became the first woman elected to the Washington State Senate. What was her name?

 

2)       One of the first bills that I was able to pass when I arrived in the Legislature six years ago created a significant new protection for the Spokane River. What specifically did the bill do?

 

3)       Which senator from Spokane joined me in voting for the U-District bike and pedestrian bridge and the rest of the 2015 Transportation Revenue Package?

Good luck!

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.

Onward!

Andy