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Monthly Archives: March 2018

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    Billig-sponsored bills increase voting transparency and equity in Washington state

Billig-sponsored bills increase voting transparency and equity in Washington state

March 19th, 2018|

TUKWILA — A package of bills to expand voter registration and participation and to improve access to representation in Washington state were signed into law today by Gov. Inslee.

The DISCLOSE Act (SB 5991), major campaign finance transparency legislation, and the Senate companion youth voter registration bill (SB 5110), were sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

“This is a significant day for democracy in Washington state,” said Billig. “This package of bills will increase transparency and equity in our democracy. By increasing access for more voters alongside clear information, we can have a more engaged and informed electorate.”

Billig has worked to expand voter access since he first introduced the youth voter registration bill seven years ago. He was also among the earliest proponents for automatic voter registration in the state and played a key role in passing the entire package of bills.

“I believe we will look back in a few years and see that this package of voter access bills had a more positive impact on our state than anything else we’ve done in recent years,” said Billig. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and everything we do as a state is more equitable and effective when that cornerstone is at its strongest.”

The DISCLOSE Act is a nation-leading transparency effort to ensure campaign finance disclosure by nonprofits that participate in elections. Until now, political action committees must disclose their donors but other nonprofits have been exempt. The result has been a significant increase in campaign dark money flowing through these non-profit groups.

“Voters have the right to know who’s paying for a campaign. Whatever you care about in your community, whether it be healthcare, education, or any other issue, it is vital to know who is paying to influence those who are making our laws,” said Billig. “The Washington DISCLOSE Act shines a light on dark money, which creates better informed voters, increases accountability, and reduces the opportunity for corruption, all of which results in a stronger democracy.”

The package of bills signed today includes the Washington Voting Rights Act, Automatic Voter Registration, Same Day voter registration, youth voter pre-registration, and the DISCLOSE Act.

Sine Die!

March 9th, 2018|

The last day of the legislative session is called ‘Sine Die,’ Latin for ‘without day,’ because the Legislature adjourns without setting a day to reconvene. We started the session with the goal of finishing in 60 days and are on pace to accomplish that goal later today.

Step 3 of ‘How a bill becomes a law’
This year, I introduced twelve prime-sponsored bills, and four have successfully made the journey all the way through the Legislature to the governor’s desk. In previous newsletters, we told the story of SB 6345 which placed a ten-year moratorium on fracking. Unfortunately, this bill was a casualty of the legislative process as it failed to make it out of the House before the “opposite house of origin cut-off” deadline. Though some bills will be shelved until next session, there is still a lot of good, new policy to celebrate.

  • SB 5991 – the DISCLOSE Act, which will increase transparency and reduce the use of dark money in Washington state elections.
  • SB 6257 – improves the efficiency and operation of early intervention services for children with disabilities.
  • SB 6414 –  requires that public transit boards of directors proportionally reflect the communities they represent.
  • SB 6493 – improves transparency and accountability for intercollegiate athletics programs at state universities if they run a deficit.

I also helped lead the effort to pass bills that expand and improve access to voting for people across Washington state, including:

  • same-day voter registration;
  • automatic voter registration;
  • pre-registration for 16-17 year old ‘future voters’; and
  • the Washington Voting Rights Act, which expands representation to disenfranchised voters.

Operating budget

Sen. Billig serving on the operating budget conference committee on Wednesday.

I am pleased to report that earlier today we passed a responsible and balanced operating budget that:

  • fully funds basic education and meets the requirements of the McCleary court decision;
  • invests in crucial mental health services;
  • fully funds the State Need Grant to help low income students attend college; and
  • lowers property taxes for homeowners and businesses throughout our state.

Please click here to review the budget documents and summaries.

Although there is occasionally friction between the two sides of the aisle, the majority of the policies we enact are developed with bipartisan input and support. I sat down with Sen. Ann Rivers, a Republican from Vancouver, to discuss bipartisanship in the Washington State Legislature on the League of Education Voters’ podcast. You can listen to our discussion here.

Keep in touch
As I head home to Spokane, I am proud of what we have accomplished on behalf of the 3rd district and the entire state, and I look forward to what we can continue to accomplish together in the future.

It is an incredible honor to represent you, and I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or question.

You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov.