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

Monthly Archives: January 2019

State Senate expands remote testimony program

January 29th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate has approved a bipartisan proposal from Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) and Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) to make permanent and expand a program that further opens public access to state government by allowing remote video testimony in legislative hearings.

In recent years, a Senate pilot project developed a system enabling people across the state to testify over high-speed internet connections for a limited number of committee hearings. The proposal approved on Tuesday by the Senate Facilities & Operations Committee will make this system permanent and expand its use.

In addition to the existing program becoming permanent, it will expand this year. Starting in 2019, the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will become the first legislative panel to offer remote testimony for every hearing.

“Technology offers us an opportunity to open up the doors of government to more people across the state,” said Billig. “Everyone should feel like they can have their voice heard in Olympia, regardless of where you live.”

The proposal also calls for further study to identify the next steps in the program’s expansion.

In 2018, remote testimony was used in 21 hearings. There are now 16 available sites throughout the state offering remote connections. People have testified remotely from cities such as Ellensburg, Pasco, Spokane, Wenatchee and Walla Walla.

“Our democracy is stronger when more people are involved, and this offers another method to weigh in on pertinent issues without driving to Olympia,” Billig said.

Available remote testimony sites:

Bellevue College
Bellingham Technical College
Central Washington University
Clark College (Vancouver)
Columbia Basin College (Pasco)
Confluence Technology Center (Wenatchee)
Everett Community College
North Eastern Washington ESD (Spokane)
Peninsula College (Port Angeles)
Skagit Valley College (Mt. Vernon)
Spokane Community College Newport
Spokane Community College
Spokane Falls Community College
Walla Walla Community College
Washington State University – Spokane
Wenatchee Valley College

Spokane comes to Olympia

January 28th, 2019|

We are starting the third week of the legislative session and still very much in the committee phase when bills receive initial hearings to see if they have enough support to advance to the Senate floor for a full vote. There have already been 685 bills introduced in the Senate alone; 674 in the House. This is also a time of the session with a lot of constituent visits. I come away from these meetings with a better understanding of the issues impacting our community. This week I met with the students from Eastern Washington University’s School of Social Work, high school students, educators from local school districts, small business owners, and local realtors from Spokane.

Celebrating Early Learning


Earlier this month, I was honored to receive the Crayon Award from the Early Learning Action Alliance for our work on expanding access to high quality early learning opportunities in Washington state. Child brain development research and in depth cost-benefit studies have shown that investing in high-quality early learning is one of the smartest choices our state can make for our children and our future.

Priority Bills

I wanted to highlight a priority piece of legislation that can help people prepare for their long-term care costs and live with dignity through their senior years. The Long-Term Care Trust Act is a bipartisan bill that would set up a public long-term care benefit that Washington workers would pay into, and eventually benefit from later in life to deal with age-related issues, chronic illness, or disability. The number of seniors living in Washington is growing rapidly, making up 15 percent of the entire population. The Trust Act will also strengthen our state’s finances by slowing the growth of Medicaid and preserving our limited dollars for those who need it the most.

Kicking off the 2019 session

January 18th, 2019|

On Monday, we welcomed our newly-elected members to the Senate and hit the ground running! This year, I will be serving on the Ways & Means, Environment, Energy and Technology, and Rules Committees in addition to my role as Senate Majority Leader. I dive into some of the goals and challenges facing the Legislature in this TVW interview from the first day of session. 

Billig’s Bills

Typically the Majority Leader only prime sponsors a few bills since, in effect, I will have a hand in working on every bill moving through the Senate. However, I will be introducing a couple of bills that are particularly important to Spokane, including a bill that will increase the safety of oil trains that pass through Spokane and a bill to help reduce property crime. More details forthcoming in a future newsletter after the bills start their journey through the legislative process.

Welcome to the team

We are happy to have Morgan Rockey join our office as our 2019 session intern. Morgan is a junior studying political economics at the University of Washington. She is originally from Elma, Washington, where both her parents work for the school district. At the UW, she is involved in the Greek community and has worked as an instructor and mentor to first-year students.

Keep in touch

I am honored to represent Spokane in the Legislature and encourage you to stay in touch with our office throughout the session while we are in Olympia. You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 786-7604.

Onward!

Andy

Countdown to the 2019 Legislative Session

January 4th, 2019|

Happy New Year! The 2019 legislative session begins on January 14. In case you missed it, I explain more about my new role as Senate Majority Leader, our priorities for the session, and the Legislative Class of 2019 in this recent op-ed in the Spokesman Review.

Welcome to Team Billig

I am pleased to announce that Kate Dinnison has recently joined our team as a Legislative Assistant. Kate was born and raised in the 3rd Legislative District and is a graduate of Lewis and Clark High School. She recently worked on a local campaign after graduating with a degree in International Relations from King’s College, London.

Apply to be a page in Olympia!

If you know a high school student who is interested in learning about civics and government through a hands-on program in Olympia, please direct them to find out more about the Washington State Senate Page Program and apply here.

Keep in touch

It is an honor to represent Spokane, and I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity for everyone in our state. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments, ideas or questions you may have during the upcoming legislative session or any time. You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (509) 209-2427.

Onward!
Andy