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

Monthly Archives: February 2019

Policy cutoff and Shrimp Scampi!

February 25th, 2019|

Friday was the first cutoff day of this legislative session. All bills not voted out of their policy committee by Friday are dead for this session. This is part of the legislative whittling process that takes the 1,000-plus bills that are introduced and helps us focus on the measures that have the best chance to pass. This week we focus on floor action and work in the fiscal committees (Ways & Means and Transportation).

Support from our little learners

I always enjoy receiving letters and e-mails from constituents. Their feedback is essential for me to do an effective job representing our community.  I especially enjoy receiving input from the children I represent. Recently, I received letters from students in day care and after school programs. See above for a couple of examples encouraging me to support high-quality early learning and after-school care. Even the youngest advocates can make a difference when they make their voices heard. And, I love that one of them mentioned Shrimp Scampi in their letter!

Three things you might not know about the Washington State Legislature

I recently had the chance to meet with Lisa Brown, the state’s new commerce director. We took a photo in front of a portrait of Reba Hurn, another former Spokane state senator. Hurn became the first woman elected to the Washington State Senate in 1923.
  • Though this is my first year as Majority Leader, it is certainly not the first time that someone who represents Spokane County has held the seat. Most recently, Mark Schoesler in the 9th LD, who is currently the Senate Minority Leader, held the position and Lisa Brown, who has recently been appointed as the Director of Commerce, was the Majority Leader for eight years.
  • In Washington we have a citizen legislature, which means that in addition to each member’s work for their constituents, many also sustain another job during interim. In the Senate, we have first responders, union organizers, and small business owners, who all bring a wealth of perspectives to the lawmaking and legislative process. With our freshman class of senators, we have added a computer engineer, a community organizer, an early childhood education administrator, a small business owner and more!
  • Last week we continued a tradition in the Senate of new members offering a small gift to their colleagues upon their first speech on the Senate floor. People often highlight a product from their district or something that is special from their background. For my first speech in the Senate in 2013, I handed out Spokane Indians Baseball hats.

Town Halls

Thanks to those people who participated in the 3rd Legislative District telephone town hall. We received a lot of great questions and feedback. If you missed it, you can listen to the event here

I hope to see you in person at our 3rd Legislative District Town Hall on March 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the MAC – Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, 2316 W 1st Ave.

Legislative update: What is a ‘guber’

February 11th, 2019|

Every year, the governor asks dozens of people from all over the state to serve on boards, commissions, and in agency leadership positions. These “gubers”, as they are affectionately called in Olympia, require the approval of the Senate with a simple majority vote just like regular legislation.

Regina Malveaux, the CEO of YWCA Spokane, was recently appointed to the Washington State Women’s Commission and stopped by our office in Olympia. Established by the Legislature in 2018, the commission will focus on solutions to address inequality for women in the workplace and in society overall. Regina’s “guber” will be on the floor for the Senate’s consideration soon. Thank you for stepping up to serve, Regina!

Bill update: Reducing property crimes

One of the bills I am sponsoring this year, SB 5492, received a hearing in the Law & Justice committee last Thursday. This legislation would help reduce recidivism for people who commit vehicle related property crimes by implementing community supervision at the end of their sentence. Supervision helps to provide access to a full range of services, including drug and alcohol treatment, housing, education, and job training. Washington state is the only state that does not have supervision for property crimes, which is one of the reasons we have had difficulty reducing our property crime rate. The next step for this bill will be a committee vote, which will hopefully happen soon.

Join us for a telephone town hall on Feb. 12

February 8th, 2019|

Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli of the 3rd Legislative District will give a brief update on the 2019 legislative session on Tuesday.

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, State Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli What: Telephone town hall
When: Tuesday, February 12, 6 – 7 p.m.

The majority of the live town hall discussion will focus on answering questions directly from constituents. Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive automatically generated telephone calls to their homes in the 3rd Legislative District at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 12. Constituents may ask a question by pressing *3 on their phones during the call. A volunteer screener will take their question, and the legislators will answer as many questions as they can get through during the one-hour call.

Those constituents whose questions are not addressed during the live call have the option to leave a voicemail for the legislators with their question or comment. Constituents who do not automatically receive a call may join the conversation beginning at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12 by calling 877-229-8493 and entering the ID code 116276 after the prompt. Those with mobile phone numbers can sign up online to ensure they receive a call on Feb. 12.

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    Remote testimony, early bill action & support for clean energy

Remote testimony, early bill action & support for clean energy

February 5th, 2019|

Last week the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee (the committee that oversees the administration of the Senate) approved a plan I put forward in conjunction with Sen. Mike Padden to make the Senate’s remote testimony pilot project permanent and to expand it. The Washington State Senate is one of only a handful of legislative chambers in the country that regularly allows remote testimony.

Early action on the Senate floor

The full Senate took its first significant votes of the session last Wednesday. A measure to clarify Initiative 940, a voter initiative that updated Washington’s deadly force statute, passed unanimously. Gov. Inslee will sign this important public safety legislation today.

The Senate also adopted a Joint Resolution that codifies the Legislature’s new code of conduct. The goal of this new code of conduct and the policies that support it is to provide a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for everyone who works in, or visits, the Legislature. The new policy has been developed over the past year by a team of staff, lawmakers and others who work in and around the Legislature.

Support for clean energy

As always, I enjoy having constituents from Spokane visit us in Olympia. Among the many visits last week was this group of 27 Spokane residents who came to the Capitol to advocate for the passage of SB 5116, the 100 percent clean energy bill. The bill passed out of the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee and now heads to the Ways & Means Committee.

Did you know?

Spokane County is home to a Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA), established by the Legislature in 2007. The HSSA provides grants for Spokane researchers pursuing innovative solutions to society’s most pressing public health concerns like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), diabetes, substance addiction, and infectious diseases. Find out more about the HSSA here. I have teamed up with Sen. Jeff Holy on SB 5569, which will extend the program for 20 more years.