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

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Billig to become deputy majority leader

November 14th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – As Democrats take majority control of the Washington State Senate, Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, will become the Deputy Majority Leader when the Legislature convenes in 2018.  As Deputy Majority Leader, Billig will be the number-two person on the Democratic leadership team, helping to set the agenda and guide policy in the state Senate. The Senate Democratic Caucus met this afternoon to affirm the leadership posts and finalize committee assignments.

“I am humbled to have the continued support of my colleagues as we move into the majority and govern in the Senate,” Billig said. “There is a lot work left to be done as we head into the next legislative session, including passing a capital budget. I will continue working with my colleagues to move our state forward with policies that provide opportunities and build prosperity for every Washington family.”

Billig will also continue to serve on the Senate Ways & Means, Rules, and Early Learning & K-12 Education committees.

“As Deputy Leader, I am fortunate to work on a range of issues that affect my constituents in Spokane and people across the state,” Billig said. “I am particularly excited to continue working on the Ways & Means Committee to ensure that we pass a responsible budget that will give individuals and families an equal opportunity to succeed.”

Democrats gained a one-seat majority in the Senate after winning a special election earlier this month in the 45th Legislative District. With Democrats back in the majority, they now have the power to set the agenda, determining which bills will be heard and brought up for votes.

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    E-newsletter – Back in Olympia, trying to land the Boeing 777x

E-newsletter – Back in Olympia, trying to land the Boeing 777x

November 16th, 2013|

Landing the 777x

On very short notice, Governor Inslee last week called a special legislative session to consider a package of bills to ensure that the Boeing Company will build the new 777x and its composite wings in Washington State. There were three key parts of the package:

1. Extension of current preferential tax rates for aerospace manufacturing.

2. Expansion of workforce training programs, particularly focused on carbon fiber composite manufacturing.

3. A comprehensive transportation revenue package to increase investment in maintenance and improvements to our transportation infrastructure.

We passed legislation to accomplish the first two items (preferential tax rates and workforce training). I voted in support of both bills. While I am often skeptical of increasing tax preferences, this was an extension of preferences already in place and already proven to deliver $3 in direct revenue for the state for every $1 in tax break.

By landing the 777x production in our state, we retain 20,000 jobs from the current 777 line plus add 10,000 direct additional jobs with the new 777x. In addition, there are many more jobs retained and created from the downstream manufacturing suppliers all over the state, including the Spokane area.

We were not able to pass the third piece of the package, a transportation investment plan. This transportation plan is critical to Boeing and to the entire state. I remain optimistic that we will be able to continue negotiations and arrive at a bipartisan transportation package before the end of the year.

Team Billig needs you!

We are hiring for our session aide position. This two month job in our Olympia office during the 2014 session is a great opportunity to serve our community and learn about the legislative process. Here’s a link to the job description. If you are eager to join our team, please submit your resume and a letter of interest via e-mail to paul.dillon@leg.wa.gov.

Next Mobile Office

We’ve received excellent feedback during our first two 3rd LD Mobile Office events. This is an excellent opportunity to chat informally with your Legislators, ask questions, or provide input on issues that are important to you.

Please join us tomorrow at our third and final mobile office before the 2014 session:

Wednesday, November 13th
Northeast Community Center
4001 N. Cook
3:30-5:00pm (drop-in anytime)

Keeping In Touch

Please don’t hesitate to contact our office with questions or comments at any time. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 509-209-2427.

And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, please send them to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!

Onward!

Andy

Sen. Billig statement on passing of Speaker Tom Foley

October 18th, 2013|

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, released the following statement today on the passing of former Speaker of the House Tom Foley:

"I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former House Speaker Tom Foley. U.S. Representative Foley represented Spokane and the rest of the 5th Congressional District with honor for three decades, during which he was a champion for agriculture, food security for struggling families, and economic development. He built bridges across the aisle and worked in a bipartisan fashion to get things done for his constituents. As a legislator, I aspire to follow Speaker Foley’s example of dignified and effective service on behalf of our community."

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For interviews, contact Sen. Andy Billig at 509-209-2427

For more information, contact Alex Bond at 360-786-7853

Billig Named to Thrive by Five Washington Board of Directors

September 16th, 2013|

State Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), a member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, has been named to the Thrive by Five Washington Board of Directors. Seattle-based Thrive is the state’s leading public-private partnership for early learning.

Billig, a first-term senator, made a name for himself during the 2013 legislative session as a champion for children, sponsoring two successful bills that expanded opportunities for children through quality early learning programs and a quality foster care system. One bill strengthened the state’s largest early learning program, Working Connections Child Care, which delivers safe, high-quality early learning opportunities for children from low-income families and helps their parents get back to work. The other bill directed that every attempt be made to keep siblings together in the foster care system.

"The evidence is clear that early learning is the best investment in our future that our state can make," said Billig. "Thrive by Five Washington is doing significant and hard work with state and community partners to create a quality early learning system across our state. I look forward to being part of an organization that is fiercely committed to making sure every child has the opportunity for a great start in school and life."

In addition to his work as a state senator, Billig is the co-owner and former president and general manager of the Spokane Indians baseball team. Billig lives in Spokane with his daughter.

Billig is one of four legislators on the Thrive board. He joins Sen. Steve Litzow, chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee; Rep. Ruth Kagi, chair of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee; and Rep. Maureen Walsh, ranking minority member of the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.

The 35-member Thrive board is an active and committed group of state, community, business and philanthropic leaders. Members serve three-year terms. See full board list.
Thrive by Five Washington and the Foundation for Early Learning recently announced a merger to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

About Thrive by Five Washington

Founded in 2006 by Washington state businesses and foundations, Thrive by Five Washington is the state’s leading public-private partnership for early learning works and most closely with the Department of Early Learning and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to implement the state’s 10-year Early Learning Plan. With racial equity as a driving force, Thrive focuses on three strategic initiatives that are creating a long-term statewide commitment to early learning and helping more families have the information and support they need to help their children thrive in school and life. Those initiatives include deepening parent and caregiver knowledge of child development through the "Love. Talk. Play." campaign for families of infants of toddlers; developing a high-quality home visiting system to serve at-risk families; and building and mobilizing state and local partnerships. www.thrivebyfivewa.org

June 12th Special Session Update – Compromise

June 12th, 2013|

Greetings from Olympia

Today is the last day of the 30-day first special session. We had a flurry of activity during the last week of special session but have not arrived at a final budget agreement. With divided control of the Legislature (the House is controlled by Democrats and the Senate controlled by Republicans), everyone needs to compromise so we can get to a middle ground and move forward with a responsible, balanced budget. The House passed a compromise version of the budget that moved significantly toward the Senate position. This House Democratic proposal invests almost $1 billion additional funds for K-12 education and has a net reduction in taxes.

 

Senate and House budget comparison

In response, the Senate Republican majority passed a budget on Sunday that was very similar to their original budget from regular session, failing to move toward a compromise. The Senate did propose three other revenue bills that, when added to their base budget, would bring the Senate Republican budget closer to the compromise House position and a budget deal. However, the Senate Republicans said they would not allow a vote on these revenue bills needed to make the budget balance until they receive passage of several unrelated policy bills, including a bill to expand pay-day lending in our state.

For compromise to work, we need to arrive at a middle ground and it takes an effort by all parties to get there. The middle ground is the right place to be both because of political necessity and because there’s usually a reasonable policy position in the middle. Further, most Washingtonians are near the middle politically so we reflect our state as a whole when we compromise.

The House budget, which I support, isn’t perfect but they made compromises in an effort to avoid a Government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends on July 1st, which would have devastating consequences for Washingtonians.

I think Governor Inslee did a nice job of summarizing the current budget situation and calling all sides to finalize an agreement and not hold out for an “ideological wish list.”
Here’s a link to his comments.

 

Next Steps

The Governor has called for a second special session starting tomorrow. Budget negotiations continue and we will all be focused on passing a budget before the June 30th deadline that represents the end of the current fiscal year.

I will continue to work towards a responsible budget that protects public safety, expands opportunity through strong public schools, and helps build prosperity throughout the State.

Hopefully my next newsletter will be a wrap-up of the final budget agreement. I appreciated the Seattle Times editorial board perspective on budget negotiations and the need to compromise.

Keeping In Touch

 

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with questions or comments at any time. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 360-786-7604. My legislative assistant, Paul Dillon, will be based in Spokane and you can reach him by email (paul.dillon@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 509-209-2427.

And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!

Billig bills to support children, improve early learning and help election transparency signed into law

May 22nd, 2013|

Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a series of bills sponsored by Senator Andy Billig, D-Spokane. Two of these bills are focused on one of Billig’s top legislative priorities – expanding opportunities for children through quality early learning programs and a quality foster care system.

Early learning programs are crucial to preparing children for success in school and life, Billig noted. SB 5595, signed into law by the Governor yesterday, will strengthen the state’s largest early learning program, Working Connections Child Care. This program delivers safe, high-quality early learning opportunities for children from low income families and helps their parents get back to work.

“Education is the ladder out of poverty and early learning is the first step on that ladder,” said Billig. “For children to succeed in school and life, they need to enter school prepared to learn. The evidence is clear that early learning is the best investment in our future that our state can make.”

SB 5389 also focuses on children. “We know that it’s in the best interest of children in the foster care system to maintain relationships with their natural siblings when they are living apart,” Billig said.

His legislation directs the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to maintain the maximum possible contact between a child and their siblings. Importantly, it also requires that DSHS, a court or the child’s caregiver not use removal of sibling visitation as a sanction for bad behavior.

“This issue was brought to me by the Mockingbird Society, an impressive group of current and past foster children that advocates for improvements to the foster care system,” said Billig. “The foster care system is tough enough for kids as is. We should make sure that they’re able to develop healthy relationships with their brothers or sisters and that removing that right or threatening to remove it is not being held over kids’ heads as a punishment.”

Both SB 5595 and SB 5389 were signed into law by Gov. Inslee on Tuesday.

The third Billig bill to be signed into law recently was SB 5507, legislation to increase transparency in elections. The bill would require that every voter’s ballot be printed with instructions on how to access campaign finance information on the Public Disclosure Commission website. The Public Disclosure Commission maintains records of contribution and expenditure reports for all state races including statewide offices, legislative offices, local offices and ballot measures. It has stringent reporting requirements and presents its data through an easy-to-use, searchable database.

“The Public Disclosure Commission is a great resource that does excellent work tracking and reporting political contributions to state and local campaigns, but many people don’t know that the information is available or how to access it,” said Billig. “Voters should be able to know who is supporting political campaigns and this bill makes sure that the information is where voters are sure to look – on their ballot. Democracy works best when citizens have access to as much information as possible.”

SB 5507 was signed into law by Gov. Inslee last week.

The fourth Billig-sponsored bill to be signed this year was SB 5458, a consumer safety bill. The legislation will require that any products containing asbestos be clearly labeled to ensure that consumers are informed that the product contains this cancer-causing element.

The measure will require that any asbestos-containing building material must feature a label that clearly identifies it as containing asbestos. The label must be placed on the exterior packaging or wrapping with the product name and description and on the exterior surface of the building material itself.

“People should know if they are buying a product that’s known to cause cancer,” said Billig. “Labeling asbestos products will help people make safe choices for themselves and their families.”

SB 5458 was signed into law April 23. All four bills will go into effect July 28, 90 days after the end of the regular legislative session.

“I’m proud of the results this session on important issues like supporting children, election transparency and consumer safety,” said Billig. “But our work is not done. As the special session continues, I will continue to advocate for a final operating budget that is balanced, responsible and delivers for our state with a focus on building prosperity and expanding opportunities for the citizens of Washington.”

Billig consumer safety bill signed into law

April 24th, 2013|

Consumers will be safer from cancer-causing building materials under legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Asbestos has been known to be a carcinogen for decades, but many asbestos-containing building materials are still legal. SSB 5458 would require that any products containing asbestos be clearly labeled to ensure that consumers are informed that the product contains this dangerous element.

“Consumers deserve to know if they are buying a product that’s known to cause cancer,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “With this legislation, consumers will gain the transparency necessary to make safe choices for themselves and their families.”

Exposure to asbestos is widely recognized as a health hazard. Breathing asbestos fibers can damage the lungs and impair lung functions severely enough to cause disability and death. Asbestos also causes lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the membrane lining of the lungs or stomach. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned most uses of asbestos. However, that rule was later overturned, allowing the manufacture, importation, processing or distribution for many of the products containing asbestos that had been banned. Products containing asbestos that are currently not banned include cement flat sheet, clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl floor tile, cement shingles, cement pipe, millboard, automobile components and non-roofing and roof coatings.

The bill would require that any asbestos-containing building material must feature a label that clearly identifies it as containing asbestos. The label must be placed on the exterior packaging or wrapping with the product name and description and on the exterior surface of the building material itself.

“The idea for SB 5458 started when I received an e-mail from a constituent who works for the Spokane Clean Air Agency,” said Billig. “This bill represents the important role of constituents in the legislative process. I am grateful for the community input on this bill which will lead to increased transparency and safety.”

 

Gov. Inslee signs SB 5458 with Sens. Billig and Schlicher, Rep. Upthegrove

 

Gov. Inslee signs SB 5458 with Sens. Billig and Schlicher, Rep. Upthegrove

Statement on Senate Republican majority’s operating budget proposal

April 4th, 2013|

Senator Andy Billig, D-Spokane, released the following statement today regarding the Senate Republican majority’s operating budget proposal:

“While the Republican budget proposal has some positive aspects, in its current form it fails to deliver for the Spokane community.

“In the area of education, this budget makes a positive step forward by dedicating new funding for K-12 public schools, but it does not meet our state’s constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education. Further, the additional funding that is provided comes at the expense of our state’s most vulnerable citizens through cuts to programs that help children, families, seniors and the blind and disabled. 

“I will advocate for the Senate to move closer to Governor Inslee’s education budget, which provided $1.2 billion in additional K-12 funding and focused the spending on areas that will increase quality.

“This budget also comes up short in early learning with a large sweep of funds from Working Connections Child Care, an important early learning program for Spokane and our entire state. I have co-sponsored a bill that will be introduced tomorrow which will help address this important need for our community.

“I want to compliment the Republican budget writers for embracing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act by accepting Medicaid expansion and helping to extend health insurance to 260,000 low income citizens in our state. This expansion provides the double benefit of saving the state money while expanding access to health care.

“Another positive piece of the budget is the inclusion of operational funding for the Spokane Medical School, our community’s number-one economic development priority. I advocated strongly for this funding and I am pleased that $6.8 million for medical education and biomedical research is included for the Spokane Medical School.

“My budget priorities continue to be job creation with a focus on strengthening the middle class, expanding educational opportunity, improving quality of life, and providing a safety net and helping hand for the most vulnerable in our community.

“As I continue to work on the operating budget, feedback from constituents is vital. I welcome comments and suggestions as we move forward with the budget process over the coming weeks.”

Balancing the state budget – Sen. Billig’s March 25th Session Update

March 25th, 2013|

Current general fund budget

Do it yourself: Balance the state budget
The remainder of the legislative session will be dominated by the state’s operating budget. Budget proposals from the Senate and House are expected over the next two weeks. The budget proposals usually follow the March revenue forecast, which was released last Wednesday.

This latest revenue forecast was consistent with previous forecasts and we continue to face an approximate $1.3 billion projected shortfall at the end of the next two year budget cycle if we were to make no changes to current law. However, our state always has a balanced budget so we will make decisions over the next month that will bring the budget into balance.

In addition to making up for the projected shortfall, the legislature also needs to invest an additional $1.4 billion in K-12 education to meet our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.

The Seattle Times has posted an interactive budget feature on their website that lets you consider the decisions that face the Legislature. It offers a list of possible cuts and new revenue sources, allowing you to mix and match your way to a balanced budget.

This widget helps illustrate the size of the budget challenge and the difficult choices we are facing. Please give it a try, and then let me know the choices you make. What do you think the right course for balancing the state budget? Would you reduce services even if it ends up costing the state more money in the long run? What investments in our community would you enhance? Are you willing to increase revenue to make those critical investments? There is a lot at stake as we make these budget decisions and it will take everybody to be part of the solution so I look forward to your responses.

Keeping In Touch
Please keep in touch with questions or comments at anytime. If you have feedback, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me in Olympia by e-mail (andy.billig@leg.wa.gov) or by phone at 360-786-7604.
And if you know someone who would like to get their own copy of my weekly e-newsletter, tell them they can go to my website at http://www.senatedemocrats.wa.gov/senators/billig/ and click on the link to “Sign up for my e-newsletter” – I’ll be glad to keep them in the loop!

AUDIO: Senate approves Billig consumer safety bill

March 19th, 2013|

If products containing a cancer causing material are going to be sold in Washington, consumers need to know. A bill from the Washington State Senate would accomplish that. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD