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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.

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


Leading from Spokane

November 20th, 2018|

Senate Majority Leader

It has been an eventful couple of weeks with a momentous election that saw the Washington State Senate Democratic majority increase, followed by my colleagues in the Senate choosing me to become the new Senate Majority Leader.

It is an honor to serve our state as Majority Leader. Of course, serving the constituents of the 3rd Legislative District will be my priority no matter what position I hold in the Senate and I am proud to be the second Democratic Majority Leader from Spokane. Former Spokane state legislator Lisa Brown was majority leader from 2005-13.

As Majority Leader, my job will be to lead our caucus and help set the agenda for the Senate. I will work closely with leadership in the House and governor’s office as well as across the aisle to serve all Washingtonians. I am eager to build on the success we had in 2018 and humbled to lead this diverse and talented group of senators. We recognize that bipartisanship and viewpoints from every corner of Washington are crucial in moving our state forward.

I am excited to join my colleagues in getting to work right away to put people first and help every Washingtonian to move forward toward opportunity and prosperity.

Prepping for 2019

The Senate met recently in Olympia for Senate Committee Assembly Days, where legislative committees meet to prepare for the upcoming session. While in Olympia, I spoke with Austin Jenkins on TVW’s Inside Olympia to discuss the upcoming session.

Come be a page in Olympia!

Being a page at the legislature is a great opportunity for any high school student to see how their state government works. Not to mention, it looks great on a resume! You can find more information and apply to page in my office here.

Keep in touch

It is an incredible honor to represent you, and I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. 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 or by phone at (509) 209-2427.

Onward!

Andy

Diving deeper in our community

August 24th, 2018|

While summer is the interim season between legislative sessions, there is still a lot of work to do. I use this time to prepare for the next legislative session, diving deeper into community issues, meeting with constituents and getting out to see our district in action.

I Did the Time

I recently met with Layne Pavey, founder of I Did the Time, an advocacy organization that provides housing and other services to individuals re-entering society after incarceration. I am impressed by her passion and commitment to reducing recidivism. Reducing prison recidivism is a worthy goal as it helps people improve their lives, increases public safety and saves tax payer money.

Youth, Family, Adult Connections (YFA Connections)

Sen. Billig with Cathy Doran and Tom Cresswell, YFA Connections.

I also had the opportunity to visit the YFA Connection’s Crisis Residential Center, where they provide temporary shelter and crisis counseling for youth ages 12 through 17. YFA Connection’s mission is to provide education, prevention, intervention and treatment services to youth, families and adults in conflict or crisis. I was grateful for the opportunity to take a closer look at the critical services they are providing for families in our community.

 

 

 

Interim Committee Meetings

On top of my regular legislative committees (Ways & Means, Early Learning & K-12 Education, and Rules committees), I also serve on several additional special legislative committees that meet during the interim:

  • Senate Facilities & Operations Committee
  • Joint Select Committee on Early Achievers (co-chair)
  • Washington State Institute for Public Policy Board (co-chair)
  • Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup

As members of a part-time Legislature, we often encounter highly complex problems that require in-depth understanding and broad public input that cannot be completed while we’re in session. During interim, these committees can take the time to explore a subject more deeply.

Issues for 2019

Do you have an issue or policy idea that we need to consider in the 2019 legislative session? Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comment, idea or question.

You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (509) 209-2427.

Onward!
Andy

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.

Bipartisanship
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.

Onward!

Andy

E News – Staying alive

February 13th, 2018|

Staying alive
We have now passed two cut-off dates, and the majority of bills that were introduced will not progress any further this session.
Essentially, the legislative session is like a funnel. We started with nearly 4,000 bills introduced over 2017 and 2018 in both the House and Senate, but only about 600 will pass into law.
The next cut-off is the “House of Origin” cut-off at 5pm on Wednesday when all bills, except those necessary to implement the budget, must be out of the chamber of origin.

Health Care for Pacific Islander community
It is gratifying to have legislation pass that I know will positively impact people in the Spokane community. SB 5683, which passed the Senate last week, will help provide health care to Washington resident Pacific Islanders who were displaced as a result of the U.S. testing nuclear weapons on their islands. I was so glad that representatives of the Pacific Islander community from Spokane were in attendance as we passed this bill. Click on the picture below to read the Spokesman-Review’s coverage:

You can learn more about the Pacific Islander community’s fight for health care in this Inlander article.

Real ID Act extension
We have received a lot of questions about Washington driver’s licenses being allowed as a valid ID at airports due to the federal Real ID Act. As a result of a bill we passed last year, current regular Washington drivers licenses will be valid for airport travel until October 2020. After that date, Washington residents will be required to present either an enhanced driver’s license or passport in order to fly on domestic flights as the state comes into full compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

Keep in touch
Please keep in touch throughout the legislative session. I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. 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 or by phone at (360) 786-7604.

Onward!
Andy

E News – School House Rock and another registered voter!

February 5th, 2018|

How a bill becomes law: Step 2

You may remember a few weeks ago, our team dropped SB 6345 in the hopper to start its legislative journey. In this week’s installment, SB 6345, a bill to impose a 10-year moratorium on fracking in Washington state, received a hearing in the Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee. The hearing gave the public (and me!) the chance to testify on the bill.

The committee passed the bill to the Senate Rules Committee. Next week our story continues as little SB 6345 tries to become a law.

Does this remind you of School House Rock? Click here to watch how a bill becomes law.

Women’s healthcare bills

Last week, the Senate passed three important bills that would further women’s healthcare and protect reproductive freedom. SB 6219, SB 5912, and SB 5084 will ensure better access and comprehensive care for women.

 

 

 

 

Registering to vote!

As we work to pass a package of bills to expand voting access for eligible Washingtonians, a personal highlight for me last week was taking my daughter to register to vote on her 18th birthday. What an enjoyable intersection of work, family and citizenship!

Remember, you can register to vote online or in-person at the Spokane County Elections Office.

 

 

 

Keep in touch

Please keep in touch throughout the legislative session. I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. 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 or by phone at (360) 786-7604.

Onward!

Andy

E News – Democracy at work!

January 29th, 2018|

Cutoff week

This is a tense week in Olympia as the first of the “cutoff” dates approaches this Friday. Any bills not passed out of a policy committee by Friday, Feb. 2 will be ineligible to be considered for the remainder of this session.

Constituents in Olympia

We love having our constituents from Spokane visit us in Olympia. Thank you to everyone who ventured across the state in the last few weeks to share their perspectives on issues that are important to our community.

We were fortunate to meet with folks from Spokane area childcare providers, ‘I Did The Time,’ Eastern Washington University, the Planned Parenthood teen council, the Spokane Symphony, Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, and many other organizations.

As your voice in Olympia, I greatly value your input as I work to improve our city and state. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments, concerns or questions you may have as we progress through this short session.

Telephone town hall

I joined my 3rd Legislative District colleagues, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, to host a telephone town hall event that reached over 2,600 constituents! Thank you to everyone who participated and offered their thoughtful questions and comments.

If you were not able to join, you can listen to a recording of the telephone town hall meeting by clicking here.

Democracy Lobby Day

Last week I also had the pleasure to speak with citizen-advocates from Fix Democracy First and the League of Women Voters. We discussed a range of voting access and campaign finance transparency bills that we are working to pass into law this session.

Keep in touch

Please keep in touch throughout the legislative session. I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in our state. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or questions.

You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 786-7604.

Onward!

Andy