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

News Release

Spokane legislators to host town hall meeting

February 19th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Legislators representing Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District will host a town hall on Saturday, Feb. 22, to provide an update on the 2020 legislative session in Olympia and take questions from community members.

Who: Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Marcus Riccelli
When: Saturday, Feb. 22, 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: Women’s Club Spokane, 1428 W. 9th Ave, Spokane

The Legislature is in the midst of a 60-day session scheduled to conclude on March 12. Lawmakers from Spokane will take questions and provide a brief update on pending legislation to address education, clean air and water, local jobs and infrastructure, health care, and many more issues.

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    Sen. Billig, Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli to hold telephone town hall

Sen. Billig, Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli to hold telephone town hall

January 27th, 2020|

Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli of the 3rd Legislative District will give an update on the 2020 legislative session on Tuesday.

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, State Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli
What: Telephone town hall
When: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 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. Constituents may ask a question by pressing *3 on their phones during the call. 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 Jan. 28 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.

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    Spokane’s Carla Olman Peperzak will be honored as Washington’s Person of the Year

Spokane’s Carla Olman Peperzak will be honored as Washington’s Person of the Year

January 24th, 2020|

Carla Olman Peperzak, a holocaust survivor and member of the Dutch resistance during World War II who helped hide Jewish people during the Nazi invasion of Holland, will be honored in February as Washington’s Person of the Year.

Peperzak, 95, became a US citizen in 1958 and moved to Spokane in 2004. She continues to speak regularly about her experiences as a teenager during WWII which include serving as a messenger for the Underground movement, forging documents to protect Jews from concentration camps and publishing a newsletter about the work of Allied forces.

“Carla Peperzak is a hero. She stood up to unspeakable evil and helped change the course of history,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig. “This recognition is a fitting tribute to a remarkable and courageous person that continues to make sure we never forget the atrocities of the holocaust.”

Billig and other community members are encouraging the Spokane School Board to name a new middle school after Peperzak. You can read Billig’s letter to the board here.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute, but more importantly a middle school named after a hero like Carla will help ensure that the lessons of the holocaust are never forgotten,” Billig said.

Peperzak will be awarded Washington’s Person of the Year on Feb. 20 at the governor’s mansion.

For more information on Peperzak’s award and her work in the Dutch Resistance, click here.

Click here to view a resolution honoring Peperzak in 2015 and click here to view Billig’s floor speech from that day.

Billig statement on House Speaker Laurie Jinkins

January 13th, 2020|

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) today extended congratulations to Rep. Laurie Jinkins on becoming the first female and openly lesbian Speaker in Washington state history.

“This is a significant moment for the Washington State Legislature and our entire state. It signals a more inclusive future – not only in the halls of government but for households across the state.

“Having enjoyed working with Speaker Jinkins since we both joined the Legislature in 2012, I am excited to team up as the leaders of our respective chambers as we build opportunity, prosperity and equity across the state.”

 

Gov. Inslee signs oil train safety legislation

May 9th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation on Thursday to address the risk posed by shipping highly flammable Bakken crude oil traveling through communities across the state.

Senate Bill 5579, sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), will require facilities offloading or loading crude oil from a rail tank car to meet safer vapor pressure standards if the state experiences an increase in oil train traffic.

A 10% increase in the volume of crude oil will trigger the new requirements and prohibit a facility from storing or offloading crude oil produced unless the oil has a vapor pressure of less than nine pounds per square inch (9 psi).

In the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail derailment that killed 47 people in Canada, the only tank car that did not explode was carrying oil with a vapor pressure of 9 psi.

The new standard will not take effect until two years after the state Department of Ecology provides notification of the increase relative to the volume transported in 2018. Currently, 17 unit trains per week travel to refineries by rail in Washington. Failing to meet the standard could result in penalties of up to $2,500 per day per rail tank car.

“We know these trains pose a serious risk as we watch them pass through downtown Spokane in sight of Lewis and Clark High School, hospitals, medical buildings, and senior living facilities,” Billig said. “This bill about safety – safety for the workers who unload Bakken crude oil at endpoints in Washington state, and safety for people who live, work and attend schools along the route the oil travels from North Dakota.”

There have been at least 14 events in recent years involving derailments of Bakken crude in the U.S. and Canada, including a derailment and fire at Mosier, Ore., that necessitated the evacuation of much of the town and narrowly avoided a catastrophic spill into the Columbia River.

“While we know there is more to do to reduce the risk of a catastrophic event, this bill puts in place protections if we see an increase in oil train traffic travelling through our state,” Billig said.

While the federal government has adopted so-called packing rules for high-hazard flammable trains, it has not adopted a nationwide vapor pressure standard for crude oil shipped by rail, and has not responded to petitions from multiple states, including Washington, to do so.

“When Washington state leads, the nation follows,” said Spokane City Council Member Breean Beggs. “We in Spokane are grateful that a safer oil volatility standard will be established to protect workers and community members from derailing train explosions.”

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Spokane legislators to host town hall meeting

March 7th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Legislators representing Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District will host a town hall on Saturday, March 16, to provide an update on the 2019 legislative session in Olympia and take questions from community members.

Who: Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli
When: Saturday, March 16, 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: The MAC – Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, E.A. Johnston Auditorium 2316 W. 1st Ave.

The Legislature is in the midst of a 105-day session scheduled to conclude on April 28. Lawmakers from Spokane will provide a brief update on budget proposals for the 2019-21 biennium and discuss legislation to address education, clean air and water, local jobs and infrastructure, health care, and many more issues.

Senate passes oil train safety legislation

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate has approved legislation to reduce the risk posed by shipping highly flammable Bakken crude oil across the state.

Senate Bill 5579, sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), passed the Senate Monday on a 27-20 vote. The bill would require facilities offloading or loading crude oil from a rail tank car to meet specific vapor pressure standards.

“This bill about safety – the safety for the workers who unload Bakken crude oil at their endpoint in Washington state, and for the safety for everyone along the route by which it travels from North Dakota. These large shipments of extremely flammable fuel run through the heart of our state, starting with my community in Spokane,” said Billig. “People and their safety must come first. Experts know that highly flammable Bakken oil poses greater risk and it’s time to take meaningful action to reduce the threat of a serious catastrophe.”

SB 5579 reduces level of risk posed by the volatility of Bakken oil by, in the effect, requiring producers to condition the oil to meet safer standards prior to shipment from the Bakken region.

There have been at least 14 events in recent years involving derailments of Bakken crude in the U.S. and Canada, including the Lac-Megantic rail derailment that killed 47 people and the derailment and fire at Mosier, Ore., that necessitated the evacuation of much of the town and narrowly avoided a catastrophic spill into the Columbia river.

While the federal government has adopted so-called packing rules for high-hazard flammable trains, it has not adopted a nationwide vapor pressure standard for crude oil shipped by rail, and has not responded to petitions from multiple states to do so.

Under the bill, a facility may not store or offload crude oil produced from the Bakken region unless the oil has a vapor pressure of less than nine pounds per square inch. Failing to meet the standard could result in penalties of up to $2,500 per day per rail tank car.

“If the federal government won’t act to protect public safety and adopt a safer nationwide standard, we will adopt our own,” Billig said. “There is just too much to lose – for people and our environment.”

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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