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

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    Washington state DISCLOSE Act ensures election transparency despite federal action

Washington state DISCLOSE Act ensures election transparency despite federal action

July 17th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Despite the Trump administration move this week to end federal requirements for non-profit organizations to disclose names of large donors to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Washington state will continue to shine light on dark money, Sen. Andy Billig , D-Spokane, said Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature passed The DISCLOSE Act, Billig’s nation-leading transparency measure to ensure campaign finance disclosure by nonprofits that participate in Washington state elections.

“Voters have a right to know who is influencing our elections,” said Billig. “While the Trump administration is taking action to reduce transparency and increase the opportunity for corruption, we are focused on increasing accountability and strengthening our democracy.”

Until now, only political action committees were required to disclose their donors, but other nonprofits had been exempt. Under The DISLCOSE Act, organizations not formed primarily to participate in campaigns, such as 501(c)(4), or 501(c)(6) nonprofits, must disclose donors for campaign activities when their campaign-related expenditures meet specified thresholds in Washington state. These are the same types of organizations the new federal rules exempt from disclosure to the IRS.

“It is my hope that other states and the federal government can follow Washington’s lead on campaign election law,” said Billig. ”Transparency helps inform voters, which ultimately results in a healthier democracy.”

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    Billig recognized for expanding healthcare for Washington children

Billig recognized for expanding healthcare for Washington children

July 13th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – In recognition of his commitment to expanding access to healthcare for Washington’s children, Sen. Andy Billig, D- Spokane, has been chosen to receive the Children Alliance’s Champion for Children Award.

“I am proud of our work to pass legislation that positively impacts families in Spokane and throughout the State,” said Billig. “Every family should have the security of being able to take their child to the doctor without financial stress.”

During the 2018 legislative session, Billig worked with colleagues to pass a number of bills to help children and families in Washington State including legislation that 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.

The bill, passed on a broad bipartisan basis, covers out-of-pocket costs and pays the monthly premiums of income-eligible adult citizens of three nations—the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau—when they purchase qualified health plans on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

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    Billig: Supreme Court validates education funding and ends court jurisdiction, but the work for students continues

Billig: Supreme Court validates education funding and ends court jurisdiction, but the work for students continues

June 7th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, who served on the Joint Education Funding Task Force, released this statement following the Supreme Court’s order to end the K-12 education funding court case Thursday:

“It is satisfying to have the Supreme Court validate our plan to fully fund basic education and end jurisdiction of the case, but our work on behalf of the students of Washington is ongoing. We will continue to work to improve the K-12 education system, expand access to high quality early learning, and ensure access to affordable higher education opportunities. With these efforts we can continue to help every child in Washington to achieve their fullest potential.”

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    Billig-sponsored bills increase voting transparency and equity in Washington state

Billig-sponsored bills increase voting transparency and equity in Washington state

March 19th, 2018|

TUKWILA — A package of bills to expand voter registration and participation and to improve access to representation in Washington state were signed into law today by Gov. Inslee.

The DISCLOSE Act (SB 5991), major campaign finance transparency legislation, and the Senate companion youth voter registration bill (SB 5110), were sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

“This is a significant day for democracy in Washington state,” said Billig. “This package of bills will increase transparency and equity in our democracy. By increasing access for more voters alongside clear information, we can have a more engaged and informed electorate.”

Billig has worked to expand voter access since he first introduced the youth voter registration bill seven years ago. He was also among the earliest proponents for automatic voter registration in the state and played a key role in passing the entire package of bills.

“I believe we will look back in a few years and see that this package of voter access bills had a more positive impact on our state than anything else we’ve done in recent years,” said Billig. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and everything we do as a state is more equitable and effective when that cornerstone is at its strongest.”

The DISCLOSE Act is a nation-leading transparency effort to ensure campaign finance disclosure by nonprofits that participate in elections. Until now, political action committees must disclose their donors but other nonprofits have been exempt. The result has been a significant increase in campaign dark money flowing through these non-profit groups.

“Voters have the right to know who’s paying for a campaign. Whatever you care about in your community, whether it be healthcare, education, or any other issue, it is vital to know who is paying to influence those who are making our laws,” said Billig. “The Washington DISCLOSE Act shines a light on dark money, which creates better informed voters, increases accountability, and reduces the opportunity for corruption, all of which results in a stronger democracy.”

The package of bills signed today includes the Washington Voting Rights Act, Automatic Voter Registration, Same Day voter registration, youth voter pre-registration, and the DISCLOSE Act.

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

Senate budgets invest in Spokane and lower property taxes

February 26th, 2018|

Senate budgets

On Friday, the Senate passed its proposed supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets. The Senate budgets are responsible and balanced, with services and projects that deliver for Spokane and the entire state. Here are a few highlights:

Operating budget

  • Meets our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education
  • Reduces property taxes this year
  • Invests in mental health services
  • Increases funding for the State Need Grant, which helps low income students attend college

Transportation budget

  • Maintains funding for the North Spokane Corridor, Central City Line, and U-District Bike and Pedestrian bridge
  • Invests in a public education campaign in Spokane County about the road damage and repair costs caused by the use of studded tires

Capital budget

  • The supplemental capital budget includes funding for the following projects:
  • New outdoor annex area at the House of Charity Homeless Shelter
  • West Central Community Center’s roof replacement project
  • KYRS Thin Air Community Radio expansion
  • South Gorge Trail development along the Spokane River

Pages

We were lucky to have three fantastic pages from Spokane here this session. Bella, James and Katerina each spent a week in Olympia learning about the legislative process, participating in a mock committee hearing, and serving on the Senate floor to assist during debate and voting. It was a pleasure to get to know them and I look forward to seeing them develop into strong leaders for Spokane.

You can learn more about the Washington state Legislature’s page program in this video.

Know a high school student who might be interested in paging next year? Have them apply here!

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

Supplemental capital budget boosts Spokane-area projects

February 24th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Having passed the 2017 capital budget early this session after nearly a year’s delay, the Senate passed a supplemental capital budget today to add additional investments in much-needed construction and renovation projects.

The supplemental budget invests $300 million more for a state total of $4.6 billion. This includes $35 million for behavioral health investments, $11 million in aquatic lands enhancements and $65 million more in school construction.

The Spokane area received an additional $2.8 million for local projects, including:

  • House of Charity Homeless Shelter outdoor annex
  • West Central Community Center improvements
  • KRYS Thin Air Community Radio expansion
  • South Gorge Trail development

“These important investments in our community will provide more resources to improve our neighborhoods and support our community,” said Sen. Andy Billig. “I am proud that we were able to provide more for those suffering from mental health issues or struggling to find housing, and to additionally support local projects including the House of Charity and the West Central Community Center.”

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    E News – Check and check – capital budget and DISCLOSE Act pass the Senate!

E News – Check and check – capital budget and DISCLOSE Act pass the Senate!

January 23rd, 2018|

Capital budget passed!

I am pleased to announce that the capital construction budget, blocked from a vote since last year, finally passed the Legislature. The capital budget was the top priority for our new Senate majority and funds construction projects that will generate 19,000 jobs statewide.

In the Spokane area alone, the state will fund $125 million for local projects including:

  • The East Central Community Center dental clinic
  • The YWCA Family Justice Center
  • Emmanuel Life Center
  • Eastern Washington University science building
  • Spokane Community College – Main Building South Wing renovation
  • Dental clinic at Providence Sacred Heart’s campus

DISCLOSE Act


The DISCLOSE Act, a critical campaign finance transparency bill, passed the Senate floor with bipartisan support this week, taking us one step closer to shining a light on dark money in Washington state elections. After working to pass this bill for several years, it was gratifying to have the DISCLOSE Act be the very first bill to pass the Senate this year.

Campaign transparency creates informed voters, increases accountability, reduces the opportunity for corruption, and strengthens our democracy. Watch my floor speech on TVW by clicking the picture above.

Telephone town hall

Rep. Tim Ormsby, Rep. Marcus Riccelli and I will be hosting a telephone town hall on Tuesday, Jan. 23 from 6:00-7:00pm to provide a legislative update and answer your questions. Thousands of constituents will receive calls that will join them in the town hall just before 6 pm on Jan. 23.

Or, you are welcome to call in to the meeting at (877) 229-8493 and enter the ID code 116276.

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

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    Billig, Ormsby and Riccelli help pass the capital budget, investing in local jobs and infrastructure

Billig, Ormsby and Riccelli help pass the capital budget, investing in local jobs and infrastructure

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The capital budget, which passed both chambers this evening, will get Washington back to work on much-needed construction and renovation projects, investing $4.3 billion in more than 1,400 projects across the state. This includes a $1 billion investment in school construction projects.

Spokane received $125 million for local projects including:

  • The East Central Community Center
  • The YWCA Family Justice Center
  • Emmanuel Life Center (kitchen)
  • Eastern Washington University (Science Center)
  • Spokane Falls Community College (Fine and Applied Arts replacement)
  • Spokane Community College (Main Building South Wing renovation)

“After months of delay, I am proud that we were able to pass this important construction and jobs package within the first two weeks of session,” said Sen. Andy Billig. “People – especially vulnerable people – have been waiting too long for state funds to tackle the homeless crisis, build schools, and improve our state’s mental health programs. Our state can now move forward making critical investments in every community that drives our economy and supports our most vulnerable.”

“I’m glad our Republican friends decided to join us in passing the capital budget,” said longtime Spokane Rep. Timm Ormsby. “It means we can finally make investments in school construction, mental health facilities and other projects throughout the state, including Spokane. We’re talking about $4.3 billion that will create 19,000 jobs in the state.”

This budget also expands dental access to more Washington residents in Spokane and statewide. Spokane will benefit from these investments by receiving:

  • A dental residency program that will provide treatment to 12,000 patients a year in our community – a majority of them Medicaid-eligible.
  • Dental clinic at Providence Sacred Heart’s campus (6 chairs)
  • New community dental clinic near Holy Family (20 chairs)

Rep. Marcus Riccelli said, “The lack of affordable and accessible dental care in our region is an ongoing problem for families in our region. This is especially true for medically-fragile adults. Our capital budget invests in much-needed dental clinic capacity grants for the Spokane area. The budget will kick start construction projects that will improve the health and wellbeing of Spokane families and students and bring jobs to all corners of our state.”

The capital budget now heads to the Governor for his signature.

Billig’s campaign finance legislation passes the Senate

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, released the following statement after the Senate passed the DISCLOSE Act (SB 5991), his signature campaign finance transparency legislation:

“The bipartisan Senate vote tonight on the DISCLOSE Act takes us one step closer to shining a light on dark money in Washington state elections. Campaign transparency increases accountability, reduces the opportunity for corruption and strengthens our democracy.

“The disclosure loophole that this bill will fix is being exploited by groups across the political spectrum. Ultimately, this bill benefits not one party or another but the citizens of our state. Most importantly, transparency of the source of money in elections creates more informed voters, which ultimately results in a healthier democracy.”

SB 5991 passed on a 32-17 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.