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

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    Billig: Levy cliff bill is a win for students and schools, now let’s look forward and fully fund K-12

Billig: Levy cliff bill is a win for students and schools, now let’s look forward and fully fund K-12

March 9th, 2017|

Olympia- Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, issued the following statement today regarding the passage of Senate Bill 5023, commonly known as the levy cliff bill. Billig played an instrumental role in the negotiation process that resulted in the bill finally being brought to the floor for a vote:

“I’m certain that families, teachers and administrators in Spokane and across the state are feeling a sense of relief now that the levy cliff bill has passed – I’m relieved too.

“Schools in Spokane stood to lose more than $14 million in funding.

“This bill not only provides a sense of certainty for our teachers, families and students, it is a testament to what we can accomplish when we put our political differences aside to do the right thing.

“Often when people think about government, they think about D.C. and gridlock.

“But in this state, we have proven that we can work together to find common ground.

“With that said, it’s time to put this issue behind us and look forward. After all, this is only a small step towards meeting our constitutional obligation to fully and fairly fund our schools.

“I am confident that if we use the same spirit of cooperation we saw today, we can negotiate and finalize a complete education funding solution that helps every student achieve their fullest potential.

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For more information: Jon Fowler, Senate Democratic Caucus – 360-786-7535

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    Senate Majority blocks Billig’s campaign finance legislation

Senate Majority blocks Billig’s campaign finance legislation

March 8th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, released the following statement after the Republican Senate majority blocked his motion to bring the DISCLOSE Act (Senate Bill 5219), his signature campaign finance transparency legislation, to the floor for a vote:

“Prior to my motion, Senate Republicans brought to the floor politically divisive legislation they claimed would lead to greater transparency and accountability in our elections.

“In response to their expressed desire to address the glaring loopholes of our elections process and the funding of political campaigns, I moved to bring SB 5219 up for a vote so we could have a broader and more productive conversation about ways to make our democracy stronger.

“Their refusal to consider SB 5219 paints a clear picture that they are not interested in accountability and fairness in our elections.

“This is now the fourth year in a row that the Republican majority in the Senate has blocked this transparency bill from moving forward.

“This is especially frustrating because this bill would address a nonpartisan issue.

“The disclosure loophole that this bill would 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. They deserve to know where the money is coming from in political campaigns.

“Instead of playing political games and masquerading them as campaign finance reform, let’s get busy reforming our campaign financing process so we can shine a bright light on players from across the political spectrum who are trying to stay in the shadows.”

Background: http://sdc.wastateleg.org/billig/2016/02/18/billigs-campaign-transparency-bill-blocked-in-the-senate/

 

E News- Town Hall Meeting on Saturday!

March 7th, 2017|

It’s hard to believe, but we are now halfway through this 105-day legislative session. Tomorrow represents a big deadline with the “House of Origin” cut-off. All Senate bills not passed out of the Senate by 5 pm tomorrow are dead for this year unless they are directly related to the budget.

Spokane Town Hall

I hope you can join my seatmates and me this Saturday at our town hall in Spokane. Town halls provide an open forum where we can hear directly from you about the issues that matter to you most and answer your questions. We will cover education funding, transportation, tax fairness, human services, health care, and more.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  • Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
  • Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave.

Keep in Touch

I hope you can join us for a discussion at next week’s town hall, but you don’t have to wait to see me in person to get in touch. If you have a comment or question, feel free to contact me at any time.

You can email me at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or call me at 360-786-7604.

Onward!

3rd District Legislators to host town hall in Spokane

March 1st, 2017|

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, Rep. Timm Ormsby and Rep. Marcus Riccelli

What: Town hall meeting

When: Saturday, March 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Where: Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave, Spokane

Why: This is an opportunity to speak in person with your legislators about issues important to Spokane and your community. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Fully funding education
  • Job creation
  • Mental health services
  • Transportation improvements
  • Protecting the social safety net
  • and answers to your questions

E News- Spokanites in Olympia

February 21st, 2017|

Last Friday marked what is known around here as policy cutoff day. It is one of the first hurdles in the lifecycle of a bill becoming a law. At this point, any policy bill (non-budget related) that hasn’t been voted out of its policy committee will not continue through the legislative process this session. This week we will work on passing bills out of the fiscal committees and then the focus will go to considering bills as a full Senate.

Spokanites Testify in Support of Oil Train Speed Limits

Last week in the Senate Transportation Committee, Spokane City Councilperson Breean Beggs and Mike Petersen, the executive director of the Lands Council, testified in support of Senate Bill 5098, which would allow cities such as Spokane to set lower speed limits for trains carrying hazardous materials like Bakken crude oil.

You can watch their testimony by clicking here.

Hearing You Loud and Clear

Thank you to all the constituents who braved the pass on Monday to spend their President’s Day in Olympia. Members from Washington CAN, Planned Parenthood, NAMI Spokane, the Spokane County Young Democrats, and the Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council all made the trip from Spokane to share their voices on issues important to them.

I truly value your input and I am able to do my job most effectively when I hear from you. Anytime there is an issue you care deeply about, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Spokane Town Hall

To update you on what has been happening so far here in Olympia and to receive your input, my 3rd District seatmates and I will hold a Spokane town hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 11. This meeting is a perfect opportunity for constituents to provide feedback and have questions answered on a variety of topics including education funding, job creation, health and wellness, transportation improvements, etc.

Town Hall Meeting Details:

  •  9:30 -11 a.m. Saturday, March 11
  • Washington Cracker Factory/Terrain, 304 W Pacific Ave.

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can email me at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or call me at 360-786-7604.

Onward!

Andy

E News- Federal Official to Testify on Billig Bill

February 6th, 2017|

Tele-Town Hall

Last week, my seatmates and I hosted a tele-town hall. I hope you were able to participate and found the event to be informative. If you were not able to tune in, you can listen to the event in its entirety by clicking here.

Stopping Foreign Money in elections

Our bill, SB 5570, to prevent foreign-owned companies from contributing to political campaigns in Washington state will receive a public hearing in the State Government Committee on Wednesday.

Under federal law, foreign nationals are prohibited from making political contributions or financing campaign activities whether acting as individuals or as a corporation. SB 5570 requires that corporations donating to campaigns in Washington state declare whether their ownership is comprised of less than 50 percent foreign nationals.

Ellen L. Weintraub, a Federal Election Commissioner, is travelling all the way from Washington D.C. to testify in support of this bill. You can read a New York Times op-ed she wrote about this issue by clicking here.

Spokane Hall of Fame

Is there someone you know in the Lilac City who has inspired you by his or her contributions to our community as a leader, volunteer, teacher or artist? If so, nominate them for the 3rd annual Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame Awards. Nominations are due by Feb. 15.

This year, I am proud to nominate Lori Wyborney, the principal of Roger’s High School. Lori is responsible for implementing a school wide program intended to improve literacy among all of her students. In 2015, Lori was named the Washington State Principal of the Year.

Keeping 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 andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.

Onward!

Andy

Billig bill aims to stop foreign money in politics

February 6th, 2017|

Olympia – Sen. Andy Billig’s, D-Spokane, Senate Bill 5570 that would prevent foreign-owned companies from contributing to political campaigns in Washington state will receive a public hearing in the Senate State Government Committee on Feb. 8 at 8 a.m.

“We have an obligation to keep Washington’s elections free, fair and in accordance with federal law,” said Billig. “As American citizens, our First Amendment rights grant us the freedom to participate in elections. That right is not afforded to foreign nationals or corporations with foreign owners. ”

Under federal law, foreign nationals are forbidden from directly making political contributions or financing campaign activities whether acting as individuals or as a corporation.

SB 5570 requires that corporations donating to campaigns in Washington state declare whether their ownership is comprised of less than 50 percent foreign nationals.

“The threat of foreign influence on American elections became all too real this past election cycle. This should be of tremendous concern to every American, regardless of party,” said Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub of the Federal Election Commission, who has long advocated for better enforcement and clarification of federal law prohibiting foreign spending in U.S. elections. “Sen. Billig’s bill is an innovative and commendable step that will help prevent foreign influence from seeping into Washington’s elections through corporations.”

Weintraub is travelling all the way from Washington D.C. to testify in support of the legislation at the public hearing.

“Transparent elections are the foundation of a healthy democracy,” added Billig. “That foundation is eroded when big money is spent without disclosure, especially if that funding originates overseas. That isn’t right and it must be stopped.”

E News- Oil Trains, Kids and Voters!

January 24th, 2017|

 

We are now in the third week of this 105-day legislative session. In the Senate alone, there have already been over 300 new bills introduced since the beginning of session and many more are expected to be filed in the coming weeks. Here’s an update on some of the bills I have prime-sponsored.

  • Oil Train Safety: The oil trains moving through downtown Spokane at up to 50 miles per hour (the current federal speed limit) pose a unique threat to public safety because of the elevated tracks they travel on, which is why I introduced Senate Bill 5098. This bill would allow cities such as Spokane to set lower speed limits for trains that are carrying hazardous materials like Bakken crude oil. We are currently waiting to see if SB 5098 gets a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee.
  • Improved Early Learning Access: Senate Bill 5107 would make it easier for local municipalities, school districts and non-profits to amplify the state’s early learning investments and create greater access to high quality early learning for the kids that need it most. The bill had a great hearing last Thursday and is waiting for a committee vote.
  • Young Voter Registration Equality: Again this year, I introduced this voter pre-registration bill. Senate Bill 5110 would allow 16 or 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. This would give young voters the same access to “Motor Voter,” the most effective way to register voters, as older voters have.
  • K-2 School Suspensions: Young students who are expelled or suspended are up to 10 times more likely to drop out of high school and face more difficulties down the line. From 2013 to 2016, the number of suspensions and expulsions for these young students has increased 39.8% to a statewide total of 8,800 incidents. That’s why I sponsored Senate Bill 5155, which would encourage school districts to use proven restorative and preventative practices when a child is having a problem and prohibit the use of suspensions for K-2 students for more than the remainder of the day.
  • Campaign Finance Transparency: As long as I serve in office, I will be resolute in my efforts to make our elections more transparent and more accountable to voters. So far this session, I’ve introduced two bills tackling campaign finance reform – Senate Bill 5108 and Senate Bill 5219, Both bills would help to instill accountability and transparency by closing campaign finance disclosure loopholes.

Tele-Town Hall

I want to encourage you to participate in a telephone town hall hosted by my 3rd Legislative District seatmates and me.

Under this tele-town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive telephone calls just before 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, asking if they would like to stay on the line and participate. Participants may ask questions for their lawmakers and hear our answers to other questions as well.

If you would like to participate, you may call in at 877-229-8493 and enter the ID code 116276.

Sign Your Student Up to be a Page

Do you know a student between the ages of 14 and 16 interested in civic participation? Sign them up to be a legislative page. During this unique one-week hands-on experience, pages:

  • Deliver important messages to legislators.
  • Work in the Senate or House chambers during floor debates.
  • Learn about state government.
  • Participate in mock debates.

Click here or call my office at 360-786-7604 if you would more information.

Keeping in Touch

If you have a comment, idea or question, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

You can email me at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or call me at 360-786-7604.

Onward!

Billig continues to champion campaign finance reform

January 12th, 2017|

Olympia – Transparency and accountability are at the heart of campaign finance legislation introduced today by Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

Senate Bill 5108 would help curb the practice of moving money from one political action committee (PAC) to another for the purpose of obscuring donor transparency.

Currently, PACs are required to list their top five donors on campaign advertisements so voters can understand who is sponsoring the advertisement. But certain PACs have found a loophole to disguise their donors’ identities by moving money to subsequent shadow PACs that do not have any real donors to disclose.

“The public has a right to know who is funding elections in our state. Voters of this state are thirsty for information and transparency,” said Billig. “This isn’t a partisan issue. There are players from across the political spectrum who are trying to stay in the shadows and find loopholes to hide their money. It’s time to shine a light on these activities so voters can make informed decisions.”

When talking about the need for strong public disclosure, Billig notes that an additional reason for disclosure is to raise the level of discourse in election advertising.

Billig quoted the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who said, “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which … exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

In addition to SB 5108, Billig will again be introducing the Washington State DISCLOSE Act, Billig’s signature campaign reform legislation that has been blocked by the Republican Majority in the Senate three years running.

The DISCLOSE Act would require non-profit organizations participating in state and local political campaigns to disclose their contributions and expenditures. Currently, some non-profits are funneling undisclosed money into political campaigns.

“As long as I serve in office, I will be resolute in my efforts to make our elections more transparent and more accountable to voters,” said Billig. “I believe in putting your money where your mouth is. To the people and organizations who intentionally seek ways to disguise their money, my question is, ‘What are you afraid of? Why don’t you want voters to know who you are? What are you trying to hide?’”

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    Billig: ‘Oil trains traveling on Spokane’s elevated tracks pose unique threat’

Billig: ‘Oil trains traveling on Spokane’s elevated tracks pose unique threat’

January 11th, 2017|

Olympia- More than a mile of elevated train tracks run through the heart of downtown Spokane, and travelling on those tracks are trains hauling oil cars loaded with highly volatile Bakken crude oil.

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, believes hauling oil on elevated tracks poses a safety hazard unique to Spokane and he wants to grant local authorities the ability to lower the speed limit of these trains to cut down on the possibility of a derailment.

“A derailment in Spokane’s downtown corridor would have drastic consequences,” said Billig. “A serious derailment and the ensuing explosion would result in the loss of life and would reportedly cost more than $700 million for clean-up and rescue efforts. Even a minor derailment could be a potential catastrophe. Downtown would most likely have to be evacuated which would hamper commerce, shut down nearby schools and hospitals, and force the city into gridlock. Added to the unique safety situation in Spokane is the potential ecological harm that could be caused if the oil made it into the Spokane River which flows directly into the Spokane aquifer – the single source of drinking water for more than 500,000 people.”

Under Billig’s Senate Bill 5098, certain cities or the state Utilities and Transportation Commission would be allowed to establish reduced speed limits for trains that pose a local threat provided it is not incompatible with federal law and does not unreasonably burden interstate commerce. Currently, under federal law, trains can travel upwards of 50 mph through Spokane.

“With elevated tracks running through such a densely populated area, we must take every precaution to ensure the safety of our residents,” said Billig. “I cannot emphasize enough how potentially dangerous this situation is. Spokane and other similar cities must be allowed to protect its citizens by lowering these speed limits. If not, we are simply inviting a disaster.”