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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.

E News – Let’s get started!

January 9th, 2018|

OPENING DAY

Here we go! Welcome to day one of this short, sixty-day Legislative session. The new Senate majority, coupled with the activism and energy I have seen in Spokane over this Legislative interim, has me more motivated than ever to make meaningful progress for the people of Spokane and the entire state this session.

Priority Bills

  • One of our highest priorities is to pass the capital construction budget that will fund several critical projects in Spokane and create 19,000 jobs statewide.
  • We will take meaningful steps to increase voter access so more people can engage and participate in our democracy. These bills include SB 5110, SB 6002, and SB 6021.
  • The DISCLOSE ACT (SB 5991), which will shine light on dark money spent on elections in Washington State, is a crucial campaign finance disclosure bill that we hope to pass early in session.
  • There is bipartisan support to repeal the death penalty this year to both save money and eliminate a punishment that is applied unfairly. (SB 6052)
  • A follow up to HB 2242, our major education funding and policy legislation from last session.

Welcome Natalie

In the last newsletter, I introduced my new Legislative Assistant, Noelle, and today I am pleased to welcome Natalie Riel as our Session Aide. Natalie is from Spokane Valley and recently graduated from the University of Washington. She is excited for the opportunity to serve the people of the 3rd Legislative District in the Senate this year.

 

 

 

 

Apply to be a Page!

Do you know a high school student who would enjoy spending a week as a Senate page? We have a few page slots remaining. Page applications can be downloaded by clicking 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 questions. You can reach me by email andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7604.

Onward!

Andy

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.

3rd District legislators respond to shooting at Freeman High School

September 13th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, released the following statement in response to the tragic shooting today at Freeman High School:

“We are shocked and saddened by the shooting that occurred this morning at Freeman High School. Our hearts break for the family and loved ones of the student whose life was tragically cut short. As parents ourselves, we cannot imagine the pain and uncertainty experienced by the families directly affected by this event.

“We stand with the Freeman High School community as they recover and begin the difficult healing process.

“We have contacted the school district’s superintendent and offered our condolences and desire to provide support and help.

“We extend our thanks to our first responders and school personnel who valiantly responded to this dangerous situation.”

 

E News- Mobile Office Sep. 13th

September 11th, 2017|

Mobile Office this Wednesday

Please join me, Rep. Riccelli and Rep. Ormsby at our Mobile Office this Wednesday in Spokane. As in the past, we host mobile offices to stay in touch with our constituents who may not have been able to visit us in Olympia or our district office in Spokane.

The Mobile Office is an informal event that allows for one-on-one dialogue with your legislators. There is no formal program. We simply want to give you a chance to ask questions about state government, share your priorities for Spokane, or discuss anything else on your mind relevant to our role representing you in the Legislature.

Mobile Office Meeting Details:

  • Wednesday, September 13
  • Give it a Shot – Espresso & Café – 4715 N. Market St.
  • 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Keep in Touch

I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in Spokane and across our state. If you are not able to make it to the Mobile Office to chat, do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or question.

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

Onward!

Andy

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    Billig: Senate Republicans block construction budget, millions of dollars for Spokane are at stake

Billig: Senate Republicans block construction budget, millions of dollars for Spokane are at stake

July 24th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, issued this statement today at the conclusion of the Legislature’s third special session and in response to the Senate Republicans’ refusal to allow a vote on the capital construction budget.

“This has been an unfortunate ending to an otherwise productive legislative session that included historic investments in K-12 education and early learning.

“There was full agreement on the capital budget and it was certain to pass the Senate with a near unanimous majority. The House passed it near unanimously on June 30. All that was needed, was for the Senate Republican leadership to allow a floor vote.

“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans have decided to block this year’s capital budget because of an unrelated water rights issue. That water rights bill is also important but it should not be artificially connected to the capital budget.

“In addition, there have been numerous opportunities to reach a compromise on the water issue, yet Senate Republicans have insisted on taking a ‘my way or the highway’ approach.

“This brinksmanship by the Senate Republicans has serious consequences. The capital budget would have created more than 19,000 construction jobs, funneled more than $1 billion into public school construction to lower class sizes, and invested $800 million in our public universities and colleges.

“In the Spokane area alone, millions of dollars in investments will be lost for projects and improvements important to our community including:

  • Spokane Family Justice Center at the YWCA.
  • East Central Community Center dental clinic.
  • Renovations to Spokane Community College’s main building.
  • Honor Point Aerospace Museum.
  • Peaceful Valley Spokane River boat access.
  • Emmanuel Family Life Center improvements.
  • EWU Interdisciplinary Science building

“In the end, people – especially vulnerable people – are the ones who are going to suffer the most. Money in this budget was dedicated to tackle the homeless crisis, get kids off the streets, and improve our state’s mental health programs.

“Even though the legislative session officially concludes today, I encourage my colleagues across the aisle to recognize that these projects are too important to our state to be innocent victims of the Senate GOP’s political gamesmanship.

“We have a viable compromise solution to the water rights issue and an agreed upon capital budget that drives our economy and supports our most vulnerable. We can and should pass both by the end of the year.”

E News- Education plan passes Senate, finally!

July 1st, 2017|

I am pleased to report that we have passed a K-12 education plan that funds our schools and delivers for Washington’s 1.1 million schoolchildren. It does so by supporting important programs aimed at closing the opportunity gap, increasing salaries and salary equity for educators so we can attract and retain the best possible teachers, and maintains local control. I was glad to serve as one of the eight negotiators who helped craft this proposal.

We also passed an operating budget tonight that closely reflects Spokane’s values. It invests in health care, increases access to high quality pre-school, and improves access to college for kids from low-income households. Additionally, it does all this without requiring cuts to our state’s safety net.

Here are a few Spokane budget highlights:

– Funding for medical education in Spokane

– Support for the Spokane River Toxics Task Force

– Significant investments for Spokane Public Schools

– Increased funding for Eastern State Hospital

This was a compromise budget, and a compromise inevitably includes parts you do not agree with. The $7.3 billion dollar investment in our schools is primarily funded by a statewide property tax. I advocated for funding sources that would have better addressed Washington’s regressive tax code.

The negotiation process was intense but I am confident that we have produced a K-12 education plan that will help every child in the state achieve their fullest potential.

For those that are interested in more detail, here are summary documents and the actual bill language for both the K-12 plan as well as the operating budget: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2017/ho1719p.asp

Keep in Touch

I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity in Spokane and across our state. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have a comment, idea or question.

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

Onward!

Andy

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    Spokane lawmakers secure $15 million for regional medical education

Spokane lawmakers secure $15 million for regional medical education

July 1st, 2017|

OLYMPIA – The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University and the WWAMI Regional Medical Education program will receive a total of $15 million in state funding following the passage of the state’s operating budget that is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee late tonight.

“In Eastern Washington and throughout the state, we are facing a shortage of primary care doctors,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “It is critical we fund our region’s medical education institutions so we can ensure that families in rural, underserved areas have the same access to quality care as their urban neighbors.”

WSU’s medical school will admit an inaugural class of 60 first-year medical students starting August 2017 with the goal of producing more primary care physicians for rural and underserved areas in the state. Students will serve in clinics in the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Everett and Spokane following their first two years of instruction and the inaugural class will be made up entirely of Washington state residents.

“This is a big win for Eastern Washington,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. “Not only does this keep talented young doctors in Washington, it will be a big economic driver, expanding our economy with increased care and medical research dollars.”

The $10 million secured for WSU’s medical expansion will support the 60 first-year and second-year students.

“This is another important step to getting people access to healthcare for themselves and their families regardless of where in the state they live,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D- Spokane. “I am proud to have worked so hard with the late Dr. Floyd and his team, and Sens. Baumgartner and Billig to pass the policy bill that paved the way for a WSU medical school. I’m also proud of the hard work of the Spokane delegation to secure this funding for medical education for WSU and UW.”

The University of Washington’s WWAMI program will also receive $5 million in state funding. WWAMI trains and prepares physicians to care for patients and communities throughout Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The program has been recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges with the Outstanding Community Service Award and has been identified as the nation’s top primary care, family medicine and rural medicine training school.