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

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Join us for a telephone town hall on Feb. 12

February 8th, 2019|

Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli of the 3rd Legislative District will give a brief update on the 2019 legislative session on Tuesday.

Who: State Sen. Andy Billig, State Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli What: Telephone town hall
When: Tuesday, February 12, 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. Tuesday, February 12. Constituents may ask a question by pressing *3 on their phones during the call. A volunteer screener will take their question, and 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 Feb. 12 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 on Feb. 12.

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

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

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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.

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