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

Sen. Andy Billig Newsroom

Leading from Spokane

Senate Majority Leader

It has been an eventful couple of weeks with a momentous election that saw the Washington State Senate Democratic majority increase, followed by my colleagues in the Senate choosing me to become the new Senate Majority Leader.

It is an honor to serve our state as Majority Leader. Of course, serving the constituents of the 3rd Legislative District will be my priority no matter what position I hold in the Senate and I am proud to be the second Democratic Majority Leader from Spokane. Former Spokane state legislator Lisa Brown was majority leader from 2005-13.

As Majority Leader, my job will be to lead our caucus and help set the agenda for the Senate. I will work closely with leadership in the House and governor’s office as well as across the aisle to serve all Washingtonians. I am eager to build on the success we had in 2018 and humbled to lead this diverse and talented group of senators. We recognize that bipartisanship and viewpoints from every corner of Washington are crucial in moving our state forward.

I am excited to join my colleagues in getting to work right away to put people first and help every Washingtonian to move forward toward opportunity and prosperity.

Prepping for 2019

The Senate met recently in Olympia for Senate Committee Assembly Days, where legislative committees meet to prepare for the upcoming session. While in Olympia, I spoke with Austin Jenkins on TVW’s Inside Olympia to discuss the upcoming session.

Come be a page in Olympia!

Being a page at the legislature is a great opportunity for any high school student to see how their state government works. Not to mention, it looks great on a resume! You can find more information and apply to page in my office here.

Keep in touch

It is an incredible honor to represent you, and 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 (509) 209-2427.

Onward!

Andy

November 20th, 2018|E-News|

Diving deeper in our community

While summer is the interim season between legislative sessions, there is still a lot of work to do. I use this time to prepare for the next legislative session, diving deeper into community issues, meeting with constituents and getting out to see our district in action.

I Did the Time

I recently met with Layne Pavey, founder of I Did the Time, an advocacy organization that provides housing and other services to individuals re-entering society after incarceration. I am impressed by her passion and commitment to reducing recidivism. Reducing prison recidivism is a worthy goal as it helps people improve their lives, increases public safety and saves tax payer money.

Youth, Family, Adult Connections (YFA Connections)

Sen. Billig with Cathy Doran and Tom Cresswell, YFA Connections.

I also had the opportunity to visit the YFA Connection’s Crisis Residential Center, where they provide temporary shelter and crisis counseling for youth ages 12 through 17. YFA Connection’s mission is to provide education, prevention, intervention and treatment services to youth, families and adults in conflict or crisis. I was grateful for the opportunity to take a closer look at the critical services they are providing for families in our community.

 

 

 

Interim Committee Meetings

On top of my regular legislative committees (Ways & Means, Early Learning & K-12 Education, and Rules committees), I also serve on several additional special legislative committees that meet during the interim:

  • Senate Facilities & Operations Committee
  • Joint Select Committee on Early Achievers (co-chair)
  • Washington State Institute for Public Policy Board (co-chair)
  • Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup

As members of a part-time Legislature, we often encounter highly complex problems that require in-depth understanding and broad public input that cannot be completed while we’re in session. During interim, these committees can take the time to explore a subject more deeply.

Issues for 2019

Do you have an issue or policy idea that we need to consider in the 2019 legislative session? Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comment, idea or question.

You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (509) 209-2427.

Onward!
Andy

August 24th, 2018|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Washington state DISCLOSE Act ensures election transparency despite federal action

Washington state DISCLOSE Act ensures election transparency despite federal action

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.”

July 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Billig recognized for expanding healthcare for Washington children

Billig recognized for expanding healthcare for Washington children

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.

July 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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

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.”

June 7th, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

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

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

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.

March 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Sine Die!

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

March 9th, 2018|E-News|

Senate budgets invest in Spokane and lower property taxes

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

February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Supplemental capital budget boosts Spokane-area projects

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.”

February 24th, 2018|Uncategorized|

E News – Staying alive

Staying alive
We have now passed two cut-off dates, and the majority of bills that were introduced will not progress any further this session.
Essentially, the legislative session is like a funnel. We started with nearly 4,000 bills introduced over 2017 and 2018 in both the House and Senate, but only about 600 will pass into law.
The next cut-off is the “House of Origin” cut-off at 5pm on Wednesday when all bills, except those necessary to implement the budget, must be out of the chamber of origin.

Health Care for Pacific Islander community
It is gratifying to have legislation pass that I know will positively impact people in the Spokane community. SB 5683, which passed the Senate last week, 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. I was so glad that representatives of the Pacific Islander community from Spokane were in attendance as we passed this bill. Click on the picture below to read the Spokesman-Review’s coverage:

You can learn more about the Pacific Islander community’s fight for health care in this Inlander article.

Real ID Act extension
We have received a lot of questions about Washington driver’s licenses being allowed as a valid ID at airports due to the federal Real ID Act. As a result of a bill we passed last year, current regular Washington drivers licenses will be valid for airport travel until October 2020. After that date, Washington residents will be required to present either an enhanced driver’s license or passport in order to fly on domestic flights as the state comes into full compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

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

February 13th, 2018|E-News|