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

Internships, Mobile Office and census support

The Washington State Senate is looking for college juniors and seniors who are interested in gaining valuable experience and academic credit with the completion of a 60-day internship starting in January 2020. The Senate internship program is an excellent opportunity to gain insight into lawmaking and public service. Applications must be returned by 8 p.m. on Oct. 11 to ensure consideration. Find out more on the Senate website.

Legislative Assistants Noelle Connolly and Kate Dinnison with 2019 intern Morgan Rockey.

Mobile Office this Friday

Please join me and Reps. Riccelli and Ormsby as we host another Mobile Office this Friday at the Emerson-Garfield Farmers Market. The Mobile Office is an opportunity to drop in to meet your legislators in a more informal setting, ask questions and give input on your priorities for Spokane and Washington state. We’ll be there from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Please stop by anytime during that time frame to say hello and provide us with input. Hope to see you there!

• When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20

• Where: Emerson-Garfield Farmers Market, 2310 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA 99205

Census Alliance

In anticipation of the 2020 Census, the Spokane County Complete Count Committee is looking for volunteers to participate on their subcommittees to assist in outreach efforts. The census is vital to ensure an accurate count of our local population, which determines the amount of federal and state resources invested into our community. If you want to find out more or get involved, visit their website

In anticipation of the 2020 Census, the Spokane County Complete Count Committee is looking for volunteers to participate on their subcommittees to assist in outreach efforts. The census is vital to ensure an accurate count of our local population, which determines the amount of federal and state resources invested into our community. If you want to find out more or get involved, visit their website.

September 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Legislators to host mobile office on Friday, Sept. 20

The 3rd Legislative District’s delegation will hold a mobile office event at the Emerson Garfield Farmer’s Market from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20. Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will give constituents a chance to comment or ask questions about state legislation that affects the region.

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

What: Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli are hosting a mobile office in the 3rd Legislative District. This informal event provides the opportunity for one-on-one dialogue with legislators. Constituents can ask questions about state government, share their priorities for Spokane, or discuss legislative issues.

When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20

Where: Emerson Garfield Farmer’s Market, 2310 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA 99205

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

September 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    3rd District legislators to host mobile office event July 25

3rd District legislators to host mobile office event July 25

The 3rd Legislative District’s delegation will hold a mobile office event at the Downtown Spokane Library from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25. Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will give constituents a chance to comment or ask questions about legislation that affects the region.

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

What: As in years past, Sen. Billig and Reps. Ormsby and Riccelli are hosting a mobile office in the 3rd Legislative District. This informal event provides the opportunity for one-on-one dialogue with legislators. Constituents can ask questions about state government, share their priorities for Spokane, or discuss legislative issues.

When: 4 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25

Where: Downtown Spokane Library, 906 W. Main Ave.

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

July 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Back home in Spokane!

It has been a joy to be back in Spokane seeing familiar faces following the legislative session in Olympia. The past weeks have been busy with events and I wanted to update you on some of the progress in our community.

WSU medical school expansion

Earlier this month, I was honored to attend a celebration for the expansion of the WSU Elson S. Floyd Medical School. The current cohort of students are all from Washington state, over half are women, and more than one-third are people of color. This fall, the school will expand from 60 to 80 students thanks to investments made in the 2019-21 state budget. The benefits will be felt by the Spokane community and people all across the state for generations to come.

New Transit Center at SCC

I was also pleased to speak at the groundbreaking of Spokane Transit Authority’s new transit center at Spokane Community College. This new hub is supported by Washington State Regional Mobility Grant funds, and marks the easternmost point of the future Central City Line – Eastern Washington’s first Bus Rapid Transit system. A transit hub on campus represents the intrinsic connection between transit, education, and healthy, thriving communities.

Summer Youth Card

Speaking of staying connected, kudos to the Transit Authority, Spokane Public Schools, and the City of Spokane for launching the Summer Youth Card! This card is available for free to ANY K-12 child in the city of Spokane and can be used as a bus pass, or for admission to certain aquatic centers and the Riverfront Park skate ribbon! What a great opportunity for fun and mobility this summer!

LGBTQ+ Roundtable

Senator Liias joined me to celebrate Pride in Spokane.

Happy Pride Month! I was glad to have a visit from my colleague, Senator Marko Liias from the 21st legislative district, who came to celebrate Pride in Spokane. We held a LGBTQ+ round table to hear from the community about progress we have made in recent legislative sessions, but also the significant challenges that people are still facing in education and healthcare systems, as well as the daily discrimination our LGBTQ+ neighbors experience. Thank you to all the community members that shared their stories during the roundtable discussion. Additional thanks to Senator Liias for participating and to Councilmember Kate Burke, who hosted the event.


Let us know about your event

If you have an event or community meeting that you think my staff and I should know about, please let us know. Stay in touch by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 509-209-2427.

June 26th, 2019|E-News|

Gov. Inslee signs oil train safety legislation

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation on Thursday to address the risk posed by shipping highly flammable Bakken crude oil traveling through communities across the state.

Senate Bill 5579, sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), will require facilities offloading or loading crude oil from a rail tank car to meet safer vapor pressure standards if the state experiences an increase in oil train traffic.

A 10% increase in the volume of crude oil will trigger the new requirements and prohibit a facility from storing or offloading crude oil produced unless the oil has a vapor pressure of less than nine pounds per square inch (9 psi).

In the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail derailment that killed 47 people in Canada, the only tank car that did not explode was carrying oil with a vapor pressure of 9 psi.

The new standard will not take effect until two years after the state Department of Ecology provides notification of the increase relative to the volume transported in 2018. Currently, 17 unit trains per week travel to refineries by rail in Washington. Failing to meet the standard could result in penalties of up to $2,500 per day per rail tank car.

“We know these trains pose a serious risk as we watch them pass through downtown Spokane in sight of Lewis and Clark High School, hospitals, medical buildings, and senior living facilities,” Billig said. “This bill about safety – safety for the workers who unload Bakken crude oil at endpoints in Washington state, and safety for people who live, work and attend schools along the route the oil travels from North Dakota.”

There have been at least 14 events in recent years involving derailments of Bakken crude in the U.S. and Canada, including a derailment and fire at Mosier, Ore., that necessitated the evacuation of much of the town and narrowly avoided a catastrophic spill into the Columbia River.

“While we know there is more to do to reduce the risk of a catastrophic event, this bill puts in place protections if we see an increase in oil train traffic travelling through our state,” Billig said.

While the federal government has adopted so-called packing rules for high-hazard flammable trains, it has not adopted a nationwide vapor pressure standard for crude oil shipped by rail, and has not responded to petitions from multiple states, including Washington, to do so.

“When Washington state leads, the nation follows,” said Spokane City Council Member Breean Beggs. “We in Spokane are grateful that a safer oil volatility standard will be established to protect workers and community members from derailing train explosions.”

May 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|

The Legislature adjourns sine die

With three minutes to spare before the midnight deadline, the 2019 Legislature adjourned last night. This is the first time in a decade the Legislature has completed a 105-day session on time.

We adopted a responsible and forward-looking two-year operating budget that makes historic gains for the state. The budget invests in a transformation of our behavioral health system, expands access to early learning, and strengthens K-12 and special education. It also includes historic investments in the state’s higher education system. Earlier this session, we adopted the strongest clean energy legislationin the nation, protecting clean air and water for generations to come. Click here to read about some of the other highlights of the 2019 legislative session.

As my first session as the Senate Majority Leader in Olympia wraps up, I’ve been reflecting on how fortunate I am to work on behalf of the people of Spokane and lead a talented and diverse group of Senators from around the state. 

Big wins for Spokane in state budgets

Your Spokane legislative delegation was able to secure funding for a number of top community priorities in the operating, capital and transportation budgets:

  • Funding for the WSU Elson S. Floyd Medical School, including support for 20 additional medical students
  • Additional funding for Spokane area school districts
  • $1 million for the Joya Child and Family Development (formerly Spokane Guild School)
  • $1 million for Crosswalk’s new teen shelter and transitional housing project
  • $1 million for the new downtown Spokane Sportsplex
  • $500,000 for the Riverfront Park Suspension Bridge repair
  • $400,000 for CHAS Spokane behavioral health clinic expansion
  • $350,000 for the new Carl Maxey Center
  • Making our community a safer place

Making our community a safer place

The two bills I prime sponsored to improve public safety in our city both passed the Legislature.

Senate Bill 5579 will require a stricter safety standard for oil trains moving through our state if the state experiences an increase in oil train traffic.

Senate Bill 5492 is a bipartisan effort among Spokane leaders to reduce auto theft by providing community supervision for offenders who commit motor vehicle-related felonies. Research shows this strategy, which provides services, reduces recidivism.

April 30th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Budgets include key investments for Spokane

The Senate introduced its budget proposals late last week. The capital budget, which is our jobs and infrastructure plan, provides funds to rebuild a suspension bridge in Riverfront Park, design a new university building at WSU-Spokane, and help build the new Crosswalk teen shelter. Below are a few of the investments in the Senate’s proposed capital budget:

  • Spokane Guild’s School Capital Campaign ($1 million)
  • Crosswalk Teen Shelter and Transitional Housing ($1 million)
  • Don Kardong Bridge on the Centennial Trail ($726,000)
  • Maple Street CHAS Clinical Behavioral Health Expansion ($411,000)
  • Riverfront Park Suspension Bridge Renovation ($500,000)
  • WSU Biomedical and Health Science Building ($500,000)

Operating budget investments

The Senate also released its two-year state operating budget proposal with targeted investments in behavioral health, K-12 special education, early learning, higher education, and investments to protect clean air and clean water. I believe this budget reflects our state’s shared values, and forges a path toward prosperity and improved quality of life in Spokane and throughout our state. I’ll share more details on the operating budget in the coming weeks.

Fixing our upside-down tax code

Washington ranks 50th out of 50 states when it comes to tax fairness. In other words, we have the most unfair tax code in the country. Along with our budget, we have put forward a proposal to rebalance our tax code and reduce the tax burden on lower income and middle-class families. You can watch a video where I explain this plan here.

April 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|

Spokane legislators to host town hall meeting

OLYMPIA – Legislators representing Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District will host a town hall on Saturday, March 16, to provide an update on the 2019 legislative session in Olympia and take questions from community members.

Who: Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli
When: Saturday, March 16, 10-11:30 a.m.
Where: The MAC – Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, E.A. Johnston Auditorium 2316 W. 1st Ave.

The Legislature is in the midst of a 105-day session scheduled to conclude on April 28. Lawmakers from Spokane will provide a brief update on budget proposals for the 2019-21 biennium and discuss legislation to address education, clean air and water, local jobs and infrastructure, health care, and many more issues.

March 7th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Senate passes oil train safety legislation

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate has approved legislation to reduce the risk posed by shipping highly flammable Bakken crude oil across the state.

Senate Bill 5579, sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), passed the Senate Monday on a 27-20 vote. The bill would require facilities offloading or loading crude oil from a rail tank car to meet specific vapor pressure standards.

“This bill about safety – the safety for the workers who unload Bakken crude oil at their endpoint in Washington state, and for the safety for everyone along the route by which it travels from North Dakota. These large shipments of extremely flammable fuel run through the heart of our state, starting with my community in Spokane,” said Billig. “People and their safety must come first. Experts know that highly flammable Bakken oil poses greater risk and it’s time to take meaningful action to reduce the threat of a serious catastrophe.”

SB 5579 reduces level of risk posed by the volatility of Bakken oil by, in the effect, requiring producers to condition the oil to meet safer standards prior to shipment from the Bakken region.

There have been at least 14 events in recent years involving derailments of Bakken crude in the U.S. and Canada, including the Lac-Megantic rail derailment that killed 47 people and the derailment and fire at Mosier, Ore., that necessitated the evacuation of much of the town and narrowly avoided a catastrophic spill into the Columbia river.

While the federal government has adopted so-called packing rules for high-hazard flammable trains, it has not adopted a nationwide vapor pressure standard for crude oil shipped by rail, and has not responded to petitions from multiple states to do so.

Under the bill, a facility may not store or offload crude oil produced from the Bakken region unless the oil has a vapor pressure of less than nine pounds per square inch. Failing to meet the standard could result in penalties of up to $2,500 per day per rail tank car.

“If the federal government won’t act to protect public safety and adopt a safer nationwide standard, we will adopt our own,” Billig said. “There is just too much to lose – for people and our environment.”

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

March 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Policy cutoff and Shrimp Scampi!

Friday was the first cutoff day of this legislative session. All bills not voted out of their policy committee by Friday are dead for this session. This is part of the legislative whittling process that takes the 1,000-plus bills that are introduced and helps us focus on the measures that have the best chance to pass. This week we focus on floor action and work in the fiscal committees (Ways & Means and Transportation).

Support from our little learners

I always enjoy receiving letters and e-mails from constituents. Their feedback is essential for me to do an effective job representing our community.  I especially enjoy receiving input from the children I represent. Recently, I received letters from students in day care and after school programs. See above for a couple of examples encouraging me to support high-quality early learning and after-school care. Even the youngest advocates can make a difference when they make their voices heard. And, I love that one of them mentioned Shrimp Scampi in their letter!

Three things you might not know about the Washington State Legislature

I recently had the chance to meet with Lisa Brown, the state’s new commerce director. We took a photo in front of a portrait of Reba Hurn, another former Spokane state senator. Hurn became the first woman elected to the Washington State Senate in 1923.
  • Though this is my first year as Majority Leader, it is certainly not the first time that someone who represents Spokane County has held the seat. Most recently, Mark Schoesler in the 9th LD, who is currently the Senate Minority Leader, held the position and Lisa Brown, who has recently been appointed as the Director of Commerce, was the Majority Leader for eight years.
  • In Washington we have a citizen legislature, which means that in addition to each member’s work for their constituents, many also sustain another job during interim. In the Senate, we have first responders, union organizers, and small business owners, who all bring a wealth of perspectives to the lawmaking and legislative process. With our freshman class of senators, we have added a computer engineer, a community organizer, an early childhood education administrator, a small business owner and more!
  • Last week we continued a tradition in the Senate of new members offering a small gift to their colleagues upon their first speech on the Senate floor. People often highlight a product from their district or something that is special from their background. For my first speech in the Senate in 2013, I handed out Spokane Indians Baseball hats.

Town Halls

Thanks to those people who participated in the 3rd Legislative District telephone town hall. We received a lot of great questions and feedback. If you missed it, you can listen to the event here

I hope to see you in person at our 3rd Legislative District Town Hall on March 16 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the MAC – Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, 2316 W 1st Ave.

February 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|