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

Join us for a telephone town hall on Feb. 12

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.

February 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Remote testimony, early bill action & support for clean energy

Remote testimony, early bill action & support for clean energy

Last week the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee (the committee that oversees the administration of the Senate) approved a plan I put forward in conjunction with Sen. Mike Padden to make the Senate’s remote testimony pilot project permanent and to expand it. The Washington State Senate is one of only a handful of legislative chambers in the country that regularly allows remote testimony.

Early action on the Senate floor

The full Senate took its first significant votes of the session last Wednesday. A measure to clarify Initiative 940, a voter initiative that updated Washington’s deadly force statute, passed unanimously. Gov. Inslee will sign this important public safety legislation today.

The Senate also adopted a Joint Resolution that codifies the Legislature’s new code of conduct. The goal of this new code of conduct and the policies that support it is to provide a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for everyone who works in, or visits, the Legislature. The new policy has been developed over the past year by a team of staff, lawmakers and others who work in and around the Legislature.

Support for clean energy

As always, I enjoy having constituents from Spokane visit us in Olympia. Among the many visits last week was this group of 27 Spokane residents who came to the Capitol to advocate for the passage of SB 5116, the 100 percent clean energy bill. The bill passed out of the Environment, Energy & Technology Committee and now heads to the Ways & Means Committee.

Did you know?

Spokane County is home to a Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA), established by the Legislature in 2007. The HSSA provides grants for Spokane researchers pursuing innovative solutions to society’s most pressing public health concerns like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), diabetes, substance addiction, and infectious diseases. Find out more about the HSSA here. I have teamed up with Sen. Jeff Holy on SB 5569, which will extend the program for 20 more years.

February 5th, 2019|E-News|

State Senate expands remote testimony program

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

January 29th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Spokane comes to Olympia

We are starting the third week of the legislative session and still very much in the committee phase when bills receive initial hearings to see if they have enough support to advance to the Senate floor for a full vote. There have already been 685 bills introduced in the Senate alone; 674 in the House. This is also a time of the session with a lot of constituent visits. I come away from these meetings with a better understanding of the issues impacting our community. This week I met with the students from Eastern Washington University’s School of Social Work, high school students, educators from local school districts, small business owners, and local realtors from Spokane.

Celebrating Early Learning


Earlier this month, I was honored to receive the Crayon Award from the Early Learning Action Alliance for our work on expanding access to high quality early learning opportunities in Washington state. Child brain development research and in depth cost-benefit studies have shown that investing in high-quality early learning is one of the smartest choices our state can make for our children and our future.

Priority Bills

I wanted to highlight a priority piece of legislation that can help people prepare for their long-term care costs and live with dignity through their senior years. The Long-Term Care Trust Act is a bipartisan bill that would set up a public long-term care benefit that Washington workers would pay into, and eventually benefit from later in life to deal with age-related issues, chronic illness, or disability. The number of seniors living in Washington is growing rapidly, making up 15 percent of the entire population. The Trust Act will also strengthen our state’s finances by slowing the growth of Medicaid and preserving our limited dollars for those who need it the most.

January 28th, 2019|E-News|

Kicking off the 2019 session

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

January 18th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

Countdown to the 2019 Legislative Session

Happy New Year! The 2019 legislative session begins on January 14. In case you missed it, I explain more about my new role as Senate Majority Leader, our priorities for the session, and the Legislative Class of 2019 in this recent op-ed in the Spokesman Review.

Welcome to Team Billig

I am pleased to announce that Kate Dinnison has recently joined our team as a Legislative Assistant. Kate was born and raised in the 3rd Legislative District and is a graduate of Lewis and Clark High School. She recently worked on a local campaign after graduating with a degree in International Relations from King’s College, London.

Apply to be a page in Olympia!

If you know a high school student who is interested in learning about civics and government through a hands-on program in Olympia, please direct them to find out more about the Washington State Senate Page Program and apply here.

Keep in touch

It is an honor to represent Spokane, and I value your input as we work to improve opportunity and prosperity for everyone in our state. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments, ideas or questions you may have during the upcoming legislative session or any time. You can reach me by email at andy.billig@leg.wa.gov or by phone at (509) 209-2427.

Onward!
Andy


January 4th, 2019|E-News|

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|
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    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|
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    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|