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

Sen. Andy Billig Newsroom

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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

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, Uncategorized|

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|

E News – School House Rock and another registered voter!

How a bill becomes law: Step 2

You may remember a few weeks ago, our team dropped SB 6345 in the hopper to start its legislative journey. In this week’s installment, SB 6345, a bill to impose a 10-year moratorium on fracking in Washington state, received a hearing in the Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee. The hearing gave the public (and me!) the chance to testify on the bill.

The committee passed the bill to the Senate Rules Committee. Next week our story continues as little SB 6345 tries to become a law.

Does this remind you of School House Rock? Click here to watch how a bill becomes law.

Women’s healthcare bills

Last week, the Senate passed three important bills that would further women’s healthcare and protect reproductive freedom. SB 6219, SB 5912, and SB 5084 will ensure better access and comprehensive care for women.

 

 

 

 

Registering to vote!

As we work to pass a package of bills to expand voting access for eligible Washingtonians, a personal highlight for me last week was taking my daughter to register to vote on her 18th birthday. What an enjoyable intersection of work, family and citizenship!

Remember, you can register to vote online or in-person at the Spokane County Elections Office.

 

 

 

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 5th, 2018|E-News|

E News – Democracy at work!

Cutoff week

This is a tense week in Olympia as the first of the “cutoff” dates approaches this Friday. Any bills not passed out of a policy committee by Friday, Feb. 2 will be ineligible to be considered for the remainder of this session.

Constituents in Olympia

We love having our constituents from Spokane visit us in Olympia. Thank you to everyone who ventured across the state in the last few weeks to share their perspectives on issues that are important to our community.

We were fortunate to meet with folks from Spokane area childcare providers, ‘I Did The Time,’ Eastern Washington University, the Planned Parenthood teen council, the Spokane Symphony, Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, and many other organizations.

As your voice in Olympia, I greatly value your input as I work to improve our city and state. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments, concerns or questions you may have as we progress through this short session.

Telephone town hall

I joined my 3rd Legislative District colleagues, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli, to host a telephone town hall event that reached over 2,600 constituents! Thank you to everyone who participated and offered their thoughtful questions and comments.

If you were not able to join, you can listen to a recording of the telephone town hall meeting by clicking here.

Democracy Lobby Day

Last week I also had the pleasure to speak with citizen-advocates from Fix Democracy First and the League of Women Voters. We discussed a range of voting access and campaign finance transparency bills that we are working to pass into law this session.

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

January 29th, 2018|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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!

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

January 23rd, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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

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.

January 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Billig’s campaign finance legislation passes the Senate

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.

January 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|