The Hopper

Nelson: Spellman protected environment, ‘cared deeply for our state’

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson released the following statement after the death of former Gov. John Spellman.

“Gov. Spellman cared deeply for our state and devoted a large part of his life to serving the people, first in King County and then in the governor’s office.

“He led our state during a difficult financial time in the early 1980s and left his mark by working to strengthen local governments. He also recognized early on that the state had an important role to play in protecting the environment and the open spaces in our unique corner of the world.

“The Senate Democratic Caucus extends its deepest condolences to the entire Spellman family.”

January 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Week 2: Preventing gun violence, reducing carbon pollution, protecting women’s access to health care and more

Last week Senate Democrats moved quickly on key policy priorities such as voting rights and equal pay — issues that had been bottled up by Republican committee chairs over the last five years. The pace won’t slow this week with hearings on legislation that will finally put the people of Washington state first: preventing gun violence, combating the opioid epidemic, reducing carbon pollution, ensuring a women’s right to quality reproductive care and more.

  • Democratic leaders from the Senate and House will hold a joint media availability at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in the Senate Majority Caucus Room.
  • Possible floor action on Wednesday and Thursday.

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MONDAY, Jan. 15
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Resolution in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at noon on the Senate floor.

Law & Justice 10:00 am, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5992 – Concerning trigger modification devices.
  • SB 6049 – Concerning high capacity magazines.
  • SB 5444 – Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
  • SB 5463 – Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms.
  • SB 6146 – Relating to local government authority to regulate firearms.

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6150 – Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services.
  • SB 6050 – Concerning restrictions on prescriptions for opiates.

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 6316 – Concerning the certification and evidence of adequate and available water

Labor & Commerce 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6227 – Concerning workplace injuries by janitors.
  • SB 6214 – Allowing industrial insurance coverage for posttraumatic stress disorders of law enforcement and firefighters.

Human Services & Corrections 1:30 pm, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6222 – Concerning expansion of extended foster care eligibility.

Early Learning & K-12 Education 1:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6144 – Reducing state assessment requirements to only those required for federal purposes in order to facilitate removal of inequitable barriers to students.
  • Executive Session: SB 6003 – Concerning breakfast after the bell programs in certain public schools. SB 5766 – Preventing harassment, intimidation, and bullying in public schools.

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6054 – Requiring the department of transportation to complete a study on passenger-only ferry services.

TUESDAY, Jan. 16

Higher Education & Workforce Development 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6087 – Expanding opportunities for apprenticeships for inmates.

Financial Institutions & Insurance 8:30 am, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6375 – Developing a publicly owned depository business plan

Energy, Environment & Technology 10:00 am, Senate HR 4

  • SB 6203 – Reducing carbon pollution by moving to a clean energy economy.

Law & Justice 10:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • Executive Session: SB 5992 – Concerning trigger modification devices

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6219 – Concerning health plan coverage of reproductive health care.
  • SB 5701 – Creating the Washington apple care trust

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6099 – Concerning orca captivity

Early Learning & K-12 Education 1:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6141 – Strengthening school district plans for recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students

Ways & Means 3:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • Executive Session: SB 6090 – Concerning the capital budget. SB 6089 – Concerning state general obligation bonds and related accounts.

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • Work Session: Electric vehicles; Road Usage Charge pilot.

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 17

State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 5780 – Making provisions to commemorate the centennial of national women’s suffrage.
  • SB 6200 – Allowing persons who will turn eighteen years of age by the general election to vote in the primary election

Energy, Environment & Technology 8:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6130 – Concerning community solar gardens

Labor & Commerce 1:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5249 – Providing damages for wage theft.
  • SB 5527 – Simplifying and enforcing employee status under employment laws to ensure fairness to employers and employees and address the underground economy

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • Work Session: Cascadia subduction zone impacts on state highway system. 

THURSDAY, Jan. 18

Energy, Environment & Technology 10:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • SB 5935 – Enhancing consumer access, affordability, and quality of broadband and advanced telecommunications services.

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6235 – Concerning the establishment of forest practices pre-application review

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • Work Session: Global perspective on Universal Health Care; State perspective on Universal Health Care.
  • SB 5747 – Addressing health care financing and development of a publicly sponsored integrated delivery system by creating the access for all trust.

Higher Education & Workforce Development 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6263 – Expanding the passport to college promise program to include youth experiencing homelessness and foster youth. SB 6259 – Creating the social work professional loan repayment program.

Ways & Means 3:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5513 – Increasing tax exemption transparency and accountability.
  • Executive Session: SB 6062 – Addressing the establishment of an individual health insurance market claims-based reinsurance program.
January 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Gun safety bills to be heard Monday in Senate’s Law & Justice Committee

OLYMPIA — The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear several gun-related bills on Monday. Gun violence is a public health crisis in our state and nationwide, and it’s time to impose reasonable restrictions on firearms to ensure the safety of Washingtonians.

Senate Bill 5463, Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms:

  • Creates liability for people who don’t safely store firearms, when those firearms are used to kill or injure someone.
  • More than 65 percent of school shooters obtained their fire at home, or at the home of a relative.
  • More than 75 percent of youth who attempt to take their own lives do so with a gun found at home.

Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby: “This bill simply says that if you are an irresponsible gun owner who allows an unsecured weapon to be used by somebody prohibited from owning a gun, such as a terrorist, domestic abuser or a child, that there will be legal repercussions. The grim reality is that easy access to firearms is a leading factor in shootings, and deaths, among children.”

Senate Bill 5992, Concerning trigger modification devices:

  • Would ban the conversion kit known as a “bump stock” that essentially allows people to turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.
  • This type of modification is easily purchased, and allowed a shooter in Las Vegas to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in 2017.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim: ““The clear purpose of bump stocks is to give a legal semiautomatic weapon the rapid-fire capability of machine gun, which is an illegal weapon. As a lifetime NRA member and longtime supporter of gun rights and responsible gun ownership, I don’t take this action lightly. But these devices pose an emerging and deadly threat to public safety that urgently needs to be addressed. Bump stocks should never have been legalized in the first place.”

Senate Bill 6049, Concerning high-capacity magazines:

  • Would prohibit the manufacture, possession, sale or transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
  • Possession of a high-capacity magazine would be a gross misdemeanor.
  • Exemptions would include law enforcement officers and members of the military when on duty.
  • Introduced at the recommendation of Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “When a shooter enters a building with a 30-round magazine, that’s 30 people that he could kill quickly, without stopping to reload. By allowing high capacity magazines in our state, we give active shooters the ability to inflict a huge amount of damage.”

  • Senate Bill 5444, Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and high capacity magazines
  • Would require enhanced background checks for the purchase of an assault weapon.
  • Today in Washington, it is easier to buy an assault weapon than a handgun. This bill would remedy that problem.
  • Introduced at the recommendation of Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Today, state law treats assault weapons the same as hunting rifles. That makes them easier and faster to purchase than handguns. Given the deadly killing efficiency of these guns, that is unacceptable. We need better regulations to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.”

Senate Bill 6146, Relating to local government authority to regulate firearms:

  • Would allow local authorities to adopt responsible approaches to gun safety to protect their communities.
  • For more than 30 years, our local towns, cities and counties have been blocked from taking action on their own to prevent gun violence because of the statewide preemption law.

When: 10 a.m. on Jan. 15
Where: Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building

January 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate committee passes bill to ban credit freeze fees

OLYMPIA – A bill passed today by the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee would eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, the committee’s chair, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

“This bill is an important, bipartisan consumer protection measure that I’m hoping will pass out of the Senate very soon,” Mullet said. “Washington residents can’t afford a delay and need this problem solved.”

Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request a “credit freeze” from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data.

Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees.

“Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own should not have to pay to protect their credit rating,” Mullet said. “These high-profile, cyber security threats have created a lot of fear, but I’m confident that my bill will make it easier for people to protect themselves and their identities without financial penalties.”

Mullet noted that the bill is one of his top priorities for the 2018 legislative session, which began this week, and he said that he plans to continue pushing for it to be passed and signed into law quickly.

January 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats to hear higher education bills to expand access and opportunity to all Washingtonians

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats have introduced a package of higher education bills to ensure access and opportunity for all Washingtonians. The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will begin work to ensure DREAMers have opportunity regardless of federal action, find solutions for students mired in massive student loan debt and make college free for low-income students facing the high cost of higher education.

The committee will hear bills at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 2.

SB 5074, Eligibility for financial aid programs for DREAMers
• Extends the standard established in 2003, when the state first allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges to include those who were granted DACA status to ensure DREAMers are eligible for state financial aid programs.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Every Washingtonian deserves access to higher education, and the opportunities that will follow. Policies at the national level have placed DREAMers in jeopardy. We as a state need to make it clear that DREAMers deserve respect, and that they deserve access to the financial aid packages that Washington offers.”

SB 6029, Establishing a student loan bill of rights.
• Creates new protections for borrowers, requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the state and establishes a Student Education Loan Advocate to assist and aid borrowers.
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “I’m one of the 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off my student loans, so I really understand the economic pressures people face when trying to plan for their future. The student debt crisis is going to continue to grow and we should act now to protect borrowers from predatory loan servicers.”

SB 6101, Evergreen Free College Act:
• Creates the Evergreen Free College Program to offer free college to all Washingtonians making $89,000 or less for a family of four.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and committee chair: “There is a huge need in expanding access and opportunity for children, particularly those who do not have the ease of access and support of many families. While many of our lowest income students are eligible for our Student Need Grant and other programs, many students’ parents make just a bit more than those thresholds but can still not afford college. It is our duty to make absolutely sure that every single child has the chance to fully pursue their educational and training dreams and fully succeed in life.”

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Ban on ‘conversion therapy’ to be heard in Senate

What’s happening: The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will hear legislation to ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth in Washington state.

When: 10 a.m. Thursday in Senate Hearing Room 2.

Where you can watch it live: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011104

Brief Summary: Senate Bill 5722 would make it unprofessional conduct for a licensed health care provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under the age of 18.

Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “Every major medical organization which has reviewed ‘conversion therapy’ has condemned the practice. It is barbaric to deny young people their identity and we have an obligation to protect our children from so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

The Senate Members of Color Caucus welcomes Senator Manka Dhingra; lays out an agenda focused on inclusion

The Senate Members of Color Caucus welcomes Senator Manka Dhingra; lays out an agenda focused on inclusion

Olympia – Democrats welcomed the newly elected senator from the 45th Legislative District, Manka Dhingra, as the Washington State Senate convened for the 2018 legislative session.

Dhingra becomes the 25th member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and the fifth member of the Senate Members of Color Caucus (MOCC). Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Chair of the MOCC, and members Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, released the following statement:

“We are honored to celebrate the start of the 2018 legislative session by welcoming our new colleague, Sen. Manka Dhingra, to the Washington State Legislature.

“The election of Sen. Dhingra this past November not only led to a Democratic majority in the Senate but also expanded the membership of the Members of Color Caucus. As the power shifts in Olympia, the MOCC will continue to give a voice to communities of color across our great state, and ensure that they are represented in policy discussions.

“We have made significant progress in Washington, but we cannot solely rely on our past achievements. Serving you is a great privilege; one we do not take lightly. Our priority as a coalition will always be to amplify the voices of underrepresented and disenfranchised communities.

“At a time when our country appears deeply divided, Washington state will continue to be a beacon for the rest of the nation. We will continue to move forward on a unified path together. Uplifting the voices of our communities is a collective effort. That is why we stand together to support the economic and social growth of all people.

“We will stand up for immigrants, refugees, and all people of color who enrich the cultural and economic landscape of our state.

“We will stand up for voters in every community until we can all be represented in fair elections.

“We will confront racial bias in the criminal justice system and in other institutions built on the promise of equality.

“This year in Olympia, we reaffirm our shared dedication to creating equity in our state. Our caucus knows diversity is one of our strongest assets and we look forward to working on a robust agenda that matters most to the communities we serve. ”

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For more information or for interviews: Bre Weider, (360) 786-7326; Sharlett Mena, (360) 786-7013

Para más información o para entrevistas en español: Sharlett Mena, (360) 786-7013

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate committee to hear Access to Democracy reforms

A package of elections reform bills to reduce barriers, increase transparency and boost turnout in elections statewide will be heard Wednesday by the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee.

SB 6002, Washington Voting Rights Act

  • Enables cities, counties, school boards and other local elected bodies to voluntarily adopt changes to their elections system that will improve representation in local governments.
  • Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle: “Ensuring that every Washingtonian has a seat at the table, and that people of color have the ability to choose their own elected leaders, is our essential duty. We’ve seen in Yakima and Pasco that when given the chance, impacted communities elect leaders who reflect their values and the diversity of their neighborhoods. The Washington Voting Rights Act will put power back into the hands of the people where it belongs, in local elections.”

SB 6021, Same Day Voter Registration

  • Authorizes in-person voter registration until 8:00 p.m. on election day and moves up the deadline for online or by mail registration to eight days before an election.
  • Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue: “Expanding access to our democracy is the core goal of same day voter registration, but it’s also about rebuilding faith in our civic institutions. There are far too many individuals in our state who want to participate in democracy on election day, only to have their voices and their passion squandered. This legislation opens the door to all, ensuring that every eligible voter is fully welcome to engage and have their say.”

SB 5991, The DISCLOSE Act

  • Requires nonprofit organizations that are making significant campaign contributions and activities to disclose their top donors.
  • Andy Billig, D-Spokane: “We need to shine light on money spent on elections in Washington State regardless of source. This bill strengthens our democracy and levels the playing field for disclosure by applying the same transparency rules to everyone.”

Chaired by Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, the Access to Democracy package will be heard in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

“This bold slate of bills would expand access to democracy and implement long-overdue updates to bring Washington elections into the 21st Century,” Hunt said.

January 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Sen. Hobbs on derailment tragedy: “The Legislature stands ready to do whatever necessary to help the people and communities impacted”

Senate Transportation Chairman Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, issued the statement below following today’s tragic passenger train derailment near DuPont, WA:

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the families impacted by today’s train derailment and my sincerest gratitude to the first responders on the scene. Like everyone else, we’re deeply concerned and waiting to learn what caused this tragedy. The Legislature stands ready to do whatever necessary to help the people and communities impacted.”

December 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement after the release of the governor’s 2018 operating supplemental budget proposal.

“I appreciate the work the governor has done to craft a prudent supplemental budget proposal that offers a blueprint to complete our work in 60 days.

“This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up. I appreciate the governor’s focus on expanding treatment for mental health patients and his commitment to protecting affordable health care for all residents.

“This is a realistic approach that will guide the Legislature as we work to put people first with a balanced budget delivered on time.”

December 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|