27 11, 2013

McCoy appointed senator for the 38th Legislative District

November 27th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, took the oath of office today to become senator for the 38th Legislative District.

McCoy, who has served in the state House since 2003, fills the vacancy left by the resignation of former senator Nick Harper.

“It is an honor to represent the people of the 38th Legislative District and I am excited to get to work with my new colleagues in the Senate,” McCoy said.

McCoy was sworn in following a unanimous vote by the Snohomish County Council.

20 11, 2013

Sen. Nelson elected leader of Senate Democratic Caucus

November 20th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, has been elected leader of the Democratic Caucus in the Washington State Legislature.

“I am honored to have been elected as leader by the Senate Democrats,” Nelson said, following the announcement of the results on Wednesday afternoon. “We have a diverse caucus, but I believe I was elected by my colleagues because my foremost goal is to do what I was sent here by my constituents to do – work for them. I demonstrated my inclusive leadership style during the budget negotiations last year, and I intend to make that a focal point of my tenure as leader.”

As the assistant ranking member on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Nelson served as the lead Democratic writer on the 2013 Capital Budget. Also serving on the Financial Institutions Committee, Nelson — a former bank executive — is well-known for a keen command of the financial side of lawmaking.

Yet it is the human stories at the heart of Nelson’s drive to be in state government. She started as a citizen activist back in the mid-90s, focusing on consumer protection, and since coming to the Legislature in 2007 has continued that effort.

“I will do everything in my power to reach across the aisle whenever possible in order to find solutions to anything from budget deficits to fully funding education,” Nelson said. “But I think being a good leader – especially of a minority party – means you need to be both tough and fair.”

Nelson represents the 34th legislative district, which is comprised of parts of Burien, North Highline, Maury and Vashon Islands, and West Seattle.

8 11, 2013

Legislature working to secure Boeing 777x contract

November 8th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday announced that the legislature would return to work Thursday in an effort to pass a package of bills to convince Boeing to build its new line of 777x airplanes here in Washington.

Boeing said that if this legislation is passed and if the machinists union votes to approve their new contract, the 777x will be constructed here.

The House held hearings on these bills Thursday and the Senate is scheduled to do the same Friday afternoon.

The bills in question, Senate Bill 5952 and 5953, work in a variety of ways to help create an economic environment for Boeing to succeed.

SB 5952 will:

  • Extend expiration of all commercial airplane tax incentives until 2040. Incentives are now set to expire in 2024. Extending this incentive will bring an estimated $21 billion in new revenue to the state in 2025-2040 through creating new jobs in the aerospace sector.
  • Expand the current sales and use tax exemption on construction of buildings to manufacture “superefficient airplanes” to include all commercial airplanes and suppliers of wings and fuselages.

SB 5953 will:

  • Expand training capacity – Increase community and technical college enrollments by 1,000 FTEs in high-demand aerospace fields such as composite materials manufacturing and repair, quality assurance, machine maintenance and pre-engineering.
  • Develop a squadron of composite wingmakers – Ensure skilled workers will be able and ready to fabricate composite wings by developing training programs at the Washington Aerospace Training & Research Center in partnership with Boeing.
  • Complete Central Sound Aerospace Training Facility under development in Renton. This multi-institutional training facility serving a multi-age population will expand training capacity and provide important hands-on experiences for incumbent training for the many aerospace-related suppliers in south King County and north Pierce County.

SB 5953 also includes legislation to streamline the permitting process by:

  • Assigning “Project of Statewide Significance” designation.
  • Snohomish County and city of Everett have already completed significant environmental permitting for plant expansion/new development and committed to four-week permit processes, assuming eventual project is consistent with assumptions.
  • Potential build-to-suit/leaseback of new building at Paine Field (if desired).
  • Already awarded $2 million CERB loan (Community Economic Revitalization Board) for Paine Field facility.
  • Establish an Advanced Permitting Grant Program in the Department of Commerce to help local jurisdictions develop planned action environmental impact statements in and around large manufacturing sites like those already in place in Everett and Renton.

Part of the plan also includes changes to water quality standards by:

  • Develop balanced, practical solutions that achieve water quality goals, limit permittee costs and footprint requirements, minimize the risk of third-party litigation and ensure the state’s ability to retain and attract business.
  • Final rules will be based on sound science, produce benefits for the environment and for human health, provide feasible compliance pathways and ensure a competitive economic climate.

Depending on who you ask, a long delayed transportation revenue package could also be included as part of the deal. Senate Republicans, however, stood in the way of infrastructure investments during the regular 2013 session and appear to reject the need for legislative action during this current special session. Instead, they’ve proposed delaying action again and returning later in the year for yet another special session, which would be the fourth special session of 2013. The Legislature has never before held four special sessions in a single calendar year.

6 11, 2013

July tax revenue higher than expected

November 6th, 2013|Uncategorized|

State budget writers received good news this week as Washington’s tax revenue for the month of July came in $73 million over expectations.

State Economist Steven Lerch pointed to strong commercial property sales and increases in B & O and retail sales taxes as the main drivers of the increase. Lerch says those indicators highlight Washington’s continued recovery from the effects of the recession.

In addition to higher than expected tax revenue, Lerch says Washington added 6,600 jobs during the month of June, the most since January and 2,900 more than the June economic forecast anticipated.

Lerch will meet with members of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council in September to deliver his quarterly report. Those reports provide the foundation for the Legislature to write Washington’s biennial and supplemental budgets.

6 11, 2013

Use ‘healthcarefinder’ for affordable health care

November 6th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Beginning Oct. 1, Washington citizens who need health insurance and are not covered by an employer’s health plan or other insurance will be able to shop for affordable coverage through a newly created state health care exchange. You can click here to learn more about this exchange, called “healthcarefinder,” and see answers to commonly asked questions about the system.

6 11, 2013

Senate mourns the passing of former Sen. Jean Berkey

November 6th, 2013|Uncategorized|

Sen. Jean Berkey, who served the 38th Legislative District for 10 years, first in the House and later in the Senate, passed away Aug. 21 after a brief illness. She was 74.

Condolences from members of the Senate came rolling in following the news of their former colleague’s passing. Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said that Berkey served as a model of what an effective legislator should be.

“She was an original member of the Roadkill Caucus and helped shape our group’s priorities and made us an effective voice of reason in a sometimes overly partisan environment,” Hobbs said. “Jean Berkey was what a legislator should be – attentive, willing to compromise and passionate.”

Sen. Nick Harper, who succeeded Berkey as Senator from the 38th, said she spent a lifetime advocating on behalf of the state and her adopted hometown of Everett.

“The 38th District has lost a dedicated public servant,” Harper said. “Sen. Berkey spent her life in service to our state and our community and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for a lifetime of advocating on behalf of others.”

Jean Berkey was born in Loma Linda, Calif. in 1938. She moved to Everett as a child and graduated from Everett High School in 1957 and later from Everett Community College.

Berkey began her long career in public service in the late 1960s when she joined the Snohomish County Labor Council as a delegate representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a position she held for 15 years.

She also served on the Everett Civil Service Commission, United Way of Snohomish County, the Everett Medic One Foundation and was a trustee of the Everett Community College.

Berkey was first appointed to the House of Representatives in 2000 and then to the Senate in 2004.

A memorial service will be held Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. in the Weyerhaeuser Room at Everett Station located at 3201 Smith Ave.