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31 01, 2014

Sen. Nelson: “This is a huge victory for our children and our state”

January 31st, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the decision of Senate Republicans to finally pass the DREAM Act out of the Senate:

“I’m pleased that after a year and a half of hard work by students, stakeholders and people from all across our state, Senate Democrats will finally have the opportunity to vote for the DREAM Act. People from all across our state have worked hard and waited a long time for this moment.

“This is wonderful news for the hard-working students who will finally have the same access to financial aid that their peers have always had. Each child should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her dreams. Opening the door to college for all our kids is the right thing to do.

“This is a huge victory for our children and our state.”

29 01, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Eliminating the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

January 29th, 2014|Eye on the Majority|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6458

SPONSORED BY: Senators Becker, Angel, Dammeier, Brown, Tom, Schoesler, Bailey, Braun, Hill, Baumgartner, Litzow, Parlette, and Honeyford

WHAT IT WOULD DO:

  • Eliminate the state’s elected insurance commissioner and replace that official with a board of appointees, two from each of the four legislative caucuses plus two non-voting gubernatorial appointees.

FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON’S INSURANCE COMMISSIONER AND THE PROPOSED BOARD

  • Washington has had an elected insurance commissioner since 1907. Commissioner Mike Kreidler was re-elected to his fourth term in office in 2012 with 58.3% of the vote.
  • The commissioner oversees Washington’s entire insurance industry (home, auto, health, life, disability, title, annuities, business, credit, crop, warranties & service contracts, unusual risk situations, pets, travel, boat/marine, and Medicare) and advocates for consumers, directly helping more than 100,000 consumers each year.
  • The commissioner regulates insurance plans sold in Washington state and approves plans for sale on the Health Benefit Exchange.
  • According to the Association of Insurance Commissioners, every state has an individual responsible for insurance regulation – 11 states have elected commissioners and 39 have a single gubernatorial appointee.

QUOTE FROM SEN. KAREN KEISER:

“Washington has been a national leader in implementing the Affordable Care Act, in no small part due to the terrific work of Commissioner Kreidler. He has made sure that insurance plans protect consumers and that people get the coverage they pay for. His work with the Legislature has expanded health insurance to hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured Washingtonians, keeping people healthier and protecting them from medical bankruptcy.

“Commissioner Kreidler’s efforts to boost outreach and ensure transparency throughout the process for delivery health care have consistently safeguarded the health care needs of residents across our state. It makes no sense to politicize a public office that is serving the needs of Washingtonians so effectively.”

28 01, 2014

Inslee, Democrats call for action to fund K-12 education

January 28th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, and House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, released the statement below following the announcement of Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to invest $200 million in K-12 education:

“We are glad Governor Inslee put forward a plan that gets us closer to fully-funding K-12 education in our state.

“We agree with the governor that something must be done this year – and every year – until we finally fulfill our obligation to Washington’s kids. A short session is no excuse for not doing our constitutional duty.

“This discussion shouldn’t be about the Supreme Court; it’s about our children, and making sure they get the best education we can provide them.

“We look forward to discussing the specifics of Gov. Inslee’s plan with our own caucuses. While there may be some disagreements over details, there is no debate about the ultimate goal.”

24 01, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Applying criminal penalties for job seekers

January 24th, 2014|Eye on the Majority|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6392

SPONSORED BY: Sen. Michael Baumgartner

WHAT IT WOULD DO:

  • Requires adults ages 18-65 who receive unemployment benefits to perform at least eight hours of community service for every four weeks of benefits they receive.

FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON’S UNEMPLOYED:

  • In order to receive benefits, the 101,261 Washingtonians who received benefits as of Nov. 2013 must already make contact with at least three potential employers per week.
  • According to the state’s Employment Security Department, 5-6,000 job seekers per month receive a Job Search Review to ensure they are actively looking for work.
  • If it is shown job seekers are not meeting their job search requirements during a review, they could lose benefits.
  • There will be substantial administrative costs associated with the development of this new program.

 QUOTE FROM SEN. JEANNIE DARNEILLE:

“Our friends and neighbors seeking jobs are already struggling to pay the bills and feed their kids in addition to looking for work. Community service is an honorable pursuit, but forcing someone into it simply to maintain their family’s lifeline is downright cold.

“This also suggests that our friends and neighbors seeking work aren’t already working in their communities. That is an absolutely offensive notion.”

21 01, 2014

BILLS TO WATCH: Changing the face of the public’s election watch dog

January 21st, 2014|Eye on the Majority|

WHAT: Senate Bill 6323

SPONSORED BY: Sens. Sharon Brown, Bruce Dammeier, Jim Honeyford, John Braun, Rodney Tom, Mike Padden, Jan Angel, Barbara Bailey, Randi Becker, Andy Hill and Pam Roach.

WHAT IT WOULD DO:

  • Eliminates the terms of all current members of the Public Disclosure Commission.
  • Turns control of the PDC over to one appointee from each of the four legislative caucuses.
  • The four appointed members would then be asked to vote – by an affirmative vote of no less than three – for a fifth member who would serve as chair.

WHAT THE PDC DOES:

  • It’s a nonpartisan organization which oversees our state’s election laws.
  • PDC members are currently appointed by the Governor and confirmed with a vote in the Senate.
  • A vote of the people created the PDC in 1972 through Initiative 276 which passed with 72 percent.

QUOTE FROM SEN. SHARON NELSON:

“I worry that if this bill were to become law, an absolutely integral partner in our system of checks and balances would fall victim to political gridlock. The PDC was established as a watchdog for voters and our political system in general. At a time when money is flowing into political campaigns at a rate greater than we’ve ever seen, we need the PDC more than ever.”

16 01, 2014

Hobbs, Hatfield and all Senate Democrats sign on to teacher COLA bill

January 16th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, and Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, today released the following statement on their co-sponsorship of a Senate bill signed by all 22 members of the Democratic caucus allowing cost of living allowance (COLA) raises for Washington state teachers:

“For the past two years, we have been talking about the importance of our education system and the need to meet our obligation to fully fund K-12 education. With the recent Supreme Court decision, it’s time we meet our obligation to our citizens and fulfill their desire to see our teachers paid like the hardworking professionals that they are.

“With the economy turning around and the positive news of the 777X contract it’s time now to give the teachers a COLA increase.

“Teachers are some of the hardest workers in our state. Yet increasingly, they are being asked to do more with less or, in this case, do more for less. It’s time we reverse this trend, listen to the people of Washington, and pay the men and women charged with broadening and enlightening our children’s minds the salaries they deserve.

“We are grateful that this bill has received the support of all 22 members of the Democratic Caucus and invite all members of the Senate to join us in showing Washington’s teachers that we appreciate their hard work and dedication.”

16 01, 2014

Sen. Rolfes: “The Republican Majority is denying the public a voice on these issues in the Senate”

January 16th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Rolfes: “The Republican Majority is denying the public a voice on these issues in the Senate”

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, spoke on the Senate floor Thursday about some peculiar committee destinations for some recent pieces of legislation. Her remarks are below:

“We are noticing that a number of bills that have no fiscal impact and would traditionally go to a policy committee for a public hearing are being sent straight to ways and means.

“This is a concern because traditionally we use policy committees to give the public the opportunity to speak to how these policies will impact their daily lives.

“The chair himself has said that the testimony in Ways and Means must be limited to the fiscal impact of the bill.

“By bypassing the policy committees, the Republican Majority is denying the public a voice on these issues in the Senate.”

14 01, 2014

State of the State: “I applaud the governor for laying out an ambitious agenda for 2014”

January 14th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Caucus leader Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, issued the statement below following Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State speech:

“I am glad the governor took such a strong stance on issues important to our caucus – particularly his call to action on fully funding education, passing a transportation investment package and calling on the Senate to pass the Dream Act.

“The State of the State speech is a great opportunity to take stock of what needs to be done in Washington over the course of a year, and I applaud the governor for laying out an ambitious agenda for 2014. Though the Senate and House have only 60 days to get Washington’s work done for the year, it is enough time to address the important issues on the table. These issues include developing an education funding plan by the Supreme Court’s deadline of April 30th, and passing a balanced transportation package before the Legislature adjourns in March.

“Our caucus is diverse, but we all share the core value of putting people over party and power. I know that we have colleagues across the aisle who share that value. I call on them to work with us to bring the necessary votes to the floor of the Senate that will allow us to act on these critical issues and continue moving Washington forward.”

13 01, 2014

Nelson on Dream Act: “This bill, and the kids it will support, deserve the chance for a vote.”

January 13th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, issued the following statement on the House of Representatives passing the Dream Act with an overwhelming 71-23 vote on the first day of the 2014 legislative session:

“I’m so happy the House got to work on the very first day of session, passing one of the most important pieces of unfinished business from last year.

“In this modern economy, higher education is so important to getting a great job, and the Dream Act will give a new generation of Washingtonians the opportunity to further their education and contribute to our economy. We have smart and hard-working kids growing up here who just want to be able to get jobs here, in the place they call home. By opening access to financial aid, the Dream Act gives them a chance to learn engineering, computer science, and other skills that our modern economy needs to grow.

“The Dream Act passed the House with wide bipartisan support and I know that if it were to receive a vote on the Senate floor, it would pass with similar support here. The only question will be if the Senate Republican leadership puts politics aside and allows the Senate an opportunity to vote on this important bill. This bill, and the kids it will support, deserves the chance for a vote.”

9 01, 2014

McCleary: “We hope that Republicans will join us in approaching the challenge with open minds and a collaborative approach”

January 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island and Senate Democratic Leader, offered the following statement on the Supreme Court’s statement responding to the Legislature’s Article IX Committee report back to the Court:

“We were not surprised by the Supreme Court’s statement today. As we said in the Democratic draft report of the Article IX Committee, while the 2013-15 budget made progress in some areas of basic education funding, the Legislature failed to make significant progress towards fully funding key priorities that we all know will help our children learn.

“The Court ordered the Legislature to outline our plan for implementing full funding of basic education by 2018. The Joint Task Force on Education Funding’s report offered recommendations for such a plan before the 2013 session. Democrats introduced legislation to outline such a plan last year but neither bill received a hearing. We extend our hand to work in coordination with Senate Republicans to pass legislation this year, as ordered by Court.

“This plan must include provisions for funding the state’s share of teacher compensation, which has gone underfunded for far too long. We want every child to have a great teacher, but to hire those great teachers we need to pay a competitive salary and we’re dumping a huge share of the burden onto our local districts. Having a teacher in the classroom is a basic part of a kid’s education, and as the Court says, the state needs to fully fund its share of the cost. As the court says, ‘nothing could be more basic than adequate pay’ for teachers.

“We hope that Republicans will join us in approaching the challenge with open minds and a collaborative approach and will work with us to find the money that the Court demands and that our kids deserve.”