14 03, 2014

Senate nearly passes budget unanimously

March 14th, 2014|Radio|

The Washington State Senate passed a budget that invests in mental health and passed nearly unanimously – a first in recent history (TRT: 1:07 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


The Washington State Senate Thursday passed a supplemental operating budget that had near unanimous support and passed off the Senate floor 48 to 1. Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, the lead budget negotiator worked tirelessly on the budget.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT: 32 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Yeah, I really think it was quite remarkable that we were able to pass a budget 48 to one. Nobody can find in any history of the State of Washington where we had a near unanimous budget. Um, I was very pleased that I was able to do a budget that both added to education and did not harm our safety net. We were able to do it without any new taxes and also we did it without making any more tax loopholes so that we don’t have a more difficult situation in the future. The budget’s balanced, it’s done and we got done in 60 days. I’m extremely happy.”

This first-do-no-harm budget maintains critical funding for high priority safety net services and adds $7 million to mental health funding. The four-year balanced budget also includes $1 million to food programs across the state and restores much needed funding for our state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia

13 03, 2014

Senate Dems: Democratic core values strongly represented in budget

March 13th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Members of leadership and the Senate Democratic budget negotiating team issued the statement below following the announcement of a deal on the 2014 supplemental operating budget Thursday:

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam:

“I said it from the beginning: this budget was not going to contain any cuts to our safety net. I am pleased that we have come together to pass a budget that accomplishes just that.

“Not only did we prevent cuts, we actually were able to add some money that will strengthen mental health services.

“This supplemental budget has my full support but it should also be considered a launching pad for further budget next year and beyond.”

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island:

“When you factor in every aspect – no new tax breaks, strengthened protections for our environment and our most vulnerable citizens, huge new investments in mental health programs and nearly $60 million more in K-12 funding – all improvements over the original Senate proposal – this is a strong Democratic budget that protects and advances our core values.

“While I am proud of the work that went into this budget and its components, I believe that the hardest work is still ahead of us as we must significantly increase education funding.”

Sen. Nelson:

“Sens. Hargrove and Ranker worked to put together a budget that more than represents Democratic values – it is very nearly a Democratic budget.

“While we are pleased with the final product, there is no question we have a staggeringly large bill coming due for K-12 funding in our state in just a few short years. If we are to meet our constitutional obligation to our kids – and meet it responsibly – new revenue and dedicated funding sources must be part of the conversation next year.

“Most estimates are that we’ll need to invest at least $5 billion more in K-12 education by 2018. We simply cannot do that by raiding funding from other programs that also exist to indirectly help children and families.

“Tough decisions await us all next year.”


10 03, 2014

Bill benefitting small rural hospitals heads to governor’s desk

March 10th, 2014|Radio, Uncategorized|

Small rural hospitals will be able to receive critical  funding as a result of legislation heading to the governor’s desk (TRT: 1:02) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


A bipartisan bill that will bring much needed financial relief to small rural hospitals has cleared all legislatives hurdles and will now head to the governor’s desk for signature. Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam was a sponsor on Senate Bill 5859 and has two hospitals in his district that will benefit as a result of this legislation.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT: 18) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This is extremely critical legislation for both Grays Harbor Hospital in Aberdeen and Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles. They have a very a very high Medicaid population – Grays Harbor has over 80 percent of their resources come from Medicaid, which pays far below cost. By changing this to a sole community designation, this should prop up the finances of our hospital and keep us from having a crisis in our local area.”

If Grays Harbor becomes a public hospital, their benefit will increase by more than $777,000 in fiscal year 2015 and by nearly $3 million in the next biennium. After passing unanimously in the House, the bill will head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

10 03, 2014

Eide: ‘I will not be running for re-election’

March 10th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, issued the following statement today:

“I will not be running for re-election as senator of the 30th Legislative District this November. Shortly after my re-election in 2010, I decided that this term would be my last and that I would pour myself into this term and then open the door for someone else. That time is here.

“After 18 years in the Legislature, including 16 in the Senate, I leave with mixed feelings. I’ve taken joy and satisfaction in every successful effort on behalf of my constituents and my state, and I’ve agonized over those that came up short. It has been a point of privilege and honor to represent my district. I wish I could have done even more, but I’m sure every legislator feels that way.

“I came to the Legislature as a PTA mom and never lost my passion for fighting to improve opportunities for our students. From leading the fight for Simple Majority legislation to eliminate the supermajority voting requirement to pass school levies, to funding the Digital Learning Commons, I’ve never stopped fighting that fight. Along the way, I was also proud to lead the charge for the Intermediate Driver’s License legislation that has reduced teen driving deaths and serious injuries by nearly half, and the highway safety bill that restricts drivers from texting or talking on handheld phones.

“None of these gains came quickly or easily, but all were worth the years and work it took to shepherd them to passage. If just one child is a better student or one less Washingtonian dies in an auto accident because of those laws, it will have been more than worth it. And I would be remiss if I failed to salute the many colleagues and stakeholders who fought so hard, for so long, alongside me to make sure those bills became reality. Thank you for fighting the good fight and for fighting it so well.

”It has been my fortune and my pleasure to have worked with many, many amazing and unforgettable people over the years, both inside and outside the Legislature. I thank them for their help and their blood and their sweat and their tears.

“Most of all, I thank my constituents for trusting me to represent their interests. I have been humbled and honored to serve the fine people of my district.”

7 03, 2014

Bill to seal juvenile records passes unanimously in the Senate

March 7th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Washington state will no longer be one of three states that sells juvenile records, as a result of legislation unanimously passed Friday in the Senate. (TRT: 1:31 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Juvenile records will be able to be sealed for nonviolent juvenile offenders, according to a bill that was unanimously passed in the Senate. House Bill 1651 will have to go back to the House for concurrence before heading to the governor’s desk. Rep. Ruth Kagi of Seattle was a sponsor of the bill and has worked on this issue for many years.

Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle: (TRT: 24) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Most states, 42 states, their records are closed and they are able to move forward and get jobs, get an education, get housing. In Washington state that has not been true. And now, many, many youth will have the opportunity to close their juvenile records. There will be a sealing done on their juvenile records when they turn 18 if they have fulfilled all of the requirements of their sentence.”

Washington state was one of only eight states who do not seal juvenile records and is one of only three states in the country who sold the information. This made it difficult for adults who made mistakes as young people and have to carry their records with them through adulthood. Sen. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma has been looking into the disproportionalities among minority groups and our state’s juvenile justice system.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT: 19) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This is really a win to be able to set up a system that will affect between 6 ,000 and 7,000 youth in our system right now – That they will be able to have those records sealed by a judge when they turn 18 years old if they have not had a violent offense. So, this is a very exciting day.”

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia

6 03, 2014

Video: Beef Day 2014!

March 6th, 2014|Uncategorized|

Sen. Brian Hatfield goes “Beef Mode” and welcomes the Washington Cattlemen’s Association to Olympia for Beef Day 2014.

3 03, 2014

Senate Democrats hold briefing on Reproductive Parity Act

March 3rd, 2014|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats held a briefing Monday to discuss issues surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the Reproductive Parity Act (HB 2148).

Lawmakers and experts in the fields of insurance, health care and reproductive rights held the briefing after the chair of the Senate Health Care Committee denied the RPA a public hearing during the 2014 legislative session.

“It’s time to have a conversation in the Senate,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, who sponsored the same bill in the Senate. “Coverage for reproductive services will remain unclear if we fail to at the very least have a conversation about the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on RPA.”

Last month, the House of Representatives passed the Reproductive Parity Act for the third straight year. The legislation would ensure that all women in Washington have health insurance coverage that includes the full range of reproductive health care options.

“While a majority of the Senate supports the measure, Majority Leader Rodney Tom and the Senate Republicans continue to prevent a serious discussion with the public,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson.  “Washington voters have said over and over again that choice is a right they support. It’s time to give this issue the consideration it deserves.”