30 01, 2015

“Hawkington” State Senate honors Seattle Seahawks

January 30th, 2015|Radio|

Senate Resolution 8612, sponsored by Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, honored the Seattle Seahawks in advance of Super Bowl 49. (TRT: 54)


Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl fever hit the Washington State Senate on Blue Friday when Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam offered a resolution in honor of the big game on Sunday.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT: 28) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “We’re running a resolution again this year again and of course our Seahawks are something to really be proud of. Not only did they come back from a three and three start, with nine and one run to make it to the playoffs, but then this game two weeks ago was incredible. But you know we have a lot of individuals on that team that are very notable, you know from the cornerback to the running backs, to the quarterback, etc. But the thing that really makes them great is the fact that they’re a team.”

Last year Hargrove offered a Superbowl sendoff resolution that renamed Mt. Rainier, Mt. Seattle Seahawks. This year, the resolution asks the governor to rename the State of Washington, the State of Hawkington – from Friday morning just until midnight Sunday night.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

28 01, 2015

Gong offers symbolic reminder of rising rates of homelessness

January 28th, 2015|Radio|

A ringing gong symbolically honors many of the homeless people counted in King County. The Homeless Student Stability Act, Senate Bill 5065, will help many of the state’s 32, 494 homeless students. (TRT: 1:29) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD Sen. David Frockt of Seattle is featured in the wrap.


[Gong ring, cheering and clapping]

First Lady Trudi Inslee was the first person Wednesday to ring a gong that was rung 3,772 times – one ring for each person counted during the One Night Count by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness. Homelessness has risen across Washington State and impacts every community. Sen. David Frockt of Seattle:

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: (TRT: 37 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “We have a crisis in this state and unfortunately the problem, it doesn’t appear to be getting better, it’s getting worse, in particular with respect to children who are in schools. We’ve had an increase of over 56 percent in the last several years – almost 32 thousand kids now in our school system are housing unstable. They’re either homeless, living in a shelter, they’re couch surfing, or their families are transient. There’s just a huge problem and we have to recognize who these kids are and try to take intentional steps to improve services for them and also give them some stability because there is no way they can possibly succeed in school if we don’t address that.”

Frockt is sponsoring the Homeless Student Stability Act, Senate Bill 5065. It will help students and their families by connecting them with housing stability assistance and support in schools. There are approximately 32, 494 homeless students in Washington.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

[gong rings twice]

28 01, 2015

Gun responsibility legislation introduced to aid families, law enforcement

January 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Legislation to help families and law enforcement when someone is at extreme risk for committing violence against themselves or others was introduced today by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. Companion legislation will be introduced by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma.

The legislation would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms when there is documented evidence that there are at an extreme risk to harm themselves or others.

Under the legislation, Extreme Risk Protection Orders temporarily remove access to firearms for 14 days. A hearing is then held to evaluate the case and determine whether the Order should be continued. Those requesting a suspension of firearm access must provide sworn evidence and can be arrested for knowingly presenting false evidence.

A person experiencing a crisis can exhibit signs that alert family or community members to the potential for violence. But under current law, a person suffering from mental illness is not prohibited from purchasing and possessing a gun unless he or she has been formally and involuntarily committed for more than 14 days or has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

There is clear evidence that many individuals who ultimately participate in shootings, including mass shootings, demonstrate their intentions beforehand. Eighty percent of individuals committing suicide give some indication of their intentions prior to making an attempt. Thirty eight out of 62 mass shooters in the last 20 years were re­ported as displaying signs of dangerous mental health problems prior to the killings.

California, Connecticut, and Indiana all have versions of this tool in place. California passed its version of Extreme Risk Protection Orders into law in 2014 following a University of California Santa Barbara shooting that claimed six lives.

The shooting was exactly the type of case that Extreme Risk Protection Orders were designed to prevent. Law enforcement had been unable to remove firearms possessed by a shooter despite demonstrations of extreme distress and threats of violence observed by the perpetrator’s family.

“The tragic shooting that claimed the life of my niece Veronika and five others last year occurred, in part, because neither the family of the perpetrator nor law enforcement had the tools to temporarily remove his access to firearms from a deeply disturbed individual,” said Jane Weiss, a Washington State resident and aunt of UC Santa Barbara shooting victim Veronika Weiss. “Washington State has taken an important step today in preventing tragedies like the one that claimed Veronika and so many others with the introduction of Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will help families respond to signs that a family member is in distress, rather than leaving them powerless. This measure will save lives while protecting Second Amendment rights, and I urge the Legislature to swiftly take action to pass it into law.”

“Too often, families and law enforcement can see the signs of a tragedy coming,” said Frockt. “When people are in these crisis situations, the presence of a gun can be a dangerous factor in escalating a situation and somebody might do something in a moment that could change their life or the lives of others forever. Families and law enforcement should have the ability to intervene when they see these crisis situations and help keep everyone involved safe.”

“We’ve seen the unfortunate impact that a seriously mentally ill individual with a gun can have,” said Jinkins. “Along with more and better mental health care, we need to make sure that people in crisis can get the help they need to protect themselves and others. This bill will give families and law enforcement a needed tool to literally save lives by reducing the risk of violence both in the home and on our streets.”

21 01, 2015

Hatfield’s bill on hemp production clears Senate committee

January 21st, 2015|Radio|

Producing industrial hemp could become legal under a bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond. (TRT: 51) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Industrial hemp could be coming soon to fields in Washington state under a bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond. Hemp is used to make a variety of different products including food, clothing, beauty products, building materials, and bio-fuels. Sen. Brian Hatfield:

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond: (TRT: 10 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “The fact that the recreational marijuana is now legal by voter initiative, but yet growing hemp, until we get a bill all the way to the governor’s desk, is illegal…that doesn’t make any sense.”

Senate Bill 5012 would create a path for the farming, production and sale of industrial hemp. Like marijuana, hemp comes from the cannabis plant but has a much lower THC content – the active ingredient in marijuana that makes people high.

The bill passed out of the Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee on Tuesday. It could make an appearance on the Senate floor soon.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

20 01, 2015

Hargrove, Blake working with state officials to assist flooding cleanup

January 20th, 2015|Radio|

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, are working to help their community after flooding, mudslides and culvert washouts due to historic rains. (TRT: 1:33) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD



Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam and Rep. Brian Blake of Aberdeen are working closely with state and local officials to secure assistance for cleanup and repair efforts following historic rains that caused flooding, mudslides and culvert washouts across western Washington earlier this month. Rep. Brian Blake:

Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen: (TRT: 12) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “It’s absolutely critical that we help our community, and the families that live there – our friends, our neighbors – with the resources so they can help themselves make their homes livable again.”

Grays Harbor County has secured a match from the Department of Ecology to make $60,000 available to help residents cover the cost of disposing potentially hazardous materials like ruined household furnishings and drywall. People can pick up vouchers at Hoquiam City Hall, Aberdeen City Hall and Grays Harbor County Emergency Management. Sen. Jim Hargrove:

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT: 16 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Even though we are hard at work in Olympia, we want to let you know that we are doing all we can to make sure the Harbor gets the help it needs. But you need to do your part also. The federal money to do repairs won’t kick in until we reach the $9.4 million in damages threshold.”

The State Department of Transportation estimates it will spend $3.2 million repairing roads and other infrastructure. And, the State Emergency Management Department continues to work with officials to identify potential eligibility for federal assistance.

Residents are encouraged to fill out damage claim forms available on the Grays Harbor County website. Earlier in January, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in nine counties, including Grays Harbor.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

19 01, 2015

Life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. honored in state Senate

January 19th, 2015|Radio|

The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored in the Washington State Senate on Monday. (TRT: 1:01) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


While many people had Monday off of work and school as a holiday, the Washington State Senate took some time to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sen. Bob Hasegawa of Seattle:

Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle: (TRT: 24 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Dr. King had a unique perspective. He not only, fought for civil rights, but he viewed civil rights in the larger context of social justice, and that included economic justice. He saw the value of working families or the oppressed to be able to organize for political power, so they could elevate their standing.”

Newly elected Sen. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle spoke to Dr. King’s legacy.

Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle: (TRT: 20 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “What makes leaders great is the ability to look beyond accepted wisdom and actually to genuine truth. Against all odds, Dr. King helped organize and lead a movement that forced our nation’s leaders to remember what it is that makes America great.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

15 01, 2015

Senate Democrats introduce bill to address oil transportation safety

January 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|

In the first week of the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced Governor Jay Inslee’s request oil transportation legislation to the state Senate (SB 5087).

“Unprecedented amounts of oil are traveling along the rails of Washington state, through our rural areas and downtowns and along our coastlines,” Rolfes said. “Right now, it is impacted communities and the taxpayers of Washington who bear all of the risk and responsibility in the event of an accident. This legislation simply shifts some of the burden of spill prevention and response onto those that profit from oil transportation.”

How to address increasing oil transportation has been an ongoing debate in Washington and across North America in recent years. North Dakota and the Bakken region of Canada are experiencing an oil boom, and spills and explosions have followed as a result of substandard rail cars and flagging regulation and industry oversight. Roughly sixty-million gallons of volatile crude oil passes through Washington every week, and over a million gallons of crude oil was spilled from trains in North America in 2013, more than the previous 30 years combined. Numerous explosions also occurred, including the explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people.

“For the safety and health of our communities, it’s imperative we give first responders all the information they need to best prepare themselves to respond and contain a spill or derailment to prevent a worst case scenario,” Ranker said. “We will not sit idly by and let a city in Washington join the list of those devastated by an oil train fire or vessel spill.”

Although the federal government alone has the authority to impose many safety measures, states do have control over some key aspects related to transparency, accountability and taxation. A study was conducted in 2014 to evaluate the risks associated with the vast increase of oil transported by rail through Washington, with many of the recommendations included in this bill. The final report is due in March.

“Transparency and safety need to be the focus of our efforts here in Olympia,” Energy, Environment & Telecommunications committee ranking Democrat Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said. “We can’t put the interests of the oil industry over the safety of our impacted communities.”

“This is not a theoretical problem. We know derailments and oil spills will happen,” Rolfes added. “For the safety of our communities and economy, as well as the preservation of our environment, we need to pass this bill.”

The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

14 01, 2015

Legislation aims to reduce barriers to housing

January 14th, 2015|Radio|

Four legislative proposals aim to increase access to quality housing for renters in Washington State. (TRT: 1:23) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


On Wednesday, four proposals were unveiled to help eliminate barriers and increase access to quality housing, especially among renters. One of the proposals sponsored by Sen. David Frockt of Seattle would make it possible to use one tenant screening check for a period of 30-days to help lower tenant screening costs.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: (TRT: 15 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “What we’ve found is that for tenants – prospective tenants – who are trying to get in in a very tight rental market having to pay these things over and over again at $30 or $40 dollars a clip, can almost amount in some instances to half a month’s rent and which really makes it hard if you don’t get into housing right away.”

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle will be sponsoring two bills regarding access to affordable housing.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle: (TRT: 23) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “One of them is to require that there be no discrimination on the source of income. So, for example, somebody who’s receiving veterans’ benefits, someone who’s got Section 8 Housing, perhaps disability benefits, could not have the prospective landlord discriminate against them because of having that source of income.”

The other proposal Kohl-Welles will be sponsoring would require 90 days’ notice of rent increases of more than 10 percent. The final piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Cyrus Habib of Kirkland will ensure that eviction records are only reported when the tenant has been found guilty in court.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

14 01, 2015

Nelson: “Billionaire Protection Act” will hurt working families, small business

January 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|

The nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy today released the 2015 edition of its “Who Pays?” report which analyzes the tax structure in all 50 states.

Just as it has since ITEP began this study in 1996, Washington again topped the list of states with the most regressive tax structure. According to the study, low income Washingtonians pay 16.8 percent of their income in taxes while the wealthiest people in the state pay just 2.4 percent. 

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson called Washington’s existing tax structure “unsustainable and more importantly, unfair. An enormous part of our budget solution is reforming our state’s tax structure in a way that helps working families and small businesses, not harms them. Unfortunately fixing this was made much more difficult on Monday.”

On the first day of the 2015 Legislative Session, Senate Republicans adopted a rule that requires the support of two-thirds of Senators to approve any “new taxes.” This means the same taxes that make Washington the most regressive in the nation – sales tax, business and occupation tax, property tax and others – can be raised with a simple majority of senators. Taxes paid by the wealthiest Washingtonians and polluters, however, will be held to a higher standard.

“On Monday, Republicans essentially created the Billionaire Protection Act,” Nelson said. “Working families and small business owners are simply trying to make ends meet. Fixing our backwards tax structure to meet the best interests of the majority of Washingtonians will now be much more difficult.”


12 01, 2015

First day of session, many priorities to address

January 12th, 2015|Radio|

Monday – Jan. 12, 2015, marked the first day of the Legislative Session in Olympia. Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, shared some priorities of the Senate Democratic Caucus. (TRT: 44) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island shared a few priorities of the Senate Democratic Caucus that she hopes will be addressed during the 64th Legislative Session.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island: (TRT: 26 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Well, our top priority is making sure that our budget, which is our most important document… that we are funding education for our children but also funding families. And that means looking at additional investments in early childhood education, higher education, making sure we protect programs for our foster children. They are the children of this state. And, also protect public safety. We operate prisons and we’ve gotta make sure that we fund the needs there.”

The Washington State Senate convened on Monday for the first day of the 105-day session.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.