19 02, 2015

Washington Voting Rights Act passes out of committee

February 19th, 2015|Uncategorized|

The Senate Government Operations & Security Committee today passed the Washington Voting Rights Act on a bipartisan vote. The legislation, SB 5668, empowers local governments to tailor local solutions to systemic electoral issues, helping ensure fairness in local elections and a voice for all communities.

“Ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity for their voice to be heard in our electoral process is a fundamental principle of American democracy,” said Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland and the prime sponsor of the legislation. “When entire communities aren’t being represented in their local government, we need to take a look at whether there are systemic issues that need to be addressed. This is a reasonable bill to defend the principles of fairness and accessibility in elections and government.”

The Washington Voting Rights Act would streamline the process to improve the fairness of local governments, encouraging jurisdictions to voluntarily change their electoral system and avoiding expensive federal litigation, as recently seen in the case of the city of Yakima.

“I’m glad to see that this bill received bipartisan support to pass out of committee,” said Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle and the founder of OneAmerica, the state’s largest advocacy organization for immigrants. “Everyone deserves a fair chance to have their voice heard in our electoral process, and the bipartisan support the bill has received shows how fundamental these principles are to all Washingtonians. I hope the rest of the Senate will recognize this bill’s important potential contribution to the freedom and fairness of elections.”

The 2015 legislation provides local jurisdictions with important tools to avoid litigation under the federal Voting Rights Act. These tools include requiring community members to bring forward data and analysis to support claims of flawed electoral systems, a delayed implementation schedule to allow local jurisdictions time to examine their electoral systems, and four years of safe harbor from lawsuits for those jurisdictions that do implement fixes to their electoral systems. The result would be legislation that can help avoid expensive federal litigation.

The bill will now proceed to the Senate Rules Committee, which has the authority to move the bill to the Senate floor for a vote of the full Senate.

18 02, 2015

The cap on payday loans could soon double

February 18th, 2015|Radio|

A bill heard in the Senate on Wednesday could double the cap on the number of payday loans a person could have in one year. (TRT: 1:17) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT:14 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Payday lending practices are by their very nature a predatory lending practice. So they very much effect low income working families who are taking a loan today based on their income in two weeks.”

That’s state Sen. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma who is a member of the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee where on Wednesday they heard Senate Bill 5613 – a bill that proposes to double the limit of payday loans someone could take out in a year from 8 to 16.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT:20 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “We made substantial reform of that industry in 2009 and have uh, really been able to show that uh 90 percent of those businesses could not maintain their business model after we changed the law – making restrictions on how many times a person can seek a payday loan in any given year.

A payday loan is a small, high interest, short-term cash loan. Research by the Pew Charitable Trust has found that nearly 70 percent of borrowers nationwide take out payday loans to cover basic expenses like food and rent.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT:13 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “So this is another effort by the payday lending industry to expand their access to the limited assets of low income working families in Washington. It’s a bad, bad bill.”

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

17 02, 2015

Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act heard in Senate committee

February 17th, 2015|Radio|

Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island  brought  the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act back to the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday. (TRT: 1:07) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


The Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act was heard in the Washington State Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday. Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island has sponsored the bill again and hopes that this will be the year it moves forward.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island: (TRT: 23) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This is the fifth year we’ve been trying to ban flame retardants which are carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors for children um, out of children’s products and upholstered furniture. I am cautiously optimistic that we can get there because it’s really important for the development of our little one’s brains and for their futures to get rid of these toxics that are in their environment.”

Senate Bill 5684 will prohibit the manufacture, distribution and sale of residential upholstered furniture or children’s products containing chlorinated TRIS or other flame retardants listed by the state Department of Ecology as a high priority chemical of concern for children in amounts greater than 100 parts per million. Flame retardants are commonly used in the foam of children’s products including nap mats, car seats, mattresses, and strollers. The bill is expected to get out of committee on Thursday.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

11 02, 2015

State Senate passes bill to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest

February 11th, 2015|Radio|

On Wednesday the Washington State Senate passed legislation to bring awareness to cardiac arrest among student athletes. (TRT: 58) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


The leading cause of death in young athletes participating in sports is sudden heart failure. Legislation passed Wednesday in the Washington State Senate will develop an online pamphlet and train coaches to help identify the warnings signs of cardiac arrest. The bill was brought to Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe of Bothell by constituent Darla Varrenti, whose son Nick suffered sudden cardiac arrest on a football field when he was just 16 years old.

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell: (TRT: 14 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “It strikes most of our young males between 12 and 30 years old. Approximately one in 250 young people have a cardiac disorder that could cause sudden cardiac arrest.”

The Nick of Time Foundation, created in Nick’s memory, works to educate school districts and communities about cardiac arrest, offers CPR training, and provides health screenings at local schools and community centers. Washington state is on track to join five other states that have adopted similar laws in order to save more young lives.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

5 02, 2015

Orcas, dolphins, porpoises to remain in wild, not used for entertainment

February 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Orcas, dolphins and porpoises would remain in the wild under a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island. (TRT: 52) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


There aren’t any orcas, dolphins or porpoises held in captivity for entertainment purposes in Washington State and that’s the way it will stay under a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island: (TRT: 19 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “These species are incredibly intelligent, very social animals that in a given year swim thousands of miles. And, what we have seen in captivity is these animals that swim thousands of miles normally are put in a fish tank the size of the Washington State Senate Floor. And I just think that is totally unacceptable.”

Senate Bill 5666, would make a new misdemeanor punishable by fines or jail time prohibiting any person or entity from holding, capturing or breeding an orca, dolphin, or porpoise for performance or entertainment purposes. It will remain lawful to hold an animal if it needs rescue, rehabilitation, or for research purposes.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.