31 03, 2015

Sen. Nelson: Senate Republican’s ‘prioritize concrete above kids’

March 31st, 2015|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the release of the Senate Republican budget Tuesday:

“Senate Republicans, 20 of whom voted for an $11 billion gas tax increase less than a month ago, today showed an unwillingness to prioritize kids in the same way they prioritize concrete.

“Rather than long-term solutions and dedicated funding for our state’s one million school kids, we saw the same old script – a plan which begs, borrows and steals from all other areas of the budget, relying on gimmicks, debt, cuts to state services and taking money from local governments to make ends meet while asking for nothing from the wealthiest Washingtonians.

“We’ve heard for months from Republicans that we have $3 billion in additional revenue. If that were true, then why are we taking hundreds of millions from infrastructure improvements, cutting the social safety net and underfunding early learning?

“The Supreme Court was clear – we must have dedicated and sustainable funding for education. Instead we have yet another exercise in bumper-sticker policy making and a budget that kicks the can down the road for another year.

“When families or businesses have expenses, they simply can’t charge their way out of trouble and create more debt. This is no way to run a household, a business or a state.”

30 03, 2015

Jayapal: Modest wage raise offers big impacts for Washington families

March 30th, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Legislation to raise Washington’s minimum wage to $12 in four years received a public hearing on Monday in the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle.

“While the proposal is modest, and the increase is slow and steady, the effect on the 550,000 people in Washington who will benefit from this and are struggling to make ends meet is enormous,” Jayapal said of House Bill 1355. “The reality is, 90 percent of minimum wage earners are adults. They are mothers and fathers, they are millennials and military veterans. These Washingtonians deserve a raise.”

Washington currently has the highest minimum wage in the nation, but at $9.47 per hour it still falls below the national poverty wage – with someone working full time in Washington making less than $20,000 per year. The bill raises Washington’s minimum wage to $10 in 2016 and 50 cents per year through 2019. At $12 in 2019, Washington’s minimum wage would only be about $1.63 higher than what it would be otherwise.

According to the Washington State Employment Security Department, HB 1355 will create $7 billion additional income dollars for low-wage workers – money that will quickly recirculate back into Washington’s economy in the form of food, clothing, rent and utilities.

“I was raised by a single mom with two kids, and we could barely get by,” said Nicholas Powell, a waiter in Olympia. “It took me three years at or near minimum wage to move up to a waiting positon. Now with tips, I am able to get by without public assistance for the first time in my life and even go to school part-time. But tips are unreliable. You never know how much you will really earn in a month. Having a reliable paycheck would create a lot more security and stability for me, and I could use the extra money for basics like rent, transportation, food and classes.”

“Washington has the most unfair tax system in the nation,” Jayapal noted. “We are one of just a handful of states where all the wealth between 2009 and 2012 accrued to the top 1 percent of earners. Our economy is growing, worker productivity is growing, and there is more wealth in the system – but workers aren’t sharing in that increased wealth. This is unconscionable, and it needs to change. A good start is lifting the floor for low-wage workers by raising the minimum wage.”

Workers from a number of industries, including food preparation and serving, grocery, health care and retail, testified in favor of this and two other bills. One would provide paid sick and safe leave for all Washington workers (HB 1356) and the other would provide equal pay for women (HB 1646).

“I am so grateful that workers and lawmakers had the opportunity to testify on these important bills today, but the proof is in the pudding,” Jayapal added. “These bills deserve to move out of committee for a robust debate and a vote on the floor of the Senate.”

Wednesday is the final day these bills can be voted out of committee before they are no longer viable in the 2015 session.

The hearing can be viewed at www.tvw.org.

25 03, 2015

Senate Republicans stand in the way of ‘fair and balanced’ committee rule

March 25th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson today proposed a change to Senate rules which would require committee chairs offer equal time to opposing viewpoints.

The rule was voted down by Republicans along party lines.

“Fair and balanced seems like a reasonable mantra to me,” Nelson said. “A pro panel and a con panel whenever possible, that’s how committees must be run. That is not happening and that limits public debate. This is their house and their process. People expect and deserve better.”

The rule is modeled after similar language in House rules. You can view the proposed addition by clicking here.

“My hope was that this rule would change the way some of the committees have been run this year,” Nelson said. “People travel from near and sometimes far to be heard. For too many, their voices have been ignored. Representative government is not supposed to operate this way.

“I’m concerned about sporadically scheduled committee meetings which result in dozens of bills into a single two hour agenda. The Democratic process takes time and people deserve better than its Cliff’s Notes equivalent.

“Committees are at the very heart of representative government. It’s the most direct way people can speak to the policies that will impact their lives. Washingtonians are not being given that chance.”

Below are a few examples from the Commerce & Labor Committee of incidents the rule change was written to fix:

1/30: Person testifying cut off, told “written testimony isn’t compelling”

2/4: Partisan think tank presents in place of non-partisan staff on workers compensation

2/13: Person testifying cut off, told “just get to the bottom line”

2/18: Another person testifying cut short, pushes back


9 03, 2015

Senate Democrats: Oil train bill lacks key safety provisions

March 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Following the passage of a bill that falls short on addressing needs related to oil train safety, Sens. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, and John McCoy, D-Tulalip, released the following statements:

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County
“Legislators are elected to uphold the public good, and oil trains are a very real threat to that,” Rolfes said. “There have been three derailments and fires of oil-laden train cars in North America just since the first of the month – that is three in just over a week.

“While any movement on addressing this threat  is positive, there is more work to do so we can return to our districts able to say we’ve done all we can to ensure stronger protections for our communities and environment, and increased accountability for oil and rail industries.”

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island
“I was hoping I could get to ‘Yes’ on this bill, but I didn’t want to go back to my constituents with another study. We’re done studying this issue, we know the damage and destruction an oil train derailment can cause and we must do everything we can to address it. This bill fails to do that.

“This bill doesn’t address the liability issue. If there’s a major derailment or tanker spill in one of our waterways, and the rail company at fault isn’t properly insured, taxpayers are on the hook to pay for cleanup.

“The bill that passed the Senate also ignores safety standards for oil transported on the Columbia River, Greys Harbor and Puget Sound. Millions of gallons of oil is transported through our waterways. A spill would devastate our economy and our environment.”

Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip
“I am pleased to see the Senate finally taking action, but the measure we passed today lacks common sense requirements for more disclosure of oil movement and the possibility of tug escorts for oil barges.

“The spike in volatile shipments of crude oil by rail poses new risks in Washington and it’s time we step up to do everything we can to protect our vulnerable communities.”

5 03, 2015

Nelson: Minimum wage, paid sick leave and the Voting Rights Act are policies Washingtonians demand

March 5th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the State House’s passage of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday:

“Our colleagues in the House continue to pursue ideas that will have a positive and lasting impact on people and communities throughout our state.

“On Tuesday the House voted to raise our state’s minimum wage as well as ensure that moms and dads will no longer have to choose between sick children or a paycheck. These fantastic policies will have lasting impacts on hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians.

“The message from the House was clear – ‘we stand on the side of working families.’

“Now, by passing the Washington Voting Rights Act, the House has sent another clear message – ‘we stand on the side of fairness and on the right side of history.’

“I hope the Senate will follow this example. I was disappointed that when presented with an opportunity to pass the Senate’s version of the VRA on Wednesday, Republicans stood in the way.

“The minimum wage, paid sick leave and now the Voting Rights Act are policies people throughout our state demand.

“I’m calling on the Republican-controlled Senate to take up these critical matters so that this body, too, can have a hand in making things better for millions of Washingtonians.”


3 03, 2015

Sen. Sharon Nelson applauds State House for helping close the wage gap

March 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below Tuesday following the State House’s passage of a measure to raise Washington’s minimum wage:

“I applaud the leadership of our colleagues in the House of Representatives for passing a bill today that will benefit hundreds of thousands of working Washingtonians.

“The economy is improving, but not for everyone. This important piece of legislation represents a critical component of the remedy for income inequality.

“This is in stark contrast to the Republican-controlled Senate. While the House works to make life better for more of our friends and neighbors, Republicans continue to work against them. Republican-sponsored bills that create sub-minimum wages, roll back protections for sick or injured working people and legislation to make it difficult for working folks to have a say in wages and working conditions are all being considered in the Senate.

“These common sense ideas coming over from the House will make life better for working families and benefit our entire economy – including those at the very top. These ideas must have their day in the Senate to create an economy that benefits everyone, not just a few.

“There’s no starker contrast between Democrats and Republicans than on these issues. At the same time Democrats took action to make things better for working families, Republicans continue to promote policies that make the gap between the rich and the rest of us even wider.”

2 03, 2015

Transportation package advances through Senate

March 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|

The Washington State Senate transportation package passed on Monday and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. (TRT: 52) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


The Washington State Senate on Monday approved a 16 year, $15 billion dollar transportation package that includes an 11.7 cent gas tax and other vehicle fees. Despite passage of the package many senators, including Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam, expressed his concerns with the proposal.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam: (TRT: 28) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “The point is that this bill has been touted as being a jobs bill and we have a lot of congestion in Puget Sound and this will create a lot of jobs in Puget Sound. But for people that represent districts that still have close to the highest unemployment in the state, I don’t see this bill bringing a lot of jobs into our area. It seems to me like it would do better to turn Bertha loose and drill a couple tunnels out into the hinterlands and actually start to put some economic development out in our rural areas.”

The transportation package will now go to the House of Representatives for their consideration.

Nicole Vukonich reporting in Olympia.

2 03, 2015

Sen. Hobbs: Transportation “investments will put our state on solid ground for generations to come”

March 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|

Following Monday’s passage of a 16-year, $15 billion plan to invest in Washington’s transportation infrastructure, Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, the Senate Democrats’ lead transportation negotiator, issued the statement below:

“Our state’s infrastructure is at a crossroads and the passage of this plan comes at an absolutely critical time. Not only is this plan a boon for our state’s economy, it is also a potential game changer throughout our shared communities.

“After years of conversations and negotiations that started and then stalled without a deal, there is certainly a feeling of satisfaction that we were able to deliver this critical deal to the people of this state.

“This plan will continue to have its critics. I am one of them. No deal is perfect; that’s the nature of compromise.

“What is important is that we’ve taken a crucial step forward and now the House will have the opportunity to consider this plan.

“Every corner of our state is in dire need of upgrades to roads, bridges, rail, bike and pedestrian paths and transit options. This package addresses those needs.

“Of course the most important benefit of these investments are the approximately 200,000 jobs that will be created over the life of this plan. These investments will put our state on solid ground for generations to come.”


2 03, 2015

Legislative town hall meetings coming up March 14

March 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – As the legislative session hits the halfway mark, legislators are taking time to meet with their constituents across the state. Several town halls will take place on March 14 to offer people a chance to get an update on the 2015 session, ask questions and hear what lawmakers are working on in Olympia.

UPCOMING TOWN HALLS (Click here to download a list of town halls)

March 14

  • 1st District – Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, Reps. Derek Stanford and Luis Moscoso
    Where: Northshore Senior Center in the Wellness Center, 10212 East Riverside Drive, Bothell, WA 98011
    When: 10 a.m.. – noon
  • 3rd DistrictSen. Andy Billig, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli
    Where: WSU-Spokane Riverpoint Campus, 600 North Riverpoint Blvd, Academic Center Auditorium, Rm #20, Spokane, WA 99202
    When: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • 5th DistrictSen. Mark Mullet
    Where: Issaquah Fire Station 73, 1280 NE Park Dr., Issaquah, WA
    When: Noon – 1 p.m.
    Where: Snoqualmie Library, 7824 Center Blvd. SE., Snoqualmie, WA
    When: 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
    Where: Tahoma School District Central Services Board Room, 25720 Maple Valley-Black Diamond Road SE., Maple Valley, WA
    When: 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • 11th District – Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Reps. Zach Hudgins and Steve Bergquist
  • When: 1-3 p.m.
  • Where: King County Regional Communications & Emergency Coordination Center (RCECC) 3511 NE 2nd Street, Renton, WA 98056
  • 21st District – Sen. Marko Liias, Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self and Strom Peterson
    Where: Meadowdale High School, Great Hall, 6002 168th Street SW, Lynnwood, WA 98037
    When: 10:30 a.m.- noon
  • 23rd District – Sen. Christine Rolfes, Reps. Sherry Appleton and Drew Hansen
    Where: Bainbridge Island City Council Chambers, 280 Madison Ave. N, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
    When: 9:30 a.m.-11 a.m.
    Where: The Jenne-Wright Administration Center, Central Kitsap School District, 9210 Silverdale Way NW, Silverdale, WA 98383
    When: 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • 27th District – Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Reps. Laurie Jenkins and Jake Fey
    Where: Evergreen State College – Tacoma Campus, 1210 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98405
    When: 10 a.m.-Noon
  • 29th District – Sen. Steve Conway
    Where: Garfield Book Co. at Pacific Lutheran University, 208 Garfield Street South #101, Tacoma, WA 98444
    When: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • 32nd District – Sen. Maralyn Chase and Rep. Cindy Ryu
    Where: Shoreline Fire Dept. 17525 Aurora Ave. N. Shoreline, WA 98133
    When: 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
  • 36th District – Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Reps. Reuven Carlyle and Gael Tarleton
    Where: Phinney Neighborhood Association, community room, 6532 Phinney Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103
    When: 10 a.m. – noon
  • 37th District – Sen. Pramila Jayapal, Reps. Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew
  • Where: Rainier Valley Cultural Center—3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118
  • When: 9-11 a.m.
  • 38th District – Sen. John McCoy, Reps. Mike Sells and June Robinson
    Where: Everett Community Resource Center, 3900 Broadway Ave., Everett, Wa 98201
    When: 10-11 a.m.
  • 43rd District – Sen. Jamie Pedersen, Speaker Frank Chopp and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw
    Where: Erickson Theater, 1524 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
    When: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • 48th District – Sen. Cyrus Habib, Reps. Ross Hunter and Joan McBride
    Where: Redmond City Hall, 15670 NE 85Th St., Redmond, WA 98052
    When: 10 a.m.


March 11

  • 21st District – Sen. Marko Liias, Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self and Strom Peterson
    When: 6-7 p.m.

March 19

  • 49th District – Sen. Annette Cleveland, Reps. Jim Moeller and Sharon Wylie
    When: 6-7 p.m.

March 25

  • 33rd District – Sen. Karen Keiser, Reps. Tina Orwall and Mia Gregerson
    When: 6-7 p.m.
2 03, 2015

Sen. Hobbs: Hold all taxes to the same standard

March 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, on Monday challenged the constitutionality of the Senate Republican’s two-thirds procedural rule to create new taxes; a challenge which was upheld by the Lieutenant Governor. Hobbs explained his move in the statement below:

“While I’m no fan of taxes, in fact I think I’ve voted against them at almost every opportunity, I’m also not a fan of gridlock and political ideology taking precedent over responsible legislating and compromise.

“Our state is overly reliant on working families to shoulder the tax burden. When Republicans adopted the 2/3rds rule on the very first day of the 2015 session and applied it only to “new taxes” they ensured those same working families would continue to shoulder that burden.

“I think all taxes should be held to the same standard. What the two-thirds rule implies is that existing taxes Washingtonians currently pay – sales tax, property tax and taxes on small businesses – can be raised with a simple majority of Senators.

“But if the Senate were to create new taxes, say to help solve our K-12 funding crisis, then taxes paid for by those who can actually afford it would be held to a higher standard.

“I firmly believe taxes should be a last resort. But if taxes are going to be a part of the K-12 funding solution, isn’t it only fair to hold all taxes to the same standard?”