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20 11, 2020

Statement from Sen. Christine Rolfes on COVID-19 economic aid for businesses and individuals

November 20th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released this statement following today’s announcement from Gov. Jay Inslee on economic relief for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“This economic aid package was developed in consultation with budget writers and prioritizes much-needed relief for small business owners and the thousands of workers who find themselves without a job through no fault of their own. Senate Democrats remain committed to helping our state’s small businesses, including through regulatory relief and assistance for displaced workers. We are counting on communities across the state to commit to wearing masks and social distancing so we can get our local economies back on track.”

 

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For interviews:         Sen. Christine Rolfes, 360-786-7644

18 11, 2020

Statement from Sen. Christine Rolfes on November revenue forecast

November 18th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released this statement following today’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council meeting:

“This updated forecast will put the Legislature in a better position to meet the needs of struggling families and small businesses when we convene in January. Our state still has a lot of challenges ahead, which I’m confident we will continue to meet, and we continue to look to our federal government to help get us through these trying times.”

9 11, 2020

Sen. Billig reelected Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Hasegawa elected Caucus Chair

November 9th, 2020|Leadership, News Release|

Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) was reelected Senate Majority Leader on Monday by the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Bob Hasegawa was elected Caucus Chair, filling the position left vacant with the retirement of former Sen. John McCoy in April.

“It is an incredible honor to receive the trust of my colleagues,” Billig said. “I have the good fortune of working alongside dedicated, compassionate and thoughtful public servants in the Senate, and I cannot imagine a better team to help our state move forward. Washington families and small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges, but Washingtonians have never shied away from a challenge. There’s nothing we cannot overcome if we work together.”

“I am so honored to be chosen by my colleagues as the newest Majority Caucus Chair in the Washington State Senate,” said Hasegawa. “We may be facing a year full of challenges, but our goal of putting the people of Washington first will remain the top priority. From providing families with the resources necessary to recover from the pandemic, to increasing access to high-speed broadband for all Washingtonians, to addressing the budget shortfall we face through an equity lens, bold intentions from state lawmakers will pave the way towards a better Washington that we can all thrive in. I’m eager to get to work and build that future.”

Billig, who represents Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate in 2016 and was first elected Majority Leader in 2018. Under Billig’s leadership, the Senate has prioritized education funding, election reform, health care, the environment, job creation and other issues that have helped make Washington’s economy one of the best in the nation.

Hasegawa is a lifelong resident of the 11th Legislative District, which he now represents in the State Senate after 8 years in the House of Representatives. As a longtime labor and social justice advocate, he uses his voice to address the struggles of working families, small businesses, and disenfranchised communities. He is Vice Chair of the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee, and serves on the Ways & Means, Rules, and State Government & Tribal Relations Committees.

The Majority Caucus Chair is primarily responsible for serving as chair for all caucus meetings. The chair is also a member of the caucus leadership team, which plays a large role in determining which legislative priorities to advance during the legislative session.

23 09, 2020

Statement from Sen. Christine Rolfes on state revenue forecast

September 23rd, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – State Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released this statement following today’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council meeting:

“Washington’s diverse economy is showing signs of resilience. While we will still face many challenges ahead, there are some extremely positive signals for our state’s financial picture in this forecast and it represents an enormous step in shoring up our state’s projected budget deficit.

“Thanks to action by lawmakers to hold $3 billion in reserves and difficult decisions made earlier this year by the governor to veto legislation and reduce spending, we have a stronger foundation than most states upon which to rebuild. As we continue to support the critical work to address the pandemic, this forecast will help guide us as we prepare to write the state’s 2021-23 biennial budget.

“We know that many households and businesses in our state are struggling and anxious about their own economic futures. That’s why it’s more important than ever to begin to identify bipartisan solutions at the state level. It’s also why it’s critical for Congress to act responsibly and provide timely financial support for state and local governments.

“Our state’s economic challenges will require creative, thoughtful decisions that keep our overarching goals of opportunity, prosperity and equity in mind as we put all options on the table to deliver a sustained recovery for everyone in Washington state.”

2 07, 2020

The Everblue State: Sen. David Frockt on Economic Recovery

July 2nd, 2020|Podcast|

For this episode of the Everblue State, we spoke with Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) who chairs the Senate Special Committee on Economic Recovery. This newly formed committee is designed to help Washington State recover from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first hearing on June 16, Frockt and the committee heard from economists and Washington’s Employment Security Department about the challenges Washington and the rest of the United States are facing.

17 06, 2020

Statement from Sen. Christine Rolfes on state revenue forecast

June 17th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released this statement following today’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council meeting:

“Today’s forecast gives us a better understanding of the enormous fiscal challenges facing our state in the months to come. We will continue our work to address the immediate impacts of the pandemic and prepare to make smart, informed budget decisions that will protect households from the continued impacts of a sustained downturn.

“While we remain hopeful that our federal partners will act responsibly and support states with a relief package, it will ultimately be up to us to find a budget solution that works in all corners of our state. Now more than ever, we must forge bipartisan solutions to keep our communities whole and build opportunity, prosperity and equity across the state.

“As our state faces many difficult financial decisions in the coming months, the health and safety of all Washingtonians is paramount. Our shared goal is to strategically align our state for a strong economic recovery, and we have a solid foundation on which to rebuild, thanks in part to a healthy rainy day fund.

“The challenge before us will require everybody’s participation and constructive ideas. The hard work and ingenuity of Washington’s workforce built the nation’s strongest economy over the last decade, and in the months to come I’m confident we will rebuild our economy upon the strong foundation we have forged together.”

 

14 05, 2020

WATCH: Sen. Frockt shares vision for economic recovery committee on TVW

May 14th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Sen. David Frockt appeared on TVW’s The Impact this week to share his vision for the newly created  bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into session this year.

“If you’re not thinking about jobs in this environment, you’re not thinking about the right things,” said Frockt during the interview.

Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Senator Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. In total, the seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators will include Sens. Manka Dhingra, Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldaña. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

You can watch the full interview with The Impact here.

16 04, 2020

Senator John McCoy announces retirement from Washington State Senate

April 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 16, 2020

McCoy announces retirement from Washington State Senate

OLYMPIA — After 17 years of service in the Washington State Legislature, Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip) announced his retirement on Thursday after submitting a resignation letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. His retirement is effective Friday, April 17.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of the 38th Legislative District and our entire state,” McCoy said. “When I first came to the Legislature in 2003 as a member of the House of Representatives, I was humbled to represent such warm and vibrant people in Everett, Marysville and Tulalip. Through changes in committees, leadership roles, and even chambers over the course of my legislative career, it was always an immense privilege to represent my neighbors. I am deeply grateful for that privilege.”

“To my community members: thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to fight for you. Thank you for the chance to work with you and to bring your ideas to life at the Legislature. And thank you for trusting me with such an important job – elevating your voices and building a state where every one of us can thrive.”

McCoy leaves behind a legacy of steady leadership and commitment to serving his community. He brought a career in military service and years as a computer technician and business leader to his work at the Legislature, culminating in a lawmaker who effectively advanced economic development and equality of opportunity for his district. His work is characterized by tireless advocacy for Native American and rural communities, expanded access to high-quality education, and environmental sustainability.

Before McCoy became one of the longest serving Native American legislators in the state’s history, he led efforts to bring better telecommunication infrastructure to the Tulalip Tribe, of which he is a registered member. He also helped bring to fruition the Quil Ceda Village shopping, casino and hotel complex, a triumph of community that ultimately earned him the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Executive of the Year award.

During his subsequent five terms in the Washington State House of Representatives, McCoy fought for students, for the environment, for a healthy economy and for tribal communities. He sponsored policy that expanded support for students struggling with behavioral and emotional health needs, protected water rights and access, deterred wage discrimination and protected immigrant workers, and integrated comprehensive tribal history and culture education into teacher preparation programs.

After he was elected to the Washington State Senate, he led victories like the passage of the Native American Voting Rights Act to expand voting rights access in tribal communities, and passage of a groundbreaking dental therapy bill to expand dental care on reservations. He also established Native American Heritage Day, honoring tribal history the day after Thanksgiving, and got the Kelsey Smith Act signed into law, requiring wireless-telecommunications providers to provide call-location information for cell phones in emergency situations.

In a letter to his Senate colleagues on Thursday, McCoy wrote: “It has been the greatest honor to serve the people of Washington alongside you. It has been a gift to advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised Washingtonians, to lift up the voices of our sovereign tribal communities, to expand access to – and quality of – education and health care, and to do so with a team of dedicated public servants.”

McCoy was elected by his colleagues to serve as chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2016, and most recently served on the Natural Resources Committee, the Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee, and the Rules Committee. McCoy’s retirement will allow him to spend more time with his wife, three daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His four-year Senate term that began in January 2019 will be filled by a temporary appointee, who will serve through this November’s election. The appointee will be chosen by the Snohomish County Council from a list of three names submitted by the district’s Precinct Committee Officers. Candidates wishing to serve the last two years of the Senate term may file during the week of May 11-15.

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For information:

Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

For interviews:

Sen. John McCoy, 360-786-7674

18 03, 2020

Billig: Governor has Legislature’s full support

March 18th, 2020|News Release|

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said the Legislature took steps before adjourning last week to swiftly support coronavirus response efforts by Gov. Jay Inslee, including the release of $200 million in emergency funds appropriated by the Washington State Legislature to help fund the state’s COVID-19 response.

The funds will be used for hospital surge capacity, testing, and other efforts at local health departments. The Legislature also authorized immediate funding that may be used for shelter needs related to COVID-19, which the Department of Commerce is already in the process of distributing to counties and cities.

“Leaders in the Legislature will continue to coordinate with the governor’s staff and our partners in local governments to mitigate both the health emergency and the economic crisis that is unfolding in our state,” Billig said. “I admire the work of the governor and his staff under difficult circumstances, and his important warning for all of us to do our part to stay away from public gatherings and slow the spread of coronavirus. In concert with his efforts, state leaders will continue to take any and all actions we can to protect the people of our state.”

Before the Legislature adjourned last week, lawmakers approved other key measures to protect Washingtonians during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Ensuring people receiving unemployment insurance can continue to do so even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine.
  • Supporting businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency.
  • Reimbursing nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response.
  • Allowing school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours because of the coronavirus state of emergency.
  • Giving flexibility to the State Board of Education to allow high school seniors to graduate this year if they were on track before the emergency declaration.

“Public health is our first priority, with mitigating the economic impacts from this outbreak not far behind,” Billig said. “I know Washingtonians will remain resilient during this difficult time, while at the state level we’ll continue to do our part to deliver all the resources necessary to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.”

Primary state response websites:

Washington State’s official COVID-19 site: www.coronavirus.wa.gov
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
Washington Employment Security Department: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19

 

11 03, 2020

Takko secures $700,000 to cut traffic congestion in Aberdeen

March 11th, 2020|News Release|

The City of Aberdeen will receive $700,000 for the US 12 Highway-Rail Separation Project, thanks to a provision added to the Legislature’s final transportation budget by Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview).

The money will fund preliminary work for an overpass and roundabout to raise South Chehalis Street above US 12 and Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad, where train traffic regularly causes congestion and backups on US 12.

The number of freight trains traveling along this corridor has significantly increased over the past 15 years and is predicted to continue growing in the coming decades.

The Port of Grays Harbor, at the western end of the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad, is the closest port to Seattle with direct access to the ocean and is crucial for transporting timber, agricultural products, and autos, among other goods.

“This funding is crucial because it keeps this project moving and positions us competitively for big federal transportation grants,” said Takko. “Having more freight trains on the tracks is a sign of a strong economy — a good problem to have — but we need the overpass to cut down on traffic jams when those trains come through town.”

Without this funding, the project would miss a key deadline and the planning process would need to be restarted, setting the work back by months and costing an additional $300,000. The state’s $700,000 will help get the project construction ready by 2023, which will make it more competitive for federal INFRA and BUILD grant programs.

Local support for the project is strong. The City of Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County, and the Port of Grays Harbor together have committed $700,000 to match the state’s appropriation.

A 2019 cost-benefit analysis calculated that this project will return a benefit of $1.72 for every $1.00 invested.