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21 11, 2016

Senate Democrats elect new leaders ahead of 2017 legislative session

November 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate Democratic caucus held leadership elections on Tuesday, electing Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip as caucus chair, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynwood, as floor leader. Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, was re-elected leader and released this statement following the vote:

“With less than two months to go before the next legislative session, and a nearly evenly divided Legislature, our caucus elected two great new leaders. Sen. McCoy brings a steady demeanor and breadth of experience to the role of caucus chair, replacing retiring Sen. Karen Fraser who has served in that role for several years.

“Sen. Liias has served as the assistant floor leader and has proven to be a capable operative and dynamic speaker. He will continue to be an asset in his new role as floor leader. I am honored to continue to serve as the leader of such a strong group of Democratic senators, and look forward to continuing to fight for families across this state.”

17 11, 2016

Nelson: Senate Democrats resolute against fear and division

November 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|

State Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, released the following statement in response to recent actions by members of the Senate Republican Caucus following the presidential election:

“In the last week, we have seen behavior from Senate Republicans that a vast majority of Washington residents would find disturbing. Since the presidential election, members of the Senate Republican Caucus have used words and actions to create division and instill fear among members of our communities.

“We have already seen an unconstitutional proposal that would undermine our right to free speech and heard divisive and false language about immigrants in a Senate committee. At the same time, we are seeing a dramatic and alarming rise in hate crimes and increased fear in our communities of color.

“Senate Republicans may be successful in generating headlines, but they will not be successful in their attempt to bring ugly, Trump-style campaign rhetoric inside the Capitol in Olympia.

“It’s imperative that Senate Republican leaders immediately and forcefully rebuke these actions and statements.

“Washington is known for embracing diversity and rejecting the politics of bigotry and resentment. Senate Democrats will stand by our shared values of fairness and opportunity and lead the fight to resist division and fear.”

1 11, 2016

Nelson: Hill’s passing a tremendously sad day for our state

November 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the news of the passing of Sen. Andy Hill:

“Today’s news leaves us all with heavy hearts. We are devastated to learn of Senator Hill’s passing. He was a tireless advocate for his community and despite our political differences, I always respected his willingness to work across party lines.

“Throughout his career he stayed focused on serving his district and state and did so with pride and distinction.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. This is a tremendously sad day for our state.”

26 02, 2016

Nelson: Washington’s school kids shortchanged in Senate Republican budget

February 26th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Friday released the statement below following the party-line passage of the Senate Republican budget:
“All year we have seen Senate Republicans focused on politics. Maybe that’s why their budget reads like an afterthought.

“Senate Republicans fall far short in addressing homelessness and they cut mental health in this state by $14 million.

“Most disappointing, however, is the harm they do to Washington’s one million school kids.

“The Senate Republican budget cuts $53 million from K-3 class size reduction. It ignores the opportunity gap. It does nothing to retain and attract quality teachers and falls far short of addressing the teacher shortage in a meaningful way.

“It also fails to prevent what would be the largest cut to K-12 education in the state’s history and ignores the McCleary fine – which continues to grow and has now surpassed $20 million.

“A budget represents values. It’s supposed to address the needs of our state and its people.

“At best the Senate Republican budget does nothing. At worst, it does serious damage to the people who can least afford it.”

25 01, 2016

VIDEO: Sen. Nelson outlines priorities for 2016 legislative session

January 25th, 2016|Uncategorized|

19 11, 2015

Voices from the 2015 Senate Education Listening Tour

November 19th, 2015|Uncategorized|


Voices from 2015 Education Funding Listening Tour
In the fall of 2015, Senate education leaders visited seven cities and listened to hundreds of stories from people who are impacted by the financial challenges facing our state’s education system. The stories above represent a snapshot of the voices we heard in Vancouver, Bremerton, Everett, Renton, Spokane, Yakima and Wenatchee. All of the testimony is available here.

26 06, 2015

Pedersen: Supreme Court ruling affirms the promise of equality for all

June 26th, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Today the United States Supreme Court issued its much-awaited ruling on marriage equality across the country.

In a landmark decision that will finally secure marriage rights for all couples, the Court ruled state bans on same-sex marriages across the country unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, effectively granting couples in all 50 states the right to marry.

Washington voters approved marriage equality in 2012.

In response, Sen. Jamie Pedersen issued following statement:

“Because of today’s decision, the relationships of couples and families all across our country will now be legally protected and respected. I am proud of the role that Washington’s legislature and voters played in the rapid and dramatic progress that our country has made toward the promise of equality for all. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support that allowed our Legislature to become the first in the country to repeal a state instituted Defense of Marriage Act.”

Sen. Marko Liias also issued a statement:

“Today, the age-old promise of liberty and justice for all became more real for millions of Americans — including me. This is a historic day for gay and lesbian families. The Supreme Court has affirmed once and for all that our love is just as sacred and deserves equal treatment under the law.”

In recognition of today’s decision, the Tacoma and Seattle communities are hosting events and discussions on marriage equality.

Tacoma

Rainbow Center and Oasis at 5:00 p.m.

March to Union Station Federal Court House

2215 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402

Seattle

United States District Court at 5:00 p.m.

700 Stewart St, Seattle, WA 98101

11 05, 2015

New proposal targets carbon reduction, rural economic growth

May 11th, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – As legislators continue work to come to an agreement on the state operating budget and a funding solution for schools, work has continued to refine the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act, which could provide as much as $500 million annually for the general fund while also reducing harmful carbon pollution. Today, a new proposal was introduced that will help reduce pollution, fund education and other vital services and boost Washington’s rural economy.

This Thursday, May 14, the House Appropriations Committee will hear a new proposed substitute to House Bill 1314, offered by Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland). The proposal places a firm cap on carbon pollution while ensuring economic opportunity and job creation across all of Washington. In conjunction with this effort, Senator Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) is introducing a similar bill, SB 6121.

“This is no longer just a climate change bill. This is a rural job creation and recreational access bill that helps reduce the state’s carbon emissions,” Hargrove said. “This program will create thousands of jobs in the renewable resource industry, including our working forests that sequester carbon while at the same time reducing emissions.”

“This new draft proposal advances our goal to reduce carbon emissions so we can have a safe environment while at the same time addressing the major concerns raised by impacted businesses,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), the prime sponsor of House Bill 1314 and chair of the House Environment Committee. “This new draft is a win-win,” said Fitzgibbon. “It generates about $1.2 billion annually, of which $500 million per year would go to funding our K-12 education system. And it does so by reducing pollution and being responsive to the needs of our economy.”

During two hearings held on an earlier proposal (HB 1314) in January, House Environment Committee members heard from businesses about the impacts of the legislation. Changes in the latest version include significant economic development for rural Washington and additional mitigation of price impacts on competitive industries and rebates to avoid increased costs associated with transportation fuels.

“This proposal asks the polluters to pay while putting us on track to ensure Washington State remains a leader in the fight against climate change,” Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), said. “It would be difficult to find two more critical issues than education funding and climate change. This plan addresses both needs and does it in a thoughtful way. Asking polluters to pay more for their impact on our communities while supporting education and the environment is a victory we can all claim.”

The money generated by the auction of carbon pollution allowances would be used for:

  • $500 million to invest in our K-12 education system.
  • $333 million in fuel supplier rebates to limit increases in fuel prices.
  • $108 million for the Working Families Tax Rebate, ensuring that low income families are not unfairly impacted.
  • $15 million for the Washington Housing Trust Fund.
  • $53 million to keep energy intense and trade-exposed industries competitive by covering compliance costs.
  • $193 million for the creation of a Working Forests and Local Mills economic development program that provides payments to forest landowners who sell Washington timber to Washington mills.
  • $67.5 million in capital projects that enhance forest health, protect habitat, and increase carbon sequestration.
  • $21.5 million to address the increasing costs of fire suppression.
  • Tax credits for bulk transporters of agricultural products and for mills that generate new jobs.
  • Starting in 2017, establishing a $70 million grant program to address cumulative environmental impacts and social and economic disparities.

In addition to economic investments, the new proposal will also increase access to recreational land. This will ensure that Washingtonians and visitors can affordably enjoy our forests and natural lands.

“I think this finds the sweet spot between environmental stewardship, support for rural working families and the interests of the industries impacted,” said Hargrove. “At this point, all options have to be on the table. When people take a closer look, they will realize that this can be a big part of the solution for the people and natural resources in this state.”

21 04, 2015

Hargrove honors journalist John Hughes for long, distinguished career

April 21st, 2015|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The state Senate honored state historian and former publisher of The Daily World, John C. Hughes with Senate Resolution 8670. Sens. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, both spoke about the legendary journalist on the Senate floor.

15 04, 2015

Senate Democrats offer plan to fully implement K-12 funding

April 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced a plan to phase in full funding of K-12 education for Washington students and get the state out from under the Supreme Court’s contempt of court ruling.

The plan will meet the needs of Washington’s one million school kids by addressing teacher compensation, reducing the reliance on local levies, shrinking class sizes and establishing a dedicated revenue source that asks the states multi-millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. This is in addition to the all-day kindergarten, school operating costs and K-3 class size reduction that both parties have agreed needs to be funded in this year’s operating budget.

The proposal centers around Sen. Christine Rolfes’ bill to implement full McCleary funding (SB 6104). Among the highlights are a new compensation system for all educational staff and a plan to implement the voter-approved class size reduction initiative.

“A great education for our students is dependent on having great teachers in every classroom,” Rolfes said. “Educator compensation has been the elephant in the McCleary room for a long time – any plan that will meet our obligations to our students and satisfy the court must address it. This is a reasonable and responsible proposal to ensure that as we come to solutions regarding education funding, we don’t stay silent on fundamental issues like compensation.”

Sen. Kevin Ranker is proposing a capital gains tax of the top 1/10th of 1 percent of the wealthiest in the state to begin funding the plan (SB 6102). He also introduced a constitutional amendment that will prevent capital gains levels from dropping below $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a household without a vote of the people (SJR 8206).

Ranker also received a letter signed by over 100 Washingtonians asking that a high-earners capital gains tax be implemented, calling the idea important both “economically and ethically.”

“Many of the wealthiest Washingtonians in our state want to do more and give back to the great state that they love,” Ranker said. “They understand that giving back and asking everyone to do their share makes our state a better place. These people have found success in our state. They want to make our schools stronger so that others can share in that success.”

The final part of the plan addresses the state’s need to take on levy reform (SB 6103). Sen. Jim Hargrove’s plan would return local levies to their intended purpose of paying for extras and ensuring that the state pays for all elements of a basic education.

As K-12 compensation is increased and the state takes on the obligation of compensation, there is a dollar for dollar reduction. For every dollar given to the schools in increased funding, local levy revenue is reduced by one dollar.

“Under this plan more than 98 percent of families in this state will see their property tax reduced or remain untouched,” Hargrove said. “This addresses two critical needs, the Supreme Court’s order and some tax relief for families throughout the state.”

Materials
One pager
SB 6104 in depth
Capital Gains Letter