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27 03, 2019

Senate capital budget proposal makes life-changing investments in Washington

March 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats introduced a capital budget proposal today that would invest in infrastructure to support behavioral health, affordable housing, education, and other priorities across the state.

“This budget is good for Washington from east to west, and I am pleased it already has bipartisan support,” said Sen. David Frockt, vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “We continue to prioritize behavioral health, provide more than $1 billion in funding for school construction, and we invest heavily in fish habitat restoration in and around the Puget Sound as part of our orca recovery strategy. We even provide funding for the first new state park in decades.”

The budget invests more than $200 million in behavioral health, including 117 million in behavioral health capacity grants, helping patients transition to care in their own communities. These investments are consistent with proposals by Gov. Jay Inslee.  

The Senate also joins the House in providing design planning for the proposed Behavioral Health Innovation and Integration campus within the University of Washington Medical School. This proposal has broad bipartisan support, and will be a critical component of Washington’s long-term strategy to create a new paradigm for mental health treatment in Washington State. 

“The budget will dramatically improve the quality of behavioral health treatment in our state as we transition to a better system,” Frockt said. “We have also made a critical down payment on housing for those most in need, with the second-highest investment ever in the Housing Trust Fund, including $35 million dedicated specifically for housing with behavioral health supports. “

The budget also continues to provide grants to create more bed capacity for children in the foster system. 

The Housing Trust Fund would receive $175 million to address a number of different needs in the community including house people with disabilities, people experiencing chronic homelessness, and people receiving treatment for substance abuse disorders.  It includes millions of dollars for housing in Seattle and King County.

The capital budget invests about $230 million in toxics cleanup, prevention and stormwater assistance to local governments.

Additional environmental investments would prevent wildfires and help orca. Forest hazard reduction would receive $14 million. The budget contains funding spread across a variety of projects that would aid orca recovery, including habitat restoration.

About $310 million and funding available through the Recreation and Conservation Office would fund habitat protection, salmon recovery, conservation and recreation.

The $63 million invested in state parks would expand Washingtonians’ options for environment recreation. About $3 million of that funding would go to a new, full-service Nisqually State Park near Eatonville. About $33 million would fund park maintenance.

An additional $90 million would fund outdoor recreation projects though Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grants.

The budget would invest about $1.1 billion in K-12 education, with about $1.02 billion dedicated to the School Construction Assistance Program. About $23 million would fund small district modernization, and $6 million would fund STEM grants.

The state’s higher education system would receive $1.1 billion.

4 03, 2019

Presidential primary bill passes full Legislature

March 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — A measure to make Washington’s presidential primary process more accessible and relevant—and to end reliance on precinct caucuses—passed out of the state House today on a 54-42 vote.

Senate Bill 5273, sponsored by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), would move Washington’s presidential primary to the second Tuesday in March, bringing it in line with nearly two dozen states across the country that are expected to hold primaries or caucuses by that date.

The current date for Washington’s primary, the fourth Tuesday in May, was so late that the state had no meaningful impact as nominees had effectively already been determined. This bill ensures that both major political parties in Washington state will have a voice in the nominating process and that their decisions will help dictate their party’s presidential nominee. 

“The earlier date will make the presidential primary more meaningful in our state and will increase participation,” Hunt said. “It also will enable the major political parties to use primary election results instead of caucuses to allocate Washington’s national convention votes to presidential and vice presidential candidates.”

In 2016, voter participation rates were three times higher in states with presidential primaries than in those with caucuses. The change will ease participation among voters who have non-traditional work schedules, lack childcare, or cannot commit to spending hours on a weekend in caucus. The bill allows voters to express their preferences through the state’s vote-by-mail system, as they do in all other elections, effectively ending the use of caucuses to choose presidential candidates.

“The presidential primary is part of the national presidential nominating process.  For the primary to be part of Washington state’s delegate selection process, it must be consistent with nominating rules established by the national political parties. The states are not free to enact whatever primary they want.  The parties require that only ballots from voters who identify with that party may be considered as valid,” said Hunt. As to allowing voters to cast an unaffiliated vote that would not be part of the process, he said, “it’s not participation if your vote does not count.  We want to work for high voter participation, but we also want to have a meaningful presidential primary where peoples’ votes count.  This bill accomplishes that.”

SB 5273 passed in the Senate on Jan. 30 on a 29-18 vote.          

1 03, 2019

The Everblue State: Sen. Jesse Salomon talks fracking and restorative justice

March 1st, 2019|Podcast|

For this episode of The Everblue State, we spoke with Sen. Jesse Salomon, the first-year senator from the 32nd District.

Salomon has spent his career in public service — working as a public defender, serving on the Shoreline City Council and more. In the Senate, he’s working hard on environmental and early childhood education issues.

28 02, 2019

Democratic lawmakers to host district town halls

February 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Democrats in the Legislature will host town halls in their legislative districts in March to hear from their constituents.

Senators and representatives from multiple legislative districts will provide a brief overview of their work so far this session before making themselves available for questions, comments and concerns from the public.

Below is a list of all scheduled town halls. More dates and locations are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, and this post will be updated.

  • 3rd Legislative District – March 16 at 10 am with Senate majority leader Billig and Reps. Riccelli and Ormsby. More information here.
  • 43rd Legislative District – March 16 at 10 am with House speaker Chopp, Sen. Pedersen, and Rep. Macri. More information here.
  • 22nd Legislative District – March 19 at 6 pm with Sen. Hunt and Reps. Dolan and Doglio. More information here.
  • 33rd Legislative District – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Keiser and Reps. Gregerson and Orwall. More information here.
  • 41st Legislative District – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Wellman and Reps. Senn and Thai. More information here.
  • 32nd Legislative District – March 23 at 2 pm with Sen. Salomon and Reps. David and Ryu. More information here.
  • 5th Legislative District Town Hall – March 16 with Sen. Mullet and Reps. Callan and Ramos. Three town halls will be held between 10 am – 3:30 pm. See more information here.
  • 26th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 with Sen. Randall. There will be three town halls between 9 am – 4:30 pm, each at a different location. Find out more here.
  • 27th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Darneille and Reps. Fey and Jinkins. More information here.
  • 29th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Conway. More information here.
  • 33rd Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Keiser and Rep. Gregerson. More information here.
  • 37th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Saldaña and Reps. Pettigrew and Santos. More information here.
  • 40th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10 am with Sen. Lovelett and Rep. Morris. More information here.
  • 47th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10:30 am with Sen. Das and Reps. Sullivan and Entenman. More information here.
  • 48th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 10:30 am with Sen. Kuderer and Reps. Slatter and Walen. Location and more details here.
  • 21st Legislative District – March 23 at 11 am with Reps. Peterson and Ortiz-Self and Sen. Liias. Find out more here.
  • 1st Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 1:30 pm with Sen. Palumbo and Reps. Stanford and Kloba. More information here.
  • 36th Legislative District Town Hall – March 24 at 2 pm with Sen. Carlyle and Reps. Frame and Tarleton. Find out more here.
  • 30th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 2 pm with Sen Wilson and Reps. Reeves and Pellicciotti. More information here.
  • 45th Legislative District Town Hall – March 24 at 11 am with Sen. Dhingra and Reps. Goodman and Springer. More information here.
  • 23rd Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 with Sen. Rolfes and Reps. Hansen and Appleton. There will be two town halls between 10 am – 3 pm. More information here.
  • 44th Legislative District Town Hall – March 23 at 9:30 a.m. with Sen. Hobbs and Reps. Lovick and Mead. More information here.
21 02, 2019

The Everblue State: Transportation and nerd stuff with Sen. Steve Hobbs

February 21st, 2019|Podcast|

This week on The Everblue State, Sen. Steve Hobbs updated us on Washington’s transportation policy. He also went in-depth about his nerdy pursuits — including Dungeons and Dragons.

He even told us which members of the Legislature he would pick for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Hobbs represents the 44th District, and is a combat veteran.

18 02, 2019

Week 6: Legislature faces first cutoff

February 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — It’s day 36 of the 105-day session and the snow is finally melting away at the Capitol. It will be a busy week as lawmakers will be holding hearings on hundreds of bills ahead of the session’s first cutoff on Friday. Policy bills that do not pass out of committee by the end of the week cannot receive further consideration. (View cutoff calendar). Health care, preventing bullying, and tax fairness will be among the hot topics discussed in committee this week.

What to watch this week

Monday, Feb. 18 @ 1:30 p.m.

The committee will hear SB 5526, which creates a public option health care plan; SB 5805, which protects threatened Obamacare mandates like preexisting conditions; and SB 5822, which establishes a pathway to universal health care in Washington.

Monday, Feb. 18 @  1:30 p.m.

The Senate will hold a hearing on SB 5689, which is designed to end bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination against transgender students in public schools.

Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ 8 a.m.

Should collegiate athletes get paid? The Higher Education Committee will explore that issue when it hears SB 5875.

Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ 11 a.m.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and House will hold their weekly media availability in the Senate Majority Caucus room. 

Wednesday, Feb. 20 @ 1:30 p.m.

With the spread of measles on the rise, the Senate Health Care Committee will hear SB 5841, which will eliminate the personal/philosophical objection exemption to common vaccinations. A press conference will precede the hearing at 12:30 p.m. in JAC 211.

Thursday, Feb. 21 @ 3:30 p.m.

SB 5810 will address inequities in our state’s tax structure and help give working families a leg up. The Working Families Tax Credit is a proven tool to increase family income, reduce child poverty and improve overall quality of life for low- and middle-income households.

Click here to access the entire schedule of Senate hearings.

14 02, 2019

The Everblue State: Sen. Joe Nguyen on marijuana policy and opportunity

February 14th, 2019|Podcast|

For this episode of The Everblue State, we spoke with another one of our new legislators: Sen. Joe Nguyen.

Nguyen represents the district he grew up in (the 34th District) and is passionate about providing opportunities for Washingtonians regardless of their income level. He’s also working this session to vacate some marijuana convictions.

13 02, 2019

Washington state’s expansion of voting rights to be discussed in Congress

February 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — Washington’s Secretary of State Kim Wyman is set to testify Thursday morning on HR 1, a measure sponsored by Congressional Democrats to strengthen and expand voting rights across the country.

HR 1, called the “For the People Act,” replicates many measures that were part of the Access to Democracy package passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2018.

In November 2017, Democrats in Washington state took control of the Legislature after five years of Republican control in the state senate. When Democrats took the gavels heading into the 2018 legislative session, they prioritized expanding voting rights for all Washingtonians. In other states where legislative control flipped back to Democrats, similar efforts have reversed years of Republican bills to limit voter access.

Prior to their passage here in Washington state, each of the Access to Democracy bills passed the Democratic-controlled House only to die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Bills in the 2018 Access to Democracy package included:

  • Washington Voting Rights Act (SB 6002)
  • Automatic Voter Registration (HB 2595)
  • Disclosure of campaign spending by nonprofit organizations  (SB 5991)
  • Same Day Voter Registration (SB 6021)
  • 16 and 17-year old Pre-Registration (HB 1513)

Senate Democrats have continued the push to expand voting access in 2019. Already, the Native American Voting Rights Act passed the Senate with bipartisan support. In addition, a bill restoring the right to vote for the roughly 18,000 individuals on probation or parole and a bill to permanently provide prepaid postage for all elections are expected to pass the Senate in the coming days.

8 02, 2019

B.C. Premier to address Washington State Legislature

February 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate will welcome John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia, to the Washington State Capitol on Friday. Horgan will deliver an address in the form of a joint session of the State House and Senate.

“B.C. and Washington State have a lot in common, and we know we are stronger when we work together,” said Premier Horgan. “Gov. Inslee and I are committed to act jointly together to fight climate change, increase connectivity and transportation links, grow the innovation economy and tech sector, grow mutually beneficial trade, and work to make life more affordable for people.”

Gov. Jay Inslee spoke about the need for the region to work together towards sustainability during a visit to Victoria in 2017 – the first time a Washington governor had delivered remarks in front of B.C. lawmakers since 1984.

In October, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding to fight climate change, and improve digital connectivity and transportation links, among other common goals.

Washington exports more to B.C. than it does to all other provinces combined, and represents B.C.’s third largest international export market. As of 2018, British Columbia’s exports to Washington are nearly equal to the value of all the province’s exports to China.

7 02, 2019

The Everblue State: Sen. Emily Randall on being a new senator

February 7th, 2019|Podcast|

In this week’s episode, we spoke with 26th District Senator Emily Randall about what it’s like to be one of the Senate’s newest members.

Her seat was previously held by a Republican, and she is working to make sure her constituents are fairly represented. She’s also one of the Legislature’s several new women of color, and is a LGBTQ leader.

She told us what it’s like to serve in a Legislature that is slowly becoming more diverse.