Monthly Archives: February 2015

Two-thirds rule tested in Senate

February 27th, 2015|

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, today issued the following statement after calling the question about a Senate rule that requires a two-thirds majority vote to bring a bill with new revenue to a vote on the Senate floor:

“My parents always taught me to abide by the rules. I feel strongly that as an elected official and member of the legislature that we should do the same. It is incumbent upon us to set a good example for our kids and the citizens of our state.

“On the first day of session, the Republican majority passed a new Senate rule that requires a vote of two-thirds of the body in order to bring a bill with new revenue to the floor for a vote. While Senate Democrats did not support the rule change, we do respect this body, despite our beliefs that the rule violates our state constitution.

“Today was the first opportunity to put that rule to the test. The transportation package includes an increase in gas taxes and other motor vehicle fees that I believe constitute new revenue. The two-thirds rule should not apply only to those taxes the Republican majority likes.

“The transportation package being put forth fails to address all of the priorities of the state for the next 16 years – especially the replacement of the I-5 bridge – the most critical transportation infrastructure investment in my region. By the time this transportation package runs its course in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old. We cannot wait another 16 years to find a solution.

“I am committed to continuing to discuss a path forward to including an I-5 bridge replacement in the transportation package that best positions us for a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and a healthier future. I will continue to advocate for fair and balanced investments within any transportation package to best position our state going forward. I will also continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the transportation package that moves forward will meet the test of our standing Senate rules.”

Legislative Update – Feb. 24, 2015

February 24th, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We have cleared the first real hurdle of the 2015 Legislative Session ‑ policy cutoff. Policy cutoff means that bills would have to make it out of the committee they were assigned in order to keep moving through the process. Our next deadline is the fiscal cutoff at the end of this week and bills will have to make it out of the Ways & Means Committee to move forward. Currently, I have bills that are waiting to get to a vote on the floor and bills in the Ways & Means Committee.

Honoring the legacy of Rep. Val Ogden

Each biennium, the legislature holds a memorial service in remembrance of all the former legislators who have passed on. This year we honored the life and legislative career of 49th LD Rep. and House Speaker Pro-Tempore Val Ogden. Val was a mentor to all three of us representing the 49th, and we each carry dear memories of her. It was truly an honor for us to carry a white rose and light a candle in her memory.

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I continue to fight for your transportation needs

The transportation package is advancing through the legislative process and we could soon see it on the floor for a vote. While I’m always a staunch supporter of investing in infrastructure, those investments need to be fair and balanced. It is impossible for me to support a 16-year funding package that does not address our community’s most pressing need – replacement of the nearly 100 year old I-5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland. A great deal of effort has been put toward that goal through decades of work, unanimous approval by 39 stakeholders, approval by necessary local entities and funding commitments from the FTA and the State of Oregon. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

Now is the time to make good on our promise to fund what our legislature failed to do two years ago. While we delay addressing this situation our state, our region and community waits. The blow that has been dealt to our community due to the failure to fund replacing the bridge will be felt for generations to come. Lack of replacement of the I-5 bridge means continued accidents, congestion and an inability to efficiently move freight and goods through the corridor and into our state. Even more devastating are the jobs that won’t materialize for our community as a result of the direct investment in an I-5 bridge replacement.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to address this critical need and move our state forward with a transportation package that best positions us for a stronger economy, cleaner environment and a healthier future.

 Your voice matters

I greatly enjoy the friends and constituents from home who have come to Olympia this session to visit or to participate in the legislative process. Your voice and your input is critical in helping to advance measures that will help our community.

Last week we had a special visit by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray who was home during the Congressional recess. It was incredibly valuable to be able to talk to her about issues like health care, transportation, and bills like the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. We are so fortunate to have her leadership in the United States Senate.

Until next time,

Cleveland

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    Habib, Jayapal, Cleveland vote no on transportation proposal in committee

Habib, Jayapal, Cleveland vote no on transportation proposal in committee

February 19th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Senators Cyrus Habib, Annette Cleveland and Pramila Jayapal, voted no on the Senate transportation proposal in the Senate Transportation Committee after repeated attempts to amend the proposal were defeated on party-line votes. Statements from the three members are below:

 Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland:

“Our job as a legislature is to produce a transportation package that can pass the Senate, the House and the Governor’s desk. That is not this package. The responsible thing to do is to produce a clean bill, without ideological poison pills, that can actually pass and make these investment proposals real for Washingtonians. That’s what I’ve worked to do on the Transportation Committee and that’s what I’ll continue to do as this issue goes through further debate. Issues like transportation investment, job creation, expanding transit and protecting our environment are too important to move forward with a proposal that isn’t a balanced solution to our challenges.”

 Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver:

“It is impossible for me to support a 16-year funding package that does not address my community’s most pressing need – replacement of the nearly 100 year old I-5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland. A great deal of effort has been put toward that goal through decades of work, unanimous approval by 39 stakeholders, approval by necessary local entities and funding commitments from the FTA and the State of Oregon. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

“Now is the time to make good on our promise to fund what our legislature failed to do two years ago. While we delay addressing this situation our state, our region and my community waits. The blow that has been dealt to my community due to the failure to fund replacing the bridge will be felt for generations to come. Lack of replacement of the I-5 bridge means continued accidents, congestion and an inability to efficiently move freight and goods through the corridor and into our state. I am committed to working with my colleagues to address this critical need and move our state forward with a transportation package that best positions us for a stronger economy, cleaner environment and a healthier future.”

 Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle:

“I very much want to vote for a clean transportation package that puts people to work, fixes our roads and invests heavily in much-needed transit,” Jayapal said. “Several of us on the transportation committee offered the opportunity to remove unnecessary political provisions and send out a clean package. Unfortunately, all of our amendments were voted down. As passed, the proposal relies on funding sources that fall squarely onto the shoulders of working families, while exempting the state’s largest polluters from paying their fair share.

“It moves our state backward on options to address carbon pollution – which we know affects low income and communities of color disproportionately. It limits training opportunities for young construction workers, and erodes wage standards that put food on the table of Washington’s families. And this proposal diverts almost $1 billion from the general fund that could be used for other priorities like education. I would be delighted to vote for a clean funding package, but I can’t in good conscience vote in favor of a measure that forces a parent choose between healthy lungs for her child and transit that allows her to get to work.”

 

Legislative Update – Feb. 15, 2015

February 15th, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I am honored to serve as your state senator and as your voice in Olympia. This year, I serve on the Senate Health Care; Transportation; and Energy, Environment & Telecommunications committees. I also serve on the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership team as the assistant floor leader.

The 2015 Legislative Session convened on Jan. 12 and I continue to carry with me to Olympia our collective pride in our community and our desire to ensure the viability and good health of our region for the future. My focus this session is on removing barriers to our economic viability and good health.

Just a few bills I’ve sponsored to help move Washingtonians forward

Our community is at a crossroads. We are recovering from the recession, yet, not all at the same rates. I continue to hear from constituents who are still having trouble making ends meet. As a state, I believe we still face too many barriers that prevent us from moving forward. I am proud to sponsor several bills this session that will help break down those roadblocks. A few of those bills include:

Senate Bill 5630 – This bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Opportunity Act and make sure that people who work the same job are paid equally. Women earn 80 cents compared to every dollar earned by a man. We need to ensure that all our state’s workers have an opportunity to provide for their families. This bill also outlines protections for employees who want to find out about wages paid at their company, but don’t because they are fearful of retaliation. This bill breaks down barriers for workers by acknowledging that equal work should result in equal pay. (Photo: The Equal Pay Opportunity Act Press Conference, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015)

Senate Bill 5788 – This bill would establish in statute the creation of two demonstration sites for elder justice centers in Clark County and in Spokane County. The centers will create a multidisciplinary approach to protecting seniors from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation. Studies estimate that we will have 1.5 million people over the age of 65 by 2030. According to the U.S. Department of Justice one in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. Facing additional barriers as we age should not be a reality. I will present this bill in the Senate Health Care Committee at 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 16.

My latest video update on this subject may be found here.

Senate Bill 5897 – We should work to remove barriers for all children needing support. The goal of this bill is to allow children who suffer from felony-level abuse to be able to receive compensation for medical evaluations the same way that children who have medical evaluations for sexual abuse paid for by the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund. Children should not have to live in dangerous environments where they potentially could suffer life-altering or life-threatening injuries. Early medical evaluations by medical professionals are critical in establishing the presence and patterns of abuse. All children should have equal access to medical care without worrying about medical costs. I presented this bill to the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 5767 – Under this bill, local county treasurers would be able to move into the 21st century and accept electronic payment for all fees, taxes, and payments. Expanding easy access to making payments helps save time, is more efficient, and will bring our county treasurers up to date with their customers. This bill was presented to the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 5118/House Bill 1404 – I was proud to give our community a preview of this bill before introducing it officially in the Senate. This bill would create a bi-state workgroup for all bi-state transportation mega projects valued at or over $500 million. We need a clear channel of communication and consistency between our two communities and states if we are to move forward. The current nearly 100 year old bridge continues to be a barrier to our community from making significant economic advancements.

Transportation package announced in the Senate

On Thursday, Transportation negotiators stood together to announce that they have reached agreement on a 16 year, $15 billion roads transportation package that would increase to $26 billion if voters in the Puget Sound region approve expansion of Sound Transit. The transportation package relies on an 11.7 cent gas tax increase and modest fee increases. The roads package would create about 100,000 jobs for Washingtonians and an additional 100,000 jobs would be created with the passage of the Sound Transit expansion.

The projects in the proposed transportation package for our district are:

  • SR 501/I-5 to Port of Vancouver improvements
  • I-5/ Mill Plain Boulevard improvements
  • West Vancouver Freight Access project
  • Vancouver Mall Transit Center relocation and upgrade
  • Fisher’s Landing Park & Ride expansion

While I am glad there is headway with a transportation package, I am disappointed that the proposed package fails to address the single most important transportation infrastructure investment for my community and our region – replacement of the antiquated I-5 bridge.

The current transportation package will commit our community, region and state to another 16 years without any discussion about taking steps forward to replacing the bridge. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

The future viability of our communities depends upon strategic investment in key projects necessary to move freight, goods and people safely and efficiently. My priority for any transportation revenue package in order to meet these goals is to make certain the projects funded are beneficial to all areas of the state and lend themselves to strengthening our transportation system as a whole.

I want to ensure that a successful transportation package positions our state for a future with strong economic, environmental, and personal health benefits. I embrace the innovative and bold approach Gov. Inslee proposed in reducing carbon emissions while shifting our state’s reliance on a gas tax to a more stable funding source as our cars and way of life becomes more energy efficient.

I will continue to advocate for fair and balanced investments within any transportation revenue package to best position our state for the future. At this time, I cannot in good conscience commit us to a transportation package that fails to address the antiquated I-5 bridge.

Thank you to those of you who attended our pre-session town hall on Jan. 10!

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Thank you so much to all of you who took time on a Saturday morning early in January to talk with us about the important issues in our community and help us to prepare for the 2015 session. Your 49th Legislative District delegation will be hosting a telephone town hall early in March, so stay tuned for more information.

I always enjoy when constituents come to visit me when they are in Olympia. Over the course of the session, I have had many visitors from home stop by my office. I have created a special photo gallery on my website for all the photos!

Until next time,

Cleveland

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    Cleveland: “Our bridge can’t afford to be left out for another 16 years”

Cleveland: “Our bridge can’t afford to be left out for another 16 years”

February 14th, 2015|

OLYMPIASen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, today issued the following statement in response to the proposed transportation package that was unveiled in the Washington State Senate on Thursday:

“While I am glad there is headway with a transportation package, I am disappointed that the proposed package fails to address the single most important transportation infrastructure investment for my community and our region – replacement of the antiquated I-5 bridge.

“The current transportation package will commit our community, region and state to another 16 years without any discussion about taking steps forward to replacing the bridge. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

“The future viability of our communities depends upon strategic investment in key projects necessary to move freight, goods and people safely and efficiently. My priority for any transportation revenue package in order to meet these goals is to make certain the projects funded are beneficial to all areas of the state and lend themselves to strengthening our transportation system as a whole.

“I want to ensure that a successful transportation package positions our state for a future with strong economic, environmental, and personal health benefits. I embrace the innovative and bold approach Gov. Inslee proposed in reducing carbon emissions while shifting our state’s reliance on a gas tax to a more stable funding source as our cars and way of life becomes more energy efficient.

“Our state is recovering from the recession, yet, we are not all recovering at the same rates. I continue to hear from constituents who are still struggling to make ends meet. It is difficult for me to ask the people of my district to pay a higher gas tax and additional fees without including a plan for next steps in replacing the lifeline in and out of our community.

“We must make certain to address the areas of our state with the most dire safety, reliability and congestion needs. At the same time, we must keep an eye toward investing fairly and in a balanced way to support all corners of our state.

“I will continue to advocate for fair and balanced investments within any transportation revenue package to best position our state for the future. At this time, I cannot in good conscience commit us to a transportation package that fails to address the antiquated I-5 bridge.”

 

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    Cleveland: ‘Abused children should not face barriers to receiving medical evaluation’

Cleveland: ‘Abused children should not face barriers to receiving medical evaluation’

February 12th, 2015|

OLYMPIASenate Bill 5897, a measure that will allow the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program to apply for children’s medical examinations when children have suspected injuries related to possible assault of a child received a hearing Thursday in the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee.

“Currently in our state child sexual abuse exams are eligible for reimbursement through the Crime Victims Compensation Fund,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver. “At the same time, felony-level physical abuse exams for children are not eligible for this same reimbursement. In my mind it is unfair and unjust that one type of victimization is covered over another. This bill addresses that disparity and reimburses examinations for both physical assault and sexual assault child abuse exams.”

Early identification and medical evaluations by trained professionals when felony-level child abuse is suspected is critical in helping to establish the presence and patterns of injuries such as bruises and burns. Abusive injuries can be wrongly overlooked or explained as ‘accidental’ which can keep the child in a dangerous situation and increase the possibilities for life-altering or life-threatening injuries.

The state created the Crime Victim’s Compensation Act in 1973, which helps victims of sexual and physical assault pay for their medical examinations. Child abuse crimes of sexual assault were included in the state medical coverage of the Act, but were not the main focus. As a result, child physical abuse crimes were not included, which requires the bill to remedy the inequality.

“We have to do more for our kids, especially our smallest who may not be able to speak for themselves or are too afraid,” said Cleveland. “Children who have suffered abuse should not face additional barriers to receiving, in some cases, lifesaving medical evaluations.”

Cleveland brought a similar bill to the Legislature for consideration last session as Senate Bill 6470.

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    Bill to create elder justice center pilot programs introduced in state Senate

Bill to create elder justice center pilot programs introduced in state Senate

February 3rd, 2015|

A bill to create two elder justice centers to help protect members of the state’s aging population was introduced today in the Senate by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.

“Addressing the needs of our state’s seniors must be a priority,” said Cleveland. “This community based approach has been incredibly successful with vulnerable children and I am pleased that we will have two pilot programs to bring these additional resources to our seniors. We all know someone or have heard a story about financial fraud and exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults and every one of us has the potential of one day being a victim. This bill will strengthen current efforts and put all the right people in one place to help keep our seniors safe.”

Senate Bill 5788 would model the elder justice centers after similar children’s advocacy centers and will bring adult protective services, law enforcement officers, prosecuting attorneys, victim’s advocates and program coordinators together to aid seniors and help protect them from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. This type of enhanced collaboration and coordination will more efficiently aid victims.

One in 10 seniors have suffered from some form of abuse or neglect at least once. Since 2008, the number of reports to adult protective services in Washington state has risen by 25 percent and the number of investigated cases has increased by 30 percent.

“We have more and more elderly people living in our community, and we need to ensure that our efforts to protect them keep up with the need,” said Billig. “Too many elderly people are being neglected, abused or taken advantage of, often with increasingly complex and targeted crimes, and our response should include a justice system capable of providing the specialized support and protection that our elders need and deserve. As this project moves forward, it will help us respond to the abuse or exploitation of vulnerable adults. Our elders raised us and in turn, they deserve our protection now.”

The elder justice centers will begin at two demonstration sites in Clark County and Spokane County. The centers will develop a written protocol to address the coordination of investigations between the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, adult protective services, local advocacy groups and any other local agency involved in the criminal investigation of vulnerable adults facing abandonment, abuse, neglect and financial fraud.

By January of 2018, each site must submit a final report to the Legislature detailing the effectiveness of the elder justice center models and must contain recommendations for modifying or expanding elder justice centers across the state.