E-News

E News: 2019 Budget Update

May 8th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We accomplished a lot during this year’s 105-day legislative session. In addition to passing a wide range of bills improving the quality of life in our communities, we finished on time and passed capital construction, transportation and operating budgets for the next two years.

The $4.9 billion construction budget makes investments across Washington in areas like behavioral health, affordable housing, education and the environment. Projects in our district include:

• $1 million for roof replacement at the Marymount Museum/Spana Park Senior Center.

• $773,000 for the Springbrook Park Expansion and Clover Creek Restoration to improve the biodiversity of native and aquatic plants and improve water quality.

• $500,000 for construction work to finish phase I in creating the Stan and Joan Cross Park in Frederickson.

• $1 million for the Pierce Center for Arts & Technology (Arivva) in Tacoma, which provides visual arts programs for youth and postsecondary career training for local workers.

• $500,000 for the McChord Airfield North Clear Zone to mitigate possible public and flight safety risks.

• $2.26 million for the Department of Ecology to implement cleanup remedies around the Lakewood – Ponders Corner superfund site.

• $2.8 million to support the Fire Service Training Center at Bates Technical College.

The $9.8 billion transportation budget includes continued delivery of projects first adopted as part of the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package.

The $52.4 billion operating budget pays for most state programs, policies and salaries. In addition to making significant investments in K-12 education, we also passed a bill to allow local school districts voters to increase levies to fund programs like athletics, debate clubs, summer learning programs, field trips, mentoring and teacher training.

It has been an honor to continue to serve our communities in the Senate. If you have any questions about the budget or anything else that happened this session in Olympia, I encourage you to reach out to my office.

Best regards,

Legislative Update 5/4/2017

May 4th, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Late last month, the regular 2017 legislative session formally concluded. Unfortunately, this happened before the Legislature was able to reach agreement on an operating and capital budget. As a result, Gov. Inslee has initiated a 30-day special session so that we can finish our work.

Like many of you, I am disappointed at the Legislature’s failure to complete the people’s business within the established 105-day timeframe.

At the root of this failure is our state’s divided government. Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House and governor’s mansion. Both parties have a very different view of what our state needs and passed very different operating budgets and solutions to how we resolve our K-12 funding crisis.

Special session

Keep in mind that special sessions operate differently than regular sessions. Committees rarely meet during this time and floor action is typically once every couple of weeks. The work being done is by legislators who are assigned to formally negotiate the final budget solution. Once they come to an agreement, the rest of the Legislature returns for a final vote.

We’ve shown that we can work together on a compromise budget solution in past sessions. I’m confident that this year we will do the same.

School siting bill signed into law

After years in waiting, the Bethel School District will finally be able to build a new high school as a result of House Bill 1017, which was signed into law last week by Gov. Inslee. I sponsored the companion legislation to HB 1017 in the Senate.

Bethel, like many school districts throughout Washington, has struggled to find space to build new schools. This has been a challenge for districts in areas with rapidly increasing populations and land development restrictions established by the Growth Management Act of 1990.

This a big win for kids in Pierce County. This legislation ensures that Bethel will have the flexibility to build a new facility where students can learn and grow without being overcrowded.

Bill updates

  • Senate Bill 5359 addresses the need to strengthen our work to apply military experience to state licensing requirements and was signed by the governor today.

 

  • Senate Bill 5640 would help high school vocational students meet graduation testing requirements and was recently signed into law

 

  • Senate Bill 5677 strengthens our state’s guardianship laws. It has been sent back to the Senate from the House but I am confident that it will pass both chambers before we finish our work this session.

Keep in touch

My office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway

  • Permalink Gallery

    School siting bill signed into law; Bethel to get a new high school

School siting bill signed into law; Bethel to get a new high school

April 28th, 2017|

After years in waiting, the Bethel School District will finally be able to build a new high school. Bethel, like many school districts throughout Washington, has struggled to find space to build new schools. This has been a challenge for districts in areas with rapidly increasing populations and land development restrictions established by the Growth Management Act of 1990.

A portion of House Bill 1017 that allows Pierce County school districts to build outside the county’s urban growth area was signed into law on Wednesday.

“This a big win for the kids in Pierce County,” said Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, who has been a longtime advocate for expanding building areas for schools and championed similar legislation in the Senate. “This legislation ensures that school districts have the flexibility to build new facilities so students can learn and grow without being overcrowded.

Bethel’s new high school will be built on 80 acres the district purchased about a mile outside the county’s urban growth area.

“Bethel has acquired a beautiful site with a view of Mt. Rainier,” said Conway. “This legislation will allow the school district to use that space in a meaningful way.”

Legislative Update 4/3/2017

April 3rd, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are now entering the last three weeks of the 2017 Legislative Session, which is scheduled to end on April 23.

At this point in the process, we are wrapping up our work in standing committees. The action now heads to the Senate floor where we will vote on House bills.

Both the Senate and the House have passed operating budgets and now the work will begin to reconcile the differences.

The biggest challenge over the next three weeks will be resolving our K-12 funding crisis. Stay tuned.

Capital Budget Proposal

Last week, the Senate unanimously passed its proposed capital budget that invests $1.1 billion in school construction and public education. It also would provide new funding for mental health services and invest in programs aimed at cleaning up the environment.

It also provides funds for several projects important to the 29th district and Pierce County:

  • $980,000 for the Franklin-Pierce Early Education Center.
  • $33 million for Clover Park Technical College’s Center of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies.
  • $3.1 million for Bates Technical College’s health science center.
  • $2 million for the City of Lakewood to remove a building from Join Base Lewis-McChord’s clear zone.
  • $1.5 million for Frederickson’s Cross Park project.

In the last budget cycle, I was able to secure $640,000 to provide shelter for homeless veterans and create a program that would connect retired veterans with homeless veterans to help them find services and support. This year’s proposed capital budget adds to that initial down payment by creating a new housing center in Orting for veterans. Many thanks to Larry Geringer, Maryellen Hill and the board of Panaza who helped make this dream a reality.

Tiny Houses to Help the Homeless

Last week, the Workforce Board’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Showcase of Skills Homeless Shelter Project was held on the capitol campus. Teams of CTE students from across the state, including a team from Bates Technical College, competed to build the best tiny house — an energy efficient shelter of less than 100 square feet.

These houses will be donated to help veterans and people with mental health issues experiencing homelessness transition to permanent housing.

Similar houses will be used at the new veteran’s shelter in Orting.

Keep in Touch

My office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway

 

Legislative Update 3/20/17

March 20th, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I would like to thank all of you who attended my town hall meeting at Bates Technical College. We had a lively conversation about car tabs, affordable health care, homelessness and K-12 funding. If you were not able to attend, you can always contact me anytime to ask me a question or share your legislative priorities.

Legislative Update

We are at the halfway point of this 105-day legislative session. So far, we have finished hearing bills that originated in the Senate. Senate bills that were voted off the floor are now being heard in House committees. Likewise, we are now considering House bills in Senate committees.

Among the many issues considered this year in the Senate were distracted driving penalties, protecting vulnerable adults and seniors, REAL ID travel requirements, workplace protection for pregnant women, helping our military transition to civilian jobs, and much more.

K-12 Update

The governor has signed two bills so far this session. The most significant was a bill to temporarily allow our school districts to continue to raise money through local levies. This was critical for allowing our school boards and districts to plan next year’s budgets. Keep in mind we are still negotiating a comprehensive, sustainable K-12 funding solution as ordered by the Supreme Court.

What is Next?

The next phase of the Legislature really focuses on the operating, transportation and capital budgets. The Senate’s Republican majority is set to release its budget proposals sometime this week. In response, House Democrats will release their budgets next week. Many of you have contacted me about items you hope to see funded in this year’s budgets; stay tuned as negotiations progress.

Keep in Touch

My office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway

Legislative Update 2/21/17

February 21st, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you for taking the time to read my legislative e-newsletter. First off, I would like to thank all of you who participated in last week’s telephone town hall. Almost 5,000 people picked up their phones to participate. I only wish that we had more time to take everyone’s questions.

Upcoming town hall

Fortunately, there is another opportunity soon for us to get together and talk about the issues that are important to you. On Saturday, March 11, at 10 a.m., I will host an in-person town hall at Bates Technical College’s south campus cafeteria. I hope you will attend. I’ll be sending out another reminder for this event as we get closer to the date.

Legislative update

We are now in the 7th week of this 105-day legislative session. For the most part, we have finished hearing Senate bills in our committees. Now we will transition to the Senate floor to vote on bills that made it out of committees. If approved, they then head to the House for further consideration.

Thank you for your advocacy

Two weeks ago, over 1,100 people from across the state — including union members, parents, vets and workers — signed in to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5692 that would make Washington a so-called “Right to Work” state. This type of advocacy and civic participation works in a big way. Because of the strong outpouring of opposition to this harmful legislation, SB 5692 will not be advancing this session.

If there is anything happening in Olympia that you care deeply about, please feel free to visit my office and share your concerns.

ACA update

Lastly, I want to take a moment to assure those of you who are enrolled in affordable health care programs through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), like Medicaid, that nothing can happen to your health care coverage this year as a result of any congressional action. Even though Congress has threatened to repeal the ACA, any action they take will not take effect until 2018.

In the meantime, I will be proactive in my efforts to protect your ability to access affordable health care. After all, roughly 790,000 Washingtonians stand to lose their health insurance if the ACA is repealed. That is unacceptable.

Keep in Touch

My office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway

 

  • Permalink Gallery

    Thousands come to Olympia to oppose ‘Right to Work’ bill

Thousands come to Olympia to oppose ‘Right to Work’ bill

February 10th, 2017|

On Wednesday, over 1,100 people from across the state — including union members, parents, vets and workers — signed in to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5692 that would make Washington a so-called “Right to Work” state.

SB 5692 was heard in the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee.

Sen. Steve Conway, D- South Tacoma, who sits on the committee, has been a longtime advocate for labor unions and opposes “Right to Work” legislation, which generally results in lower wages in the states in which it has passed.

Legislative Update 2/6/17

February 6th, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week, the Senate voted on the Republican plan to fully fund our state’s education system. While I am pleased that Republicans have finally put forth a proposal, I have many concerns. I’ve received emails from the Franklin-Pierce and Bethel School Districts expressing their concerns as well.

The bill was passed out of the Senate on Tuesday with a 25-24 vote. I voted against it but I look forward to further work on this critical issue throughout the session.

Bill Update

The first six weeks of session are typically spent working on policy issues in our standing committees. Here are some of the bills that I have sponsored so far this session:

  • Senate Bill 5359 – This legislation would strengthen efforts to help veterans and their spouses get credit for military experience to meet certain state licensing requirements.
  • Senate Bill 5650 – This bill would develop a Safe Streets Pilot Project in Pierce County to expand community policing.
  • Senate Bill 5651 – This would allow the Bethel School District to build a new high school outside its urban growth area.
  • Senate Bill 5639 and Senate Bill 5640 – These two bills would help high school vocational students meet graduation testing requirements.

If you would like more information about these bills or any other issue before the Legislature, do not hesitate to contact my office.

Telephone Town Hall

I want to encourage you to participate in a telephone town hall that I am hosting on Feb. 13.

Under this town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive telephone calls just before 6 p.m. asking if they would like to stay on the line and participate. Participants may ask me questions and hear my answers to other questions as well.

If you would like to participate and do not receive a pre-town hall invitation call, you may call in at 877-229-8493 and enter the ID code 116370.

Keep in Touch

My office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway

Legislative Update 1/23/17

January 23rd, 2017|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. I will be sending periodic updates throughout session to keep you informed about the issues that impact you and your family.

The 2017 legislative session is underway and I am happy to be back in Olympia representing you and all of the people of the 29th Legislative District.

Fully funding schools

In his annual state of the state address, Gov. Inslee made it clear that the most important issue of the session is fully funding our public education system. Currently, the state is in contempt of court for failing to fully fund our K-12 system. Finding a solution to this problem is going to be the principal challenge for budget writers and the members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, on which I serve.

One of the most challenging tasks we face in resolving this issue is finding a way to cut down on schools’ overreliance on local levies to cover basic operating costs – like paying teacher salaries. The Supreme Court has ruled that this is unconstitutional.

Committee assignments

The first eight weeks of session are largely spent in committees. This year, in addition to serving on the Senate Way & Means Committee, I will be serving on the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee, and the Senate Health Care Committee.

In Commerce & Labor, one issue I am very passionate about is paid family leave. Nobody should have to fret about making ends meet when they have to miss work because they fall ill or have to take care of a sick family member. So far, bills to fund a paid leave program in the state have been introduced by both the labor and business communities. I will keep you posted about this issue as it develops.

As a member of the Health Care committee, one of my main concerns is protecting health care coverage for the thousands of people who have obtained health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the ACA is repealed without a replacement, nearly 750,000 people in Washington state will lose their health coverage. If Congress does repeal the ACA, hopefully they will replace it with a solution that will not undermine the progress we have made in Washington state.

Keep in touch

There are many more issues that I know are important to you. Whether it is finding a way to alleviate traffic congestion throughout South Pierce County, securing funding for the Stan and Joan Cross Park, or helping understand how we spend revenue from marijuana sales, my office is always here to answer your questions and provide you with information. Please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sincerely,

Sen. Steve Conway