Monthly Archives: February 2014

Caseload Forecast shows little change with a few exceptions

February 19th, 2014|

The Washington State Caseload Forecast Council today released its February report which shows little change from the last forecast in Nov. 2013 with exceptions in four categories.

“Our state’s budget decisions are made on the outcomes of both the Revenue Forecast and the Caseload Forecast,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, and the Caseload Forecast Council Chair. “These updates are essential to see how changes in policy and practice are working and how many more or fewer people are expected to utilize services in our state.”

Today’s forecast shows little change with exception to the caseloads in four categories. K-12 Special Education saw unusually slow caseload growth from October to January. Meanwhile, the revised College Bound Scholarship Program caseload reflects a 10 percent increase in eligible students entering the program.

The number of the Department of Corrections violators increased significantly, by nearly one-third, which reflects a change in community custody sanctioning practices for offenders who fail to appear for violation hearings.

The final revision in the report states that the caseload for the TANF/Working Connections Child Care has fallen below previous forecast levels for many months, which is in part due to the increase in minimum wage and improving economy.

“Our state has adopted many best practice policies and when coupled with an improving economy, Washingtonians are able to get back on their feet and not rely as heavily on state assistance,” said Darneille.

“The social safety net continues to have many holes from the drastic, damaging budget cuts made during the Great Recession. Today’s forecast could represent good news that fewer families are living this far below the federal poverty level because of the increased minimum wage or greater job availability.

“It could, however, be reflective of the great number of families who are no longer eligible for TANF benefits because we have implemented a hard 60-month maximum lifetime benefit for these very poor families.”

More than 40 forecasts are made in the areas of Education (K-12, special education, bilingual, College Bound); Corrections (Juvenile Rehabilitation, DOC inmates, violators and community supervision); Public Assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Working Connections Child Care, Aged/Blind/Disabled Assistance, and Housing/Essential Needs); Children’s Services (foster care, extended foster care, and adoption support); Medical Assistance (all eligible children and adults); Long Term Care (nursing homes as well as home and community services); the Division of Developmental Disabilities (children and adults receiving Medicaid personal care as well as waiver services); and the Department of Early Learning (support for infants and toddlers).

To find the full February 2014 Caseload Forecast Council report, please click the following link: http://www.cfc.wa.gov/

27th LD lawmakers host Town Hall Meeting

February 11th, 2014|

The 27th Legislative District lawmakers will host a Town Hall Meeting from 10 to noon on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Jason Lee Middle School Cafeteria (602 N. Sprague, Tacoma, WA. Pierce County bus line #1). Sign-in begins at 9:30 a.m.

This will be an opportunity to receive a legislative session update and a chance to speak directly to your lawmakers in Olympia about your questions, comments or concerns.

We hope to see you there!

Legisaltive Update – Feb. 10, 2014

February 10th, 2014|

Sen. Darneille banner

Dear friends and neighbors,

It has been a busy few weeks in Olympia since I last sent you an update. You may be following what’s going on in the media, but I’d like to share what I’ve been doing for you and our community.

Town Hall Meeting – mark your calendars

Please join us, your 27th District lawmakers for a town hall meeting from 10 to noon on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Jason Lee Middle School Cafeteria (602 S. Sprague, Tacoma, WA 98405; Pierce Transit bus route #1). Sign in begins at 9:30 a.m. if you wish to participate and ask a question or voice a comment or concern. We will give a brief update of what’s happening this session and be there to answer your questions. We hope to see you there.

War on middle class continues in the Senate

Brace yourself: the Senate Republican’s war on middle-class employees has restarted after a showdown on the Senate floor. The Republican “reform” proposed for our state’s structured settlement system opens the option for all employees injured on the job to accept one lump sum of money instead of a pension that would be paid out over time. This might sound like a good thing, however, young employees who are permanently injured and unable to be retrained in another career might accept cash settlements that don’t truly cover their actual needs, run out of money and end up in poverty. That’s bad for the injured workers’ households and bad for taxpayers, because taxpayers will eventually pay for the safety net services to care for those impoverished employees. Our workers deserve the surety to know that if they are injured on the job, their future is safe. Our working families have enough to worry about as it is; suffering a permanent injury without receiving enough benefits to make ends meet should not be one of them. I opposed this legislation.

Mental health legislation heard in committee

Depression; hoarding; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Bipolar; Schizophrenia — these are the labels and boxes in which society puts people with mental illness. As if those illnesses aren’t difficult enough to live with, society has added the bonuses of: stigma; isolation; fear; anxiety; sorrow; frustration; pain; and feelings of depression and shame.

Left untreated, these combinations manifest themselves in ways that undermine our society: illness; addiction; violence; unemployment; crime; incarceration; hunger; poverty; an inability to care for oneself or one’s family; and even suicide.

One in seven children in our state has a mental illness. Nearly 65 percent of youths in our juvenile justice system have a mental illness. Passing thoughtful mental health bills is the pathway to address how we serve the mentally ill and care for people with mental illness in our communities and in our state. When we stand up and do what is right, we have less hunger, crime and homelessness. Our communities are enriched, people will be safer and — most of all — people living with mental illness can thrive.

Washington State Community Action Partnership at work on the War on Poverty

 

MDC Award

This year is the 50th anniversary of the start of the War on Poverty. I was deeply honored to be recognized by the Washington State Community Action Partnership for my work to reduce poverty in Washington state. The event took place in Olympia on Feb. 4, and included a keynote speech by David Bradley, one of the original authors of bills first primed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. We should all be grateful for the work of MDC, our community action agency here in Tacoma. MDC stands for “Making a difference in communities,” and they do.

Medical marijuana and what’s ahead

While we’re working with everyone who has come to the table on the issue of medical marijuana, we can’t find a solution that keeps access to medical marijuana separate from the implementation of voter-approved Initiative 502.

Distributors and people who used and are familiar with the old medical marijuana system are concerned about the state’s pan to bring together the two systems. We will continue working, though so far I haven’t seen a way the two can be reconciled, and predict that medical marijuana users will become part of the larger group that will legally purchase marijuana in the future.

DREAM Act and veterans higher education bills passed in the Senate

For three years, young people in our communities who came to our country as kids, who have grown up in our schools and communities have fought to get the DREAM Act passed. The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act on the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session and the Senate unexpectedly followed suit nearly 20 days later. These Dreamers will now be eligible to apply to our State Need Grant program like the rest of their classmates. These students will not have to put their aspirations and goals on hold as they will have equal access to critical grants to help them achieve their higher educational goals. I was proud to support this bill and all our students who seek higher education.

The other bill I was proud to support was a bill that offers our military men, women and veterans the ability to qualify for in state tuition without a year-long wait for residency. This bill passed in the Senate unanimously and will go to the House for their consideration.

Constituents in Olympia

Over the past couple weeks I have been pleased to meet with many groups from our district. I’ve met with Hannah Fumiko Russ, a member of our district’s Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a number of architects from the district and I received a BIG thank you card from the students at Browns Point Elementary. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to come down and meet with me. Please visit the photo gallery on my website to find photos of some of my visitors in Olympia.

Continuing the commitment to clean-up

As part of my continuing commitment to address areas of our district that were contaminated lead from ASARCO, I’d like to share the latest information from the state Department of Ecology on their clean-up efforts.

The state Department of Ecology is taking over a piece of the Tacoma Asarco Superfund cleanup. The department will continue yard clean-up work started in the 1990s by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Residents of the Ruston/North Tacoma area will start hearing more from their local Dirt Alert Program. Ecology is renewing its efforts because arsenic and lead in neighborhood soils still pose a risk. You may enter your address in the interactive map to find out if you live in an affected area and what services are offered.

Take care,

signature

Legislative Update – Feb. 10, 2014

February 10th, 2014|

Dear friends and neighbors,

It has been a busy few weeks in Olympia since I last sent you an update. You may be following what’s going on in the media, but I’d like to share what I’ve been doing for you and our community.

Town Hall Meeting – mark your calendars

Please join us, your 27th District lawmakers for a town hall meeting from 10 to noon on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Jason Lee Middle School Cafeteria (602 N. Sprague, Tacoma, WA 98405; Pierce Transit bus route #1). Sign in begins at 9:30 a.m. if you wish to participate and ask a question or voice a comment or concern. We will give a brief update of what’s happening this session and be there to answer your questions. We hope to see you there.

War on middle class continues in the Senate

Brace yourself: the Senate Republican’s war on middle-class employees has restarted after a showdown on the Senate floor. The Republican “reform” proposed for our state’s structured settlement system opens the option for all employees injured on the job to accept one lump sum of money instead of a pension that would be paid out over time. This might sound like a good thing, however, young employees who are permanently injured and unable to be retrained in another career might accept cash settlements that don’t truly cover their actual needs, run out of money and end up in poverty. That’s bad for the injured workers’ households and bad for taxpayers, because taxpayers will eventually pay for the safety net services to care for those impoverished employees. Our workers deserve the surety to know that if they are injured on the job, their future is safe. Our working families have enough to worry about as it is; suffering a permanent injury without receiving enough benefits to make ends meet should not be one of them. I opposed this legislation.

Mental health legislation heard in committee

Depression; hoarding; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Bipolar; Schizophrenia — these are the labels and boxes in which society puts people with mental illness. As if those illnesses aren’t difficult enough to live with, society has added the bonuses of: stigma; isolation; fear; anxiety; sorrow; frustration; pain; and feelings of depression and shame.

Left untreated, these combinations manifest themselves in ways that undermine our society: illness; addiction; violence; unemployment; crime; incarceration; hunger; poverty; an inability to care for oneself or one’s family; and even suicide.

One in seven children in our state has a mental illness. Nearly 65 percent of youths in our juvenile justice system have a mental illness. Passing thoughtful mental health bills is the pathway to address how we serve the mentally ill and care for people with mental illness in our communities and in our state. When we stand up and do what is right, we have less hunger, crime and homelessness. Our communities are enriched, people will be safer and — most of all — people living with mental illness can thrive.

Washington State Community Action Partnership at work on the War on Poverty

WSCAP Darneille Award 2-4-14

This year is the 50th anniversary of the start of the War on Poverty. I was deeply honored to be recognized by the Washington State Community Action Partnership for my work to reduce poverty in Washington state. The event took place in Olympia on Feb. 4, and included a keynote speech by David Bradley, one of the original authors of bills first primed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. We should all be grateful for the work of MDC, our community action agency here in Tacoma. MDC stands for “Making a difference in communities,” and they do.

Medical marijuana and what’s ahead

While we’re working with everyone who has come to the table on the issue of medical marijuana, we can’t find a solution that keeps access to medical marijuana separate from the implementation of voter-approved Initiative 502.

Distributors and people who used and are familiar with the old medical marijuana system are concerned about the state’s pan to bring together the two systems. We will continue working, though so far I haven’t seen a way the two can be reconciled, and predict that medical marijuana users will become part of the larger group that will legally purchase marijuana in the future.

DREAM Act and veterans higher education bills passed in the Senate

For three years, young people in our communities who came to our country as kids, who have grown up in our schools and communities have fought to get the DREAM Act passed. The House of Representatives passed the DREAM Act on the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session and the Senate unexpectedly followed suit nearly 20 days later. These Dreamers will now be eligible to apply to our State Need Grant program like the rest of their classmates. These students will not have to put their aspirations and goals on hold as they will have equal access to critical grants to help them achieve their higher educational goals. I was proud to support this bill and all our students who seek higher education.

The other bill I was proud to support was a bill that offers our military men, women and veterans the ability to qualify for in state tuition without a year-long wait for residency. This bill passed in the Senate unanimously and will go to the House for their consideration.

Constituents in Olympia

Over the past couple weeks I have been pleased to meet with many groups from our district. I’ve met with Hannah Fumiko Russ, a member of our district’s Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a number of architects from the district and I received a BIG thank you card from the students at Browns Point Elementary. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to come down and meet with me. Please visit the photo gallery on my website to find photos of some of my visitors in Olympia.

Continuing the commitment to clean-up

As part of my continuing commitment to address areas of our district that were contaminated lead from ASARCO, I’d like to share the latest information from the state Department of Ecology on their clean-up efforts.

The state Department of Ecology is taking over a piece of the Tacoma Asarco Superfund cleanup. The department will continue yard clean-up work started in the 1990s by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Residents of the Ruston/North Tacoma area will start hearing more from their local Dirt Alert Program. Ecology is renewing its efforts because arsenic and lead in neighborhood soils still pose a risk. You may enter your address in the interactive map to find out if you live in an affected area and what services are offered.

Take care,

darneille

Darneille meets with Architects

February 6th, 2014|

Sen. Jeannie Darneille today met with a group of architects from the district.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Darneille gets a BIG thank you card from Browns Point Elementary students

Darneille gets a BIG thank you card from Browns Point Elementary students

February 4th, 2014|

Sen. Jeannie Darneille received a BIG thank you card signed by nearly all the students of Browns Point Elementary from PTA member Charles Jorgenson.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Darneille bill provides community parenting alternatives to parents facing prison time

Darneille bill provides community parenting alternatives to parents facing prison time

February 4th, 2014|

A bill heard by the Senate Human Services & Corrections Committee would provide more parents facing prison time, who are at lowered risk to reoffend, the ability to retain custody of their children while receiving intensive supervision in a community setting.

“If you look at the information from the people who have already completed the program, the positive outcome for parents, children and the community is astounding,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma.

The goal of this legislation is to broaden the eligibility so we can have more participants in a community based setting while decreasing recidivism, decreasing a prison’s capacity, helping children avoid the foster care system, and avoiding duplication of services between social services and corrections programs.

In 2010, the Washington State Legislature approved legislation that created the Parenting Sentencing Alternative, which allows non-violent offenders to remain in the community to parent a minor child or children. As part of the alternative, a court orders one year of community custody and  a higher level of supervision.

“With a record since its inception in 2010, with more than 172 participants in the program, only 6 have returned to prison,” said Darneille. “The program is considered successful.”

The state Department of Corrections and state Department of Social and Health Services are working together and studying results that show that this alternative is succeeding for children and parents and yields a low rate of recidivism.

Currently, if a parent has a violent offense even as a juvenile, they cannot qualify to participate in the program. Senate Bill 6327 expands the eligibility criteria to include those with a violent offense in their history but will continue to exclude offenders with sex offense or serious violent offense histories.

“When we allow more offenders to participate in alternative, community-based programs, the children get to remain with their families and can avoid going into foster care,” said Darneille. “This bill is about keeping families together while reducing the overcrowding of our correctional facilities and maintaining community safety.”