Sen. Darneille Newsroom

Local projects at risk…

Dear friends and neighbors,

While the Legislature was able to avoid a state government shutdown by adopting an operating budget before midnight on June 30, our work remains unfinished. One of the last outstanding pieces of the session is the adoption of our state’s capital budget. This is the budget that creates jobs, and funds local infrastructure projects across our state to the tune of $4.1 billion.

Funds from the capital budget have helped build our schools, update park facilities and community centers, and provide critical toxic environmental clean-up programs in our district.

This time around is no different. The House of Representatives has already passed the capital budget 92 to 1 (House Bill 1075).

It is now the Senate’s turn to act. The absence of a capital budget would jeopardize thousands of jobs in our state and could stop projects already in progress. If this were to happen, those mothballed projects would likely cost taxpayers more in the future to resume.

projects at risk

The Seattle Times recently wrote on this issue with a focus on the construction of the new Burke Museum in Seattle. The potential damage to our district would be just as devastating.

While the capital budget is usually the “feel good budget” because it creates jobs in every community across the state, the Republican-led Senate is refusing to bring the capital budget for a vote without their fix to what’s called the Hirst decision – a State Supreme Court decision that has to do with water rights and rural well usage. Senate Republicans are now holding the capital budget hostage and are refusing to negotiate a possible fix to the Hirst decision.

This is an irresponsible and dangerous approach to take that puts all communities across the state at risk for losing critical job-creating infrastructure investments. Our state needs the capital budget. It’s time for Senate Republicans to pass the capital budget for the benefit of all Washingtonians.

The Third Special Legislative Session will end on July 20. I will continue to meet with community members and will work to encourage my colleagues to pass a capital budget given the time we have left.

Until next time,

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July 14th, 2017|E-News|
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    Darneille: Resentencing of Zyion Houston-Sconiers a win for juvenile justice system

Darneille: Resentencing of Zyion Houston-Sconiers a win for juvenile justice system

OLYMPIA – Earlier today, Pierce County Superior Court Judge John Hickman held the resentencing hearing for Zyion Houston-Sconiers, a young man who received a 31-year sentence for an armed robbery of candy and a mask in Tacoma on Halloween night, 2012. Houston-Sconiers was 17 years old at the time of the robbery.

The incident involving Houston-Sconiers helped Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, focus her work in the Washington State Legislature on the juvenile justice system, especially with issues relating to youth who automatically decline from the juvenile justice system and are placed under the jurisdiction of the adult court system. In 2015, Darneille met with Houston-Sconiers in prison and remained updated on his progress. Darneille wrote a letter of support for today’s resentencing hearing.

“Today’s verdict is not only a win for our state’s juvenile justice system, but emphasizes the positive decisions and growth Zyion has made during his four and a half years in prison,” said Darneille. “Children are different than adults and should not be treated the same within our justice system. This is a position that the Washington State Supreme Court has recognized as well as the United States Supreme Court. Developments in brain science show that the decision-making parts of the brain are not fully developed until age 26.”

In March, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Houston-Sconiers deserved a new sentencing hearing. The court ruled the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Superior Court judges wide discretion when sentencing juveniles in adult court.

“The issue of requiring a formal judicial hearing before an accused youth is sent to the adult system is one that I plan to continue to work on,” said Darneille. “When we send 16 and 17 year old kids to adult court, it should be an exception, not the rule. Children are different than adults, and these old laws from the era of ‘tough on crime should be replaced by ‘smart on crime reforms.”

Houston-Sconiers’ sentenced was reduced by 20 years and is now subject to early-release terms. Houston-Sconiers could be free in as soon as 18 months.

“Through hard work by many in the legal system and in the legislature, we were able to give one young man hope for the future. His story should not be the exception,” Darneille said.

June 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Update: Budget deal in Olympia…

Dear friends and neighbors,

The news coming out of Olympia today is that an operating budget deal has been reached as of this morning. While this is welcome news, the legislature must still pass the budget and the governor must sign the bill before midnight on June 30. We are one-step closer; however, our work is not finished. Along with getting a budget to the governor, we will need to pass a series of new bills that are necessary to implement that budget. We may not complete all this work in the next 56 hours.

I am appalled that this biennial budget process has taken our state to the brink of a shutdown. The additional stress and anxiety that a potential shutdown has caused Washingtonians is unacceptable.

Avoiding a state government shutdown means that we will continue to be able to provide life-saving and life-sustaining services for our most vulnerable low-income individuals, families, children, and seniors. We will keep state agencies operating, and we owe a lot to the 30,000 plus state employees who received layoff notices.

Please stay tuned for more details about the budget in the next few days.

Until next time,

June 28th, 2017|Uncategorized|

A Special Session Update

News from Sen. Jeannie Darneille                                         April 28, 2017


 Dear friends and neighbors,

The legislature had until Sunday, April 23, or 105 days to complete its work during the regular session. While we were able to pass some good bills to help move our state forward, we have not yet passed a state operating budget or resolved how we will amply and fairly fund our state’s K-12 education system. Gov. Inslee called the legislature back into session on Monday – a special session lasting up to 30 days.

An update on education and the operating budget

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed their operating budget proposals. These budget proposals represent different values and outcomes for our state. The Senate Republican budget relies on a $5.6 billion property tax that would impact every household in our state. This budget plan also proposes dangerous cuts to the most vulnerable in our community – the homeless, low-income families, the elderly, and those living with disabilities. Democrats in the House of Representatives have a budget proposal that includes a more equitable revenue structure and invests this money in our kids and our most vulnerable.

It’s time for negotiators to come to the table and begin the process of negotiating a go-home budget. We cannot and must not accept a budget proposal that funds our kid’s education on the backs of our most vulnerable.

A disingenuous tax vote

On one of the last days of the regular session, Senate Republicans held votes on two revenue bills. These two bills – the capital gains tax and the business and occupation tax – are a couple of the proposals that are included in the House budget.

Bringing these bills to a vote knowing they would fail was nothing more than a political stunt. These tax proposals could help reshape our state’s tax structure to make it more fair. No bill should be a pawn in a political game. Sadly, on one of the last days of the regular session, that is exactly what happened.

What’s happening during Special Session?

On Wednesday, day three of the Special Session, the Senate Ways & Means Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 5929, an omnibus bill of the House’s revenue proposals. The hearing room and two overflow rooms filled with people wanting to testify on the bill, both pro and con.

I was proud to hear from so many students, social workers, educators, and small business owners who support the bill. They know our children are our future and need more support in the classroom.

Royal visitors

Princesses

I always enjoy the visit from our Pierce County Daffodil Princesses. This year, I was pleased to welcome Princess Bridget from Stadium High School and Princess Amaya from Wilson High School. I know both of these talented young ladies have a very bright future.

I hope you will continue to contact me with your questions, comments, and ideas about how we can improve our district and our state.

Until next time,

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April 28th, 2017|E-News|

Darneille: Viewing the budget with a human services lens

Dear friends and neighbors,

As the ranking member on the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee, I have had a particularly busy week. Senate Republicans rolled out their budget proposal on Tuesday morning and the bill had a public hearing later that afternoon in the Ways & Means Committee.

While I appreciate the difficult decisions that go into constructing a budget, it did not take me long to recognize that this was not a good budget. My primary role as the ranking member of Human Services is to assess and address the most damaging cuts to the human services safety net.

I was disheartened that this budget proposal makes deep cuts or fully eliminates funding to programs that are serving the most vulnerable, low-income, disabled and marginalized people in our state.

In an effort to draw attention to these critical programs, I offered nine amendments to the budget in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. The Senate Majority rejected all of these amendments.

One amendment I offered would have restored funding to a program that assists those who need temporary help but are not ready to receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Click here to watch the speech.

Late Thursday night, the budget proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor (Senate Bill 5048). I offered an amendment that would have restored funding for the Young Adult Shelter Beds program, the Young Adult Housing program, the Homeless Student Stability program, and the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program. It would have restored the TANF Diversion Cash Assistance program, and restored funding for participation in the Aged, Blind, or Disabled program for individuals who are pending approval for federal Supplemental Security Income benefits. Click here to watch the speech.

While the amendment was not successful, I believe my colleagues received the message. We cannot and must not accept a budget that balances at the expense of the most vulnerable in our communities and eliminates critical programs that are changing people’s lives for the better.

The budget passed on a party-line vote of 25 to 24. I voted “no” and explained my vote during the final passage of the bill. Click here to watch the speech.

As the legislative process continues, I will remain steadfast in my role as the ranking member of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee and will continue to stand up for our human services safety net and all who depend upon its services.

March 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|

27th LD Post-Town Hall Meeting Survey

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you for attending our town hall meeting on Saturday, March 11, 2017. This was the largest town hall meeting in recent memory with more than 300 participants!

We had great discussions and answered many questions about energy, the environment, transportation, health care, education, the budget, and more!

To continue to improve our town hall meetings we would like your feedback. If you attended the meeting please take a moment to complete our quick survey.

https://goo.gl/forms/yAtEtbxWc2g6lAEh2

Thank you for your participation.

March 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|

A Legislative Update from Sen. Jeannie Darneille

Dear friends and neighbors,

Reminder! Town Hall Meeting tomorrow 10 to noon, Sat. March 11

I hope you will join Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. Jake Fey, and me at our annual mid-session town hall meeting! This will be a good opportunity for our community to come together to talk about the issues that are most important to you, our district and our state.

WHO: Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. Jake Fey, and YOU!

WHEN: From 10 to Noon, Sat. March 11, 2017 – (Doors will be open at 9:30 a.m.)

WHERE: The Evergreen State College – Tacoma Campus, 1210 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405, Pierce Transit Route 1

Legislative Deadline: House of Origin

On Wednesday, we hit another milestone of the legislative cutoff calendar – the House of Origin cutoff. This is significant because if votes were not taken on bills, they are most likely dead for this session. I currently have six bills still in motion of the 23 I prime sponsored. As a member of the minority party, this really isn’t a bad ratio, and many will be considered again in the second year of the biennium. The bills being heard and considered in the House of Representatives are:

Senate Bill 5030Concerning human trafficking, prostitution, and commercial sexual abuse of a minor. This bill modifies crimes of the promotion or commercial sexual abuse of a minor, and promoting prostitution by specifying that these crimes can be committed when anything of value is provided. This bill also extends the statute of limitations for survivors of human trafficking and abuse.

Senate Bill 5293Concerning court-based and school-based efforts to promote attendance and reduce truancy. Last session, we passed needed updates to our state’s Becca Law and modified how we treat youth who are truant from school. This bill makes further updates to the work that was done last session to implement Community Truancy Boards by allowing schools to use alternative assessments to identify student needs, allows specialists to be included on community truancy boards, and removes court authority to place a youth in a HOPE center or crisis residential center at an initial truancy hearing. This bill also requires a juvenile court to use a less restrictive alternative to detention when a student fails to comply with a truancy order. Detention for truancy under this bill should be a last resort, not the first option.

Senate Bill 5558Issuing a two-year identicards for offenders released from prison facilities.

Having valid identification is a barrier for many people who are getting out of our corrections facilities and reintegrating into society. It can sometimes take up to 30 days for someone to get some type of identification following their release. Without valid identification, obtaining housing, a bank account, or getting a job can be very difficult, if not impossible. This bill will establish a program between the state Department of Licensing and the Department of Corrections to implement a state-issued identicard program to qualifying offenders. The identicards created under this program will be valid for two years and will cost the offenders $18.

Senate Bill 5614Concerning diversion agreements and counsel and release agreements. We know from evidence-based practices that when juvenile offenders have access to diversion programs, they are less likely to recidivate. This bill removes the cap on the number of diversions a juvenile can receive. The bill also requires the destruction of a juvenile’s criminal record when they reach 18 years of age if their record only consists of completed diversion, counsel and release agreements, and all restitution is paid. The goal of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate our young people and diversions are the most effective way to accomplish this goal.

Senate Bill 5618Concerning arrest of 16 and 17 year olds for domestic violence assault. This is an important bill for our juvenile justice system, which specifies that a 16 or 17 year old is not subject to mandatory arrest for domestic violence assault. A police officer will have the authority to make a decision regarding an arrest. The bill also removes the requirement for a juvenile detention facility to book anyone under the age of 18 who is arrested for assaulting a family or household member.

Senate Bill 5749Concerning paperwork reduction in order to improve the availability of mental health services to protect children and families. As a member of the Children’s Mental Health Work Group last interim, this bill includes many of the recommendations that will improve the delivery of mental health services to children in our state. A reduction in paper work will allow a higher delivery of services and will help reduce the staff turnover rate. Currently, some staff working within our state’s Behavioral Health Organizations report that they are spending half of their time on paperwork and half of their time on providing services.

An update on the Salmon Beach bill

Senate Bill 5542 would have benefited the unique historic district of Salmon Beach in our community. The Shoreline Management Act of 1971 governs the use of shorelines across the state and the Department of Ecology approves and adopts the shoreline master programs. Some structures are exempt from certain shoreline master programs. The bill would have allowed historic, single family, over water residences established before Jan. 1, 2017 to be subject to reasonable shoreline master program regulations. This would allow the homes at Salmon Beach to be renovated and maintained. While this bill did not pass this session, I will work to make sure that all residents of Salmon Beach are able to safely maintain and stay in their historic homes.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

For the last 30 years, International Women’s Day has had a special place in my heart – it’s the day my son was born. I’ve always said that my contribution to International Women’s Day was to raise him as a feminist! This year, I was pleased to stand and recognize many of the women who fought for the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, a fight that continues to this day. March 8 also marked a call to action for accelerating gender equity. The Senate passed a resolution — SR 8628 — to honor all women throughout our state, nation, and world during the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Please follow this link to watch a video featuring Washington women and the women of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Senate takes action on the education crisis

While I am glad to see Senate action on the bill to avert what’s called the Levy Cliff, the gap between what education services are currently funded by levy dollars and what will eventually become more adequate funding from the state general fund. We must now focus on fully funding our K-12 education system without damaging our social safety net. I released the following statement after Senate Bill 5023 passed in the Senate on Wednesday evening:

“Our schools are so much more than places of learning. For many kids, going to school brings stability and normalcy to their lives. I am pleased that we are taking action on the levy cliff bill and will not be cutting $358 million in levy dollars, and creating the largest cut to K-12 education in state history.

“Funds raised by local levies are essential for all of our students who depend on high-quality teachers, classroom support, and small class sizes to help them achieve positive academic outcomes.

“In the 27th, the Tacoma School District would have lost more than $2.6 million in locally approved funding had the Senate refused to take action. Our own school district would have been pushed over the levy cliff.

“Our kids and their teachers deserve better, which is why we must shift our focus to how we will fund education without gutting critical programs within the social safety net. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks to do what’s best for our kids and those who are most vulnerable in our state.”

Resentencing of youth ordered by Washington State Supreme Court

On Thursday, March 2, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that two juveniles from Tacoma involved in the Halloween Candy Case must be resentenced. This ruling is a major win for juvenile justice and sets case law about how the legal system may treat cases involving 16 and 17 year olds.

From the sentencing decision announced in 2013, I was concerned that my constituents did not receive the opportunity to have the benefits of the juvenile justice system. Instead, they were tried as adults and received adult sentences. Combined, these two young people faced the prospect of spending 85 years in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court Case of Miller v. Alabama states that, “children are different.” This is the same sentiment that is quoted in our Supreme Court’s ruling and I could not agree more. The Seattle Times Editorial Board ran a good piece of why we need to consider brain science in juvenile sentencing.

To read the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling in its entirety, click here.

Please keep in touch

I encourage you to please keep in touch with me and my office. I would like to thank all the visitors from the district who have come to Olympia! I have a map of the district in my office and every time we have a constituent visit, they mark where they live. Thank you for being engaged with your democracy!

 

March 10th, 2017|E-News|
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    Darneille: “Levy cliff averted, must shift focus to funding education and protecting social safety net”

Darneille: “Levy cliff averted, must shift focus to funding education and protecting social safety net”

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, issued the following statement after the Senate passed Senate Bill 5023, which addresses the issue of the levy cliff for school districts across the state:

“Our schools are so much more than places of learning. For many kids, going to school brings stability and normalcy to their lives. I am pleased that we are taking action on the levy cliff bill and will not be cutting $358 million in levy dollars, and creating the largest cut to K-12 education in state history.

“Funds raised by local levies are essential for all of our students who depend on high-quality teachers, classroom support, and small class sizes to help them achieve positive academic outcomes.

“In the 27th, the Tacoma School District would have lost more than $2.6 million in locally approved funding had the Senate refused to take action and pushed our school districts over the levy cliff.

“Our kids and their teachers deserve better, which is why we must shift our focus to how we will fund education without gutting critical programs within the social safety net. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the coming weeks to do what’s best for our kids and those who are most vulnerable in our state.”

March 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|
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    Darneille: “Supreme Court ruling a major win for juvenile justice”

Darneille: “Supreme Court ruling a major win for juvenile justice”

On Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that two teenagers who received unnecessarily harsh adult sentences should be resentenced. Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma, is the ranking member on the Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee and has followed this case from the very beginning. Following the announcement of the ruling, she issued the following statement:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is not just a huge win for juvenile justice in our state, but a huge win for my two constituents who, combined, were faced with the prospect of spending up to 85 years in prison for stealing Halloween candy while in possession of a gun.

“From the very beginning of the case, I was concerned that 17 year old Zyion Houston-Sconiers and 16 year old Treson Roberts, were not given the opportunity to be tried within our state’s juvenile justice system. The Washington State Supreme Court today agreed with my concern. In quoting the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Miller v. Alabama, today’s majority opinion states “children are different.” I could not agree more.

“Research in brain science and development shows that the critical decision making part of the brain is not developed until the age of 25. Young people are more prone to impulsive, dangerous behavior as a result. Teenagers are not adults and should not be treated as such in court. I will continue to fight for reforms within our state’s juvenile justice system that create more flexibility and judicial discretion for our juvenile offenders.

“In writing, “both cases for resentencing” these four words from our state’s highest court have changed the course of two people’s young lives. Today, justice has prevailed in the State of Washington.”

March 2nd, 2017|Uncategorized|

Town Hall Meeting, Sat. March 11

 

WHO: Sen. Jeannie Darneille, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Rep. Jake Fey

WHAT: 27th Legislative District Town Hall Meeting

WHEN: From 10 a.m. to Noon, Saturday, March 11, 2017

WHERE: The Evergreen State College Tacoma Campus, 1210 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405

WHY: To give a brief legislative update on the current legislative session and answer questions from constituents.

March 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|