(360) 786-7642|Sam.Hunt@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: January 2017

Updates from the Legislature – Jan. 31

January 31st, 2017|

Dear Neighbors,

As we near the end of the first month of the 2017 legislative session, I am settling in as the new Senator from the 22nd District.  The pace so far has been very slow as the Republican majority struggles to hang on to its one vote advantage, oddly given by a “Democrat” who votes with them.  With one Republican senator suddenly resigning to accept a job in Washington, DC, another taking a job in the new administration and trying to commute to and from Olympia and do two jobs at once, there has not been a day when they had all 25 of their members present.  Add to that a wave of flu and viruses, coughs have been more prevalent than votes! In fact, the Republican majority has yet to bring a bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

Swearing In

Sen. Hunt during the swearing-in ceremony before the full Senate

Being in a body with 49 senators after serving with 98 representatives is a bit different. For one thing, it should be easier to get to know and work with more of the members. And, as a member of the minority Democrats (by one vote), I am not a committee chair and serve on two rather than three committees. I am the Ranking Member on the Senate State Government Committee which is responsible for legislation relating to elections, public disclosure, ethics, state agency operations, and tribal issues. My other committee, Human Services, Mental Health and Housing, is totally new to me and will require study of the many issues.  One major bill to be considered is the proposal to move children-related functions from the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Early Learning into a new Department of Children, Youth and Families.

When I am not in committee hearings, days still fill up with constituent, lobbyist, and state agency representatives meetings. A business day usually starts about 8:00 AM and often goes into the evening.

Currently, the legislature is focusing on committee action and bills assigned to them.  For instance, 62 bills have been referred to State Government, and we have until February 17th to consider them and decide whether or not they should move forward to the next step (usually a fiscal committee or to the Rules Committee). Probably fewer than half of the bills assigned to the committee will actually move beyond this first step in the legislative process.

State Gov

Hearing testimony before the State Government Committee 

With education issues, and the need for major funding increases required to make Washington’s schools achieve their constitutional mandate, it promises to be a long session.  Contrary to what Senate Republicans say, there is no reasonable or rational way we can address education funding without additional state revenue.  Yes, we have a 105 day (including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays) statutory limit on the regular session, but the Governor has the authority to call special sessions, and I fully expect he will have to do so this year.

So stay tuned!  Representatives Dolan and Doglio and I will help keep you appraised of what is happening—or not happening—in the Legislature.

If you have a question or comment, please feel free (as many of you already do) to send me an email at sam.hunt@leg.wa.gov.

Telephone Town Hall

This Thursday, February 2nd, from 6:00-7:00PM the 22nd Legislative District delegation will be hosting a telephone town hall. If you wish to participate, you can join on to the call to listen in and ask your questions by dialing 877-229-8493 and then using the ID Code 116276. In addition to sharing further updates about our efforts this year, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns ahead of the remainder of session.

 

Sincerely, 

Sen. Sam Hunt

Updates from the Legislature – Jan. 27

January 27th, 2017|

Dear Neighbors, 

I’m glad to now be serving as your state Senator! Here is a look at some of what has been going on in the Legislature these first weeks.

No more excuses. Fully and fairly fund education now

Fund Ed

Fully and fairly funding education is the primary focus of Democrats for the 2017 legislative session.

For the past seven months, Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Education Funding Task Force met to develop solutions to solve our education funding problems and help Washington’s 1.1 million schoolchildren learn.

Democrats answered the call and released a detailed plan. Republicans did not, and showed up with no plan. Democrats’ proposed solutions: ease the burden on taxpayers by ending the reliance on local levies to pay for basic education. Republicans attacked the media for asking them when they intended to develop a plan.

Democrats have offered solutions to fully fund every school in every district to provide stable, reliable and sufficient revenue needed to provide quality education for our children.

Funding education by slashing health care, public safety and other critical state services is unsustainable and dangerous.

Pass the levy cliff  bill: Avoid the largest school funding cut in history

If schools are allowed to go over the “levy cliff” it would result in the largest cut to education in the history of the state.

Democrats have introduced legislation in both the Senate and House to prevent this massive cut to our schools, SB 5023 and HB 1059. With bipartisan support, the House passed HB 1059. The Senate can now take action on this bill and prevent a cut of $358 million to schools across the state.

On Monday, all 24 Democratic senators sent a letter to the Republican Majority Leader, urging him to immediately consider HB 1059 in the Senate.

With state schools currently writing their budgets for the 2018 school year, the Senate must act now to extend the levy lid one year and provide certainty to Washington’s 1.1 million school kids and their teachers. In lieu of legislative action, schools will have no choice but to layoff many teachers, an action that will jeopardize the quality of our children’s education.

If we don’t act, local school districts would face big budget cuts.

North Thurston – $7.3 million

Olympia – $3.4 million

Tumwater – $2 million

Washington, D.C. – Make Washington sick again

MWSA

With congressional Republicans vowing to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, hundreds-of-thousands of Washingtonians are in danger of losing their health care insurance. Here’s who would be left out in the cold should Republicans repeal the ACA:

  • 600,000 people on Medicaid. That’s the number of Washingtonians who are newly insured thanks to the ACA. Repeal the ACA and they lose their coverage. Washington’s budget takes a hit, too, if Congress reverses the ACA’s Medicaid expansion which has saved Washington roughly $1.6 billion, or about $300 million per year since the ACA has been fully implemented.
  • 123,000 people on the Health Benefit Exchange. That’s the number of people who receive substantial subsidies to buy coverage and who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.
  • 17,000 young people. That’s the number of young people in Washington between the ages of 19 and 25 who are allowed to stay on their parent’s insurance thanks to the ACA.
  • Hospitals. Before the ACA, hospitals in Washington had to treat people who had no insurance and showed up in emergency rooms. This month, the American Hospital Association warned that if the ACA is repealed, the nation’s hospitals will lose billions of dollars. This will adversely affect patients’ access to care, decimate hospitals’ ability to provide services, weaken local economies and result in massive job losses.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Jr.

On Jan. 16, in accordance with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, an MLK Day March and Rally were held on the state Capitol campus honoring the birth, life and vision of this great American.

Dr. King inspired others to engage in civic and social activism during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. His unwavering support for the principles of racial justice and social equality helped change America and end the legal segregation of African-Americans in the South. In 1963, during the March on Washington, D.C., Dr. King delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a gathering of over 250,000 people.

King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among other honors. Although he has been gone for nearly 50 years, Dr. King’s impact and legacy continue, as does the struggle to fulfill his dream.

Sincerely,

Sen. Sam Hunt