Monthly Archives: March 2018

  • Permalink Gallery

    Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: 2018 budget highlights

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: 2018 budget highlights

March 16th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors:

Before the Legislature finished this year’s 60-day session last week, we passed supplemental operating, transportation, and capital budgets to fund everything from public schools to roads. These supplemental budgets are generally minor changes to the two-year budgets that we enact in the odd-numbered years. For my final email legislative update of 2018, I would like to share a few highlights of important community investments for the state and for our district. You can find a wealth of other information about the budgets by clicking here.

Operating budget

The $44.7 billion operating budget for 2017-19 primarily funds public schools ($22.7 billion), health and human services ($13.9 billion), and higher education ($3.9 billion).

Our biggest investment in the 2018 supplemental operating budget was nearly $1 billion of additional funding for public schools. We hope and expect that this money – including roughly $48 million in additional funding for Seattle Public Schools – will finally resolve the McCleary litigation and bring the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to provide ample funding for public schools. We also passed legislation (E2SSB 6362) to begin to correct some of the defects in last year’s education funding bill, ESHB 2242. These include changing the formula for allocating special education money to school districts. Although this will increase state spending for special education by $97 million over the next four years, we know that we have a lot more work to do in the next biennial budget.

The supplemental budget also sets us on a path to fund the State Need Grant fully over the next four years. This is the state’s principal financial aid program for higher education, which helps more than 60,000 students attend college each year. Roughly 22,000 students who qualify have been stuck on a waiting list that will now be phased out. Making this investment will help expand the opportunity for higher education to everyone in our state.

A third major investment is nearly $300 million over the next four years for mental and behavioral health care to fulfill the state’s legal and moral obligations at our state hospitals and in our communities. This funding should help to address one of the major drivers of our current homelessness crisis: untreated substance abuse and mental health issues.

The supplemental budget includes hundreds of other smaller investments, from increased funding for public defense and civil legal aid to school breakfasts and temporary aid to needy families.

Finally, I want to highlight the great work that Speaker Chopp and Representative Macri have led on affordable housing issues. ESHB 1570, introduced by Representative Macri, will stabilize the state’s primary revenue source for responding to homelessness by increasing to $62 and making permanent a surcharge on certain documents filed at the county level. This will raise $26 million a year for services to help people who are homeless.

Transportation

The $9.5 billion transportation budget for 2017-19 funds construction and maintenance of roads and bridges around the state, as well as the Washington State Patrol and the ferry system. Our district is home to two of the largest current projects in the budget: the SR 99 tunnel under downtown and South Lake Union and the replacement of the SR 520 floating bridge.

Although there was very little money for new investments in the 2018 supplemental transportation budget, I worked to secure three items of note for our district.

  • First, extensions of noise walls along I-5 in the Eastlake neighborhood will be completed four years earlier. Construction will begin in the next biennium and should be completed by 2023.
  • Second, the supplemental budget includes $500,000 for grants to residents most affected by construction noise on SR 520 in Montlake. This could help with window retrofits, insulation, or other measures to make construction over the next few years more bearable.
  • Finally, the supplemental budget includes language directing the Department of Transportation to do everything that it can to preserve the Montlake Market. The market is a both a grocery store and an important neighborhood asset. The department will also be required to engage in regular outreach and dialogue with the community on this issue.

Capital budget

The $4.6 billion capital budget for 2017-19 was not enacted until January of this year because of a standoff in the 2017 session over rural water wells. The capital budget funds construction, including assistance for local districts with school construction and building and renovation of facilities at the University of Washington and other higher education institutions. The biennial budget included funding for the renovation and expansion of the Country Doctor Community Health Center on Capitol Hill and completion of the new Burke Museum project on the University of Washington campus. It also included $10 million to pay for construction of a new wing at West Woodland Elementary School to relieve overcrowding and eliminate portables.

For many years, Seattle legislators have worked together to secure funding for Seattle Public Schools in the capital budget. This year’s supplemental capital budget will add $7.9 million to build additional classroom space at Frantz Coe Elementary School on Queen Anne.

The supplemental budget also provides an additional $1 million to help complete the renovation of our historic Town Hall on First Hill.

Stay in touch

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Although the Legislature has adjourned for the year and I have returned to my other job, I welcome your questions or concerns. It is a privilege to serve you.

Best wishes,
Jamie

Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7628

Sen. Pedersen’s Legislative Update: 2018 session wraps up

March 12th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors:

The 2018 Legislature adjourned last Thursday. It was the first time since 2014 that we finished on time and the first time since 2008 that we completed all of our budgets without the need for a special session. Our new Democratic majority in the Senate entered the 60-day session with a progressive agenda focused on putting people first. In cooperation with our colleagues in the House and with great effort by and support from advocates from around the state, I think that we succeeded!

In this newsletter, I would like to focus on policy issues that we worked on this year. In the coming days, I plan to send a summary of the supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets we passed in the final days of the session, including our work on education funding.

Reducing gun violence

Reducing violence associated with firearms is among my top priorities in Olympia. Although much work remains, I am proud to say that the legislature passed more gun safety laws this year than in my previous 11 years combined. Nearly 1,000 people came down to Olympia to attend public hearings in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on these issues, by far the most for any hearing in the Legislature this year. Here are the bills that passed this session:

  • A ban on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to give a semi-automatic rifle the rapid-fire capability of a machine gun. (ESB 5992)
  • Adding domestic violence harassment to the list of conditions that prevent people from being able to buy a firearm. (ESB 6298)
  • Legislation to allow anyone struggling with mental illness to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list. (ESSB 5553)
  • Reforms to the concealed pistol license process to make sure that licenses are taken away from people with stalking and other protective orders and are not returned to holders without a new background check. (EHB 2519)

Parentage Act updates

For the last three years, I have chaired a drafting committee of the national Uniform Law Commission to update the Uniform Parentage Act in light of the United States Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. The new Parentage Act will help protect same-sex couples and their families around the country. I am proud that Washington became the first state to enact this law (with Vermont, Rhode Island, California, and Delaware working this year to follow us). ESSB 6037 will:

  • allow the non-biological mother in a lesbian couple to confirm her status as a legal parent through a one-page “acknowledgement of parentage” and avoid a costly and intrusive second-parent adoption;
  • permit compensated surrogacy arrangements, with substantial regulatory protections for women acting as surrogates, intended parents, and children born of surrogacy;
  • give children born through assisted reproduction access to information about their egg or sperm donors when they reach age 18; and
  • codify Washington’s law that protects the relationship between children and people who are not biological or adoptive parents but function as parents (“de facto parents”).

Visitation by Grandparents and Other Relatives

Since a United States Supreme Court decision in 2000 striking down Washington’s law, our state has been the only state in the country with no way for grandparents or others who have been denied access to children by their parents to seek court review of that denial.  I have been working on this issue for 10 years and am very proud that the legislature passed ESB 5598 this session. While giving a strong presumption that decisions by fit parents are correct and in the best interest of their children, it will create a process by which relatives who have an ongoing and substantial relationship with a child can petition a court to seek visitation.

Police Use of Deadly Force

One of the great achievements of the legislative session happened in the final hours. Law enforcement groups and the coalition of community groups comprising DeEscalate Washington reached agreement on changes to state law on the use of deadly force by police. I was proud to shepherd the agreement through the Senate Law & Justice Committee and across the Senate floor. Gov. Inslee signed HB 3003 into law last Thursday.

The agreement seeks to improve the relationship between law and enforcement and the communities they serve. The new law removes the “actual malice” requirement from the current deadly force statute and changes the language to create a fair, objective standard for police accountability. It also provides for better training, conflict de-escalation, and accountability – as well as a safer environment for police officers and the people who interact with them. We hope that this law will be a model for the rest of the country to follow.

Condo and Homeowners Associations

I have also been working for nearly 10 years with a dedicated group from the Washington State Bar Association to correct deficiencies in the laws governing homeowners associations.  This session, the legislature passed ESSB 6175, the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act, which will create a new and modernized structure for creation, governance, and consumer protection in condominiums, homeowners associations, and cooperatives. The law will apply to all newly formed communities and also to any existing communities that choose to opt in to its provisions.

Progress in 2018

House and Senate Democrats worked closely together to advance an ambitious legislative agenda this session.  Here are few of the more than 300 bills that we passed over the last two months:

Stay in touch

With the Legislature adjourned, I am looking forward to spending time with my family and heading back to my day job. I am also looking forward to seeing and hearing from you about issues you care about. Although we made dramatic progress in many areas, I am painfully aware of our failure to address carbon pollution, abolish the death penalty, fix the individual health insurance market, and create a system to provide long-term care for our seniors, among other critical issues. We have only nine months until the 2019 session, when I hope to be back at work on solving the many problems that our state faces.

Best wishes,
Jamie

Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7628