About sdcadmin

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far sdcadmin has created 28 entries.

Community projects, property tax relief, and ferry upgrades

March 16th, 2018|

Dear Neighbor,

Last week, I shared some highlights of the 2018 supplemental operating budget that invests in education, mental health and jobs as well as the final piece of funding to satisfy the McCleary ruling, the states constitutional obligation to amply fund K-12 education.

In this newsletter, I will touch on the 2019 tax cut and the important community investments we made this year with the capital construction and transportation budgets.

Property tax reduction in 2019

I know many people are feeling the burden of increasing property taxes through a combination of rising home values and the new state property tax enacted in 2017 to help fund public education. This year Democrats passed legislation to provide $391 million in tax relief in 2019 through a one-time state property tax rate reduction of $0.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This equates to roughly the amount of unanticipated increased taxes collected by the state due to the strong economy in the Puget Sound region.

Its modest relief, but combined with future lower school levies, I hope it will ease the burdens that families felt this year. While there was a lot of rhetoric around adding this money to the rainy day fund rather than cutting taxes, it seemed fair to not collect it from taxpayers in the first place. Meanwhile, the states reserves are projected to stand at over $2.4 billion at the end of this fiscal year, the highest in state history.

Capital budget

In January, Democrats forged a compromise on the long-delayed capital construction budget [ ], which included $1 billion for public schools to help reduce K-3 class-size, among other goals. It also made key investments in public health, environmental cleanup, and funding for community parks and libraries.

Our supplemental capital budget, passed last week will add several additional projects to the list of community investments:

  •  $500,000 to help fund a new community/school theater in partnership between Central Kitsap School District and Central Stage Theater.
  • $460,000 to complete the pedestrian link at Poulsbo’s Fish Park.
  • $300,000 for Kitsap Humane Society animal shelter expansion in Silverdale.
  • $180,000 for Hawley Cove trail and beach access improvements to expand access for all park users, including the mobility impaired.
  •  $31,000 for the redevelopment of dock facilities at Port of Indianola.
  • $280,000 to study ways to keep Bremertons economic vitality strong as Harrison Medical Center transitions many services to the new Silverdale campus.

Transportation budget

This yearssupplemental transportation budget makes modest but critical investments in Washingtons ferry system, State Patrol and congestion relief.

Ferry investments include $600,000 to begin the process of converting three Jumbo Mark II class ferry vessels the Puyallup, Tacoma and Wenatchee from diesel to hybrid electric. The budget also invests $2 million in the M/V Hyak to maintain service and fleet capacity while the M/V Tokitae and M/V Samish are out of service for warrantied repairs.

An investment of $4.4 million is made in state trooper basic training, to help the State Patrol reach its authorized trooper staffing level of 672 by the end of next year.

Locally, the budget will provide $500,000 to create a plan to modernize State Route 303, the heavily-traveled 9-mile state highway connecting Bremerton to Silverdale. The highway is the primary transportation route for Bremerton shipyard workers. The plan will help the community and transportation officials identify projects that will reduce congestion and improve safety over the next two decades.

Thanks, Lillian!

Senator Rolfes with Page Lillian Leche.

I want to thank Lillian Leche, a sophomore at North Kitsap High School, for helping out around our office during the final stretch of the 2018 session.

Its always a privilege to host students who participate in the Legislatures page program. It offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works.

Washington adopts new electric bicycle standards

March 13th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed new standards governing the use of electric-assisted bicycles into law.

The new rules create three classes of electric-assisted bicycles, adjusts the age requirements for the highest speed e-bikes, and require manufacturers to provide labels listing the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage.

Photo courtesy of

“We have seen a rise in e-bike ridership and these new standards create more clarity, allowing consumers to make informed choices as the industry grows,” said Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, prime sponsor of ESSB 6434. “E-bikes offer an alternative mode of transportation that’s fun and environmentally friendly. These new rules will improve safety and certainty when riders are on the road.”

The new rules modify the definition of electric-assisted bicycles and provide a classification system:

• Class 1: Motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph.
• Class 2: Motor may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle but is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 mph.
• Class 3: Motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling but ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 mph and is equipped with a speedometer.

Under the new rules, the minimum age required to operate a Class 3 e-bike will be 16 years old. There is no age limit for the slower e-bikes. The legislation also generally clarifies where different classes of e-bikes are allowed to be ridden on state property, in addition to existing e-bike rules adopted by local jurisdictions.

“For older adults and people with disabilities, e-bikes make it possible to ride again. I hope by bringing our e-bike standards up to a national level, we will see ridership increase across the state,” Rolfes said.

Progress as 2018 legislative session ends!

March 9th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

The 2018 legislative session wrapped up last night and I am happy to report we finished our work on schedule for the first time in four years. As the chair of the Ways & Means Committee for our new Democratic majority this year, I’m proud we were able to accomplish so many of the goals we mapped out just 60 days ago. In this newsletter, Ill share some of the highlights. Thanks for taking the time to read this update and, as always, please stay in touch.

State budget

The biggest element of our 2018 supplemental budget finally fulfills our states constitutional obligation to amply fund K-12 basic education. The Legislature has wrestled with this issue for close to a decade, so this is an important milestone. This budget makes sure the state is providing competitive salaries for our teachers who dedicate their lives to our children and communities. We heard from school districts who expressed the need for special education funding and our budget invests an additional $100 million. We also worked to improve the regionalization pay formula so districts are on a more level playing field when they try to recruit and retain top teachers.

Our budget also addresses serious challenges people face in their daily lives, including mental health issues or addiction. Everyone deserves compassionate care, and this budget provides nearly $300 million over the next four years to fulfill the states legal and moral obligations.

The budget touches peoples lives in many other ways:

The budget will fully fund the State Need Grant over the next four years, taking a big step to fulfilling a promise we made to expand opportunity and paths to higher education. We also make key investments in our community and technical colleges.

  • It funds grants for families in need, preventing parents and children from falling into homelessness.
  • It makes key investments in our foster youth, who just want a safe and loving place to call home. We also invest in our foster parents, who care for them.
  • It eliminates the rape kit testing backlog, bringing perpetrators to justice and supporting their victims.

While the economy is strong, we havent forgotten what our budgets looked like during the Great Recession. We want to make sure the state is on solid footing financially, with plenty of reserves, when we return. Our budget does that by leaving nearly $2.4 billion in reserves. I will have another update next week highlighting the great transportation and community infrastructure investments we made this year.

My bills this year

While a good portion of my time this year was spent crafting our state budget, I did work on several other measures that were passed by the Legislature. They include:

 SB 6034 , which will allow Kitsap Public Utility Distric tto retail broadband service.
SB 5084 , which will require radiologists to inform patients if they have high breast density, which can make it harder to detect early signs of cancer.
SB 6580 , which will normalize HIV testing so it has the same notification and consent requirements that apply to any other medical test.
SB 6549 , which will expand access to the baby and child dentistry program to serve children with disabilities.
SB 6434 , which updates our states electric bicycle laws with national standards. The bill will provide more clarity for e-bike users and local jurisdictions, while giving people more options if they decide to become an e-bike rider.

From voting rights to gun safety, our new Democratic majority also prioritized a number of other great bills I was proud to vote for this year. Click here to learn more.

It takes a team

Sen. Rolfes and Haylee.

I have a great team helping me every day in Olympia and I couldn’t do it without them.

Our intern Haylee Anderson is a senior at Western Washington University studying political science and psychology. Born and raised in Bremerton, Haylee brought another local perspective to our office and we will miss her when she heads back to Bellingham to finish her degree.

Misha Cherniske (pictured here with Attorney General Bob Ferguson)has worked in our office for the past three sessions. Misha was our intern in 2016 while finishing his senior year at The Evergreen State College. He was hired as the session aide for the following year, and joined us this year as Associate Legislative Assistant. He lives in Olympia.

I also want to thank my friend and executive assistant Linda Owens, who has been with me in the Legislature for six years now.

Finally, I extend a special thanks to local artist Diane Walker, who loaned her artwork to grace our office in Olympia this legislative session.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate passes budget to fully fund education, invest in mental health

Senate passes budget to fully fund education, invest in mental health

February 23rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The 2018 supplemental operating budget (SSB 6032) passed today by the Senate directs additional funding to make critical investments in education and mental health.

“Supplemental budgets were intended to make modest updates to our two-year state budget, but this is not an ordinary supplemental budget,” said Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “With this budget, we take care of two of the biggest challenges our state faces—ample funding for education and adequate support for mental and behavioral health.”

The 2018 budget would invest nearly $1 billion into education and bring the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. The new state money would mostly go to fully fund teacher and staff salaries, as directed by the state Supreme Court, in addition to other targeted investments.

“I see this a major milestone in our ongoing effort to provide a seamless system of education from cradle to career,” said Rolfes. “It’s time to finish McCleary and focus on other enhancements in our classrooms, and other needs in our state.”

The budget also invests nearly $294 million more over the next four years to improve mental health treatment in state hospitals, including funds to address the Supreme Court’s Trueblood ruling, and to address the opioid crisis.

Other investments include 2,500 additional State Need Grant slots, funding to support foster youth, restoration of TANF grants to pre-recession levels, increases in pediatric care, and money to improve school safety.

The budget is concurrent with Senate Bill 6614, which would cut property taxes by 13 percent, tapping the state’s extraordinary revenue growth to shield households from the Republican Property Tax of 2017, the largest property tax increase in state history. The Senate is expected to vote on SB 6614 in the coming days.

“These investments will touch every corner of our state and improve the lives of all Washingtonians,” said Rolfes. “From extra money in their pockets to better classrooms for their kids, this is a budget that puts the people of Washington state first.”

The budget passed on a 25-23 vote and now heads to the House for consideration.

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the state to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to make critical new investments that keep families safe, provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate Democrats call for property tax cuts, education funding in budget

Senate Democrats call for property tax cuts, education funding in budget

February 19th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats unveiled their 2018 supplemental operating budget plan on Monday—a budget that will cut property taxes by $403 million while still meeting the critical needs of our state with significant investments in education and mental health.

“This budget represents a responsible and thoughtful approach in spending our state’s resources,” said Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and chief budget writer. “We have seen substantial gains in our economy, but we also recognize the growing needs of Washington’s 7.5 million residents. I’m proud this budget makes targeted investments without any new taxes. It’s a document based on a vision of healthy families, safer communities and an economy that works for everyone across the state.”

The 2018 Supplemental Budget Proposal will make key investments in following areas:

  • Tax relief ($403 million): The extraordinary growth of our economy gives the state an opportunity to reduce the property tax burden on communities across the state. This budget cuts state property taxes by 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019, from $2.70 to $2.39.
  • Education: This budget will at long last bring the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. An additional $1 billion would fully fund teacher and staff salaries as directed by the state Supreme Court, in addition to other targeted investments.
  • Mental health: The 2018 budget fulfills our moral and legal responsibility to provide adequate support for those in our society who need mental health treatment. The budget invests nearly $300 million more over the next four years for state hospitals and the opioid crisis.

Other investments: The 2018 budget makes a number of other key investments:

  • 2,500 additional State Need Grant slots
    Funding to support foster youth
    TANF grant is restored to pre-recession levels
    Funding increases for pediatric care
    Funding for improved school safety

“These investments will touch every corner of our state and improve the lives of all Washingtonians,” said Rolfes. “From extra money in their pockets to better classrooms for their kids, this is a budget that puts the people of Washington state first.”

About the Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow us to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget passed in odd years. It gives the state the opportunity to make critical new investments that keep families safe, provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Rolfes: Extraordinary revenue growth opens door to property tax relief

Rolfes: Extraordinary revenue growth opens door to property tax relief

February 15th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement on the February revenue forecast:

“The extraordinary revenue growth will allow us to meet our legal and moral obligation to our public schools and to mental health care. It also will allow us to reduce the property tax burden imposed by Senate Republicans last year.

“With this information in hand, I am confident that the House and Senate can deliver a balanced budget — one that does not rely on new taxes — on time and set the state on solid ground entering the 2019-20 biennium.

“This news is a testament to the talented workers in our state who continue to innovate and grow Washington’s economy at a historic pace.”

Legislative update: Progress in Olympia

February 10th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors:

We have reached the midpoint of the 60-day legislative session. Our new Democratic majority in the Senate continues to make progress and work closely with the House to prioritize legislation that will make a difference to people around the state. The pace will remain busy over the next eight days as each chamber will consider several hundred bills before the February 14 deadline to pass bills to the other chamber.

Protecting and improving health care

One of our top priorities this year is improving health care services for women and protecting access to affordable health care. Last week, the Senate passed two of my bills (SB 5084, SB 6580) with bipartisan support to help achieve these goals. This past fall, King 5 interviewed me for a story on breast density notification – you can watch it here.

  • Breast density notification: Senate Bill 5084 requires radiologists to include information about a woman’s breast density in a post-mammogram letter. This brings our state law in line with 27 other states that share this important information that helps with early detection of cancer.
  • HIV testing: Senate Bill 6580 would normalize HIV testing so it has the same notification and consent requirements that apply to any other medical test.
  • 3D mammography coverage: Senate Bill 5912 mandates that carriers cover three-dimensional mammography so women have access to potentially life-saving information through early detection of cancer.
  • Prescription drug transparency: Senate Bill 5995 would protect consumers from excessive increases in generic prescription drug prices.

Budget work continues

As the Senate’s lead budget writer, I’ve been busy chairing marathon hearings in the Senate Ways & Means Committee this week. We’ve heard dozens of important bills over the last few days as we faced a deadline to advance bills out of committee. I’m also working with staff to finish crafting the 2018 supplemental budget, which will make key investments in education and mental health. I’ll share more details on this in our next newsletter.

Reducing carbon pollution

Late last week, we saw another encouraging milestone in our state’s progress toward cleaner air and a healthier environment. The Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee passed SB 6203, which will put a price on carbon pollution in our state. This is an incremental but exciting step for those of us concerned about the quality of the air we breathe and natural resources we enjoy.

Message received

Last week I had a special delivery from some impressive Seattle University students. They dropped off a grand total of 545 postcards from students, staff and faculty of Seattle University who are rightly concerned about homelessness and affordable housing in our region. I thank Madison, Katie and Tess for the energy and passion they are dedicating to this issue. I share their concern and will continue to search for ways the Legislature can best use our state resources for housing solutions in the Puget Sound.

Traffic alert: Agate Pass Bridge cleaning

Crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation will perform an annual cleaning of the State Route 305 Agate Pass Bridge next week. WSDOT will reduce traffic on the bridge to a single lane during these hours:
• Monday through Thursday, Feb. 12-15, from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Every day from Tuesday, Feb. 20, through Friday, March 2
• 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays
• 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 25
• No work will occur over the President’s Day weekend, Feb. 16-19

Town hall meeting coming up February 17

I hope that you will join Rep. Sherry Appleton, Rep. Drew Hansen and me for one of our town hall meetings on Saturday, Feb. 17. In the meantime, I encourage you to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you have about matters before the Legislature this session.

Warm regards,

Christine Rolfes

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate passes Rolfes bill to mandate dense breast notification

Senate passes Rolfes bill to mandate dense breast notification

January 31st, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The state Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation that would require radiologists to include information about a woman’s breast density in a post-mammogram letter.

Sponsored by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, Senate Bill 5084 would align Washington law with 27 other states that require physicians to share breast density information with patients.

“This legislation simply allows a woman access to the same breast health information as her doctor,” Rolfes said. “Knowledge is power, and this legislation will give patients the tools to make smart decisions and ask better questions about their own health.”

Dense breast tissue can reduce the effectiveness of mammography, leading to a greater chance breast cancer could go undetected. Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women in Washington and the second leading cause of death from cancer statewide.

“We want women to be informed about their breast density,” Rolfes said. “It’s wrong to withhold information that’s included on every mammography report.”

  • Permalink Gallery

    Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

December 14th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement after the release of the governor’s 2018 operating supplemental budget proposal.

“I appreciate the work the governor has done to craft a prudent supplemental budget proposal that offers a blueprint to complete our work in 60 days.

“This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up. I appreciate the governor’s focus on expanding treatment for mental health patients and his commitment to protecting affordable health care for all residents.

“This is a realistic approach that will guide the Legislature as we work to put people first with a balanced budget delivered on time.”

Legislative Update: Big changes ahead in Olympia

December 12th, 2017|

2017 Rolfes banner

December 12, 2017

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is hard to believe 2018 is just around the corner. With a new year comes a new legislative session, beginning January 8, and many changes in Olympia.

Following a special election in the 45th Legislative District last month, Democrats have retaken the majority in the state Senate. I am honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to chair the Senate budget committee, Ways & Means. In this new role I will be the Senate’s chief budget writer and negotiator, set the committee’s agenda and lead my colleagues in determining what bills will move through the committee to be considered for a vote of the Senate.

The decisions made at the Capitol have very real impacts on people in Kitsap County and throughout the state, particularly with regards to how tax dollars are spent. My aim as chair is to make sure schools have the flexibility and funding they need, taxes are fair, businesses have the space to grow, and workers across this state can thrive. It is also critical we get our work done on time and in a transparent way.

As many of you know, I have been a chief negotiator on education policy and funding, and was one of two lead Democrats on the Senate Ways & Means Committee in 2017. In addition to chairing Ways & Means, I will also serve as vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

I am looking forward to these new opportunities and continuing to work with all my colleagues to ensure the best outcomes for the people in our state. Thank you for your continued support and input. I hope you and your family have a safe and joyful holiday season.



Capitol in the snow

Session to start Jan. 8: How can you get involved?

Many people ask how they can be more involved in the legislative process in Olympia. While Democrats now control both chambers and the governor’s office, the majorities are very slim on both sides. In reality we are still operating as a divided government, so hard work and practical compromise must be at the center of everything we do.

Your involvement is critical to operations in state government. Here are five ways to stay informed and involved this legislative session and beyond:

1.     Contact your lawmakers: The 23rd Legislative District lawmakers are myself, Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, and Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island. If you live outside the 23rd district, you can find your district and lawmakers by clicking here.

2.     Comment on a bill: The Legislature has implemented a system designed to allow the public to send comments about bills to their legislators. Click here for a step-by-step way to ensure your voice is heard on legislation being proposed in the 2018 session.

3.     Visit the Legislature: You can meet with lawmakers, watch public hearings or testify on bills important to you, participate in lobby days and campus events, and take tours of the Capitol. For complete information on visiting the Legislature, click here.

4.     Watch committee hearings and important events at home: TVW is the Washington state version of C-SPAN. It televises committee hearings and important events live, including press conferences, and tapes a number of other events and programs regarding state politics and proceedings. You can find the local TV station or stream online here.

5.     Get updates to your inbox: There are a number of updates you can sign up for to stay informed about what is going on in Olympia:

  • Bill, committee and schedule updates here.
  • Sign up for e-newsletters like this one for Senate Democrats by going to their websites here and Senate Republicans here.
  • Daily roundup of relevant news articles here.

I also recorded a video earlier this year about ways to get involved in the process in Olympia. Click here to watch.


Real ID

My office has received a number of questions regarding Real ID and the upcoming changes to identification requirements necessary to travel on domestic flights and access certain federal facilities.

For domestic flights, standard

state licenses are acceptable until October 2020.

After October 2020, federal requirements will be enforced regarding what kinds of state-issued identification are acceptable.

The new identification requirements are part of the REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005. Currently, Washington state residents can obtain a standard driver’s license or ID, or an enhanced driver’s license or ID. Proof of identity and residence is required to obtain a standard card, while an individual must also show proof of U.S. citizenship to obtain an enhanced card.

This timeline is part of the agreement state and federal officials have reached after several years of discussion.

It is important to note that Washingtonians are not required to get an enhanced driver’s license or ID card, and I encourage you to consider your options and look at other forms of federally acceptable ID you may already have.

Other forms of federally acceptable ID are:

  • U.S. passport or passport card
  • Military ID
  • Green card
  • Homeland Security-issued trusted traveler card
  • Foreign government issued passport
  • Border crossing card
  • Airline or airport ID issued under a TSA-approved security plan
  • Federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID
  • Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 Personal Identity Verification card

Click here for more information.

News you can useFerry

Winter Sailing Schedule

The sailing schedule will change on Seattle/Bremerton and Seattle/Bainbridge Island routes to the Winter 2018 schedule starting Jan. 7, 2018. Some Bremerton sailings depart 5-15 minutes earlier while some Bainbridge sailings depart 5-15 minutes later. You can prepare in advance by checking the winter 2018 schedule online. The sailing schedule changes will remain in effect until the Colman Dock Project is complete in 2023. For more information, please visit the project website.

Click here for the Colman Dock Project website.

Click here for the winter 2018 sailing schedule.

Enroll by Dec 15 2017

Click here to enroll, or for more information.

Veteran designation on WA license