WATCH: Sen. Frockt shares vision for economic recovery committee on TVW

Sen. David Frockt appeared on TVW’s The Impact this week to share his vision for the newly created  bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into session this year.

“If you’re not thinking about jobs in this environment, you’re not thinking about the right things,” said Frockt during the interview.

Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Senator Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. In total, the seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators will include Sens. Manka Dhingra, Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldaña. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

You can watch the full interview with The Impact here.

May 14th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Senate Majority Leader welcomes June Robinson to the Senate

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig issued the statement below following the Snohomish County Council unanimously appointing June Robinson this afternoon to replace Sen. John McCoy as the Senator from the 38th Legislative District. McCoy retired last month:

“June Robinson has dedicated her life to making the lives of others better.

“Throughout her career she has committed herself to the improvement of public health for diverse populations both here in Washington and in other parts of the world. Her public health background, budget experience and expertise in affordable housing are especially important now to the legislature and the entire state.

“The Senate is fortunate to welcome a public servant of June Robinson’s caliber and experience.”

May 13th, 2020|News Release|

Sen. Billig and Speaker Jinkins issue statement on Senate Republican refusal to extend emergency domestic violence protections

*Please see additional documents at the bottom of this statement

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) and Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) issued the statement below following the refusal today of Senate Republican leadership to sign off on the Governor’s request to extend emergency protections for survivors of domestic violence:

“We find it incomprehensible that the Senate Republican leadership would refuse to approve extending a common-sense proclamation protecting victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, and sexual violence.

“We understand there are genuine disagreements about some aspects of the state’s attempts to protect Washingtonians from the health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the refusal to permit the extension of Proclamation 20-45 – which simply allows for the service of protection orders in a way that lessens the risk of anyone involved in the process either contracting or passing on the COVID-19 virus – defies understanding.

“We urge Senate Republican leadership blocking this extension to reconsider their decision. This proclamation doesn’t prevent anyone from working, from freely assembling, or from engaging in recreational activities. It is not a stay-home order. It closes no businesses.

“It simply makes a temporary, common-sense change to the service of protective orders, and the only effect of blocking its extension will be to endanger women, children, and other victims or potential victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, and harassment.”

Related documents:

Letter from Legislative leaders on extension of proclamations

Joint letter of support from Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs

Letter of support from David Martin, Chair of Domestic Violence Unit, King County Prosecutor’s Office

Governor’s proclamation 20-45

May 9th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Senate announces formation of bipartisan COVID-19 long-term recovery committee

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) on Wednesday announced the formation of a bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery in the Washington State Senate to address the state’s long-term economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into session this year.

“It’s hard to imagine a single aspect of day-to-day life in Washington that will not be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and we must respond swiftly to its devastating impacts on workers, businesses and households with solutions that will foster a robust and sustained recovery,” Billig said. “This bipartisan committee will lay the groundwork and help lead our state in addressing the economic impacts of the virus through effective and innovative solutions to this unprecedented challenge.”

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Senator Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. In total, the seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators will include Sens. Manka Dhingra, Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldaña. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

“The purpose of this select committee is to look deeply at the ways in which the pandemic has structurally changed our state and regional economies, and to make recommendations on how we can come out stronger on the other side for workers and the businesses that employ them,” Frockt said. “The goal is to have this committee work together, without partisanship, in order to drive innovative, forward-looking ideas that can help the people in every corner of this state recover and prosper.”

The committee will hold work sessions in the coming months to hear from experts in a variety of fields, look at what other states are doing to recover from the outbreak and identify innovative ways to rejuvenate Washington’s economy and communities throughout the state.

The Senate’s Facilities and Operations Committee voted today to officially form the committee.

May 6th, 2020|News Release|

Senator John McCoy announces retirement from Washington State Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 16, 2020

McCoy announces retirement from Washington State Senate

OLYMPIA — After 17 years of service in the Washington State Legislature, Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip) announced his retirement on Thursday after submitting a resignation letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. His retirement is effective Friday, April 17.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of the 38th Legislative District and our entire state,” McCoy said. “When I first came to the Legislature in 2003 as a member of the House of Representatives, I was humbled to represent such warm and vibrant people in Everett, Marysville and Tulalip. Through changes in committees, leadership roles, and even chambers over the course of my legislative career, it was always an immense privilege to represent my neighbors. I am deeply grateful for that privilege.”

“To my community members: thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to fight for you. Thank you for the chance to work with you and to bring your ideas to life at the Legislature. And thank you for trusting me with such an important job – elevating your voices and building a state where every one of us can thrive.”

McCoy leaves behind a legacy of steady leadership and commitment to serving his community. He brought a career in military service and years as a computer technician and business leader to his work at the Legislature, culminating in a lawmaker who effectively advanced economic development and equality of opportunity for his district. His work is characterized by tireless advocacy for Native American and rural communities, expanded access to high-quality education, and environmental sustainability.

Before McCoy became one of the longest serving Native American legislators in the state’s history, he led efforts to bring better telecommunication infrastructure to the Tulalip Tribe, of which he is a registered member. He also helped bring to fruition the Quil Ceda Village shopping, casino and hotel complex, a triumph of community that ultimately earned him the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Executive of the Year award.

During his subsequent five terms in the Washington State House of Representatives, McCoy fought for students, for the environment, for a healthy economy and for tribal communities. He sponsored policy that expanded support for students struggling with behavioral and emotional health needs, protected water rights and access, deterred wage discrimination and protected immigrant workers, and integrated comprehensive tribal history and culture education into teacher preparation programs.

After he was elected to the Washington State Senate, he led victories like the passage of the Native American Voting Rights Act to expand voting rights access in tribal communities, and passage of a groundbreaking dental therapy bill to expand dental care on reservations. He also established Native American Heritage Day, honoring tribal history the day after Thanksgiving, and got the Kelsey Smith Act signed into law, requiring wireless-telecommunications providers to provide call-location information for cell phones in emergency situations.

In a letter to his Senate colleagues on Thursday, McCoy wrote: “It has been the greatest honor to serve the people of Washington alongside you. It has been a gift to advocate for marginalized and disenfranchised Washingtonians, to lift up the voices of our sovereign tribal communities, to expand access to – and quality of – education and health care, and to do so with a team of dedicated public servants.”

McCoy was elected by his colleagues to serve as chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2016, and most recently served on the Natural Resources Committee, the Agriculture, Water, Trade and Economic Development Committee, and the Rules Committee. McCoy’s retirement will allow him to spend more time with his wife, three daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His four-year Senate term that began in January 2019 will be filled by a temporary appointee, who will serve through this November’s election. The appointee will be chosen by the Snohomish County Council from a list of three names submitted by the district’s Precinct Committee Officers. Candidates wishing to serve the last two years of the Senate term may file during the week of May 11-15.

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For information:

Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

For interviews:

Sen. John McCoy, 360-786-7674

April 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Statement from Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) on the retirement of Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip) 

“I was saddened to learn of my friend John McCoy’s retirement from the Senate, but his legacy of service to his community, our state and the nation will be felt for generations.

“He served this country with distinction for 20 years as a member of the Air Force. For almost as long, he has represented the people of 38th District in the Legislature, advocating for a healthier environment, more inclusive education, a voice for Native American people and countless other policies to make life better for every Washingtonian.

“Since 2016, he has helped guide the Senate Democratic Caucus as our Caucus Chair, always offering a steady path forward as we regained the majority and took on historic challenges.

“As the only Native American member of the Senate, Sen. McCoy’s perspective and understanding of tribal sovereignty and governments has been instrumental in advancing the policies to support our state’s indigenous communities. His determination to integrate historically accurate tribal history, in a way that celebrates the beauty and the richness of every tribe into school curricula, will continue to give generations of Washington students a more complete education.

“He has led efforts to improve access to dental care in Native communities by sponsoring a landmark dental therapy bill. He worked to tear down barriers to voting, increase broadband access to rural areas and is a relentless champion for clean water.

“For me personally, John McCoy is a mentor. He was the chair of the first committee I ever served on in the legislature and was a teacher and role model for me then and he continues in that role today. I think the world of John McCoy..

“To his wife Jeannie, his daughters, grand-children and great grandchildren – thank you. Thank you for sharing this great man with our state and our country for so many years.

“I wish my friend John McCoy and his family nothing but the best in his well-earned retirement.”

April 16th, 2020|News Release|

Dem budget leaders support reductions to address economic impacts of COVID-19

Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane) and Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Kitsap County) issued the statement below in support of Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to veto parts of the 2020 supplemental operating budget to better reflect the state’s current economic situation:

“We support Gov. Inslee’s decision to veto sections of the 2020 supplemental operating budget along with a number of policy bills that also drove additional costs. While these reductions may be difficult, they are necessary to help address the sudden and dramatic change to our state’s fiscal situation and to maintain focus on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The health and safety of all Washingtonians is paramount, and these reductions will help our state remain nimble as we face declining revenues. Our shared goal is to align our state for an economic recovery and we have a strong foundation on which to rebuild.

“We will continue to take a collaborative, bipartisan approach in addressing the health and economic impacts of this pandemic, as we did at the end of the session with a $200 million emergency funding package.

“It will be hard, but Washington will get through this. We will do everything in our power to emerge quickly from this crisis, help people get back to work and reignite our economy.”

April 3rd, 2020|Uncategorized|

Statement from legislative leaders in support of Stay Home, Stay Healthy

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane), Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma), Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) and House Minority Leader JT Wilcox (R-Yelm) released the following statement in support of Gov. Inslee’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state.

* * *

“We encourage all Washingtonians to follow the new guidance of Gov. Jay Inslee. The guidance in “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” is critical to limiting the spread of COVID-19 and helping flatten the curve of infections. Our behavior could mean life or death for Washingtonians.

“We have already lost Washingtonians to this virus. We grieve with their families and stand alongside the people who are currently battling this illness.

“We recognize the impact these decisions have on businesses, families, and individuals across the state. There is no way to overstate the challenge facing our state and our nation. The weeks and months to come will test our will, our values and our courage but our state is resilient. We will get through this. We must work together, support each other and stay positive.

“Ultimately we will emerge from this challenge more united than ever, prepared to build an even stronger Washington.”

March 23rd, 2020|Uncategorized|

Billig: Governor has Legislature’s full support

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said the Legislature took steps before adjourning last week to swiftly support coronavirus response efforts by Gov. Jay Inslee, including the release of $200 million in emergency funds appropriated by the Washington State Legislature to help fund the state’s COVID-19 response.

The funds will be used for hospital surge capacity, testing, and other efforts at local health departments. The Legislature also authorized immediate funding that may be used for shelter needs related to COVID-19, which the Department of Commerce is already in the process of distributing to counties and cities.

“Leaders in the Legislature will continue to coordinate with the governor’s staff and our partners in local governments to mitigate both the health emergency and the economic crisis that is unfolding in our state,” Billig said. “I admire the work of the governor and his staff under difficult circumstances, and his important warning for all of us to do our part to stay away from public gatherings and slow the spread of coronavirus. In concert with his efforts, state leaders will continue to take any and all actions we can to protect the people of our state.”

Before the Legislature adjourned last week, lawmakers approved other key measures to protect Washingtonians during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Ensuring people receiving unemployment insurance can continue to do so even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine.
  • Supporting businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency.
  • Reimbursing nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response.
  • Allowing school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours because of the coronavirus state of emergency.
  • Giving flexibility to the State Board of Education to allow high school seniors to graduate this year if they were on track before the emergency declaration.

“Public health is our first priority, with mitigating the economic impacts from this outbreak not far behind,” Billig said. “I know Washingtonians will remain resilient during this difficult time, while at the state level we’ll continue to do our part to deliver all the resources necessary to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.”

Primary state response websites:

Washington State’s official COVID-19 site: www.coronavirus.wa.gov
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
Washington Employment Security Department: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19

 

March 18th, 2020|News Release|

Sen. Billig statement on the conclusion of the 2020 session

“I am so proud of the work we’ve done on behalf of the people of this state, but all of our thoughts right now are with the people and communities across Washington impacted by the coronavirus and with the public health professionals who are working around the clock to stop its spread.

“The budget we passed today addresses the needs we saw coming into session as well as those that unfolded in recent weeks. The steps we have taken this year, and really for the past three years, leaves our state in a strong position to combat this outbreak.

“We finished our work on time for the third year in a row – marking only the third time in the last 79 years the Legislature has accomplished that.

“This budget invests heavily in public health, including $200 million in emergency funding to the State Department of Health and local public health organizations so the people working to keep us safe and healthy have the resources they need. We also invested in accessible health care, behavioral health, affordable housing, education, early learning, the environment and other areas important to the people of this state. This budget leaves more than $3.5 billion in reserves – an extraordinarily important figure in these unprecedented and unpredictable times.

“We will continue to do everything in our power as legislators to invest in the future of our state and keep Washingtonians safe during this crisis.”

March 12th, 2020|News Release|