Monthly Archives: January 2018

Senate votes to extend financial aid access for DREAMers

January 25th, 2018|

Jan. 24, 2018

OLYMPIA— The state Senate voted Wednesday to expand financial aid opportunities for DREAMers in Washington’s higher education system.

“This bill fulfills a promise we made to DREAMers in 2014. Four years ago, we made the statement that all Washington kids ought to have the full range of educational opportunity that we offer in this state,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, the bill’s prime sponsor. “But that bill left some gaps and this legislation is designed to fill them.”

“I cannot think of a more appropriate statement for this Senate to make at a time when the futures of thousands of young people in our state and across the country are up in the air. In Washington, we recognize their value as students and as leaders in the only country they have ever known. They deserve the full promise that our state and this country have to offer.”

These students currently have access to the State Need Grant and are able to pay in-state tuition at Washington’s colleges and universities. Senate Bill 5074 simply extends that standard, allowing DREAMers to apply for the College Bound Scholarship and the Higher Education Loan Program.

Senate Bill 5074 passed on a 38 to 11 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

“Every student in our state should have the opportunity to pursue their college dreams, regardless of their immigration status,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, a bill cosponsor. “By expanding eligibility of this last-dollar scholarship, this bill finally fulfills the state’s promise to Washington’s dreamers. At a time when dreamers and their families face uncertainty from the federal government, we will keep working to ensure that they are supported here in Washington state— in our communities, schools, and institutions.”

Frockt applauds capital budget passage

January 19th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. David Frockt is proud to announce the passage of Washington’s capital budget, which will invest more than $4 billion in essential, life-changing projects statewide.
“The capital budget is a critical tool in making sure Washingtonians have the quality of life they deserve,” Frockt said. “This budget is responsible for investments in our children’s education, for improvements to the mental health system, and for contributions to affordable housing. Its impacts touch every corner of this state.”
Frockt, D-Seattle, was instrumental in the measure’s passage as the Senate’s capital budget chair. For the first time in decades, the Legislature failed to pass a biennial capital budget in 2017 after Republicans tied it to an outside issue. But after less than two weeks of Democrats’ control of both the House and Senate, lawmakers were able to move the vital budget forward.
“Capital budgets have traditionally been bipartisan efforts benefiting all parts of our state, and this budget is no different,” Frockt. “It’s unfortunate that Washingtonians had to wait so long for this funding.”
“We have all heard for the last nine months the dramatic effects on jobs, investment and infrastructure that the failure to fund these projects had around the state. In my district alone, we heard of several businesses that were operating on reserve funds and pending layoffs while this important bill languished. It was critical for us to get this done early in the session, and I am proud that the new majority pulled it off.”
The $4 billion budget will fund the largest-ever investment in K-12 school construction — about $1 billion. About $861 million will go to higher education projects. About $106 million will go to the Housing Trust Fund, the second highest such investment in state history.
More than $65 million will go to community mental health beds, and about $20 million will go to both Eastern and Western state hospitals for patient safety enhancements, increased capacity and renovations.
About $15 million in the capital budget will fund a dramatic expansion in dental care, benefitting people who previously couldn’t afford treatment.
The budget also makes a significant investment in Washington’s environment and natural resources. A total of $350 million will go to water quality, with $55 million going to help local governments statewide treat contaminated storm water.
Another nearly $70 million will fund cleanup and remediation of contaminated sites.
In Frockt’s own 46th district and the city of Seattle, the budget provides:
• $2 million in renovations for the Magnuson and Lake City Community Centers
• $1.5 million for culvert replacement and embankment repair in Kenmore
• $1.2 million for Lyon Creek fish barrier removal in Lake Forrest Park
• $1 million for historic buildings
• $500,000 for St. Edward State Park ballfield renovation in Kenmore
• $250,000 for Kenmore Public Boathouse improvements
• $75,000 for the St. Edward State Park Environmental Learning Center
• $36 million for Seattle Public Schools renovations and capacity
• Several capital investments for the University of Washington, including Parrington Hall at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, the new Population Health Center, the Magnuson Health Science Building and the completion of funding for the Burke Museum
• $6 million in innovative, low-cost housing projects for King County and Seattle, including new modular construction.

Senators propose ‘more appropriate’ reform of DWLS law

January 10th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Bipartisan legislation introduced this week would reduce the state’s most commonly charged crime – driving while license suspended in the third degree – to a civil infraction.

Senators Joe Fain and David Frockt say Senate Bill 6189 would enable prosecutors to prioritize serious public-safety threats while ensuring that minor infractions do not restrict job and housing opportunities for people who cannot afford to pay traffic fines.

“Allowing prosecutors to focus on addressing the most dangerous public-safety threats like DUIs, distracted driving and aggressive motorists will make our roads and community safer,” said Fain, R-Auburn, whose previous service as a prosecutor in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office concentrated on DUI cases.

“Civil infractions are a much more appropriate way to handle those who do not or cannot pay a ticket for whatever reason. Criminal charges reduce a person’s ability to rent an apartment or be considered for the very job they would need to pay the original fine.”

Failing to pay a traffic ticket or associated late-payment fees typically results in the suspension of a person’s driver license by the state Department of Licensing. A subsequent traffic citation then turns into two charges: the infraction itself, along with the charge known in legal parlance as DWLS III.

“The current law places a heavy burden on Washington residents who already have difficulty playing traffic fines,” said Frockt, D-Seattle. “Criminal charges severely limit a person’s economic future, trapping them in a vicious cycle of unemployment and an inability to reinstate their driver license.

“Prosecuting these people is also expensive for our taxpayers, costing the state more than $42 million in 2015 alone. It’s only right that we treat DWLS III as a civil infraction, not a criminal charge.”

Application of the criminal charge is inconsistent throughout the state, as some municipalities like Seattle and Yakima already tend to treat DWLS III as a civil infraction.

The ACLU Washington report “Driven to Fail: The High Cost of Washington’s Most Ineffective Crime” details the current law’s negative impacts on drivers and voters.

The bipartisan bill is expected to receive a public hearing later this month before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. The Legislature is currently in the third day of 2018’s 60-day legislative session.