Friday, February 20, 2009

House Democrats to unveil plans for transportation projects funded by federal stimulus dollars

Rep. Judy Clibborn and Rep. Marko Liias, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee, will unveil plans for transportation projects funded by President Obama's federal stimulus at a press conference this coming Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The press conference will be in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien Building.

The House Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposal following directly after the press conference at 1:30, also in House Hearing Room B.

Lawmakers propose restrictions on those convicted of assault of a child

Pierce and Russell Woodruff lived through every parent's worst nightmare when they asked 33-year-old family friend Matthew Christiansen to babysit their 15-month-old son Eryk. The man beat the child, leaving him with broken bones and serious brain injuries. Doctors told the parents they didn't think Eryk would live.
Matthew Christiansen pled guilty and is serving 10 years in prison. The Woodruffs want to do everything they can to prevent the same tragedy from happening again.
Rep. Chris Hurst met with the Woodruffs on Thursday and talked about what lawmakers could do. The Woodruffs told Hurst they want those convicted of first-degree assault of a child to face severe punishment and not be allowed, by law, to work with children -- as child care providers or teachers, for example -- or to serve as coaches or youth group leaders like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Hurst worked with the Woodruffs and the lawmakers from the district where the Woodruff's live -- Representatives Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish) and Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens) -- on legislation (HB 2279) to achieve those goals.
Dunshee said he was happy to find a bipartisan solution to this issue.
"It's rare to find such cooperation across the aisles and across the rotunda," Dunshee said. "I appreciate how everyone come together yesterday and got behind this legislation to better protect kids across this state."
Photo: Pierce and Russell Woodruff, the mother and father of Eryk Woodruff, stand with Eryk's Law authors (from left to right) Reps. Hans Dunshee, Mike Hope and Christopher Hurst.

SPECIAL TOWN HALL: The Economic Crisis, Unemployment, and our Social Safety Net

Saturday, February 21
9am to 12pm

Pacific Lutheran University

Scandinavian Cultural Center Room

Money is tight, jobs have become scarce, and families are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know what options are available, and how your state government can assist you through these tough times.

Join State Representatives Steve Conway, Tami Green and other legislators for a special town meeting to discuss the economic crisis, unemployment, and our state’s social safety net.

Representatives from state agencies and community support groups will also be on-hand to answer questions and provide information on how you can qualify for, and gain access to, state-offered programs and services to help you get back on your feet.

Attending the special town hall will be representatives from:

Washington State Employment Security Department
  • Accessing Unemployment Benefits
  • The Shared-Work Program: Assistance for Employers

Bates College and Clover Park Technical College
  • Workforce Training Opportunities
United Way & the Pierce County Labor Agency
  • Washington’s Social Safety Net

The Scandinavian Cultural Center Room at Pacific Lutheran University is located at the corner of Park Avenue South & Garfield Street. On-street parking only.

Rep. Springer fights to protect homebuyers against construction defects

In an effort to protect homeowners from a growing trend in new home construction defects and provide homebuyers with legal remedies and additional resources, Rep. Springer (D-Kirkland) introduced House Bill 1393.

“There’s a strange anomaly in our law that you have more protection for purchasing a toaster or a car than you do for the major purchase of your life,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 1393 addresses residential real property construction improvements through consumer education, warranty provisions, contractor registration requirements, and worker certification standards.

House Bill 1393 was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. Next, it will go to the House Ways & Means Committee. A similar bill was also heard in the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee yesterday.

“I am very pleased that the legislature has taken a significant step toward providing homebuyers the protections they deserve against poor home construction,” Springer said. “My hat is off to all the stakeholders who have worked so hard for the past three years to craft legislation to deal with this very controversial issue. I look forward to this bill becoming a law so that homeowners will receive the protection they deserve.”

(View the original press release.)

Speaker Chopp's statement on latest revenue news

Late yesterday, the state’s chief economist, Arun Raha, delivered the expected bad news that our state shortfall is growing (up from $6 billion to about $8 billion). You can read news clips about Raha’s report here, here and here.

Here’s the statement released by Speaker Frank Chopp concerning the state’s early revenue forecast numbers:
“Today’s revenue forecast is not unexpected. The recession affecting the rest of the world is hitting Washington, too. However, as planned we have already taken steps to minimize the shortfall in the current biennium. The Early Action Savings and Belt-tightening measures signed this week by the Governor reduced that hole by $719 million. We will address the remaining short-term deficit very soon in the supplemental budget while we consider all the options available to meet the challenge.

In addition to the actions we’ve already taken, help is coming to Washington through the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This federal package will send billions of dollars to our state to save or create thousands of jobs, improve our roads and bridges, and help with additional needs in critical areas like education.

But this recovery package will not solve all of our budget challenges. Only a portion of it can be used to address the shortfall – much of it is directed to specific purposes not included in our operating budget.

As we take the next steps on the budgets, we can’t let tough times become an excuse for sacrificing the things that matter most to our families – education for our children, access to health care, and protections for those who can’t take care of themselves.”

What's Hot in the House Next Week?

Monday 2/23/09
10:00am on the Floor – We are scheduled to be on the floor all day, but that is still not a certainty. We’ll keep you posted and send the bills to be considered as soon as we can.

Tuesday 2/24/09
1:30pm in Capital Budget
Public Hearing: SHB 1007 – Establishing a sustainable energy trust bond.

1:30pm in Transportation
Public Hearing: HB 1978 – Concerning economic stimulus transportation funding and appropriations.

1:30pm in Ways & Means
Public Hearing:
SHB 1355 – Establishing the opportunity internship program for high school students.
SHB 1727 – Expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners.

Wednesday 2/25/09
8:00am in Education Appropriations
Public Hearing:
SHB 1162 – Providing for social emotional learning in public schools.
HB 1075 – Enacting the interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children.
HB 2021 – Revitalizing student financial aid.
SHB 1813 – Regarding establishing and meeting graduation and reengagement goals.

Friday 2/27/09
8:00am in Human Services
Work Session: Adolescent Brain Development and the Juvenile Justice System.

Today's Hot List

8:00am in Higher Education
Public Hearing: HB 2239 - Concerning the creation of a student loan program with a dedicated revenue source.

10:00am Floor Action
Here's a look at the growing list of bills up for possible vote.

1:30pm in Finance
Public Hearing:
HB 2122 - Reducing the business and occupation tax burden on the newspaper industry.
HB 2123 - Reducing the business and occupation tax rate on the business of printing, and of publishing newspapers, magazines, or periodicals.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thinking outside the box...

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, takes an afternoon meeting with a constituent group outdoors.

Today's Hot List

One day until House Policy Committee Cutoff! That means most House bills not necessary to implement the budget must pass out of a House policy committee before the end of the day tomorrow if it's to keep moving forward.

10:00am in Community & Economic Development & Trade
Public Hearing:
HB 2227 - Enacting the evergreen jobs act.

3:30pm in Transportation
Public Hearing:
HB 2211 - Addressing the authorization, administration, collection, and enforcement of tolls on the state route number 520 corridor.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Large rally on campus to support ferry system

The group gathered on the steps to the Capitol around noon:

Several House members attended, including Larry Seaquist, Christine Rolfes, Judy Clibborn, Sharon Nelson and Eileen Cody.

Steven Gardner over at the Kitsap Sun has on-going coverage at his blog: Kitsap Caucus

Driscoll takes on deadly Spokane intersection

A recent car accident resulting in the tragic death of a local high school student has led Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane, to introduce House Bill 2225. It would include money in the budget for a turn lane on US 195 to increase visibility for cars turning onto the highway from the smaller road.

“With the community coming together to support this, I think we can address this clear safety hazard,” Driscoll said. “For transportation funding, safety is priority number one—and I think we have a good case to make for the US 195 intersection.

"I’ve been using this intersection since I’ve been driving and have seen just how dangerous it’s become over time.”

For more information, check out the press release Driscoll sent out with seatmate Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, or this Spokesman-Review article.

Today's Hot List

8:00am in Judiciary
Public Hearing:
HB 1663 – Creating relocation assistance rights for nontransient residents of hotels, motels or other places of transient lodging that are shut down by government action.
HB 1766 – Prohibiting discrimination based on lawful source of income.
HB 1773 – Concerning certain notice requirements when terminating month to month or other periodic residential tenancies governed by the residential landlord-tenant act.

10:00a.m Floor Action
A few bills to note on today's docket include the latest vote on our Early Savings Bill,
ESHB 1694.The House must concur with the latest version that includes Senate amendments.

Also of note are a couple weatherization and energy efficiency bills, HB 1004 and HB 1060.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Legislators agree that higher ed more important than ever

Today, higher education leaders in the House and Senate gathered for a discussion about how, despite the state's economic woes, higher education can and must be used as a bridge to 21st century jobs.
Representative Deb Wallace, who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, emphasized repeatedly that we cannot turn back on our goal of educating more people to higher levels.

To this end, the House and Senate are proposing numerous measures that will help more students tap into financial aid, and support education and training programs that put people to work in high-demand, family wage jobs.
In addition to participating legislators, Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney introduced two students who spoke up about their personal ambitions of going to college and how aid programs have been the key to attaining that dream.
Roxana Garcia from the University of Washington spoke of growing up in a single-parent household amidst rising gang activity and negative influences. She said state grants were the key to her going to college and she encouraged lawmakers to preserve what she called an "investment in the lives of intelligent young adults, but more importantly, an investment in the future of Washington state."
Felicia Perl from the University of Puget Sound talked about the challenges of growing up in the foster care system and having to navigate a path to college without the support of family or parents. She also urged lawmakers to not seek short-term budget relief at the expense of devastating long-term effects.
You can read more about today's press event here.

Today's Hot List

There's a lot going on today, including a joint press conference at 12:15 with Rep. Deb Wallace and Senator Kilmer to discuss their higher education agenda. We have word that TVW plans to be there so tune in.

8:00am in Education Appropriations
Work Session: Implementing proposed reductions in higher education in 2009-11 - University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington, University, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Evergreen State College, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Higher Education Coordinating Board.

8:00am in General Government Appropriations
Public Hearing: SHB 1165 – Providing for the safe collection and disposal of unwanted drugs from residential sources through a producer provided and funded product stewardship program (Rx recycling program).

8:00am in Health & Human Services Appropriations
Work Session: Health reform concepts related to state-purchased health care.

10:00am in Higher Education
Public Hearing: HB 1946 – Regarding higher education online technology.

10:00am in Education
Public Hearing:
HB 2119 – Expanding dual credit opportunities.
HB 2147 – Closing the achievement gap in order to provide all students an excellent and equitable education.
HB 2167 – Providing flexibility in the education system.

1:30pm in Health Care & Wellness
Public Hearing:
HB 2117 – Modifying the basic health plan.
HB 2128 – Concerning health care coverage for children.

1:30pm in State Government & Tribal Affairs
Public Hearing:
HB 1731 – Revising the rules for designation of party preference by partisan candidates.
HB 1798 – Allowing voter registration up to and on election day.

3:30pm in Capital Budget
Work Session: Energy Efficiency Construction and Renovation: Potential projects and the effect on jobs, homeowners and businesses; cost savings; and weatherization.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Governor Gregoire signs first bill of the session, House Bill 1906, flanked by some of the cutest kids you'll ever see.

Just returned from the Governor's signing of House Bill 1906, increasing benefits for unemployed workers by $45 a week.

At the press conference was Rep. Steve Conway, the bill's sponsor, along with Reps. Phyllis Kenney, Tina Orwall, and Speaker Frank Chopp, who drove home the point that this bill is not only an economic stimulus,it's a moral victory for our state's workers.

Also speaking at the event was Heather Reeber who recently lost her job due to the economic downturn. Heather explained what $45 a week could mean to families like hers facing tough times, which could mean food on the table and heat in their home. Heather's a mother of four of the most adorable kids you'll ever see, Brianna, Gavin, Brandon, and Kaitlyn, as evidenced in the slideshow.

For more info, click here.

Today's Hot List

130pm in Community & Economic Development & Trade
Work Session: Washington State’s Green Economy Jobs Initiative.

130pm in Judiciary
Public Hearing: HB 1581 – Requiring a minimum of three years’ notice on closures or conversions of mobile home parks and manufactured housing communities.

330pm in Transportation
Work Session: Project briefings: U.S. 395 North Spokane Corridor, Columbia River Crossing.

Public Hearing: HB 1947 – Concerning the regulation and preservation of urban streets through a local option street utility.

330pm in Ways & Means
Work Session: Governor’s proposal to reinvent government and eliminate boards and commissions.

No action on the House floor today

The House will not see any action on the floor today. There will be a joint session in the Senate at 10:30 a.m. to honor legislators who have passed away during the last two years.

We will resume passing bills on the floor Wednesday morning.