Friday, February 27, 2009

It's civics, stupid

Okay, so no one really called anyone stupid, but today on the House floor, Rep. Dave Quall did plea with fellow legislators to support more civics education in our classrooms.

Legislators voted unanimously to pass Quall’s HB 2132 which essentially calls on the State Board of Education to require an additional half-credit of civics coursework in order to graduate high school. (The Board is currently reworking high school graduation requirements and is considering increasing the Social Studies requirement from 2.5 credits to 3.0 credits. Quall’s bill would only go into effect if the Board adopts that change.)

You can hear Quall’s brief but forceful floor speech here.

What's hot in the House next week?

On Tuesday, we start all-day (and sometimes all-night) floor action. We will update you daily as we know for sure what bills will be run and what events are planned. Follow us here and on twitter.

In the meantime, these committee hearing will be of interest.

Monday 3/2/09
12:00pm in Education Appropriations
Public Hearing/Possible Executive Session: HB 2261 – Concerning the state’s education system.

1:30pm in Transportation Jt. w/ Senate Transportation
Work Session: Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) Ferry Finance Study.

1:30pm in Capital Budget
Work Session: Water quality issues and programs and the potential use of federal funds.

Tuesday 3/3/09
9:00am in Health & Human Services Appropriations
Work Session: Department of Veterans Affairs discussion of anticipated health and human services needs of returning soldiers.

Wednesday 3/4/09
8:00am in Community & Economic Development & Trade
Work Session: Green Economy Jobs Initiative.

Thursday 3/5/09
8:00am in State Government & Tribal Affairs
Public Hearing: HB 1738 – Providing public funding for supreme court campaigns.

Friday 3/6/09
8:00am in Higher Education
Public Hearing:
SSB 5043 – Convening a work group to develop a single, coordinated student access portal for college information.
SSB 5044 – Changing work-study provisions.
SB 5554 – Regarding the job skills program.
ESSB – Regarding lifelong learning accounts.
SSB 5616 – Connecting business expansion and recruitment to customized training.

9:00am in Education
Public Hearing: HB 1185 – Concerning the sitting of new personal wireless service facilities on school property.
Work Session: Washington Youth Academy – National Guard Youth Challenge Program.

Today's Hot List

8:00am in Human Services
Work Session: Adolescent Brain Development and the Juvenile Justice System.

8:00am in Finance

HB 2250 - Modifying state and local lodging taxes used for convention and trade facilities.

10:00am Floor Action
You can see list of bills up for possible vote here.

1:30pm in Ways & Means
SHB 2167 - Providing flexibility in the education system (unfunded mandates in schools).
SHB 2239 - Concerning the creation of a student loan program with a dedicated revenue source.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coming soon - big cuts to state's colleges

Now that legislators are really starting the process of crunching budget numbers, it's becoming (painfully) clear that the magnitude of the coming cuts mean big changes for many people. Like college students who likely face higher tuition and trouble registering for classes that fill up quickly because of fewer teachers.

Rep. Deb Wallace, Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, spoke to TVW's Austin Jenkins on Inside Olympia about what's in store for our state's colleges and universities in the wake of budget reductions as high as 20 percent.

The show will air on TVW tonight but you can watch it online now.

Today's Hot List

As was the case yesterday, the only committee action in the House is in our three appropriations committees. Committee members continue to make their way through any and all legislation that comes with a price tag.

You can check out the committee agendas here.

Reps. Green and Kelley chat with constituents during their annual House District Day in Olympia

Yesterday, Reps. Tami Green (D-Lakewood) and Troy Kelley (D-University Place) went beyond providing a typical town hall meeting and invited constituents from the 28th district to visit Olympia to gain a firsthand perspective of the legislative process.

During their House District Day, Reps. Green and Kelley joined their constituents for lunch and answered questions about unemployment, education, efforts to address climate change and other issues facing the 28th district.

The House District Day is an annual event offered by Reps. Green and Kelley to give their constituents an opportunity to have lunch with their legislators, take a tour of the Capitol Campus, attend committee hearings and witness bill action on the House floor.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hunter talks taxes and digital goods

Rep. Ross Hunter was on the Dave Ross Show today to talk about HB 2075, the bill that would update the tax code related to digital downloads.

Hunter is emphatic that this isn't about raising revenue (the legislation actually makes changes so some things are no longer taxed and he plans for the bill to ultimately be revenue-neutral) but about streamlining and simplifying the state tax code.

Hunter essentially thinks it's unfair that certain business models can take advantage of loopholes that results in, for example, someone who rents a movie having to pay sales tax while someone who streams the same movie doesn't.

You can listen to Hunter talk about the legislation in his own words here.

Today's Hot List

Not much committee action in the House today other than our three appropriations committees (Education, Health and Human Services, General Government) which are trying to work through lots of bills in time for cutoff.

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.
SHB 2227 - Enacting the evergreen jobs act.

8:30am in General Government Appropriations
SHB 1819 - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

State lawmakers announced package of transportation projects funded by incoming stimulus money from the Obama administration

House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Judy Clibborn and Vice-Chair Marko Liias along with Sens. Mary Margaret Haugen and Chris Marr answered questions at a press conference Tuesday concerning the state’s plans for the soon-to-arrive $671 million in transportation dollars from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Their focus was on a portion of those funds – $341 million worth – which will fund ready-to-go highway projects throughout the state. This appropriation is expected to create about 3,330 jobs.

All told, the state expects to generate 6,500 jobs as a result of stimulus-funded transportation projects on the state and local levels.

To view the entire story, click here.

Today's Hot List

8:00am in Finance
Public Hearing on King County revenue bills:
HB 2249 - Modifying local government revenue options in counties with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more.
HB 2252 - Funding for arts and heritage programs, regional centers, human services, low-income housing, and community development in a county with a population of one million five hundred thousand or more.

12:30pm press conference on state transportation projects funded by federal stimulus package
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.
Notice below the legislation will be heard today at 1:30 in their committee.

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.

Monday, February 23, 2009

House welcomes Grant-Herriot as new 16th District representative

A busy House welcomed newly-appointed Rep. Laura Grant-Herriot with a round of applause and full day of floor action. Grant-Herriot, D-Walla Walla, was picked to fill the 16th District seat left vacant by the passing of her father and long-time member, Rep. Bill Grant.

“I have a lot of work to do, including getting to know the other 146 members of the Legislature. Thankfully, due to the relationships that my father had already developed, they already know the issues I want to talk about,” Grant-Herriot said.

“Farms are hurting, our schools deserve continued support, and my neighbors want us to come home with a balanced and responsible budget.”

For information can be found here:
House welcomes Grant-Herriot as new 16th District representative

House passes Williams’ bill safeguarding pets from domestic violence disputes

The state House of Representatives today passed HB 1148, approving a measure brought forth by Rep. Brendan Williams after hearing compelling and heartbreaking stories of pets caught in the middle of abusive domestic violence disputes.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law, Rep. Williams’ bill would grant someone who seeks a domestic violence protection order sole custody of any pets and apply the same distance boundaries to the animal(s). Violating the protection order, as well as any violence perpetrated against the protected pets would be a gross misdemeanor.

Williams, who has a master’s degree in criminal justice, cited studies showing that criminal deviancy toward animals often evolves into deviancy toward humans – and pointed out that pets are frequently used as instruments of manipulation by abusers to further terrorize, and control, their victims and children. “A pet is at least as valuable as a hairbrush,” stated Williams, who noted that pets are not expressly among those personal effects victims can presently remove from domestic violence situations.

Speech of the Week: Rep. Bob Hasegawa

Rep. Bob Hasegawa’s colleagues were deeply moved by his heartfelt remarks on the Day of Remembrance, February 18, 2009, which made him deserving of this accolade.

Watch Rep. Bob Hasegawa's winner speech on House Resolution 4617, recognizing the Japanese-American internees and WWII veterans from Washington state here.

Today's Hot List

If you look at today's committee calendar, you'll see there's not a single committee hearing with an "H" after it.

That's because the House will be on the floor all day. You can keep track of floor activity via the Floor Activity Report.

For people who like to plan ahead, here's a heads up for tomorrow: As we reported last Friday, 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 tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.