Friday, March 20, 2009

What's hot in the House next week?

Committees will be especially busy trying to pass bills next week. Why? Policy committee cutoff in the House is Friday the 27th!

Monday 3/23/09
1:30pm in Judiciary
Public Hearing:
ESSB 5967 – Prohibiting unfair practices in public community athletics programs by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.
ESB 5810 – Concerning foreclosures on deeds of trust.
E2SSB 5688 – Expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners.

1:30pm in Community & Economic Development & Trade
Public Hearing: SSB 5899 – Providing a business and occupation tax credit for qualified employment positions.

1:30pm in Technology, Energy & Communications
Possible Executive Session:
E2SSB 5649 – Regarding energy efficiency in buildings.
E2SSB 5854 – Reducing climate pollution in the built environment.

1:30pm in Health & Human Services Appropriations
Possible Executive Session:
ESSB 5746 – Modifying juvenile sentencing provisions.
ESB 5519 – Competency and evaluation procedures for individuals with mental illness charged with crimes.

Tuesday 3/24/09
8:00am in Health Care & Wellness
Public Hearing:
SSB 5360 – Establishing a health-care collaborative grant program.
SSB 5436 – Concerning direct patient-provider primary care practice arrangements.
SSB 5891 – Establishing a forum for testing primary care medical home reimbursement pilot projects.

8:00am in State Government & Tribal Affairs
Public Hearing: SSB 5035 – Improving veterans’ access to services.

10:00am in Commerce & Labor
Public Hearing:
SSB 5613 – Authorizing the Department of Labor and Industries to issue stop work orders for violations of certain workers’ compensation provisions.
E2SSB 5850 – Protecting workers from human trafficking violations.
ESSB 6035 – Concerning retrospective rating plans.

10:00am in Education
Public Hearing:
SSB 5248 – Enacting the interstate compact on educational opportunity for military children.
E2SSB 5941 – Regarding a comprehensive education data improvement system.
SSB 6016 – Regarding educator training to enhance skills of students with dyslexia.

1:30pm in Financial Institutions & Insurance
Public Hearing: SSB 5400 – Regulating reverse mortgage lending practices and debt collections.

Wednesday 3/25/09
8:00am in Judiciary
Public Hearing: SSB 5531 – Modifying provisions relating to consumer protection act violations.

1:30pm in Commerce & Labor
Work Session: Briefing on multi-state lottery games. (Relates to SB 6103)

Thursday 3/26/09
8:00am in State Government & Tribal Affairs
Public Hearing: SB 5599 – Approving the entry of Washington into the agreement among the states to elect the president by national popular vote.

Today's Hot List

8:00am in Education
Public Hearing:
ESSB 5880, ESSB 5889, ESSB 5890 – Providing flexibility in the education system.
2SSB 5973 – Closing the achievement gap in K-12 schools.

1:30pm in Health Care & Wellness
Public Hearing: 2SSB 5945 – Creating the Washington health partnership plan.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The latest revenue news...

... is, as predicted, not good.

A full-court press showed up to hear what Arun Raha, our state's chief economist, and the members of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council have to say about the state's economic landscape.

The short of it - Raha predicts that for the current 2007-2009 biennium (which will end this June), revenues will be down another $15 million from the "early guidance" forecast presented in February. This means lawmakers will have to find additional savings in the current budget, beyond those already passed in the "
Early Action Savings Bill" last month.

For the upcoming 2010-1011 biennium, the news is, as put by Rep. Ross Hunter, "a half-billion worse today than it was yesterday."

Raha says revenues over the next two years will be down an additional estimated $538 million. This is due largely to increasing weakness in non-residential construction, manufacturing, aerospace, software publishing and retail sales.

One interesting tidbit - the funding provided throught the fed's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosts our revenues (or lessens our shortfall) by approximately $884 million.

You can read more details (LOTS of details, probably more details than you care to know) here.

Another interesting tidbit - looks like the Olympian's Brad Shannon (right) is coming out with a new edition of Survivor soon.

Today's Must Read: What About Community Safety?

We commend Ian Demsky at The News Tribune for his story today, What About Community Safety?, an insightful look into a state Corrections program facing elimination as a cost-saving measure the Legislature is considering to help fill the budget gap.

To fill an $8 billion - and growing - budget deficit means some extremely tough cuts. Senate bill 5288 seeks to save around $80 million over the next four years by reducing the supervision of low- and moderate-risk parolees and offenders who have been released. That also means the elimination of 190 Corrections department jobs.

Demsky's story follows one of those corrections officers, Russell Alfaro, on his daily routine as he meets with released offenders.

When dealing with a budget in the billions, an avalanche of statistics, and hundreds of bills still in play, we appreciate Demsky's effort to put a human face on the numbers helping to reveal the human element hidden within them.

Today's Hot List

In addition to some of today's interesting committee hearings (noted below), the latest revenue forecast is due today at 10. TVW will air it live.

Anyone interested in the state budget will want to tune in, since the forecast will provide updated information about how much revenue the state is likely to collect over the next couple years. Given the "grim" revenue news from a preliminary forecast last month, most lawmakers are "bracing for more economic bad news."

10:00am in Judiciary
Public Hearing:
ESB 5200 – Concerning marauding dogs.

SSB 5402 – Regarding the prevention of animal cruelty.

SSB 5651 – Providing humanitarian requirements for certain dog breeding practices.

1:30pm in Financial Institutions & Insurance
Possible Executive Session: ESB 6033 – Creating the prevent or reduce owner-occupied foreclosure program.

3:30pm in Transportation
Work Session: Ferry Communication Partnership Plan C.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today's Hot List

Floor action starts at 10 with three bills scheduled for a vote:
SSB 5130 Prisoner public records access

ESSB 5344 Rescue tug
ESSB 5595 Motor vehicle franchises

8:00am in Community & Economic Development & Trade
Work Session: Washington State in the Global Economic Economy: International Marketing and Trade Policy.

1:30pm in Education
Public Hearing:
ESSB 5449 – Regarding establishing and meeting graduation and reengagement goals.
2SSB 5676 – Providing for career and technical education opportunities for middle school students.

3:30pm in Transportation
Public Hearing: ESSB 5768 – Concerning the state route number 99 Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Democracy in action...

It's a beautiful thing. Really. Dozens of members went home on Saturday to talk with their constituents and thousands of people took them up on the invitation. See for yourself...

Today's Hot List

10:00am in Education
Public Hearing:
SB 5378 – Regarding accreditation of digital learning programs.
SSB 5410 – Regarding online learning.
ESSB 5414 – Regarding statewide assessments and criteria.

10:00am in Higher Education
Work Session: Online learning and open educational resources.

1:30pm in State Government & Tribal Affairs
Public Hearing:
SSB 5440 – Concerning the naming or renaming of state ferries.

1:30pm in Agriculture & Natural Resources
Public Hearing: SSB 5401 – Expanding the riparian open space program to include lands that contain critical habitat of threatened or endangered species.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mr. Yuk visits the Capitol

March 15-21 is National Poison Prevention Week, so folks from the Washington Poison Center—along with Mr. Yuk—came to the State Capitol this morning.

The goal of Poison Prevention Week is to reduce illnesses, injuries, and deaths due to poisonings; build safer communities; and reduce unnecessary health care costs for everyone.

Ivyanne Smith (12 years old) from Redmond designed the poster capturing this year's theme of the Washington State's Poison Prevention Week campaign, "Is It Time To Call Mr. Yuk?”

What is National Poison Prevention Week?
Public Law 87-319, signed on September 16, 1961, by President Kennedy, designates the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Congress intended this event as a means for local communities to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings and to take preventive measures.

“The bright green Mr. Yuk symbol is easily identified by children," said Rep. Scott White. "Parents should take care to secure all poisonous materials and put Mr. Yuk stickers on anything that a child might get into.”

Photo: Ivy Smith; Jim Williams, WAPC Executive Director; Mr. Yuk and Rep. Scott White, 46th Legislative District as they are interviewed by KING 5 News.

Today's Hot List

Following a hectic cutoff week and busy Town Hall weekend, things are slowly ramping back up on this drizzly Monday morning. The day starts with floor action at 10 (not sure yet which bills are up first), with committee hearings getting underway in the afternoon.

3:30pm in Transportation

SB 5180 - Permitting public transit vehicle stops at unmarked stop zones under certain circumstances.
SB 5540 - Establishing high capacity transportation corridor areas.
SSB 5574 - Protecting consumer data in motor vehicles.