Friday, May 8, 2009

Hasegawa, McIntire Jumpstart Business-Loan Program for Veterans, Minorities and Women

Historically, minority and women owned businesses have been denied access to capital, and that lack of capital is a key barrier to the development of minority and women owned businesses.

In response, the legislature passed the 1993 Minority and Women Owned Business Assistance Act, which created the Linked Deposit Program.

The program links the deposit of state funds to loans made by participating financial institutions to qualified veteran, minority and women-owned businesses. The deposit of state funds is made at below market rates. The savings are then passed on by the bank to the Linked Deposit borrowers in the form of an interest rate reduction.

The Linked Deposit Program has provided access to more than $340 million in bank loans for hundreds of small businesses. But the program became untenable for participating banks because of historically low interest rates.

Rep. Bob Hasegawa and State Treasure James McIntire led an effort to restart the program.

Current statute requires banks to pay at least 2 percent interest on the state’s certificates of deposits while also requiring them to issue loans at lower-than market rates. The low-interest rate environment has forced many banks to drop out of the program because they were required to pay the state an above-market rate on the deposits.

Hasegawa's bill removes the 2 percent minimum-interest requirement and adds flexibility for the treasurer so the linked deposit program overall can work in the current market environment.

Photo: Gov. Gregoire signs HB 1167 on May 7, 2009. Front: Gov. Chris Gregoire, Rep. Bob Hasegawa. Back: Philip Brady, Senate Staff; Marissa Chavez, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Hasegawa; Diane Smith, Senate Staff Coordinator and Counsel.

Rep. Kagi receives state PTA's highest honor

Readers of The Advance know that House Democrats are friends of Washington's children. But did you know the Washington State PTA recently awarded its 2009 Friend of Children Award to Rep. Ruth Kagi?

The Friend of Children Award,the highest honor awarded by the state PTA,is presented annually "to a group or individual performing outstanding work on behalf of children throughout the state."

In announcing the 2009 winner of its coveted award, WSPTA said "Kagi has worked tirelessly on behalf of children in this state in the areas of K-12 education funding, prevention of harm to children, quality improvements to foster care, early childhood education, and more."

Kagi said that "receiving the Friends of Children Award is thrilling beyond words. Everyone who knows how much I respect the PTA will also know that this is an honor I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

Past recipients of the award include U.S. Senator Patty Murray and former Governor, now U.S. Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

No special session

More info coming in a very short while.

(No special session means a small bit of good news for school districts who will now keep $60 million of levy equalization funding that was slated to be cut if lawmakers reconvened.)

Statement from House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown regarding special session:

“After a conversation today between Gov. Gregoire, Speaker Chopp and Majority Leader Brown, the three leaders decided against a special session.”

“The few issues left on the table in the education and corrections budgets can be taken up when the Legislature next convenes, and after future revenue forecasting provides a clearer picture of the lasting effect of the recession on our state.

“That being said, we stepped up to the challenge presented by what is generally considered to be the worst recession in 70 years. The Legislature approved three balanced biennial budgets, and key legislation that will affect the future of our education system, protect working families, position us toward a greener energy future, and help Washington businesses create jobs.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Governor signs White’s 100-year floodplains bill

In response to recent major floods in Washington state, Rep. Scott White sponsored House Bill 1967 to stop expansion of urban growth areas into designated one hundred year floodplains.

These are the areas adjacent to rivers and streams that are subject to frequent or regular flooding, and are generally considered unstable and potentially dangerous areas. White’s measure only applies to the larger river systems in western Washington and has focused exceptions for communities that already have significant development on floodplains.

"This is a common sense approach that will help us save lives and property," said White. "Encouraging smart growth by limiting development in flood plains benefits our state by creating safer communities and reducing the costs to taxpayers that come with flooding disasters."

Photo - Gov. Gregoire signs HB 1967 on May 5, 2009. From left to right: Tom Clingman, Ecology Shorelands & Environmental Assistance Program; Carl Schroeder, HDC Policy staff; Joe Tovar, Washington Chapter, American Planning Association; Governor Christine Gregoire; April Putney, Futurewise; Rep. Scott White, 46th Legislative District