Friday, May 15, 2009

Governor signs state construction budget

Today’s bill signings in Olympia included the 2009-2011 state Capital Budget, which funds construction, maintenance, and repair of schools and other public facilities.

Rep. Scott White, who sits on the House Capital Budget committee, joined Senator Karen Fraser, chair of the Senate Capital Budget committee, at the Governor’s side as she signed the bill.

Also present was a crowd representing various local jurisdictions and organizations that will receive capital budget funds this biennium. As the crowd poured into the conference room, the Governor asked the two legislators if they were all there for the Capital Budget. They replied that these were folks who were happy with the budget.

“Can they stay?” joked the Governor.

Rep. Hans Dunshee, who chairs the House Capital Budget committee, was unable to attend the bill signing but said he is pleased that in a year when the state’s construction budget took a 30 percent cut in order to keep more teachers on the job, all K-12 construction projects are still fully funded.

“The projects funded in this budget will mean at least 14,000 jobs across the state,” Dunshee said.

The $3.3 billion budget is House Bill 1216.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What does Pearl Jam have to do with how a bill becomes a law?

A year ago, Lois Fink of Edmonds had no idea that her email to Rep. Marko Liias would result in legislation signed by the Governor, or a run-in with fame. But today she received the pen used to sign House Bill 1138 into law with Pearl Jam guitarist, Mike McCready at her side.
House Bill 1138 will allow people with certain medical conditions access to employee-only restrooms in retail establishments. It’s a simple idea that affords people basic human dignity and allows them to feel better about venturing out to shop in our state’s retail stores. Lois suffers from Crohn’s Disease, which can often result in an immediate need to use the restroom. She was inspired by the story of Ally Bain, a teenager from Illinois who suffered a Crohn’s attack while shopping in with her mother and was denied access to an employee restroom. The pain and humiliation of her experience motivated Ally to push for “Ally’s Law” – a restroom access bill that passed in Illinois a few years ago.

Also a longtime Crohn’s sufferer, Mike McCready drove especially to Olympia with his wife, Ashley O’Connor, to attend the bill signing. Mike is a vocal supporter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. He came to Olympia earlier this year to testify in favor of the bill. The issue is important to him because his life has been so greatly affected by the disease, and he hopes that young people especially can avoid the embarrassment that often comes with it.

Thanks to Lois, Mike and members of the Northwest chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, thousands of people in Washington with medical conditions don’t have to worry about having embarrassing accidents in retail shops.