Friday, February 19, 2010

Falcons in the Capitol?

It’s not every day that a group of citizens brings forth a bill that increases a fee they have to pay. It’s also not every day that words like falconry, red tail hawks, prey and mice are said in a legislative hearing. Both things happened in this afternoon’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hearing when SSB 6644 came up for consideration.

“The state is facing a crisis and we want to do our part by paying for the administration services that oversee our program,” said Geoff Hirschi, a member of the Washington Falconers Association, when he delivered his testimony.

Falconry is sport that has been around for a long time and is a partnership between a human and a falcon (a variety of different raptors are considered falcons), where the falcon hunts for the human. Falconry is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service but that service is will soon come to an end. This bill shifts falconry administration to the State under the Department of Fish and Wildlife and imposes a fee for this purpose. The bill includes provisions to allow out-of-state people to hunt in Washington, and to capture, under very strict conditions, raptors that may not exist in their state. SSB 6644 also clarifies trapping requirements.

The falconry community and the Department of Fish and Wildlife support this legislation fully.

Last month the Senate was lucky to have an actual live falcon when the bill was first heard. Due to time restrictions, the falconers were not encouraged to bring one of their birds of prey today, but here’s a recent picture of Rep. Brian Blake, chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, masterfully handling a falcon.

Why 520's general-purpose lanes matter

State Rep. Deb Eddy explains.

Town Hall Reminder

Once again, Niki over at The Capitol Record takes words and turns them into blue balloons.

Please to enjoy, the list of Town Halls happening tomorrow in Google Map form.

Check it out here

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Must be something in the water

Yesterday’s House Capital Budget Committee meeting attracted so many attendees, overflow space was required.

What brought so many people to this one meeting that House Security was called in for crowd control? Why, it was the public hearing on HB 3181, also known as the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act, sponsored by Rep. Timm Ormsby, would raise the state’s Hazardous Substances Tax, which hasn’t changed since the voters approved it over 20 years ago. Raising it from 0.7 percent to 2 percent would bring in an additional $225 million, with most of the additional funds going initially to help shore up the state’s general fund, and the rest going to address stormwater cleanup. Over the next few years, the portion going to the general fund would decrease while the portion going to stormwater cleanup would increase. The environmental community has made the bill a top priority for the 2010 session.

The tax is levied on thousands of hazardous substances in the state at the point of first possession, so those who market and sell the substances are the ones who pay it. The biggest industry that would be affected are the oil refineries. Petroleum products are also the biggest contributor to stormwater pollution.

Supporters of the bill say it is badly needed to pay for federally-mandated stormwater cleanup projects that cost local governments millions of dollars they can’t afford. The only way for local governments to begin to meet the cost is to either raise property taxes or stormwater utility rates, which hurts families and businesses. They argue that polluters should help shoulder the cleanup costs when it is their products that are the primary cause of stormwater pollution. The necessary stormwater infrastructure projects would also employ thousands of construction workers, creating good-paying jobs while cleaning up Puget Sound and other waterways.

Those who spoke against the measure said it would hurt oil refineries in the state and threaten family-wage jobs at those refineries, as well as the investments those companies make in the communities in which they are located. Concerns were also expressed from the agricultural sector, as well as the trucking industry.

The hearing lasted nearly three hours, alternating between those who were in favor of the bill and those who were against. The full hearing is available here.

Town Hall lineup

Legislators will be back home this weekend and many are hosting town halls on Saturday. Check out the lineup below.

6th LD: Rep.
John Driscoll
10:00 at Northwood Middle School (13120 N Pittsburg, Spokane)
2:00 at Hamblen Elementary (2121 East Thurston Ave, Spokane)

11th LD: Rep. Bob Hasegawa
11:00 at South Seattle Community College Georgetown Campus (6737 Corson Ave S, Seattle)

21st LD: Reps. Mary Helen Roberts and Marko Liias with Senator Paull Shin
10:00 at Edmonds Woodway High School Theatre (7600 212th SW, Edmonds)
1:30 at Mukilteo City Hall (11930 Cyrus Way, Mukilteo)

22nd LD: Rep. Brendan Williams
4:00 at The Mark Restaurant (407 Columbia St. SW, Olympia)

23rd LD: Reps. Sherry Appleton and Christine Rolfes
9:30 at Bainbridge High School Commons (9330 NE High School Road, Bainbridge Island)
1:00 at Eagles Nest (1195 NW Fairgrounds Rd, Bremerton)

25th LD: Rep. Dawn Morrell
10:00 at Puyallup City Hall (333 S. Meridian, Puyallup)

26th LD: Rep. Larry Seaquist with Senator Derek Kilmer
Noon at Olympic College - Bremer Student Center (1600 Chester Ave, Bremerton)
2:00 at Givens Community Center - Kitsap Room (1026 Sidney Ave, Port Orchard)
4:00 at Peninsula High School - Auditorium (14105 Purdy Drive NW, Gig Harbor)

32nd LD: Reps. Ruth Kagi and Marilyn Chase
10:00 at Lake Forest Park Town Center - Upper Level, Third Place Commons (17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park)
1:00 at Shoreline Historical Museum (749 N 175th, Shoreline)

33rd LD: Reps. Dave Upthegrove and Tina Orwall (Forum on jobs, economic survival)
10:00 at Kent City Hall (220 Fourth Ave S, Kent)

34th LD: Reps. Eileen Cody and Sharon Nelson with Senator Joe McDermott
11:00 at High Point Community Center (6920 34th Ave SW, Seattle)

37th LD: Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew with Senator Adam Kline
10:00 at Zion Preparatory Academy (4730 32nd Ave S, Seattle)

41st LD: Reps. Judy Clibborn and Marcie Maxwell with Senator Randy Gordon
9:30 at Hazelwood Elementary (7100 116th Ave SE, Newcastle)
1:30 at Eastgate Elementary (4255 153rd Ave SE, Bellevue)

43rd LD: Speaker Frank Chopp and Rep. Jamie Pedersen
1:30 at First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard, Seattle)

45th LD: Reps. Larry Springer and Roger Goodman
10:30 at Kirkland City Hall Council Chambers (123 Fifth Ave, Kirkland)

46th LD: Reps. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney and Scott White with Senator Ken Jacobsen
10:00 at Meadowbrook Community Center (10517 35th Ave NE, Seattle)

48th LD: Reps. Ross Hunter and Deb Eddy with Senator Rodney Tom
11:00 at Crossroads Community Center (16000 NE 10th St, Bellevue)

Today's hot list

It was another late night in the House last night but we're easing back into a more normal flow now that cutoff has passed and committees get back to work hearing the bills that have come over from the Senate.

8:00 HHR E Early Learning & Children's Services

Public Hearing: SSB 6759 - Requiring a plan for a voluntary program of early learning.

8:00 HHR A Health Care & Wellness
Public Hearing: SSB 5798 - Concerning medical marijuana.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fact-checking the Debate III

Even though this one happened in earlier debate today, it's one we just couldn't let go. Rep. Ed Orcutt gets the award for his statement about the exact wording of the two education initiatives, I-728 and I-732, which he stated contained the exact words: "Within existing revenue."

Neither initiative says anything about “within existing revenue” as he stated. I-728 says it will be funded with "SURPLUS REVENUE."

Sorry, we’re out of “surplus revenue.”

I-732 does not even contain the word “revenue.”

From I-728:
AN ACT Relating to public education and directing surplus state revenues to provide additional resources to support high standards of achievement for all students through class size reductions; extended learning opportunities for students who need or want additional time in school; investments in educators and their professional development; dedicating unrestricted lottery proceeds to schools; and authorizing school districts to receive funds from the state property tax levy; amending RCW 67.70.240, 84.52.067, 43.135.035, 43.135.045, and 28A.150.380; adding a new section to chapter 28A.505 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 84.52 RCW; creating new sections; and providing effective dates.

The purpose of this act is to improve public education and to achieve higher academic standards for all students through smaller class sizes and other improvements. A portion of the state's surplus general fund revenues is dedicated to this purpose.

Fact-checking the Debate II

Rep. Jan Angel spoke just now about the will of the people, who she believes oppose new revenue to support the kinds of spending programs everyone around her seems to be relying on. Curiously, she mentioned a daughter who is in a STATE-FUNDED retraining program to become a court reporter.

The irony was somehow lost on her when she next pointed out the two rental properties she owns... and how her two renters receive public assistance TO PAY THEIR RENT TO HER.

Not to be outdone, Rep. Armstrong just lamented the increase in higher ed tuition that he's paying for his two kids to attend college. Tuition that, by the way, was increased last year when the Legislature cut higher ed funding to balance the budget.

Oh, Irony.

Fact-checking the Debate

As we trudge through the Republican filibuster-like substance during this debate on SB 6130, we here on the typey end of the Advance have noticed… let’s call them “deficiencies” in the truth.

So we thought we’d set the record straight periodically. Here’s our first fact-check:
Rep. Mike Armstrong, during his floor remarks opposed to the bill, mentioned the “overwhelming support of the people” that passed I-960.

Let’s go to the virtual chalkboard:
I-728 – Class-size initiative: 72%
I-732 – Teacher COLA’s: 63%
I-1029 – Long term care for seniors and the disabled: 73%
I-960 – 51%

So if I-960 passed with overwhelming support at 51%, what do you call I-1029’s? Mega-overwhelming support? Ginormous support? I'm-so-tired-I-could-use-a-red-bull-kind-of-support?

The half time report

Yesterday was cutoff. Here's a brief recap of what we've done so far this session:

Balancing the budget
The Governor has already signed three measures we passed to reduce spending in this biennial budget:
HB 2921 orders reductions in agency spending.
HB 2998 suspends performance bonuses and salary increases for many state employees.
SB 6382 extends the ban on hiring, travel, contracting, and purchases.

Putting Washington back to work
The JOBS Act of 2010 will, if approved by voters, create at least 38,000 jobs around the state while making our public schools safer, healthier, and more energy efficient.

Washington Works Housing Act will put an additional 10,000 construction workers back to work building affordable housing so people like nurses, police officers, and teachers can live closer to their jobs.

Educating our kids
We began implementing the recommendations of the Quality Education Council for school funding, including the phase-in of 15-student sized classes for kindergarten through 3rd grade and increasing the state funding of maintenance and operations costs. (HB 2776)

We gave individual school districts the flexibility to ask their voters for more levy money, and we allocated an additional $51 million in levy equalization to property-poor districts. (HB 2893 & 2670)

Community safety
We toughened bail procedures in our state, making sure all suspects must appear before a judge before being released on bond, and giving judges the discretion to deny bail in certain cases. (HB 2625 and HJR 4220)

Very few people with mental illness are dangerous to themselves or others, but we must have earlier interventions under the Involuntary Treatment Act for those who are. (HB 3076)

We authorized $25 million to speed the maintenance and repair of levees critical to protecting the citizens and businesses that reside in the Green River Valley. (HB 2787)

Reforming government
The Security Lifeline reforms the way safety net services are delivered by stressing quicker transitions to self-sufficiency and better utilizations of state and federal dollars. (HB 2782)

We are also redesigning the delivery of temporary assistance to needy families in a manner that makes optimum use of all funds available to promote more families moving more quickly to self-sufficiency. (HB 3141)

Numerous boards, commissions, and agency functions are eliminated, consolidated, and/or streamlined. (HB 3132, 3023, 2969, 2957, 2935, 2902, 2704, 2863)

Today's hot list

After adjourning early in the morning just after midnight, legislators are back bright and early to their regular schedule of early morning committee meetings. We have a little something for everyone today including Race to the Top, talking on cell phones while driving, and the ever-popular who-should-run-our-liquor-stores discussion.

8:00 HHR B Community & Economic Development & Trade joint w/ Technology, Energy & Communication
Public Hearing: 2SSB 6515 - Refocusing the department of commerce, including transferring programs.

10:00 Floor

1:30 HHR A Education
Public Hearing: E2SSB 6696 - Regarding education reform. (Senate Race to the Top bill)

1:30 HHR C Environmental Health
Public Hearing: SSB 6248 - Concerning the use of bisphenol A.

3:30 HHR A Ways & Means

Public Hearing:
HB 2732 - Allowing internet registration for second chance drawings of nonwinning tickets.
HB 2846 - Concerning contract liquor stores.
HB 3189 - Concerning alcohol sales in state liquor stores and contract liquor stores.

3:30 HHR B Transportation
Public Hearing:
SSB 6345 – Addressing the use of wireless communications devices while driving.
SSB 6207 - Allowing local governments to create golf cart zones.
SSB 6346 - Expanding the use of certain electric vehicles.

3:30 HHR C Capital Budget
Public Hearing: HB 3181 – Concerning the clean water act of 2010 funding cleanup of water pollution and other programs necessary for the health and well-being of Washington citizens through an increase in the tax on hazardous substances.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today is House of Origin cutoff (HoO, for the acronym-minded among you). House bills must pass out of the House today to stay alive (just as Senate bills must pass out of the Senate).

Word from our bosses is that the House will gavel in at 9:00 this morning and start the day off by caucusing on a couple of local-option tax issues we didn’t finish last night: House Bills 2912 and 3179.

After that, it's anyone's guess. We'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Will of the People...

The "Will of the People" is a phrase with quite a lot of traction this legislative session. There are some who claim the will of the people, opposing the temporary suspension of I-960. Others believe the will of the people favors sustaining government services like including Health Care, Education, and Public Safety, especially through these tough economic times when families need them most.

As they did during Saturday's Finance hearing, the oft-invoked "people" showed up today in great numbers, overwhelmingly urging lawmakers to do whatever it takes to save those essential services. The enthusiastic crowd was a sight to behold, and a giant shot in the arm for tired legislators.

Thanks to all those who participated in today's rally. We needed that.

Today's hot list

Legislators wrapped up Saturday's floor action at 1 a.m. Sunday morning. They'll resume today at 10 a.m. We might adjourn before tomorrow morning, or we might not.

For a recap of what the House passed on Saturday, you can checkout our newsroom, and our recaps on education, public safety and jobs bills.

House of origin cutoff is tomorrow meaning any House bills not passed in the House or Senate bills not passed in the Senate are dead. Unless it's a bill "necessary to implement the budget" (NTIB). There will be a few of those that hang around until the final days.