Friday, January 7, 2011

What's hot in the House next week?

Monday is it. The first day of the 2011 legislative session.

As we do every year, we'll once again be providing a Friday preview of the upcoming week's activities. Monday will be opening ceremonies at noon, Tuesday at noon is the Governor's State of the State address, and Wednesday at 11:30 is the State of the Judiciary.

Below is the agenda for Monday. To see what else is happening in committees next week, check out our Hot List.

10:00 am Health Care & Wellness
Work Session: Update on Federal health Care Reform Implementation.

1:30 pm Higher Education
Work Session: Higher Education’s Contributions to the Economy and Citizenship – The impact of Higher Education on our economy and society.

1:30 pm State Government & Tribal Affairs
Work Session: Liquor Control Board, Store Conversion Plan.

3:30 pm Ways & Means
Work Session: Presentation of the Governor’s 2011 supplemental and 2011-13 biennial budget proposals.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Tukwila Reporter reports on Tukwilan Zack Hudgins

The Tukwila Reporter's got the scoop on Rep. Hudgins' most recent leadership position. When the 2011 session convenes on Monday, Zack steps down from his position as Majority Floor Leader to become the new chair of the General Government Appropriations and Oversight Committee.

The committee is a natural fit for Zack, whose previous work as a member of the committee lead to the implementation of cost-savings measures at several state agencies, which are projected to save millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here's Zack guiding us on a tour of Tukwila and the 11th District:

Eastside town hall tonight

Reps. Ross Hunter and Deb Eddy, along with Senator Rodney Tom, are hosting a town hall tonight at Bellevue City Hall at 6 p.m.

Their focus will be the state budget and education reform, but folks from the 48th district are welcome to come with questions about anything.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hey, Vancouverites! Come get something off of your chest at a Town Hall meeting

Town Halls are every bit as American as your mama's (or your papa's) best apple pie, but these little community get-togethers won't saddle you with even half the calories.

Clark County folks will have a chance in a couple of days to pull up a chair for a Town Hall of their own. Three Vancouver lawmakers are inviting southwestern Washington residents to a meeting Saturnday morning, January 8, from 10:00 till noon. The gathering will be held in the sixth floor hearing foom of the Clark County Public Service Center, which is located at 1300 Franklin St. in Vancouver.

State Reps. Jim Moeller and Jim Jacks will be joined by state Sen. Craig Pridemore. The three represent the 49th Legislative District, which includes Vancouver west of Interstate 205 and Hazel Dell. They are preparing for the 2011 legislative session that kicks off Monday, January 10. No doubt, the thorniest issues in the upcoming 105-day session involve the hunt for answers to the economic quandary. But a number of other pressing matters also await consideration. The legislators will use what they hear at the town hall to help make sure their work in the state capital reflects what constituents in the real world are really thinking.

Yes, you're darn tootin' these types of town meetings are an American tradition. Without a doubt, public involvement must forever play a starring role in the way we Yankee Doodlers govern ourselves. And that holds true whether you're talking citizen participation in the tradition of Norman Rockwell's famous Freedom of Speech painting or citizen participation in the manner of modern-day political blogs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A new year, some new laws

The start of 2011 was also the start of some new laws that quietly went into effect on Saturday.

Two of those laws focus on decreasing toxic chemicals in our environments. One is a ban on certain toxic flame retardants used in upholstered furniture, computers and televisions. This was a bill Rep. Ross Hunter worked on for years and finally passed in 2007. Another eliminates use of lead wheel weights, which frequently fall off vehicles and become a source of groundwater and stormwater pollution.

Also in effect is the new "Emergency Zone Law" which requires motorists to leave a 200-foot buffer around emergency vehicles who have stopped and are responding to an emergency. Fines for failing to make room for first responders can be as high as $248.

Other new laws include an expansion of eligibility for people who can apply for an interlock-ignition drivers license and authority for judges to personally set bail for people arrested on felony charges (a law prompted by the 2009 Lakewood officer shootings).