Saturday, February 26, 2011

Online impersonators and other public-safety issues the focus of today’s floor action

Safety improvements on roadways, in homes and neighborhoods, and even in cyberspace were the focus of today’s floor action in the House. Lawmakers advanced several public-safety bills to the Senate, most of which received strong bipartisan approval.

“Protecting our people and our neighborhoods is a fundamental part of our work as lawmakers. It also strikes us all on a personal level. During our public hearings, we heard deeply moving stories from Washingtonians who came forward to seek changes to our laws,” said Rep. Jamie Pedersen, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which initially recommended some of today’s bills. “Helping our people to feel and be safe provides the foundation for opportunity and success.”

The bills would allow people to sue e-personators (online impersonators/identity thieves), incentivize the use of residential fire sprinklers, help localities share resources in emergencies, enable social-service providers better assist homeless individuals, and more. Click here for a full roundup.

Chaining up to chair up.

Before he could chair his committee in Olympia, Rep. Zack Hudgins was forced to chain his truck. Here he is bravely unchaining before heading back to Tukwila late last night.

If you know anything about pickups, you know that pickups + icy roads = driving adventures. Zack plans to sponsor a resolution next year banning snowstorms during session. We're sure it'll garner great bi-partisan support.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's hear it for the best aerospace workers in the world!

Yo, Idaho. I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Washington is one of the best states of all time.

There’s a giant sucking sound moving across the state, and it’s emanating from the gaping open mouths of speechless anti-tax crusaders who lament the tax rates in Washington.

That’s because the non-partisan think tank Tax Foundation just released its annual report and has Washington’s state and local tax rate ranked at 29th in the nation. That’s below average. Number 28? That would be the far more conservative Idaho. Yes, Idaho. The state often cited as the Promised Land where our businesses supposedly love to relocate every time there’s a debate on the House Floor dealing with taxes, budgets, labor laws, geoduck harvesting, or state amphibians.

The Tax Foundation also ranks Washington’s business tax burden overall at 11th, with first place being the best.

Census Map: Where we're growing

Washington was included in the most recent release of Census Redistricting Data. As you probably remember, Washington is now the 13th largest state, and will be receiving an additional congressional seat.

Only two counties decreased in population, while one, Franklin County, grew by more than 25 percent.

The Washington State Redistricting Commission is working now to develop new district boundaries for the 49 legislative districts, and the now 10 congressional districts.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rep. Morris ferry accountability bill passes key hurdle in the House

After weeks of negotiations, the House Transportation committee moved out a proposal by Rep. Jeff Morris that shakes up the Washington Ferry System.

Morris worked with stakeholders, ferry management, and his fellow lawmakers to craft an amended version of his original bill, requiring WSF to meet certain performance targets or find themselves under new private management.

“It’s time to try something new,” Morris said. “We can either push management to realize some cost-savings, we can raise prices, or we can reduce service. Those are our choices.”

Morris’ bill sets timelines for meeting performance goals. If those aren’t met, then the public management team will be replaced with a private contractor. However, the bill, HB 1516, would not affect any collective bargaining rights or agreements for ferry workers serving on the vessels or ports.

The proposal still has a few hurdles to clear before becoming law but Morris is hopeful. “My colleagues in the Legislature are beginning to see what I’ve known for a long time,” added Morris. “Administrations at WSF have come and gone, but the culture of poor oversight and accountability has remained the same. Until they get a handle on it, we’ll continue to struggle with new vessel purchases and workforce issues.”

For more information on HB 1516, click here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"From Washington green to Wisconsin red."

So proclaimed Rep. Chris Reykdal, addressing the throngs of public employee supporters who filled Olympia's capitol rotunda in a show of solidarity with the public employees currently occupying the rotunda in Madison and fighting a proposal by Gov. Walker that would essentially gut their collective bargaining units.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, along with a Wisconsin public employee, were both on hand to thank our state's workers for the show of support.

Dennis Kucinich-Approved.

Jobs and the future of Washington state

How can we create jobs?

An op-ed by Rep. Tim Probst in Sunday’s Columbian says that we can’t be lured into thinking the way to create jobs is to try to win a race to the bottom, for the lowest-skilled, lowest-wage jobs. America – and Washington state – are prosperous because we’ve been winning a race to the top, for the best jobs in the world.

(By the way, Washington consistently ranks as one of the best states for business.)

Mr. Speaker, Point of Personal Cuteness

Today is Children's Day at the state capital. So enjoy some photos of our caucus members getting a dose of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and those they miss back home as they toil away in Olympia.