Friday, July 22, 2011

Bills to boost business and jobs go into effect

It's that time of year when the new laws of 2011 start going into effect.

Of the 2091 bills introduced last session, 427 were passed and signed by the governor. Many are technical or minor fixes to current law, but there were also many notable new policies approved. Here's a short round-up of some of the bills passed to bolster support for Washington's businesses and help create jobs. You can see more about our efforts here.

Giving small businesses more time to correct violations without a penalty (HB 1150) Small businesses now have seven calendar days—up from just two days—to fix most regulatory violations before agencies impose fines or sanctions. (With common-sense exceptions).

Giving contractors more time to appeal state agency rulings (HB 1055)
Contractors now have 30 days, instead of 20 days, to file regulatory appeals.

Strengthening the Regulatory Fairness Act for small businesses (SB 5500)
Beginning today, state rule-makers must consider small-business input and possible ways to reduce paperwork and regulatory compliance costs before imposing new rules on businesses.

Fair state contracting for small businesses (SB 1770)
This contracting reform requires all state purchasing agencies to adopt strategies and provide technical assistance to increase the number of state contracts awarded to small businesses.

Improving state help for local economic development (HB 1916)
New guidelines require the Department of Commerce and Associate Development Organizations (ADOs) to reach out to all businesses—including small businesses—throughout their services areas. It also improves ADO training in business services such as export assistance.

Promoting Washington wines and microbrews at Farmers Markets (HB 1172)
An innovative pilot project will allow beer and wine tastings of Washington products at up to 10 farmers markets—with safeguards to prevent problems such as minors taking tastes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An anti-foreclosure Friday ahead - deadline for foreclosure loans and launch of mediation program

This Friday, July 22, is an important date for homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure. It is the deadline to qualify for the Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program, which provides bridge loans to help with mortgage payments. But it is also the day the Foreclosure Fairness Act of 2011 goes into effect, so as one program ends, another one launches to give struggling homeowners a helping hand.

The Foreclosure Fairness Act of 2011, sponsored by state Rep. Tina Orwall this past session, created the Foreclosure Mediation Program to give homeowners facing foreclosure the chance to request a neutral, third-party mediator to come to a resolution with the lender.

The Des Moines Democrat said that she’s heard from homeowners who are basically given the runaround by the banks for years, and that this new program will offer them hope with the help of housing counselors and a mediation session with the lender to reach a solution that both parties can live with.

A community forum on the Foreclosure Fairness Act will be held on Thursday, July 21 for anyone interested in learning more about how the mediation program will work.

Attend the forum:

Foreclosure Fairness Act of 2011 public forum

Thursday, July 21 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Kent Lutheran Church

336 2nd Ave S, Kent, WA 98032

Visit the Foreclosure Mediation program’s website or call the Washington State's foreclosure prevention hotline: 1-877-894-HOME (1-877-894-4663) to find a housing counselor.

Read Rep. Orwall’s press release on the Foreclosure Mediation Program here.

For more information on the bridge loan program, visit the website or call 855-FIND-EHLP.

To read this blog post in Spanish, go here.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins: A Busy First Year

When Laurie Jinkins and her 10 fellow Democratic freshmen were sworn into the Washington state House in January 2011, they constituted 20 percent of our caucus.

In the latest Capitol Ideas podcast, Laurie sits down with us to look back at that first busy year and looks ahead to 2012.

Connecting Washington Task Force meets today

Today begins the next 10 years. Well, every day does, but today more than most, because the Connecting Washington Task Force will meet for the first time at noon today in Seattle.
Gov. Chris Gregoire created the task force in July to develop a 10-year transportation investment and funding plan that it will present to the 2012 Legislature. You can learn all about the agenda for today’s meeting, and the task force’s membership and mission at the Connecting Washington Task Force pages
As the governor said in her press release announcing the task force, more that 90 percent of the projects funded by the 2003 and 2005 transportation revenue packages have been completed on time and under budget. The challenge is that our population and transportation needs will continue to grow, but after the next biennium more than 90 percent of the 2003 and 2005 revenue packages will cover debt service.
The task force charged with meeting this challenge is a veritable Who’s Who of transportation leaders in every sector, region and level of government in Washington. One of the top leaders making a presentation today is the HDC’s own Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island), who chairs the House Transportation Committee and also serves as the presiding chair of the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee.
The event has gathered so much attention that the Puget Sound Regional Council expects overflow crowds. But don’t worry. You can watch a live webcast of the event via the Puget Sound Regional Council Web Page or TVW.