Friday, August 26, 2011

Rep. Mary Helen Roberts is NAMI-WA Legislator of the Year

Snohomish County lawmaker, Mary Helen Roberts, was recently presented the Legislator of the Year Award for 2011 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Washington at their annual conference in Ellensburg.

“This award is given in recognition of Rep. Roberts’ continuous and tireless advocacy for mental health issues and support of those living with mental illnesses in Washington state,” said Jim Bloss, President of the Snohomish County affiliate of NAMI WA, during the presentation ceremony. “We are particularly grateful for her sponsorship of the Triage Facility legislation which created a humane, cost-effective alternative to the incarceration of suspects thought to be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness.”

Here is the complete press release and more information about HB 1170.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Washington State: #1 in new business creation

More promising (and, for some, potentially paradigm-shifting?) news about Washington: We beat all other states when it comes to business creation.

Nationally recognized Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI) conducts a study ranking each state based on its net creation of business “establishments,” defined as a single physical location of some type of economic activity. Businesses, lawmakers, and lobbyists all rely on the EMSI study for business-friendly policy reviews and planning.

According to their summary, Washington State ranked No. 1 in 2010 with the formation of more than 8,300 new business establishments. It was third in the US in 2009 and 11th in 2008. Massachusetts, Texas, New York, and Illinois joined Washington as the largest net establishment creators.

From 2009 to 2010, 29 states had net business establishment decline. Michigan had the largest drop, while California, Colorado, and Ohio, and Georgia were also in the bottom five.

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Op-Ed by Rep. Chris Reykdal The Olympian Won’t Print

In his latest column-turned-open-letter, Rep. Chris Reykdal challenges the local McClatchy papers, which have been devoting large amounts of ink and bytes to legislators who have - and haven't - voluntarily reduced their salary by 3 percent, to perhaps focus on real budget solutions, and possibly ask more of themselves in return.

Here's an excerpt:
A salary cut is symbolically important to be sure, but not a viable answer to our budget woes. The state tax exemption your corporation and other newspapers in Washington enjoy is worth $32 million biennially. That is 170 times more than the money saved by a 3 percent cut in all legislators’ salaries (estimated at $190,000 or 0.00122 percent of the Near General Fund budget).

Taken a step further, if we could recoup just 3 percent of all the tax preferences under the direct control of the Legislature (not those subject to federal commerce restrictions and other constitutional limitations), we would add $360 million biennially to the State budget. Our kids, our college students, our elderly, our most vulnerable, our environment, and most of our small businesses would all be a little better off with that sacrifice.
Read the full column here

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Orwall foreclosure measure already producing results

The Foreclosure Fairness Program, which is coordinated by the Department of Commerce and was launched on July 22, was created by the Foreclosure Fairness Act of 2011 to help struggling homeowners at risk of losing their homes by bringing fairness to the foreclosure process in our state.

In this short video, Rep. Tina Orwall, who sponsored the legislation, talks about the program with representatives from the Department of Commerce and the Housing Finance Commission, as well as the Mayor of Kent, a real estate agent, a housing counselor and a homeowner facing foreclosure.

The new law brings banks and homeowners to the table to explore alternatives to foreclosure. It requires lenders to notify borrowers prior to foreclosure of the availability of foreclosure counseling and the potential for mediation. Foreclosure counseling is helping homeowners understand all of their options and determine the best course of action.

Adding housing counselors and third-party mediation to the foreclosure process levels the playing field between homeowners and mortgage lenders. And having the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with the bank gives struggling homeowners a real chance to work out the best possible outcome for their specific situation.

So far, so good—the Foreclosure Fairness Program by the numbers:

Housing counselors

Currently: 69
Projected: 132

In July, the Washington State Department of Commerce trained over 200 mediators, which will ensure approved mediators throughout the state. Two thirds of them are Dispute Resolution Center employees and the rest are attorneys or retired judges.

Mediations requested

As of yesterday, August 22, 2011, Commerce had received 220 referrals to mediation. About 43 percent of these are from King County and 22 percent are from Snohomish County. The first mediations should take place next week (August 29).

For more information please visit the program’s website:

To read this blog post in Spanish, please go here.

Off we go into the wild school yonder

The Seattle Times reports on the groundbreaking of Washington's innovative, aeronautical-centered high school, the $43.5 million Raisbeck Aviation High School.

The curriculum of the aviation high school has been in place for several years, but there's never been a brick-and-mortar school of their own. But in 2013, they'll pop the hatches on a facility all their own, located on the site of the Air & Space Museum at Boeing Field.

The aviation high school is the state's pinnacle in cutting-edge education. A public-private partnership with input from Boeing and other aeronautical companies offering support and technical assistance.

The school both inspires and supplies the next generation of aeronautical engineers for our local industry, which must replace the baby-boomer generation of engineers retiring at a rapid rate. For them, the Space Race was their muse. The Apollo and shuttle programs stoked their minds and imaginations.

These days, it's more difficult to catch and hold the attention of students contemplating their own future careers. It's hoped the new aviation high school will fill that void by exposing high-schoolers to applied science and technology and broaden their horizons, just as Washington's homegrown industry has broadened the planet's for a century.

Read the full story here.