Friday, September 30, 2011
This week, Representatives Andy Billig and Timm Ormsby held open office hours at the Corbin Senior Center in Spokane's Emerson-Garfield neighborhood. It was the first of four planned "mobile office" events that the legislators are holding this fall.
Participants came with questions that covered topics ranging from the state's economic forecast, to Spokane road conditions, to funding for Spokane's four-year medical school.
If you missed out on this event, you still have three more chances to meet the legislators at other locations around the district. Upcoming mobile offices are planned for:
Thursday, October 13
West Central neighborhood - Indaba Coffee
1425 W Broadway Ave
4:00 to 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, October 19
Hillyard neighborhood - North East Community Center
4001 North Cook Street
12:30 to 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 1
East Central neighborhood - East Central Community Center
500 S. Stone
5:00 to 6:30 p.m.
In addition, Reps. Billig and Ormsby, together with state Sen. Lisa Brown, have a permanent district office located at 25 West Main Street, where they can meet one-on-one with constituents by prior appointment. The "mobile office" is simply a way for them to be even more accessible, offering constituents a chance to speak with them in an informal environment without having to first make an appointment.
At last count, Washington boasted 175,000 lane-miles of highways, or enough to stretch a ribbon of asphalt around the earth at the equator seven times. If you ignore Texas – which is not a bad idea anyway – that puts us just about in the middle of the pack for the states. All that pavement, which doesn't even include the "marine highways" travelled by Washington State Ferries, gives us great freedom of movement and freight mobility. Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.
But it also gives us the Herculean tasks of maintenance, repair and improvement to take care of all those miles, along with new construction to keep up with a growing population. This week, House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn and the top Republican on her committee, Rep. Mike Armstrong, appeared on TVW's "Inside Olympia" to talk about everything from transit to tolling, rural roadways to urban megaprojects, and the challenges we face as a state if we want to keep Washington moving.
This week we saw the first Dreamliner taking off Paine Field on its way to Japan and there are many other 787s in the works. So far there are 50 airlines that want a combined total of 821 Dreamliners. Boeing, its partners and providers will need a strong, talented and highly skilled workforce to build all these planes.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
- Washington's dependence on energy supplied from outside the state and volatile global energy markets makes its economy and citizens vulnerable to unpredictable and high energy prices.
- Washington's dependence on petroleum-based fuels increases energy costs for citizens and businesses.
- Washington has abundant supplies of organic wastes from farms that can be used for energy production and abundant farmland where crops could be grown to supplement or supplant petroleum-based fuels.
- The bioenergy industry is a new and developing industry that is, in part, limited by the availability of capital for the construction of facilities for converting farm and forest products into energy and fuels.
- The energy freedom program is meant to lead Washington state towards energy independence.
Grants went to other research efforts in other states, but the fact that $80 million of the overall $136 million is going to Washington is a testament to our research universities and the state's commitment to biofuels.
You can read the whole press release and quotes from many public and private-sector officials on the USDA website.
For even more coverage, you can go to The Seattle Times and CBS News.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Rep. Brian Blake, committee chairman and a former logger. “I’m looking forward to getting in-depth information on the current situation, as well as the present and future needs of these basic industries to ensure they continue being strong pillars in our economy.”
Citizens are welcome to attend the work session, but no public testimony will be taken during the meeting. However, written testimony to the committee will be accepted before and after the meeting.
Who: Committee members; invited guest presenters, including regional county commissioners; and the public.
What: House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee work session
When: Thursday, Sept. 29
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Okanogan County Courthouse, 123 Fifth Avenue North, Room 150, Okanogan
A resident of Bainbridge Island, Drew is an attorney, an active Kitsap community leader, an acclaimed author and a longtime member of the state’s Community Economic Revitalization Board.
The new representative has already begun attending budget meetings at the Capitol in preparation for the special legislative session that will commence on November 28.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The committee met at the Everett Community College Corporate & Continuing Education Center, where an overview of the employment landscape was provided by the state Employment Security Department. Next, the committee heard from aerospace employers who emphasized the importance of motivating the next generation of aerospace workers, and shared ways they actively promote their industry amongst students still in high school. Replenishing the engineering workforce is a must, as the average age of their current workforce is 58 years old and nearing retirement.
Aerospace training providers from state colleges, apprenticeship programs and private facilities around the state explained their capacity problem - forced to turn away interested students due to lacking state support and partnerships to expand their programs.
It's an uphill battle in many ways, and one that lacks an Apollo Program or some similar landmark that fueled the dreams and aspirations of the retiring workforce.
"Collaborations between Washington's employers and our state government will be key in providing these career pathways and skilled workers," said Rep. Chris Reykdal. "The grants, facilities, and curricula the state is providing -and hopefully expand further in the future - will make sure our good-paying jobs are filled by our state's students."
The work session ended with a tour of the Everett assembly lines by the attending Boeing staff; a sight that shows in dramatic fashion the sheer magnitude of our state's resources, challenges, and opportunities.
Monday, September 26, 2011
During the discussion, members were reminded that:
- The state operating budget for the last 18 months of the biennium (January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) is about $24 billion.
- 72% of that amount cannot be reduced because it is either constitutionally- or federally- required spending.
- That leaves about $7 billion in which to find reductions.
Members will meet again in a couple weeks to get a progress report from budget writers and further develop solutions. Majority Leader Pat Sullivan talks about the process here.
The plan has five key components:
- Tax Cuts to Help America’s Small Businesses Hire and Grow
- Putting Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and Modernizing America
- Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for Jobs
- More Money in the Pockets of Every American Worker and Family
- Fully Paid for as Part of the President’s Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan
The HDC is hopeful the plan can be enacted by Congress soon in order to help put our state and nation’s economy back on solid ground and get people back to work as soon as possible.
You can watch the enhanced version of the President's Address to Congress, which features graphs, charts and other facts that influenced the President's decision making. You can read more and follow the latest development at the White House blog.