Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy holidays from the House Democrats

Snow on capitol campus, Feb. 2011
Expect light blogging from us over the next week as we try to get in as much quality time with our loved ones as we can before returning to our legislative duties in the New Year. 
Although things are fairly quiet around here these days, there is still activity taking place behind the scenes.  The special session adjourned on December 14, but House budget writers have continued to work on an agreement to close the remaining shortfall in the state budget.  Also, bills for the 2012 Session (which begins January 9) are being prefiled this month.  The coming weeks will bring much debate about how best to move our state forward, but we are encouraged by some of the recent economic news here in Washington.
In the meantime, all of us at the House Democratic Caucus wish you and yours the joy of the season.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

For some Washington schools, good nutrition pays off. Literally.

By all accounts America is getting heavier and our state is not the exception. Want proof? Just today the AP reported that our ferries are adjusting their capacity guidelines due to the fact that we’re getting bigger.  
Obesity is a problem, but so is the other end of the spectrum and, unfortunately, too many kids in America are either too heavy or too thin.

But here in Washington we’re doing something about it and our efforts have not gone unnoticed. Want proof?  The Healthier US School Challenge recently awarded 21 of our schools in five school districts (Camas, Battle Ground, Highline, Hockinson and Marysville) cash incentive awards based on how they:
  • Improve nutritional quality in food 
  • Provide nutrition education  
  • Provide physical education and opportunities for physical activity
For details on what the awards entail and to see if your school made the cut, read the press release by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Blue-ribbon board named for Probst’s Opportunity Scholarships program

The Opportunity Scholarships undertaking spearheaded by Rep. Tim Probst of Vancouver got a blue-ribbon boost Dec. 20 when Gov. Gregoire named the program’s board of directors.

The five men and two women bring to the board a distinguished record of achievement at some of the state’s leading corporations, including Boeing, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser, Costco and Puget Sound Energy.

The program, designed to make college more affordable for middle-class families and approved by the Legislature earlier this year, received a major financial infusion in June when Boeing and Microsoft pledged $50 million for the scholarships.

Additional details can be found on our website here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A tale of two legislators

Rep. Fred Finn
Sen. Adam Kline
They graduated only one year apart, but state Rep. Fred Finn and state Sen. Adam Kline never met while they were both undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University in the 1960's.  It would take almost forty years for their paths to cross again, this time in the Washington State Legislature.

The two legislators - who now also count each other as friends - are featured in an article in the latest issue of Johns Hopkins' Arts & Sciences alumni magazine.  While their districts, constituencies and political philosophies differ, as well as the paths that brought them out west, both Rep. Finn and Sen. Kline agree that our state Legislature is a good place to build consensus.  In fact, we've done a pretty good job here of avoiding the gridlock that often paralyzes the other Washington.

The online version of the JHU article can be found here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Washington jobs increase again . . . and again . . . and again

It might come as a blow to some folks we know who make a living talking about “Washington’s unfriendly business climate,” but the latest data show the Evergreen State added 12,000 new private-sector jobs in November.  
And lest you think this is a fluke, November was the 14th month out of the last 15 during which job growth in the state showed a net gain. 

We’re not out of the woods yet, of course; while the overall unemployment rate dropped again last month, it still tops 8 percent.  And for an unemployed breadwinner, knowing that someone else got a job may be nice, a cause for hope . . . but that doesn’t put bread on the table.  
That’s why House Democrats are continuing efforts to help Washington’s economy return to the upward path it was on before the Great Recession threw the world into turmoil.  It’s clear these efforts are paying off, and new legislation planned for the 2012 session will continue the positive trend.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.