Thursday, January 19, 2012

Be prepared for anything - including snowstorms

How can you protect your family and home against Mother Nature?

The snowstorm of January 2012 is another example of why everybody, no matter where you live, needs to be prepared for:

  • Windstorms and snowstorms
  • Power outages
  • Floods
  • Heat waves
  • Other natural disasters
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency says, it’s important for every family to (1) be informed, (2) make a plan, (3) build a kit and (4) work with your neighbors. Learn more at
Here are some easy tips for storms like this:
  • Bump up the thermostat BEFORE the power goes out
  • Make sure outside faucets are turned off and insulated
  • Leave inside faucets dripping to prevent freezing
  • If the power does go out, use flashlights instead of candles, which are a fire hazard
  • Don’t drive on snowy and icy roads unless you absolutely have to, because if you get stuck, or injured, ambulances will have just as hard of a time getting to you
  • Have a kit ready for the house and your car, with blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, medicines and other essentials.
  • If you have to travel, make sure somebody knows where you’re going and check the Department of Transportation’s website on conditions before you go.
Here in the House of Representatives, we’ve focused a lot of time and attention on preparing for emergencies like this and doing a better job of coordinating local, state and federal efforts to help people. If you’ve got ideas or questions, please contact Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Chair Christopher Hurst at

Education remains high priority in Olympia

Education is always a hot topic in Olympia during the legislative session. This year is no different, but there may be more of a focus this time around in light of the recent McCleary decision by the state Supreme Court. The court reaffirmed lower court rulings stating that the legislature hasn’t met its constitutional obligations to fully fund basic education.

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos gets mic'd up for TVW
However, the court also reaffirmed that staying committed to sweeping reforms passed by House Democrats in 2009 and 2010 will get us back on track to providing our children with a quality education  and fulfilling our constitutional obligations.  These reforms provide a cohesive, student-focused funding system that is transparent and easy to understand.

K-12 education funding is only one of the many issues facing lawmakers this session. Other education hot topics being discussed in the House Education Committee include authorization of charter schools, teacher and principal evaluations, and educational opportunities for low-income, at-risk diverse students.

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-Seattle) discussed the McCleary decision and other issues on TVW’s The Impact. You can play the embedded video below or click here to watch the interview.

Update: We've posted another video, this time from Rep. Ross Hunter, discussing his vision for basic education funding.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Liias stands up for health care reform

Rep. Marko Liias and 16 other Washington state representatives have joined forces with representatives all across the nation to defend Obama’s health reform, the Affordable Care Act.  Boasting 518 total signatures representing every state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, the brief was filed at the Supreme Court by The Constitutional Accountability Center on January 12.
“All Washingtonians deserve the basic security of good-quality health care,” said Liias. “The Affordable Care Act is the kind of health care reform we need to ensure all families have the opportunities and quality of life we deserve.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, Washington state residents will see immediate benefits, such as:
  • Coverage expansions provide support for health coverage for early retirees.
  • Small business owners will be eligible for a small business tax credit when providing insurance plans for employees.
  • Washington seniors will receive assistance closing the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” as well as access to free preventative care.

“As a nation, we simply cannot afford to fall back on this progress. We must move forward in providing affordable health care to all of Washington,” Liias said.

Click here to see the entire brief. Click here to see the list of WA state legislators who signed the brief.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail...

Representative Chris Reykdal won’t let record snowfall and freezing temperatures get in the way of talking to his constituents in the 22nd Legislative District. Rep. Reykdal recorded a video update just this morning on the capitol campus, where he discussed his one of his top priorities this session: the HOPE Act.

The House of Representatives is open for business on this very-snowy Wednesday. If you too must venture out, we urge you to use caution and to utilize the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website for the latest on road conditions and travel alerts.

For updated delay and cancellation notices for legislative hearings, check out TVW's blog - The Capitol Record.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yes, we're open!

The Legislative Building through a haze of snow flurries
The Capitol Campus is covered in a mantle of snow today,adding a bit of brightness to the usual gray of the legislative session.  The winter weather hasn’t kept the hardiest visitors from testifying or demonstrating, but the crowds are noticeably smaller so far this week.
The Legislature will continue meeting, no matter what the conditions, but the schedules could be adjusted somewhat if the big storm being predicted really does roll in.  If you are planning a trip to the Capital, please check the current committee meeting times and agendas, just in case. And be careful out there!

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In-House expert honors Dr. King

In 2003, Drew Hansen, a young lawyer in Seattle, wrote a book entitled “The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation.” On Jan. 16, 2012 – Martin Luther King Day – Hansen, now a state representative from Kitsap County, honored the man who inspired his book with a speech of his own in the state Legislature. Click below to see a video of Hansen’s thoughtful and heartfelt address, his first speech from the floor of the House.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Service members' call of duty honored in flurry of legislative action

Talk about walking the talk.

The House of Representatives today got down to the serious business of standing up for citizens who’ve gone out of their way to stand up for their country. Military folks -- citizens who put their lives on hold, and all too often put their lives on the line -- shouldn't have to look over their shoulders and wonder what's going on with their parental, legal and education rights back home. That's the message hammered home this morning in a trio of measures among the very first bills to win House of Representatives approval in the 2012 legislative session.

House Bill 1050, prime-sponsored by state Rep. John McCoy, protects the rights of military parents. The legislation:

* Allows a military parent to ask the court to delegate the parent's residential time with a child if the parent's military orders involve being more than one night away when the parent is scheduled to have time with a child.

* And provides that the delegation provision applies when establishing a parenting plan or court order, not just when modifying an existing plan or order.

House Bill 1615, prime-sponsored by state Rep. Connie Ladenburg, safeguards the legal rights for all of our citizens called up to active duty. The measure makes sure National Guard members can count on the same legal protections when they are called up in response to a state emergency as they now receive when they are called to service by the president.

 House Bill 1221, prime-sponsored by state Rep. Fred Finn, will see to it that colleges and universities provide a chance for reservist students to make up any tests they miss if they're called to active duty or military training for a month or less. This legislation fills a gap in current state law that can adversely impact men and women who are either involved in military drills and training or are called to duty in response to natural disasters that might run less than 30 days.
The three military bills passed the House unanimously and will now receive further consideration in the Senate.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.