Friday, February 17, 2012

Reps. Morris and Lytton help out a local business

In the flurry of activity earlier this week you may have missed that the House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 2179, which will give city councils the responsibility to review liquor license applications.
The measure was introduced by 40th Legislative District Representatives Jeff Morris and Kris Lytton after a small family business in Mount Vernon was denied a liquor license by the city’s then-mayor for no clear reason.

Hearing of the incident, Rep. Morris wrote to our state’s Liquor Control Board and asked them to reverse the mayor’s decision. The mayor eventually changed his mind and Rep. Morris began working with Rep. Lytton to ensure that this wouldn’t happen to another business in Washington. 

“Liquor license applications should always be reviewed at the local level, but there is a huge risk for abuse when your rest this authority with one person,” said Morris. “These changes ensure that the process is democratic and fair.” 

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration, and you can track its progress here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

The incredible shrinking budget

Yes, it’s true: Relative to the state’s economy and to residents’ income, the state general fund budget is considerably smaller today than it was 15 to 20 years ago – and the spending plan for the current, 2011-13 biennium will be downsized even more in the Legislature this session.
The findings about budget trends come from the Economic Opportunity Institute, a non-profit, nonpartisan think tank in Seattle. And as state spending has shown a relative decline, so has state government employment, with the number of state workers per capita in Washington lower than it has been for more than 10 years.
 So, if you’re looking for budget cuts and slashed government payrolls, look no further: It’s already happening, and has been for years.
To read an extended post on this subject, click here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

WA Whiteboard: Is Washington a high-tax state?

Who’s hungry for a little myth busting; perhaps a truth sandwich? 

“Taxes are out of control” and “state spending is reckless” are bread-and-butter arguments from some quarters. Rep. Marko Liias wants 90 seconds of your time to talk about state and local taxes here in Washington:

And now that their butter argument is dispelled, don’t forget the Liias whiteboard from last session challenging their bread issue, state spending:

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Town Halls are happening in your district this weekend!

For a PDF of this schedule, click here.
To view this schedule in Spanish, click here.

Time:   10:00 – 11:30 AM – Mountlake Terrace
Place:   Mountlake Terrace Library
            23300 58th Avenue West
            Mountlake Terrace, WA
Time:   1:00 – 2:30 PM
Place:   Cascadia Community College
            UW Bothell Mobius Hall
            18345 Campus Way Northeast
            Bothell, WA


Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   West Central Community Center Auditorium
            1603 North Belt
            Spokane, WA
Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   Tukwila Community Center Social Hall
            12424 42nd Avenue South
            Tukwila, WA

Time: 10:30 AM
Place:   Mukilteo Library
            4675 Harbour Pointe Boulevard
            Mukilteo, WA
Time:   1:30 PM
Place:   Edmonds Council Chambers
            250 Fifth Avenue North
            Edmonds, WA


Time:   12:30 – 2:30 PM
Place:   Chambers Prairie Elementary
            6501 Virginia Street Southeast
            Lacey, WA

Time:   10:00 – 11:30 AM
Place:   Eagle’s Nest
            Kitsap Fairgrounds
            1200 Northwest Fairgrounds Road
            Bremerton, WA
Time:   1:30 – 3:00 PM
Place:   Poulsbo City Hall
            200 Northeast Moe Street
            (3rd Avenue Northeast)
            Poulsbo, WA

Time:   5:00 PM
Place:   J.T. Sweet Stuffs
            80 North Forks Avenue
            Forks, WA
            (hosted by Rep. Van De Wege)
Time:   5:00 PM
Place:   Quilcene Community Center
            294952 Highway 101
            Quilcene, WA
            (hosted by Rep. Tharinger)
Time:   11:00 AM
Place:   PA Senior & Community Center
            328 East Seventh Street
            Port Angeles, WA

Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   The Evergreen State College
            Lyceum Hall
            1210 Sixth Avenue
            Tacoma, WA


Time:   10-:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   Pacific Lutheran University
            Garfield Book Co. Community Room
            208 Garfield Street, Suite 101
            Tacoma, WA

Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   Shelton Civic Center
            525 West Cota Street
            Shelton, WA

Time:   10:00 – 11:30 Am
Place:   Hazelwood Elementary
            7100 116th Avenue Southeast
            Newcastle, WA
Time:   1:30 – 3:00 PM
Place:   Mercer Island High School
            9100 Southeast 42nd Street
            Mercer Island, WA

Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   Mill Creek City Hall
            15728 Main Street
            Mill Creek, WA
Time:   1:00 – 3:00 PM
Place:   Lake Stevens Community Center
            1808 Main
            Lake Stevens, WA


Time:   1:00 – 2:30 PM
Place:   Sammamish City Hall
            801 228th Avenue Southeast
            Sammamish, WA

Time:   11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Place:   Cutters Point Coffee
            16739 Southeast 272nd
            Covington, WA

Time:   10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Place:   Redmond City Hall
            Council Chamber
            15670 Northeast 85th Street
            Redmond, WA

State budget gets second shot of good news this month

The state revenue collections are looking up for the first time since the spring of 2010, giving state budget writers a second bit of good news for the month.

The Economic and Revenue Forecast Council met this morning and adopted a revised forecast for the current biennium and the first forecast for the 2013-15 biennium.

In the current biennium, revenues are expected to grow by about $45 million.  The forecast shows an increase of about $96 million, but $51 million was part of the budget proposal adopted in December 2011.  That funding was due to HB 2169 which dealt with earlier collection of unclaimed property. 

Last Wednesday it was announced that a reduction in the demand for state services has saved the state around $340 million.  All this good news has reduced the current budget shortfall from about $1.5 billion to more like $1.1 billion.

"It's the first positive forecast we've had in nearly two years," said House Ways and Means chair Ross Hunter, "so of course I'm happy to see it.  However, much of the uptick is due to policy changes we made in December.  We're still fighting the effects of the recession and need to temper our optimism with caution."

Seattle leads America in online generosity

Everyone knows Washington is a world leader in online sales, because we’re home to a thriving high-tech sector and great global businesses like  But in Washington, we’re not just about money-making.  
The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that a new study from Convio shows Seattle is the most generous city in America when it comes to online charitable giving. Despite the economic challenges inflicted by the global economic downturn, Seattleites made more than 134,000 online donations worth a total of $17 million in 2011—a 44 percent leap over 2010.
What is more, the average online donation from Seattleites averaged about $125—nearly twice the national average of $65 per donation.
It’s one more proof that Seattle is a great city with a big heart.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What lived and what died?

A lot of bills met the end of the road yesterday at the 5:00 pm House of Origin cutoff.  According to legislative rules, no non-fiscal bill can be sent to the opposite chamber after that cutoff.

783 bills were introduced in the House this year, and 88 were still in the Rules committee from last session (the first year of the biennium.)  Of those, only 257 were sent to the Senate by the close of business yesterday.  And a  good many of those survivors will not make it through the Senate process and end up on the governor's desk next month.  Such is the life of a good little bill trying to become a law.

So what is still alive?  Major Democratic priorities kept moving:
Transportation, capital,and operating budgets are still to come.

You can read more about these and other priorities that are advancing here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rep. Probst helps Clark County get greener

Thanks to Rep. Tim Probst of Vancouver, the Clark County Treasurer’s Office is going greener – and saving money at the same time.
Probst sponsored a bill approved by the Legislature in 2010 that allows property owners to view and pay their property tax bills online, at no charge. That saves paper and postage both for the county and the taxpayer.   
Clark is Probst’s home county, but any county may use the technology. To read more about the Clark County program, click here. 

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

House education leadership team reaches agreement on teacher evaluations

House Democrats have reached an agreement with the other three caucuses and the governor’s office on a proposal to implement a statewide school teacher and principal evaluation system.

Lawmakers are calling the proposal a “professional growth model” as its primary focus is to build upon the strengths of each teacher and principal in Washington schools.

“Having a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every school is key to student success,” said Rep. Kris Lytton (D-Anacortes). “Quality teaching leads to powerful learning.”

For more details, visit our website here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

41st District lawmakers invite citizens to town halls

Rep. Marcie Maxwell
Rep. Judy Clibborn

State lawmakers from the 41st District will unite to host a pair of town hall meetings on Saturday, Feb. 18, to share news about the legislative session and listen to local residents discuss their hopes and concerns on state issues.

Rep. Judy Clibborn, Rep. Marcie Maxwell, and Sen. Steve Litzow will hold their morning town hall from 10-11:30 a.m. at Hazelwood Elementary in Newcastle, and an afternoon town hall from 1:30-3:00 p.m. at Mercer Island High school.

The jointly hosted town halls are more convenient for local citizens and help maintain the bipartisan approach the 41st District lawmakers bring to Olympia. Participants can submit questions before the meeting via email to

The 2012 session began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to end Mar. 8.

Below are details on the locations:

Hazelwood Elementary (Map and directions)
7100 116th Ave. SE
Newcastle , WA

Mercer Island High School (Map and directions)
9100 SE 42nd St.
Mercer Island, WA

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

House Democrats hammer down on drunk driving

This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. – one death every 50 minutes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

In our state there were 170 reported DUI fatalities in 2009 which, according to MADD, cost Washington state residents a whopping $935 million!

Rep. Roger Goodman decided enough is enough and introduced a package of DUI-related bills beefing up the consequences for drunk drivers. The bills were passed out of the House today.
  • HB 2443 strengthens Washington’s nation-leading ignition-interlock program by adding cameras to the devices—at no cost to the state—to prevent offenders from gaming the system.
  • HB 2302 increases financial penalties for  drunk driving offenses when a child under age 16 is in the car—and triples the amount of time an ignition interlock device must be on the offender’s vehicles, from 60 days to six months.
  • HB 2176 prevents drunk drivers who kill or harm from using the statute of limitations to duck court-ordered payments to victims.
  • HB 2405 allows courts to order drunk drivers who kill a parent to pay child support for the victim’s minor children.
First-time DUI offenders will also pay far more for their crimes if the reforms passed by the House today become law.  The House voted 85-11 for HB 1556, authored by Rep. Steve Kirby, which  triples the mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time DUI offense from one day to three days in jail. The bill also requires the offender to pay for the cost of incarceration.

“A day in jail simply isn’t enough,” said Kirby. “A slap on the hand doesn’t get anybody’s attention anymore.  We need to send a message that we’re serious about cracking down on people who drive drunk.”

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Saving industries from birds and small animals

It seemed logical in 2009:  protect sensitive waters by clamping rigid numerical limits on how much bacteria can be discharged under industrial storm-water permits.
“At that time we thought that this wouldn’t affect any of the industries, because most of our industries do not generate bacteria as part of their process,” the Department of Ecology’s Don Seeberger told the House Environment Committee.
But they forgot about the birds and animals that hang around industrial sites. What’s actually happening, Seeberger said, is that birds, rodents, and other small animals “basically deposit bacteria, and it runs off in their storm water.” As a result, the critters’ deposits prevented the vast majority of industries from meeting the bacteria limits despite their best efforts. Fortunately, the Department of Ecology had a solution.
“The Department of Ecology asked me to sponsor this fix to the storm-water bacteria problem that will protect our waters without shutting down industries or jobs,” said Rep. Larry Springer , the Deputy Majority Leaders for Jobs & Economic Development.
On Friday, the House agreed, unanimously passing Springer’s House Bill 2651. If the bill becomes law, the problem will be solved without the loss of a single job, or bird.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Take heart, Kermit - it's getting easier being green

Electric cars have been around in one form or another since before anyone thought about refining gasoline from crude oil. But during a century notable for cheap gas, tail fins and coast-to-coast freeways, internal combustion ruled.  It’s still the dominant mode of motorized transportation in the U.S., of course, but day by day, hybrids and fully electric vehicles are taking market share.  The Legislature gave the technology a boost by passing Rep. Deb Eddy’s HB 1481 in 2009, and EV charging stations can now be found up and down Washington’s Electric Highway, and in more and more of the state’s communities. 
And, as this photo shows, the Legislature has taken its own advice.  The Chevrolet Volt being juiced up near the back door of the John L. O’Brien Building, where most state representatives are officed, belongs to freshman Rep. Kristine Lytton of Anacortes.  But you don’t need to run for office to top off your battery in Olympia; there are four more charging stations on the Capitol campus that are available to the public, and another eight at the new Gateway Park across the street from the Department of Enterprise Services building, just off I-5. 

To read this story in Spanish, click here