Saturday, February 25, 2012

Have a yen to watch some legislating?

It's a cold, blustery Saturday in Olympia! 

OK, not nearly as cold and blustery as it is in this picture, but still not a great day for enjoying our great outdoors.

However, it is a fine day for watching your Legislature move some important bills one more step along the road to become laws.

The House Ways and Means committee is meeting right now and among the bills they are considering is the 2012 Supplemental Operating Budget.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Honoring one of Washington's own nat'l legends: Senator "Scoop” Jackson

He was a political lion, a king of the government forest in anyone's history book. 

United States Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, one of Washington's most respected and dearest sons, was an esteemed and nationally renowned political figure in the middle decades of the 20th century. Death claimed Scoop Jackson all too soon, taking him from us on September 1, 1983, just a few months after his 71st birthday.

The state House of Representatives recently adopted a resolution celebrating the centennial of Senator Jackson's birth, which is coming up on May 31. The resolution notes, among other things, that Senator Jackson "established a steady and respected grasp of subjects ranging from public lands and other environmental issues, to hydroelectric power and other energy concerns, to national security and other public safety matters." 

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Caped crusaders: Reps. Hunter and Kagi

Rep. Hunter
Photo credit:
Sarah Francis, MomsRising
They may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but Reps. Ross Hunter of Medina and Ruth Kagi of Lake Forest Park sported superhero capes on Feb. 23, thanks to MomsRising, a grassroots organization that promotes policies to improve family economic security, help families, children and businesses thrive and end discrimination against women and mothers.

Rep. Kagi, center
Photo credit: Sarah Francis, MomsRising
MomsRising members visited the offices of Hunter, Kagi and other legislators and conferred capes on them in recognition of their efforts to stand up for families and to support early learning.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

The Town Hall fun continues in the 21st Legislative District!

Last weekend legislators met with constituents all across the state, from Spokane all the way out to Forks. This weekend the fun continues!
21st Legislative District Representatives Mary Helen Roberts and Marko Liias, along with Senator Paul Shin, will be holding two town halls on Saturday. The details for those events are as follows:
Mukilteo Town Hall
Time: 10:30 AM
Place: Mukilteo Library
           4675 Harbour Pointe Boulevard
           Mukilteo, WA

Edmonds Town Hall
Time: 1:30 PM
Place: Edmonds Council Chambers
          250 Fifth Avenue North
          Edmonds, WA

The legislators encourage constituents to show up with their questions on education, the budget, and any other issues pertaining to state government. Not sure if you’re a resident of the 21st? You can find out here!

To read this story in Spanish, click here

Jobs Now

 The House moved one step closer to passing a Jobs plan that would put 22,000 people back to work in Washington.
The Jobs Now Package (HB 2168, HB 2792 & HB 2793) passed the Capital Budget Committee today. It now heads to a vote of the full House of Representatives.
The idea is based on American history, where we see two clear examples of how to get out of a deep recession to create jobs and prosperity.
During the Great Depression, FDR knew we couldn’t cut our way back to prosperity. Instead, he put everybody to work building a better America, building the parks, dams, bridges, and colleges we still use today. The other effort happened here in Washington state in the 1970s. Gov. Dan Evans, a Republican, saw how jobless people were hurting. He put people to work, in every corner of Washington, on projects that will help our economy for decades. His plan was called Jobs Now, Washington’s Future.
The idea behind the package that just passed out of committee is we can speed up construction work already approved and in the pipeline. Instead of doing it years from now, create jobs in a hurry by doing as many as possible right now.
The $1.3 billion in state funds will bring an additional $800 million in leveraged or matching dollars. Hundreds of projects will get built in every corner of the state.
Jobs Now also builds infrastructure at our schools and universities, since we know winning the best jobs requires having the best-educated workers.
But economic development isn’t always hi-tech buildings and university labs. Sometimes a simple repair of a sewer or water line is what a town needs to attract commercial development. Or repairing a hatchery to increase fish production gives a small town, like the ones along the Skykomish River, a huge economic boost.
No taxes will be raised. Jobs Now would be financed the same way we pay for highways projects, with revenue bonds.
Businesses and unions are united on this issue. They’re cooperating with each other because we need jobs right now. They want a proven job creator – fast and efficient that will bring jobs everywhere from Aberdeen to Zillah.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thank you, Washington State Patrol

Trooper Tony Radulescu
We are extremely saddened to learn of the death of Trooper Tony Radulescu, a 16-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol. Trooper Radulescu was killed early this morning while conducting a traffic stop near Bremerton.

With all the late nights, heated debates, and passionate testimony that go on during the legislative session, we occasionally need to step back and reflect that none of it would happen without a safe and secure environment to conduct business.

That safety and security for the legislature and the entire Capitol campus is, in large part, provided by the Washington State Patrol.

Uniformed troopers are regularly seen in the rotunda, patrolling the campus in their vehicles, and walking the hallways of the office buildings. One of the most impressive days in Olympia is the day when graduating cadets are given the keys to their patrol cars, which are all lined up on the campus diagonal streets.

Most days on campus are pretty routine. But late last year, hundreds of extra troopers were called in to provide security during the Occupy Olympia protests at the Capitol.

For the entire event, the WSP officers went about their jobs with extreme professionalism and dignity. Lawmakers, legislative staff, the general public, and the 3,000 Occupy demonstrators, remained safe thanks to the brave men and women in our law enforcement community.

Our thoughts are with Trooper Radulescu’s family and friends and with the entire WSP family during this difficult time.

Thank you, Washington State Patrol, and thank you to the thousands of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers who risk their lives to keep us safe. We couldn’t do our jobs if you didn’t do yours.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

When scientists and policy makers work together, everyone benefits

Science can tell us a lot about how kids learn.  It tells us a child’s brain is wired for learning from day one, and that every single experience a child has – whether good or bad – affects brain development. 
The more we understand about how young children’s brains learn, and how outside events impact learning, the better we can tailor our public policies to nurture the best possible educational outcomes for children.  This has all kinds of implications beyond just educational success. Science is actually showing us that the right investments in early learning have a positive effect on families and the economy.
This is something Rep. Ruth Kagi has long advocated, and her efforts are paying off for our state. For several years now, Rep. Kagi has been involved with the Early Childhood Innovation Partnership (ECIP), a collaboration between the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association and the TruePoint Center. ECIP is dedicated to applying advanced scientific knowledge in early childhood development to policy and practice. Last spring, ECIP began a new initiative called Frontiers of Innovation (FOI). FOI brings together leaders in Washington from the legislature, state agencies, and private organizations to build an innovative strategy for improving childhood development, particularly for the most at-risk families in our state.  In fact, we were named the very first “Innovation State” in the nation! 
And earlier this month, the House passed HB 2608, which puts into statute early learning guidelines that are based on close collaboration between scientists and policy makers.
Last May, Rep. Kagi sat down with Bette Hyde, who heads the state’s Department of Early Learning, and Susan Dreyfus, the former head of the state Department of Social and Health Services, for a roundtable discussion on science-based policy and what it means for Washington. Harvard filmed the discussion, which includes commentary from Governor Christine Gregoire.

The three-minute video can be viewed here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rep. Hansen makes boring speech on Navy Day – on purpose

U.S. Navy Photo by Seaman Apprentice Daniel Walls
OK, that’s not totally accurate: In his floor speech Feb. 22 in support of House Resolution 4672 honoring the Navy, Rep. Drew Hansen of Bainbridge Island recounted the wartime naval service experiences of his grandfather and uncle – which, he warned House members, weren’t very glamorous or even interesting. But that helped Hansen make his point: that while heroic deeds win medals, it also takes the steady performance of routine duties to win wars.

Watch Rep. Hansen's floor speech here:

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps

In 1933, under the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established as a volunteer work relief program targeted at providing employment for young, unmarried men during the Great Depression. 

As a part of the New Deal, the men working for the CCC earned $30 per month, $25 of which was sent directly to their parents to support the family in those hard times. These volunteers took part in unskilled manual labor related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.

Not only were the volunteers of the CCC paid for their efforts, but they were rewarded in other ways, as well. At a time in our country's history when unemployment was up and morale was down - much like today - the CCC provided its volunteers with an opportunity to take their minds off of the economy, get their hands dirty, boost their own personal morale and increase their employability.
It is these men we have to thank for constructing more than 800 parks across the nation and building an extensive network of public roadways in remote areas - an infrastructure which connected regions of the nation for the first time and still exist today.

Without President Roosevelt's ingenuity and the timely legislation put forth in the 73rd Congress in 1933, we wouldn't be able to enjoy such spectacular places as Smoky Mountain National Park.

While the economic problems we are dealing with today aren’t on the same scale as the Great Depression, there are enough similarities that allow us to learn from history. Yes, government can and does play an important role in getting the economic engine roaring again. With strong investments in infrastructure, we can create jobs AND boost the economy at the same time.
House Democrats have put together a capital budget proposal that would create 22,000 jobs in Washington. The proposed House transportation budget has an impact on over 43,000 jobs in Washington. 

For a more in depth look at the Civilian Conservation Corps and its impact on America during the Great Depression, watch this video:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Operating budget, capital budget and Jobs Now - oh my!

It's been a busy day in the House today, so here's a little catch-up post.

Ways and Means Chair Ross Hunter released the House 2012 supplemental operating budget proposal first thing this morning.  Here's his press release, his presentation, and the actual budget documents.

Rep. Hans Dunshee, chair of the House Capital Budget committee, also released his proposed supplemental budget today. Included in the budget is the Jobs Now plan, projected to create over 23,000 jobs. You can read his release here.

The public hearing on the supplemental operating proposal is happening right now and you can watch it live on TVW.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Prescription discounts are offered in state, county programs

Folks struggling to lasso runaway prescription prices should peruse a pair of programs that might just afford them some extra rope.
The Washington Prescription Drug Program from the Washington State Health Care Authority is open to all Evergreen Staters. Created by the Legislature in a proposal first advanced by the governor, the program offers discounts to eligible folks when they order their prescriptions. All Washingtonians are eligible to apply for the assistance and there aren't any age or income restrictions. The program is particularly aimed at helping folks without insurance, folks who have medical coverage but no prescription-drug benefit, and folks whose prescription-drug coverage through their employer doesn't cover the specific drug they need. 
Check the Internet at for this state program. The toll-free phone numbers are 1-800-913-4146 (enrollment) and 1-800-913-4311 (customer service). Be ready to answer these six specific questions in the application process: name, date of birth, address, phone number, gender, and how you heard about the program.
Many of the state's 39 counties also offer their own cards providing prescription-drug discounts. Sponsored by the National Association of Counties, these programs are open to all residents in the participating counties -- regardless of age, income or existing coverage. The card is accepted at most pharmacies. Cards are available at public locations such as city halls, libraries, participating pharmacies, and transit centers. 

Call 1-877-321-2652 or visit the website for more details. Participating Washington counties are Clallam, Clark, Douglas, Garfield, Jefferson, Kitsap, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skagit, Skamania, Snohomish, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Whitman.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

House Democrats unveil budget

House Democrats will roll out their proposed 2012 supplemental operating budget in a few minutes. Follow @WAHouseDems on Twitter or watch TVW for live updates on education, higher education, health care, public safety, and more!

UPDATE: Click here for Rep. Hunter's 2012 supplemental budget proposal presentation!

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Plan in place to cut down on unwanted phone books

Photo credit: Jamiesrabbits
 The telephone is one of the most important inventions in history. When telephones emerged in the late 1880’s, they connected people, business, and communities in ways never seen before. But telephones alone would not have changed the world like they did without an important companion – the phone directory. Having a phone was only half of the equation. People needed directories to connect with the right people on the other end.
For over a century, new white and yellow pages directories would show up on every doorstep about once a year. They were so vital to connecting communities that many states, including Washington, adopted laws and rules requiring phone companies to publish and distribute the white pages on a regular basis.
However two relatively recent inventions – the smartphone and the internet – have rendered traditional phone directories nearly obsolete. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of households depending on the white pages for information decreased from 25% to 11%. 
Reps. Reuven Carlyle, Marko Liias, and Joe Fitzgibbon are leading efforts to cut down the on the number of unwanted phone books in Washington state. They recently met with yellow pages industry representatives to find a solution that benefits publishers, consumers, and the environment.
As a result of those conversations, the four largest yellow pages providers will now include opt-out information on the cover of every phone directory they publish in Washington. Consumers can go to to opt out of receiving the directory. You can read more about this agreement here.

With an easy-to-use solution in place for the Yellow Pages, the lawmakers are now turning their attention to the White Pages. With the support of businesses, local governments, and environmental interests, the group is urging the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to modernize the rule that requires phone companies to distribute physical directories to Washington residents.
Over five million trees are cut down each year to print white pages directories. If Carlyle, Fitzgibbon, and Liias are successful with their petition, unwanted phone directories will be a thing of the past in Washington state.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

Several legislative tele town halls happening this week

On the heels of last weekend’s live town halls in some districts, several legislators are hosting town halls via phone this week.
There are “tele town halls” slated for tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings.  If you live in the 40th, 32nd, or 28th Legislative Districts, here’s what you need to know:
On Tuesday, February 21,Rep. Jeff Morris is hosting a one hour tele town hall beginning around 6:00 p.m. Last month his seatmate, Rep. Kristine Lytton, also hosted a tele town hall that drew almost 9,000 participants. If you missed out on that one, didn’t get an opportunity to ask your question, of if you’d like to hear from your other 40th District legislator, be sure to pick up the phone when it rings around 6:00 o'clock in the evening.
On Wednesday, February 22, Reps. Ruth Kagi and Cindy Ryu will host a joint tele town hall beginning at about 6:00 p.m.  This is the first joint tele town hall for the two seatmates, although Rep. Kagi hosted one back in 2010.  The two legislators look forward to jointly hosting Wednesday’s event and being able to speak directly with constituents of the 32nd district.
Finally, on Thursday, February 23, Rep. Tami Green will host a tele town hall that will start at 6:00 p.m. Rep. Green previously hosted a tele town hall last May with several thousand participants.
If you are a constituent in any of these districts, and you do not receive a call to join the event, you can still participate by calling toll-free 1-877-229-8493, and entering ID Code 18646 when prompted.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.

High demand for Washington-made goods

Washington is the largest exporter of goods on a per capita basis in the entire nation. Last week, Governor Gregoire announced that we set a record in 2011 by exporting a whopping $64.6 billion worth of products! That’s a 21 percent increase over the previous year.
Approximately four percent of Washington companies export, compared to a national average of one percent. One in three jobs in Washington state are tied to trade, either directly or indirectly.
Our biggest market is China with exports rising to $11.2 billion, 9% more than 2010. But the $6.4 billion we export to Europe aren’t too shabby either.
The goal of Gov. Gregoire’s Washington Export Initiative launched in 2010 was to increase state exports by 30 percent by 2015. The State’s Department of Commerce says we’re right on track to get there. At the rate we’re going, Washington could very well be exporting up to $100 billion in goods by 2017!

To read this story in Spanish, click here.