Friday, June 15, 2012

Helping make dreams come true

From Point Roberts Dollars for Scholars to the Colton Education Foundation in Whitman County, business and community leaders across Washington have long supported Dollars for Scholars scholarships to help talented students pursue their college dreams.

Rep. Cindy Ryu knows how much Dollars for Scholars can mean to deserving students.  In addition to representing the 32nd District in the people’s House, Cindy is a past President and current board member of both the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Dollars for Scholars. She recently joined other leaders of the Shoreline Chamber and Dollars for Scholars to award 11 new scholarships during a celebration at Shoreline Community College.

The Shoreline Dollars for Scholars program has awarded scholarships to more than 160 students over the past 9 years. That’s a lot of dreams come true!

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Who says Washington is a top state for producing jobs?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that’s who!

In their latest report, Enterprising States: Policies That Produce, Washington state moved up five places to  #8 on the list of “Top Performing States.”  The group said the rankings were determined by a combination of the following measures:
• Long-term job growth
• Short-term job growth
• Overall expansion of gross state product
• Productivity: state output per job
• Productivity growth: growth in output per job
• Income growth: growth in per capita personal income
• Livability: median income of four-person households adjusted for state cost of living

Quoting the report:
“Led by the software industry, Washington is one of the few states with a growing information sector. Washington moved up five places into the top 10 largely due to its rapid short-term job growth over the past two years.

“The state’s manufacturing sector – led by aircraft and other transportation equipment building – significantly outperformed the national manufacturing industry since 2001. The Evergreen State added another 65,000 jobs in professional, scientific and technical services; 19,000 in securities and commodity contracts and 12,000 in electronic wholesale markets.”

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tough on crime? Yep, quite literally.

Rep. Jeannie Darneille
“Tough on crime” took on a whole new meaning for State Representative Jeannie Darneille last week, when a burglary occurred in her Tacoma neighborhood.
Rep. Darneille was eating breakfast when she noticed two unfamiliar men leaving her neighbor’s home with backpacks. Never one to sit idly by on the sidelines, Rep. Darneille chased the men into her back alley and was able to catch one of burglar’s license plate information. A few short minutes later, the man was stopped by Tacoma police and most of the valuables returned.
KING 5 covered the incident earlier this week, and you can check-out the entire segment on “Oatmeal Girl’s” heroics below:

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Drunk drivers who kill now face tougher sentences

A new law aimed at deadly drunk drivers is already taking hold.
As this Seattle Times story shows, the first test case happened the same day the law took effect.
Here’s the meat of that story:
Michelle Leigh Dittamore was charged Wednesday with vehicular homicide, accused of slamming her father's two-seat sports car — which she didn't have permission to drive — head-on into a vehicle driven by Jana Lynne Berry, 48, who was killed instantly at the scene of the June 7 late-night crash.
Dittamore's 4-year-old son, Grayson, was in the front passenger seat and suffered bruising from the seat belt and air bag, according to charging documents. His presence in the vehicle at the time of the crash is considered an enhancement that, should Dittamore be convicted, will add a year onto her prison sentence.
Dittamore had allegedly consumed one tumbler of pink Champagne and the drug Klonopin, a benzodiazepine, which is known to make users dizzy or drowsy, before the crash, charging papers say. … Dittamore, whose license was suspended in 2009, apparently sneaked into her father's bedroom and took his car keys along with his Ambien prescription, charging papers say. She didn't have permission to drive her father's Honda S2000, nor was she insured to drive, the papers say.
In March, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed into law a bill that increased prison terms for those convicted of vehicular homicide to six to 8 1/2 years, an increase from the previous 2 ½ to almost 3 ½ years. The law went into effect on the day of the crash.
The law (House Bill 2216) was sponsored by Rep.Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw), chair of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee and a retired police detective. In a press release at the time the governor signed the bill, Hurst said the law ensures justice for families and friends who lose a loved one to a drunk driver, and that he wrote the bill after witnessing immeasurable suffering and carnage around drunk driving accidents time and time again throughout his 25 year career. 
“A vehicle operated under the influence of alcohol is a deadly weapon and it’s time our sentencing guidelines reflected that fact,” Hurst said at the time. “Nothing can bring back the victims of these crimes, but I do hope this change brings some justice for the loved ones coping with an unimaginable loss.”
Before the law, the penalty for vehicular homicide wasn’t comparable to similar crimes such as manslaughter. The new law more than doubles the jail time for vehicular homicide by DUI. Those found guilty will face 78 to 102 months behind bars,equivalent to the penalty for first-degree manslaughter.
More from the release:
Prosecuting attorneys across the state have long advocated for an increase in sentences for DUI vehicular homicide; leading the charge have been King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
"This increased penalty will feel more like justice to victim's families, friends and the community," Lindquist said. "Furthermore, this legislation is part of a larger effort to send a message that we don't tolerate drunk driving in Washington."
“With the leadership of Reps. Chris Hurst and Roger Goodman in the House and David Frockt, Adam Kline and Mike Padden in the Senate, we have given the families of loved ones lost to drunk drivers some sense of justice,” said Satterberg. “The increased sentences will not bring back their family members but will send a strong message to drunk drivers that their actions have consequences."
The full text and legislative history of House Bill 2216 can be viewed online here.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

May employment numbers show optimism

Washington added more than 11,700 jobs in May and the state’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 8.3 percent. And this is good news. Wait. What?

According to Employment Security Department (ESD) economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman, this means more unemployed people are re-entering the job market. She said that in this particular case “the higher unemployment rate could be a sign that people are feeling more optimistic about their chances of finding a job.” The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the estimated number of unemployed people who have looked for work within the past four weeks by the total civilian labor force.

The big May job gains were in:
• Professional and business services: +5,400 jobs
• Transportation, warehousing and utilities: +2,600 jobs
• Wholesale trade: +1,900 jobs
• Manufacturing: +1,400 jobs
• Construction: +1,200 jobs
• Financial activities: +1,000 jobs
• Retail trade: +400 jobs
• Education and health services: +400 jobs

Meanwhile, the government payroll continued shrinking as 2,600 jobs were lost. Here’s the breakdown:
• Federal employment in Washington: -1,100 jobs
• State agencies: -700 jobs
• Local government: -300 jobs
• K-12 schools: -300 jobs
• Public higher education: -200 jobs

The ESD reports that with May’s job growth, Washington has regained about 102,500 jobs since the low point of the recession.

Want to learn more? Check out these useful links:
Full ESD report
Labor-market info website  
State and local trends
Employment Security website

And if you or someone you know is looking for a job, be sure to visit your local WorkSource employment center for help.

To read this story in Spanish, please click here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It’s broke, and we need to fix it

Photo credit:  University of Washington
They aren’t the first ones to say so, but the University of  Washington Board of Regents spelled it out about as clearly as could be earlier this month in what it called a “Declaration of Concern for the Sustainability of Washington Public Higher Education.” The state’s system for financing public colleges and universities is not working, and it needs to be repaired, big time.
The Regents, who are the governing board of the university, do say they are grateful that the 2012 state supplement operating budget that was passed by the Legislature in April did not make any cuts to higher education. That’s due mainly to the efforts of House Democrats:  In the contentious negotiations that produced a budget, they blocked a Republican effort to once again slash aid to public universities.
But that holding of the line came after years of cuts – and, the regents said, those cuts have “radically and unduly shifted the burden of financing the higher education system to students.”
That’s because the schools have had to raise tuition dramatically to make up for the drop-off  in state support.
“Under the current fiscal trajectory,” the regents said,“something has to give, and it should not be the quality of the University’s faculty and staff, its offerings to students, or its contributions to the discovery of knowledge.”

To read this story in Spanish, click here.