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King questions timing of grain-inspection shutdown at Vancouver port

Published on July 24, 2014

king_300Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, made this statement regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent decision to withdraw the Washington State Patrol security detail that had been escorting state grain inspectors to United Grain Corporation’s export terminal in Vancouver. The move has effectively brought grain exports from the terminal, site of an ongoing labor dispute, to a standstill.

 

“There is no doubt the lockout and subsequent labor negotiations involving United Grain and the union representing longshoremen have dragged on far too long. We can all agree that after a year and a half, it’s time for conciliation on both sides. However, wheat growers in my district and across central and eastern Washington are understandably frustrated that Governor Inslee made this move just as their crops need to be moving through the port and on to market. Read more…

 

Walla Walla Veterans’ Home earns federal funding

Published on July 17, 2014

Walla Walla Vet HomeThe long-awaited Walla Walla Veterans’ Home has been given the green light for construction thanks to the $23 million in required federal funds, which was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Mike Hewitt has been fighting for the veterans’ home at the state-level for the past several years.

“We are finally one step closer to making the Walla Walla Veterans’ Home a reality,” said Hewitt, R-Walla Walla. “There are some final details that still need to be worked out before construction can begin, but there is a lot of support to see this project through.

“It’s been an honor to work on legislation that will make a huge impact for the 50,000 veterans and families in Walla Walla and the surrounding area. Not only will the 80-bed facility support the state’s military men and women and their families, it will also create about 100 permanent jobs.”

Read more…

 

Bailey: Adopting increase in life expectancy is step in right direction for state pension fund

Published on July 17, 2014

Bailey says ‘more work must be done to fill gap in future pension liabilities to protect taxpayers’

Today’s vote by the state Select Committee on Pension Policy recommends that the Pension Funding Council adopt an increase in life expectancy for public employees and is a “step in the right direction,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair of the committee. “The time for using outdated formulas and skipping payments has passed. We need to get real with taxpayers about how we plan to fully fund state pensions and meet our obligation to retirees.”

The Select Committee sent the Pension Funding Council an extensive report by State Actuary Matt Smith that outlines a future shortfall of $4.4 billion based on the new life-expectancy levels. Men turning 65 today are expected to live to an average age of 84 years and women to an age of 86 years. For those state employees who retire 20 years from now, those numbers will increase by another year.

“The good news is that people are living a lot longer. The bad news is that pension contributions and policy are not keeping up with that reality,” said Bailey. “The budget implications and impact on taxpayers are enormous. Simply put, we can pay now, or pay a lot more down the road. The funding gap only gets worse over time.”

Bailey added that she hoped members of the Select Committee would recommend the added policy changes and rates that fit the new lifespan realities. “This was a consensus vote that moves us in the right direction and puts members of the Pension Funding Council and Legislature on notice that it is time for a reality check,” said Bailey, “However, there is still more work to be done and waiting for a financial crisis is not the way to deal with the problems.”

 

Schoesler: New water regulations must balance family budgets, jobs and a cleaner environment

Published on July 9, 2014

From Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville and Senate Republican leader: Fish consumption July 2014

“Water-quality standards need to increase and any new standards must balance a cleaner environment with protecting family budgets and jobs. Most people can’t afford to have their sewer bills jump to $200 per month. Any extreme increase in regulations jeopardizes jobs and hurts the poor. Extreme measures, like what we’ve seen in Oregon, won’t bring the balance we need to make this work for everyone.”

“Governor Inslee and his Department of Ecology owe every Washington resident answers to important questions such as:

  • How much local fish do Washington residents actually consume, and if we don’t know, why don’t we know the real number?
  • The City of Bellingham estimates that sewer bills will increase to $200 per month. How will low-income families and households on fixed incomes afford $2,400 per year for their sewer bills?
  • If 90 percent of fish that people eat is from a foreign source, how will we measure the benefits to people’s health?
  • How will cities, counties and businesses comply without the necessary technology to meet the new water standards?
  • What is the real economic impact in lost jobs, wages and community economic health that your regulations will cost us?”
 

Pearson announces Senate work session on WDFW hatchery settlement

Published on July 8, 2014

NRPWorkSessionCaptureToday Sen. Kirk Pearson, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee, announced that the committee will hold a work session July 29 to discuss the recent settlement between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Wild Fish Conservancy concerning the state’s early-winter hatchery-steelhead program.

“It is my hope that this work session will begin to address some of the issues brought about by the lawsuit and settlement,” said Pearson, R-Monroe. Read more…