Crucial rural water-rights issue holds up adjournment of 2017 legislative session

Published on July 10, 2017
Washington’s 2017 legislative session enters its seventh record-breaking month as a water-rights issue critical to rural property owners becomes the central issue at the statehouse. Lawmakers passed a budget June 30, averting a partial shutdown of state government – normally one of the final votes of any legislative session. But adjournment was delayed when the... Read More

Brown: Inslee vying for title of most anti-jobs governor in Washington history

Published on July 07, 2017
Sen. Sharon Brown, the state Senate’s leading advocate for jobs and economic development, voiced outrage today at Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of a tax incentive aimed at spurring economic growth and increasing manufacturing jobs. “Since I came to the Senate, attracting employers to Washington and helping them create jobs has been one of my top... Read More

Rossi: Inslee stabs Washington workers in the back with jobs-bill veto

Published on July 07, 2017
Governor quashes hope for manufacturing sector, breaks budget deal and opens Boeing up to international sanctions with a single stroke of his pen Gov. Jay Inslee today turned his back on Washington manufacturers and Washingtonians looking for work in the struggling manufacturing sector, vetoing a job-promoting, tax-fairness measure that received strong bipartisan support from lawmakers... Read More

‘No government shutdown’ assures Senate majority leader

Published on June 21, 2017
Schoesler maintains confidence that budget deal will be reached in time to avoid partial shutdown OLYMPIA…Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement of a third special legislative session to finalize negotiations on a budget for the 2017-19 biennium. “I fully expect the budget teams to submit a... Read More

Senate passes real car-tab relief for third time

Published on June 13, 2017
Senators Rossi, O’Ban call on House Democrats to ‘do the right thing’ For the third time this year, the Senate today passed a measure aimed at giving taxpayers real relief from Sound Transit’s controversial and inflated car-tab taxes. Senate Bill 5893, which passed the chamber 25-22, would slash car-tab taxes in the Sound Transit taxing... Read More

Majority leader confident Legislature will reach budget deal soon

Published on June 13, 2017
Bipartisan plan to fully fund basic education expected to account for over 50 percent of spending   OLYMPIA…As the Legislature’s second special session for 2017 enters a third week, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler today expressed optimism and confidence that lawmakers will reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a new budget before the end of... Read More

Only 37 percent would still vote to approve Sound Transit 3

Published on June 07, 2017
State senators who serve areas within the Sound Transit taxing district say it’s no surprise that new poll results show support for Sound Transit 3 has plummeted 17 points since the November election, when it passed 54 percent to 46 percent. If given a chance to vote again, 51 percent of likely voters would reject... Read More

Senate Law and Justice Committee to consider charges against Sound Transit

Published on May 15, 2017
Today the chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, Sen. Mike Padden, announced that he is planning to have the panel look into charges that Sound Transit engaged in a “systematic effort to confuse and misrepresent the impact and cost of the ST3 authorization to legislators and the public.” In a letter to Senators... Read More

In the News: State senators claim Sound Transit misled public about ST3 project impact and cost

Published on May 12, 2017
KOMO 4 News -Seattle   SEATTLE – Two state senators claim Sound Transit misled the public about the cost of the ST3 project. This comes as more and more drivers are upset about their skyrocketing car tab fees. “Last year, we paid $200 this year $400,” said driver Hai Pham, as he renewed his car... Read More

In the News: Local lawmakers call for investigation into Sound Transit 3 measure

Published on May 12, 2017
KIRO 7 – Seattle Sound Transit is getting more pressure about the high cost of car tab fees. Two lawmakers in Olympia accuse the transit agency of deceiving the voters and the legislature. Senators Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi are calling for an investigation into whether Sound Transit engaged in a “systematic effort to confuse and misrepresent... Read More

Rossi, O’Ban call for investigatory hearings on Sound Transit

Published on May 11, 2017
Sens. Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi are calling for an investigation into whether Sound Transit engaged in a “systematic effort to confuse and misrepresent the impact and cost of the ST3 authorization to legislators and the public.”  In a letter sent today to the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and the chair of the... Read More

Senate backs bill to slash car-tab taxes, eliminate dubious $12 billion price tag

Published on May 02, 2017
The Senate today took direct aim at Sound Transit’s controversial and inflated car-tab taxes with a vote to send an amended version of Senate Bill 5893 back to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, would slash car-tab taxes in the Sound Transit taxing district by 55 percent and... Read More

Senate passes Corrections reform bill a second time, keeps issue alive

Published on May 02, 2017
OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate passed a Department of Corrections reform bill for the second time Tuesday, assuring the issue will remain under active consideration during the Legislature’s current special session. Senate Bill 5294, prompted by last year’s early-release scandal, was one of several bills revived Tuesday as the full Senate met for the first... Read More

In first vote of the special session, Senate approves Hirst-fix legislation again

Published on May 02, 2017
Vote gives Democrat-controlled House second chance to help rural families without water  While work on education-funding reform and a new state operating budget continues during the Legislature’s special session, the Senate today took up and passed Senate Bill 5239, known as the Hirst fix, to bring needed access to water for rural households. Sponsored by... Read More

Stronger protections against squatters approved by Legislature

Published on April 20, 2017
Washington homeowners will have stronger protections against squatters after legislation sponsored by Sen. Hans Zeiger today cleared the Washington State Legislature. Zeiger’s legislation, which now heads to the governor to be signed into law, gives law enforcement clear authority to evict squatters and bar them from returning to the property they had illegally occupied. “We’ve... Read More

Senate continues to expand public access through remote testimony

Published on April 17, 2017
Update to leaders notes significant progress; House fails to offer report Since 2014, Senators Mike Padden and Sharon Brown have led an effort to increase the opportunities for public participation in the legislative process. The two recently requested an update from Senate and House administrators on progress to enable testimony from places outside of the... Read More

Flawed water-rights ruling must be reversed

Published on April 12, 2017
BY SEN. RANDI BECKER Rarely does the Legislature see an issue that causes as much alarm as the state Supreme Court’s ruling last year in a water-rights case. The decision in Hirst vs. Whatcom County has become one of those issues that wells up from the ground and forces the Legislature to take notice —... Read More

In the News: Making Washington More Appealing For Manufacturing

Published on April 11, 2017
By Mike Richards -The Lens April 6, 2017 A Senate bill making its way through the Washington State Legislature aims to attract more manufacturing companies to move to the state and incentivize those and any existing businesses to remain and build their projects within Washington. SB 5642, which would offer tax deferrals for eligible manufacturing projects to be reinvested into job training... Read More

House approves Brown’s ‘Youth Behavioral Health Protection Act’

Published on April 10, 2017
Today the House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown that is aimed at better integrating mental and behavioral health services with pediatric primary-care services. “You need prevention, but to get prevention you need access to care,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “This bill is a result of community conversations around the disproportionate number... Read More

Taking the classroom to the Capitol with technology

Published on March 30, 2017
Dragging a class of high school students 42 miles from their South King County classroom to the state Capitol is rarely an option during the busy school year. But this week an Auburn High School journalism class did manage to speak directly with Sen. Joe Fain, their state senator, about legislation they were tracking in... Read More

Senate capital budget would provide unprecedented support for education

Published on March 28, 2017
Water needs, mental-health services and natural resources are also big winners in Senate plan Today the Senate released a bipartisan, capital budget plan that would dedicate a record $1.1 billion toward school construction. Senate Bill 5086 appropriates $2.53 billion in bonds and $1.46 billion in cash for the 2017-19 biennium and the 2017 supplemental budget.... Read More

O’Ban, Rossi say Sound Transit move to engage misses mark

Published on March 23, 2017
The Sound Transit board passed a motion today to authorize its CEO “to continue communications and engagement with the State Legislature” in order to “pursue options to address public concerns” about its inflated car tab tax calculation method.  Sens. Steve O’Ban and Dino Rossi said the premise of the motion does not address the public... Read More

Car tab collection at risk for Sound Transit with O’Ban amendment to transportation Budget

Published on March 23, 2017
Sound Transit faces a new hurdle for their notoriously inflated car tab valuations—the Senate transportation budget. An amendment to the Senate transportation budget passed the Senate Transportation Committee today that would prohibit the Department of Licensing (DOL) from collecting a motor vehicle excise tax for a regional transportation authority unless Senate Bill 5893 is enacted.... Read More

Senate majority unites behind measure to stop unfair Sound Transit taxes

Published on March 16, 2017
New O’Ban-Rossi bill would prohibit state from collecting taxes for regional agency Today the Senate’s Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus increased pressure on Sound Transit to treat its taxpayers fairly by proposing that the state Department of Licensing stop collecting the transit agency’s inflated car-tab taxes. “If Sound Transit wants to tax people on a false vehicle... Read More

Senator King tells transit agency to consider soldiers and find a fair solution

Published on March 16, 2017
Before he adjourned a recent working session of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. King urged Sound Transit officials to consider the impact their car tab tax valuations were having on soldiers.  Sen. King related how soldiers had come to him and described struggling to make ends meet.  He said they told him that they didn’t... Read More

Senate majority unites behind measure to stop unfair Sound Transit taxes

Published on March 16, 2017
New O’Ban-Rossi bill would prohibit state from collecting taxes for regional agency Yesterday, the Senate’s Republican-led Majority Coalition Caucus increased pressure on Sound Transit to treat its taxpayers fairly by proposing that the state Department of Licensing stop collecting the transit agency’s inflated car-tab taxes. “If Sound Transit wants to tax people on a false vehicle... Read More

Senate approves temporary extension of local school levy rate with increased accountability

Published on March 08, 2017
The Washington State Senate today approved legislation extending a temporary increase in the maximum amount school districts can raise through property taxes for public schools and implementing reforms to provide accountability for how local levies are collected and accounted. “Washington students deserve a comprehensive solution that provides a world-class education system instead of a temporary... Read More

Brown’s nuclear SMR, hydropower bills passed by Senate

Published on March 07, 2017
Today the Senate advanced two measures sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown aimed at encouraging and expanding the use of carbon-free power and emerging energy technologies – including incremental hydropower, nuclear power and small modular reactors. “We all support clean energy, but the key is doing so in a way that works for employers, energy consumers... Read More

Senate’s minority Democrats vote down proposed income-tax ban

Published on March 07, 2017
OLYMPIA…The Democrat minority in the state Senate today voted against a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban a tax on individual incomes. Senate Joint Resolution 8204 needed a two-thirds majority to pass – meaning 33 votes from the 49-member Senate. All 25 members of the Senate majority supported the measure, but only two members of... Read More

Senate votes unanimously for Corrections reform bill, prompted by early-release scandal

Published on March 06, 2017
OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate voted unanimously Monday for a bill that makes sweeping reforms to the Department of Corrections in the wake of last year’s early-release scandal. Senate Bill 5294, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, enacts recommendations made by the Senate Law and Justice Committee last year following a months-long investigation into... Read More

O’Ban and Rossi challenge constitutionality of Sound Transit car tab tax

Published on March 03, 2017
Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, and Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, informed Attorney General Bob Ferguson today that based on information they’ve reviewed, the current valuation Sound Transit uses to calculate car tab taxes is unconstitutional. In a letter hand-delivered to Ferguson’s office this morning, the senators explain the act that authorized Sound Transit to use... Read More

Senate passes bill to increase accountability of DSHS’s Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery

Published on March 02, 2017
  The Senate passed a bill Wednesday which would require stricter oversight of the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery within the state Department of Social and Health Services. DBHR is responsible for licensing, inspecting and certifying behavioral-health providers who manage outpatient drug and alcohol services.   Sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, Substitute Senate... Read More

‘Andy’s smiling down on us’: Late senator’s goal for serving residents with developmental disabilities is well within reach

Published on March 02, 2017
The late state Sen. Andy Hill wanted to eliminate the backlog of Washington residents with developmental disabilities who had requested but weren’t receiving state services. Just four months after Hill’s untimely death, that goal will almost certainly be achieved by June – just as the Redmond lawmaker had hoped. A new report from the Department... Read More

Senate approves Walsh bill expanding dental coverage for pregnant women, diabetics

Published on March 02, 2017
OLYMPIA – The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would expand dental coverage for some of the state’s neediest Medicaid recipients – and likely save the state money in the long run. Senate Bill 5540, sponsored by Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, would make it easier for pregnant women and diabetics to see dentists... Read More

State Hispanic Commission recognizes our efforts to improve minority-owned business opportunities

Published on March 01, 2017
Senate passes the Small Business Bonding Relief bill   Read More

Warnick legislation to fix flawed Hirst water decision clears Senate

Published on March 01, 2017
  Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation to fix the Hirst decision was approved Tuesday evening by the state Senate, despite efforts by some opposition Democrats to delay a legislative response that would aid rural homeowners. The decision, issued by the state Supreme Court in late 2016, effectively prevents the drilling of small, household wells without costly... Read More

Becker bill to improve contracting diversity at UW passes Senate

Published on March 01, 2017
The Senate today passed legislation aimed at improving the University of Washington’s diversity in awarding its contracts for capital projects.   Senate Bill 5631, sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker, would make the contracting process more inclusive of women-owned and minority-owned businesses in projects where critical patient care or highly specialized medical research are involved. It... Read More

Warnick bill would grant new protections for state’s cattle industry

Published on February 28, 2017
Sen. Judy Warnick’s legislation to have air-quality rules treat cattle feedlots the same as other agricultural operations was approved today by the state Senate. Agricultural operations are exempt from state clean-air rules; Warnick’s Senate Bill 5196 would extend the exemption to feedlots while establishing a process and guidelines for addressing activities that may be detrimental... Read More

Washington dogs ‘pawsitively’ ecstatic for new humane treatment law

Published on February 28, 2017
The Senate just passed my bill to help keep dogs safe and healthy when they’re leashed and left alone. This legislation not only had the support of the full Senate and animal care advocates, but also every dog I spoke to on the issue. Read more about it below. Sen. Joe Fain, animal advocates, and... Read More

KING 5: Car-tab controversy makes its way to the state capitol

Published on February 24, 2017
  Click here to watch video. The controversy over increased car-tab fees caused by the passage of Sound Transit Three has now made its way to the state capitol. Two bills introduced in Olympia could bring drivers and taxpayers some relief. Senate Bill 5817 would give individual cities and counties the right to opt out of... Read More

Senate votes to make 4th DUI a felony – for 6th time

Published on February 23, 2017
OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate voted 41-0 Thursday morning to make the fourth DUI a felony in Washington state, marking the sixth time the Senate has given such a measure a unanimous vote since 2015. The previous five times, House leaders have declined to bring the measure to the House floor for a vote. “Repeat... Read More

Becker seeks to address ‘unconscionable’ agency actions with stricter oversight

Published on February 15, 2017
Sen. Randi Becker says the effectiveness of court-ordered drug and alcohol counseling for those convicted of driving under the influence has been compromised by the mismanagement of complaints and the settlement process for license violations by those trusted to hold counseling providers accountable.   Becker, R-Eatonville, has responded with Senate Bill 5705, which would require... Read More

Brown measures on emerging technologies clear Senate energy committee

Published on February 09, 2017
Four bills would recognize clean-power advantages of nuclear energy, make geothermal exploration and SMR manufacturing easier in Washington Today the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee advanced a package of bills aimed at encouraging and expanding the use of emerging energy technologies – including geothermal exploration, nuclear power and small modular reactors. Sen. Sharon Brown,... Read More

Warnick plans Tuesday hearing on collaborative approach to Washington rural development

Published on January 20, 2017
The chair of the Senate’s water-policy committee has responded to an anti-rural ruling from the state Supreme Court by filing legislation concerning the availability of water for new household wells. Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, has scheduled Senate Bill 5239 for a public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. before the Senate Agriculture, Water,... Read More

Rivers’ corrections-partnership bill a ‘game changer’ for law enforcement

Published on April 19, 2016
It was 2011, and Clark County detective Jason Granneman was fed up. As a law-enforcement officer he came into daily contact with individuals who were serving the remainder of their sentences in the community, instead of behind bars, sometimes for months or even years. Officially they are in “community corrections” status; however, because they are... Read More

Senate approves ‘true’ supplemental capital budget

Published on February 26, 2016
The Senate today gave a strong endorsement to its proposed supplemental capital budget, voting 39-10 for a collection of changes totaling $87 million. The budget would provide funding for new classrooms, mental-health support and environmental cleanup, without tapping the state’s rainy-day fund or relying on a new revenue source. “It was gratifying to see my colleagues... Read More

Senate’s sensible supplemental capital budget built on solid principles

Published on February 24, 2016
The Senate’s capital-budget chair said the $87 million supplemental capital-budget proposal released today focuses squarely on supporting new classrooms, providing temporary mental-health housing and addressing an environmental-cleanup emergency, all within available revenue. “This is a true supplemental budget, not a laundry list of new projects. The supplemental is meant to be a vehicle for minor... Read More

Senate budget update improves services, outcomes for taxpayers

Published on February 24, 2016
Chief Senate budget writer Sen. Andy Hill released the chamber’s 2016 supplemental budget update today, which addresses Washington residents’ priorities and fixes issues at executive-branch state agencies, through additional reforms and oversight from the Legislature. “Last year lawmakers worked hard to find agreement on historic investments in our education system without raising taxes, which received... Read More

Senate approves Braun bill to rein in authority of state agencies

Published on February 17, 2016
Today the state Senate approved legislation introduced by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia to limit the power of state agencies by changing the way they make rules. Senate Bill 6396 would require proposed rules to be submitted to the state attorney general’s office for an opinion on their constitutionality. In addition, any new rule would automatically... Read More

Braun bill to boost state’s mental-health system approved

Published on February 16, 2016
Today the state Senate approved legislation introduced by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia to expand the pool of medical professionals capable of addressing mental-health needs of Washingtonians. Senate Bill 6445, which cleared the Senate unanimously, would clarify state law to include physician assistants in the delivery of mental-health services. “Our state needs more mental-health professionals to... Read More

Senate approves career paths and support for paraeducators

Published on February 15, 2016
As lawmakers work to strengthen Washington’s K-12 education system, the Washington State Senate today approved Sen. Andy Hill’s legislation creating a career path for paraeducators. The classroom support staff, who provide more than half of special education instruction, work under teacher supervision to instruct students, manage classrooms and act as translators. “Students in all grades... Read More

Sexual assault victims better protected under plan passed by Senate

Published on February 03, 2016
Victims of sexual assault seeking protection orders would get increased protections under legislation sponsored by Sen. Steve Litzow, passed today by the Washington State Senate. The proposal would allow courts to set longer terms instead of the current maximum of two years and reduces burdens to continue existing orders. “This legislation is a huge step... Read More

Governor’s budget plan doesn’t deal with realities of writing a budget

Published on December 17, 2015
In response to a supplemental budget proposal offered by Washington’s governor this morning, Sen. Andy Hill, the Senate’s chief budget writer and chair of the Ways and Means Committee, provided this response: “We’ve been waiting four years for the governor to produce a balanced budget — I guess we’re going to have to keep waiting.... Read More

Schoesler named ‘Legislative Champion’ by Washington Association of Realtors

Published on September 22, 2015
Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is a co-winner of the award with Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond, the Senate majority’s budget chief. They helped lead the Legislature to adopt a new 2015-17 operating budget which is balanced without general tax increases that would have hit Main Street employers and family-level investors. Read More

Ericksen says governor lacks authority under greenhouse-gas law to impose carbon plan by executive order

Published on September 03, 2015
Opinion from attorney general provides support to Ericksen’s position Sen. Doug Ericksen says an opinion from the state attorney general’s office confirms his belief that Gov. Jay Inslee is not required to pursue a carbon-emissions cap based on the state law that sets future emissions goals. Ericksen, who chairs the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications... Read More

Senate majority makes college more affordable with historic tuition cuts

Published on July 27, 2015
Senate Majority leader Mark Schoesler recaps the news coverage of an historic session: ‘Historic’ tuition cut sets state apart from rest of U.S. Seattle Times, June 13, 2015 Washington’s move isn’t well-known elsewhere in the country, but some say it could spur other states to think about cuts. “I don’t know how widely known this proposal... Read More

A messy session with a splendid finish

Published on July 22, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. If ever there was a legislative session that proved Otto von Bismarck right, it is the one we just finished. Von Bismarck is the former German chancellor we always quote about legislating and sausage-making: “Laws are like sausages – it... Read More

A session that rewrote history, not always accurately

Published on July 22, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. I was reading the other day that this year’s Legislature raised taxes by $480 million. This was news to me and I think to just about everyone on my side of the aisle, mainly because it isn’t true. That... Read More

Session finale brings huge win, lasting achievements for Eastern Washington, Baumgartner says

Published on July 10, 2015
OLYMPIA… The 2015 legislative session ended Friday in victory for Eastern Washington, said state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Seldom has the outcome of a legislative session so well reflected the interests and the bedrock principles of Eastern Washington, he said. Washington lawmakers wrapped up their session Friday on the 176th day, the longest continuous legislative... Read More

Bipartisan budget fully funds education, reduces tuition without new taxes

Published on July 01, 2015
Sen. Andy Hill today released a final bipartisan two-year operating budget that fully funds education, reduces college tuition and protects the social safety net without raising new taxes. “We began this year with the goal of fully funding education and ensuring a sustainable future for the state,” said Hill, chair of the Ways and Means... Read More

Transportation package huge win for Eastern Washington, Baumgartner says

Published on June 29, 2015
OLYMPIA… A $16 billion transportation package approved by Washington lawmakers Monday night offers a huge win for Eastern Washington, delivering some $1 billion to Spokane County alone and finally finishing the North-South Freeway, said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. At the same time, it makes big reforms in the way the state spends and manages its... Read More

College students win as lawmakers enact historic tuition rollback, Baumgartner says

Published on June 29, 2015
OLYMPIA… Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, issued the following statement Monday evening after the Washington Senate voted for an unprecedented college-tuition rollback in the final agreement on a 2015-17 operating budget and in Senate Bill 5954: “The big winners in this state budget agreement are college students and their families. Because of Senate Republican leadership, college students... Read More

Support swells at Capitol for naming new WSU medical school for Elson Floyd

Published on June 23, 2015
OLYMPIA… The idea of naming the new Washington State University medical school in Spokane for its greatest champion, the late university president Elson Floyd, is receiving a groundswell of support at the Capitol, reports Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Baumgartner will introduce a bill this week naming the school for the university president who died Saturday... Read More

Coug nation grieves the loss of WSU President Elson Floyd

Published on June 21, 2015
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, issued the following statement on the death of Washington State University President Elson Floyd: “It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Elson Floyd this morning. As president of Washington State University, Dr. Floyd was a widely admired leader and a passionate advocate for improved... Read More

Hill: Agreement reached on tuition reduction, no new taxes in budget

Published on June 19, 2015
OLYMPIA… Today, Sen. Andy Hill made this statement regarding the announcement of compromise budget principles: “In March, we released a budget that fully funds education and makes college affordable without new taxes. We’ve held to these principles and are grateful that both the governor and House have agreed to support them. With new taxes off... Read More

Federal government stalls recreational fishing, Pearson calls for action

Published on May 29, 2015
After over a decade of stalled progress, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced yesterday that recreational fishing will once again take a hit as “early winter” steelhead salmon will be released in inland lakes rather than state rivers due to continued delays by the federal National Marine Fishing Service. Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Snoqualmie, Green... Read More

Hill budget paves the way for bipartisan compromise

Published on May 28, 2015
On the final day of the special legislative session, Sen. Andy Hill released an updated budget reaffirming the Senate’s original priorities of fully funding education and protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens without raising taxes. The new proposal, which was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, made additional compromise steps to adopt positions... Read More

Sen. Rivers: ‘A message to our teachers’

Published on May 22, 2015

Pearson joins domestic-violence survivor to toughen law

Published on May 21, 2015
OLYMPIA… Six years ago police went to Barbara Holland’s home and arrested the man who had tortured and threatened to kill her. She would learn that due to a change in state law approved just days after the assault, her attacker – a first-time domestic-violence felony offender – would not be supervised after being released... Read More

State revenue more than enough to fund education, state budget

Published on May 18, 2015
Washington state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council today released its second quarter revenue forecast, which was moved ahead from June, showing an increase of $327 million in revenue for the 2015-17 biennium. Since session began in January the state has seen $1.1 billion of additional revenue and resources added to the state budget outlook. Sen.... Read More

2015: Best year for K-12 education funding in decades

Published on May 11, 2015
Washington’s education union is planning a series of one-day strikes protesting the Legislature’s work on education funding. See here for information on the strike. What have lawmakers done for students this year? Greatest new investment in K-12 of any budget in state history Bipartisan efforts would invest in all-day kindergarten, K-3 class size reduction and... Read More

Tuition-cap bill approved by Senate

Published on April 29, 2015
College affordability one step closer for Washington Families The Senate Majority’s College Affordability Program, Senate Bill 5954 passed with bipartisan support but surprising opposition from half of Senate Democrats. The bill, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor would reduce... Read More

Looking ahead to special session, Sheldon says much work to be done

Published on April 28, 2015
OLYMPIA… As Washington lawmakers prepare for a special overtime session, state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, said he is proud of what the Legislature has done so far – and hugely disappointed the Legislature failed to get its business done on time. “The only way we can come to agreement on a budget is if both... Read More

Legislature reaches compromise on oil-train safety bill, finishes regular session

Published on April 24, 2015
  OLYMPIA… Lawmakers reached compromise on a major oil-train safety bill Friday, culminating two years of work on a high-profile issue, and finishing their 2015 regular session on a note of accomplishment. The state Senate passed the bill 46-0 and the House quickly concurred 95-1, sending the measure to the governor’s desk. “This vote gives... Read More

No pay for striking teachers, Sheldon declares

Published on April 24, 2015
OLYMPIA… When teachers go on strike, Washington taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay them for it, says state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch – and he is introducing a bill requiring school districts to dock their paychecks. “I don’t think people realize teachers get paid when they go on strike,” Sheldon said. “It’s not supposed to be... Read More

Follow the breadcrumbs to a government shutdown

Published on April 24, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. Last week, when there was still a chance for us to finish our business in Olympia on time and adjourn this weekend, we were flabbergasted by an argument we heard from our Democratic colleagues in the House. As budget... Read More

School Superintendents speak out on the importance of finishing state budget on time

Published on April 21, 2015
“School districts depend so much on the Legislature to complete their work on time so that we can complete our work.  Whether it’s hiring teachers to reduce class size, adding more sections of full-day kindergarten, or purchasing busses, until the Legislature approves a budget, we are unable to move forward with our planning and decision-making. ... Read More

Majority Leader: ‘Troy Kelley has damaged public trust – time to resign’

Published on April 16, 2015
  OLYMPIA… Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, released this statement in reaction to the federal indictment of state Auditor Troy Kelley. “The damage has been done and it’s time for Troy Kelley to resign immediately. There is nothing he can do to restore public trust given his evasion and silence on these serious allegations. We... Read More

A capital budget that builds classrooms, not state office buildings

Published on April 14, 2015
This post originally appeared in the Majority Coalition Caucus leadership blog, Exit 105. Over the weekend a news story highlighted one of the big problems the Legislature faces this year. We’re mandating all-day kindergarten and reducing class sizes in grades K-3. And if we do that, we’re going to need to build more classrooms. The... Read More

Senate continues to put the ‘public’ back in public education with capital-budget approval

Published on April 14, 2015
The Senate today approved its proposal to build over 2,100 classrooms, fully fund 80 parks and trails, inject $60 million into local-government infrastructure projects statewide and provide $30 million to expand the number of community behavioral health beds. Over 30 percent of the Senate’s $3.9-billion capital budget is devoted to supporting public education – through... Read More

Senate and House leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations

Published on April 10, 2015
OLYMPIA…As the 2015 legislative session nears the end of its 105 day limit, Senate Majority Coalition budget negotiators are reaching across the aisle and Rotunda to end on time and on budget. The Senate has passed a complete budget. The House has passed a $39 billion spending plan. This is an important difference between the... Read More

Senate tuition-cut proposal good for families and GET program

Published on April 10, 2015
After Sen. John Braun introduced legislation to cut tuition at state colleges and universities some questions arose regarding the bill’s effects on Washington State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program. Opponents of the proposal have erroneously stated the measure would reduce the value of credits already purchased through the state GET program. “I understand the concerns that... Read More

Ericksen says big wind-farm losses for Cowlitz PUD make case for Senate energy plan

Published on April 07, 2015
OLYMPIA… A big investment in wind farms by the Cowlitz Public Utility District turned out to be a dud costing ratepayers nearly $1 million a month, and Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says it makes a case for the energy plan he introduced in the Senate this year. A story published in The Daily News of... Read More

A no-new-tax Senate budget proposal points the way – again

Published on April 06, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. For the last year our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been saying we can’t avoid a tax increase — a head-bobbing consensus that seems to have been taken by many as conventional wisdom. Then we came... Read More

Senate budget avoids new taxes, slashes tuition, boosts Mason County, Sheldon says

Published on April 06, 2015
OLYMPIA… A $38 billion budget proposal approved by the state Senate Monday avoids tax increases and offers an enormous middle-class tax cut, in the form of reduced tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, said Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch. “This is a proposal I think the tough-minded people of rural Washington can support,” Sheldon said.... Read More

Majority Leader: We have the votes to pass a no-new-taxes budget

Published on April 06, 2015
OLYMPIA… Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, released this statement in advance of passage of a 2015-17 operating budget by members of the state Senate: “We have the votes to pass a no-new-taxes budget that fully funds K-12 education and offers college students and their families the first tuition cut in at least a generation. “It’s... Read More

Senate delivers a ‘no-new-taxes’ budget proposal, cuts college tuition 25 percent

Published on March 31, 2015
OLYMPIA…”This is a bold budget proposal that delivers on the promise to make education the top priority and to live within our means. The Senate budget delivers tax relief for families, fully funds K-12 education and protects the most vulnerable – all without raising taxes. “This budget sends the message to families across Washington that,... Read More

New taxes not needed to fully fund education

Published on March 27, 2015
Following today’s release of the House of Representative’s new two-year operating budget proposal, Sen. Andy Hill, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee issued this statement: “The House’s reliance on volatile tax increases goes against the state’s paramount constitutional duty to fund education with a reliable and stable revenue source. While increasing state spending... Read More

Auditor needs to come clean

Published on March 24, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. What do you do when the state’s top investigator finds himself under investigation? That’s the uncomfortable question before us this week as state Auditor Troy Kelley hunkers down in his office and addresses enormous public doubt by saying nothing at... Read More

Will House budget play by the rules?

Published on March 18, 2015
This post originally appeared on the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, Exit 105. Some things go without saying. It’s a good idea to obey traffic signals, you ought to pay your taxes, and you should always eat your vegetables. Some things here in the Legislature are just as basic. When our Democratic... Read More

Senate delivers on college-tuition cap, jobs and critical transportation reforms

Published on March 11, 2015
OLYMPIA…Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, offered this statement following today’s cutoff for voting on Senate bills, except for measures specifically tied to a new state operating budget: “The Senate continues to lead the way on this session’s most important and anticipated policy initiatives. We said we would deliver on job creation, college affordability and... Read More

A fresh approach to clean energy, carbon reduction

Published on March 11, 2015
This post originally appeared in the Majority Coalition Caucus leadership blog, Exit 105. When we in the Washington Senate passed our energy bill this week, we achieved one of the most elegant solutions to one of the most intractable problems our Legislature has ever faced. How do we fix our troubled renewable-energy law?  Not only... Read More

Distaste for debate is ominous message from House

Published on March 11, 2015
This post originally appeared in the Majority Coalition Caucus leadership blog, Exit 105. Maybe this is the sort of thought that occurs when you’ve been at the statehouse for the last 23 sessions, like I have, and you’ve seen just about everything. But over the last week the state House and Senate have been rolling... Read More

Senate passes WSU med-school bill with overwhelming bipartisan support

Published on March 10, 2015
OLYMPIA… The Washington state Senate Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure allowing Washington State University to teach medicine – the first step toward establishing a Washington State University medical school in Spokane. The 45-4 vote for Senate Bill 5487 is a huge win, not just for Spokane but for the entire state, said the measure’s sponsor,... Read More

Ericksen oil-train safety legislation clears state Senate

Published on March 10, 2015
OLYMPIA… After more than a year in preparation, an oil-train safety bill cleared the Washington Senate Monday night, putting the state’s emphasis on emergency preparedness and planning, and leaving open the possibility of further action on state waterways. “The public has a legitimate reason to be concerned about the safety of crude-by-rail,” said state Sen.... Read More

Senate approves Ericksen energy bill, boosts jobs and reduces carbon emissions

Published on March 10, 2015
OLYMPIA… The Washington Senate approved energy legislation Monday evening that aims to boost jobs, prevent steep increases in electric bills — and for the first time in legislative history, launches a practical program to reduce carbon emissions statewide. “We can achieve big results, here and now, today – by making modest changes to our state’s... Read More

Senate delivers on transportation – can we avoid a political detour in the House?

Published on March 03, 2015
It took three long years, but after bipartisan negotiations, public meetings in 10 cities, extensive study and much debate in Olympia, the state Senate delivered on its promise to reform Washington’s broken transportation system. With a bipartisan vote Monday we passed a statewide transportation package that creates 200,000 jobs, gets our economy moving, fixes our... Read More

Senate transportation plan finishes North-South Freeway, huge win for Eastern Washington, Baumgartner says

Published on March 02, 2015
OLYMPIA… A $15 billion transportation plan approved by the state Senate March 2 finally realizes Spokane’s dream of a North-South freeway and offers a big win for Spokane County and Eastern Washington, says state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. “We’ve been talking about a North-South Freeway in Spokane since the 1940s,” Baumgartner said. “Finally we have... Read More

Productive session so far for Energy, Environment and Telecommunications, says Chairman Ericksen

Published on February 27, 2015
OLYMPIA… As the state Legislature passes its first important deadlines, state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, rates this as a productive session for his Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. “We’ve done plenty to protect our state’s low-cost energy, promote manufacturing and preserve jobs,” said Ericksen, chairman of the Senate energy panel. “Among other things, we have offered... Read More

Washington founders of Civil Air Patrol honored by Senate

Published on February 24, 2015
The four Washingtonians who helped found the Civil Air Patrol more than 70 years ago were honored today during a ceremony in the state Senate chamber. Lt. Col. Warren Davis of Seattle and Lt. Col. Richard Hagmann of Spokane attended, as did the family members representingtheir deceased comrades: Lt. James Campbell of Redmond and Master... Read More

Early revenue forecast opens budget process

Published on February 20, 2015
The state’s chief economist released first quarter tax revenue projections today one month earlier than normal after Sen. Andy Hill successfully moved it forward to give budget writers additional time to complete a new state budget. The forecast, adopted by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council which is chaired by Hill, projects $37.1 billion during... Read More

Time to act on oil-train safety legislation, Ericksen says

Published on February 19, 2015
OLYMPIA… The case for oil-train safety legislation has been made all the stronger by derailments this week in Ontario and West Virginia, says state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, sponsor of a comprehensive oil-train bill in the Washington State Senate. “The derailments in Ontario and West Virginia ought to make it clear to everyone that the... Read More

Baumgartner bills aim to reduce youth unemployment, increase future success for teens

Published on February 05, 2015
OLYMPIA… A pair of bills sponsored by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, aim to create more job opportunities as the state minimum wage reaches record heights and Washington teens find it harder than ever to obtain work. Baumgartner’s “teen wage” and “training wage” bills were heard Wednesday by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, which... Read More

Legislature’s ‘aviation caucus’ to spotlight historic wartime flights

Published on January 28, 2015
Kicking off the first 2015 meeting of the state Legislature’s “Aviation Caucus” Thursday will be a visit from two members of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation, a Bellingham-based group dedicated to recreating a flight along the historic Alaska-Siberia air route used in World War II. The little-known air route represented a dangerous 6,000-mile journey from Great... Read More

Sen. Baumgartner targets cargo crunch at ports

Published on January 28, 2015
OLYMPIA…  A memorial introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, seeks federal assistance in resolving a long-running labor dispute that appears to have slowed traffic at Pacific-coast ports and snarled international trade for Washington importers and exporters. Senate Joint Memorial 8009 asks the feds to help longshoremen and shippers reach agreement on a master... Read More

Pearson bill would help identify the next Oso or Mount Saint Helens

Published on January 23, 2015
On Thursday the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee held a public hearing on a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson that would establish the Department of Natural Resources as the official depository for a library of LiDAR mapping, which would be accessible to municipalities, disaster-relief workers, builders and the general public. “It wasn’t long... Read More

Pearson pushes for new laws dealing with disaster mitigation, domestic violence, and financial crimes

Published on January 21, 2015
By: Chris Hendrickson, Monroe News | Valley News   Disaster mitigation, domestic violence, financial crimes and marijuana processing in residential zones are just a few of the items on Washington State Senator Kirk Pearson’s agenda going in the 2015 legislative session. Pearson (R-Monroe) represents the 39th Legislative District, which includes most of Snohomish and Skagit counties... Read More

Pearson bill goes after illegal ‘skimming’ of personal information

Published on January 21, 2015
On Tuesday the Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing on a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirk Pearson that would make it harder for identity thieves to use increasingly-sophisticated “skimming” technology to acquire access to victims’ personal financial information. “Identity theft is a horrible crime that can follow a victim for years,” said... Read More

In The News: Lawmakers push for wider scope in disaster mobilization

Published on January 20, 2015
OLYMPIA — Fire officials this week are rekindling their effort to make sure a law that lets them mobilize resources to fight wildfires also applies to major emergencies such as the Oso mudslide. Public hearings are planned in the House and Senate on bills that would revise the state wildfire mobilization law to make clear... Read More

Windows Into the Budget – 2015 Budget Preview: The Deficit Myth

Published on January 08, 2015
“Windows into the Budget” is a series designed to inform and engage the public about critical budget issues in Olympia. It is intended to be objective, factual, and hopefully bring clarity to complicated public policy. There is a myth, propagated by the Governor and others, that Washington faces a massive budget deficit, meaning that the... Read More

Sen. Hill’s response to governor’s proposed tax increase

Published on December 18, 2014
Sen. Andy Hill issued the following statement in response to the release of the governor’s 2015 budget proposal. “The governor’s contribution to the upcoming budget process features a massive tax increase on residents and small businesses. Investing in student achievement and providing essential services should not depend on risky tax schemes that threaten our economy. Educating... Read More

King selected to lead Senate transportation committee

Published on December 17, 2014
During a meeting of Senate majority lawmakers Monday, Sen. Curtis King was chosen to chair the Senate Transportation Committee. As head of the committee, King will steer the transportation agenda and bill proposals, as well as write the biennial transportation budget. It is anticipated that the agenda will focus on passage of a reform and transportation-revenue package.... Read More

Schoesler elected to lead Senate coalition as Majority Leader

Published on December 04, 2014
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus today elected Sen. Mark Schoesler as Senate Majority Leader for a two-year legislative term. “I’m grateful to my Senate colleagues for their vote of confidence and am eager to continue working on solutions for the people of Washington,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville, “It’s time to govern and roll up our sleeves... Read More

Honeyford is first to receive new CWU alumni award

Published on May 15, 2014
In a ceremony May 1, Sen. Jim Honeyford received the first-ever College of the Sciences Alumni of the Year award for Social Sciences from Central Washington University. The award recognizes Honeyford’s ongoing passion and interest in CWU as well as his work as chair of the Senate capital budget to fund Science Phase II, a... Read More

Honeyford’s perfect record of support for small business continues

Published on May 15, 2014
Sen. Jim Honeyford has again earned the Guardian of Small Business Award by maintaining a perfect voting record during the 2013-14 biennium on issues that count for small businesses. He was one of 15 senators to receive a 100-percent score from the National Federation of Independent Business. “Communities across the 15th Legislative District depend on... Read More

Post session Olympia Report

Published on April 08, 2014
In my latest Olympia Report I discuss the Legislature finishing on time–without raising taxes, bills I had signed by the governor and the Capital Budget outlook. Click HERE to read more. Read More

Honeyford bill to protect state waters signed by governor

Published on April 03, 2014
Sunnyside Sen. Jim Honeyford’s work to keep state waterways from being infested by non-native mussels and other invasive species was validated when Senate Bill 6040 was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee during a ceremony Wednesday. By using an integrated-management approach supported by Honeyford’s legislation, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to... Read More
Clear-headed thinking with insight into the key issues of the 2015 legislative session, Exit 105 is the leadership blog of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus.
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