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Study veto a blow to revenue in Pierce County

Published on April 4, 2014

During the budget bill signing ceremony today, Gov. Jay Inslee put at odds millions in economic growth and revenue for Pierce County by eliminating an impact study of the upcoming US Open golf tournament being held at Chambers Bay in 2015. The study would have tracked the anticipated spike in sales tax revenue from the US Open and made it easier for the county to show that additional state funding would be justified to help maintain the golf course and earn a repeat of the US Open in 5-7 years. The governor also vetoed a section of the transportation supplemental budget directing the Washington State Patrol to help with traffic control at the event.

“I’m disappointed the governor couldn’t see the big picture,” said Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place. “This tournament will have an enormous positive economic impact on our county and region, three times greater than hosting a Super Bowl. If we can demonstrate the substantial revenue that would come from this event, then we can position ourselves to host the event again in another 5-7 years.” Read more…


Veterans gain college credit for military service under new law – governor signs O’Ban bill

Published on April 2, 2014

Senator O’Ban calls college credit law ‘one of the most important things we can do to help veterans transition into civilian life.’

Washington’s veterans have a new way to gain recognition for their service while accessing the benefits of a college degree. Governor Jay Inslee today signed into law Senate Bill 5969  which grants academic credit for military training. State Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, who sponsored the legislation, called the new law a major benefit for veterans, “who often face hardships as they transition back into civilian life and need to build new careers.”

The law now requires Washington’s colleges and universities to adopt policies on awarding academic credit to individuals for certain military training courses or programs by the year 2016. There are currently 22,000 veterans, active-duty personnel and their dependents enrolled in Washington’s community and technical colleges and the University of Washington has 1,344 enrolled veterans alone.

“We ask so much of our brave men and women in uniform,” said O’Ban, whose two sons serve in the military, “They’ve made life and death decisions, mastered complicated information technology and communication systems and managed millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. This is valuable training and work they’ve accomplished and worthy of college credit.”

Tom Jenkins, President of the Husky United Military Veterans heralded the signing. “I’m very excited about this bill. This is the biggest thing for veterans as it directly recognizes their accomplishments. It says ‘thank you’ for being a medical professional, or being an engineer, for example. For those who choose to continue in their field of training this is a great opportunity,” Jenkins said.

O’Ban thanked Mark San Souci from the Department of Defense, members of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and Alfie Alvardo-Ramos, director of the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs for their work to pass the landmark legislation. “From the beginning there was strong consensus that military training should count toward a college degree,” said O’Ban. “Many veteran organizations are on the front lines with military members who are struggling to build a new career and to transition into civilian life. This is an open door for new opportunities.”

Among the law’s requirements, the individual must be enrolled in college and must have successfully completed any military training course or program as part of the individual’s military service that meets certain criteria. In addition, each institution of higher education must provide a copy of its newly-created policy to any enrolled students who listed prior or present military service in their admission applications.

“There are so many ways to give back to our veterans who have put their lives on the line for our freedoms,” said O’Ban, “Opening the door to a college education is a great way to say ‘thank you.”

According to Defense Manpower Data Center, 11,173 service members left the military in 2013 and made Washington state their home and more than 600,000 veterans call Washington home.



Foster kids get new protections as governor signs O’Ban bill to provide legal representation

Published on March 28, 2014

Starting today, Washington’s foster children have new legal protections in a system known for letting kids without parental or guardian connections fall through the cracks. Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 6126 that guarantees legal representation for any foster child who no longer has his natural parents. Primary sponsor of the bill, Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, called the new law a, “major step forward for the 10,000 foster kids in Washington.”

“Many of our most vulnerable kids now have a voice to help protect them from the worst kind of predators” says Pierce County lawmaker

The law provides foster children with legal representation in dependency proceedings. Washington now joins a majority of other states that already require similar protections of a child’s legal rights when all parental rights to a child have been severed. “These kids now have a fighting chance to move out of the foster-care system and into adoptive, loving homes much more quickly,” O’Ban said.

“This is additional legal protection to help vulnerable children who may become victims of the growing crisis of child sex trafficking,” said O’Ban, who serves as chair of the Human Services and Corrections Committee and is a member of the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee,  “We know that 60 percent of teens lured into sex trafficking are foster kids. It’s the state’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and I can’t think of anyone more vulnerable than a child who is an orphan without parental guidance.”

O’Ban added that former foster children from other states testified in support of the bill and talked about how alone they felt before being granted a legal representative and how much of a difference it made. “We’re doing the right thing with this new law,” O’Ban said.

O’Ban thanked the many child advocacy groups who helped promote the bill and educate lawmakers on the need to add legal protections. “Columbia Legal Services, Partners for Our Children, Catholic Community Services, and The Mockingbird Society were leading organizations that worked tirelessly to ensure these kids were given the legal protections they deserved. I am grateful for their efforts and guidance that kept this bill moving forward,” O’Ban said.

“This legislation would not have happened without Sen. Andy Hill adding the funds for this important legal protection for kids in the Senate budget and fighting for its inclusion in the final budget,” O’Ban said.

Passage of SB 6126 was one of O’Ban’s top priorities heading into the 2014 legislative session.


O’Ban declines increase in Senate per diem as issue of ‘fairness’

Published on March 25, 2014

‘This is the wrong time for lawmakers to be increasing their pay,’ says Pierce County lawmaker

OLYMPIA…State Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, announced today that he would not accept any increase in his compensation from the Senate despite a vote in the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee to raise the per diem from $90 to $120 per day.

“At a time of chronic unemployment, the Legislature needs to lead by example,” said O’Ban. “In Pierce County, my county, unemployment is higher than the state average and veterans are unemployed at even higher rates. Furthermore, we have asked other state employees to hold the line on wage increases.”

In a request to the Secretary of the Senate, O’Ban asked that his per diem rate remain at the previous $90 level.

“This is an issue of fairness. It’s simply wrong for the Legislature to be increasing its pay in any form when so many people are struggling to even find a job,” O’Ban said.

By a 4-3 vote the state Senate Facilities and Operations Committee supported the 33 percent increase in the amount senators may collect each day for expenses while the Legislature is in session.

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