This week I held a news conference to talk about the need for the governor to notify the victims’ families before issuing a moratorium on the death penalty in Washington. I was joined by the family members of several victims of those murdered by the men currently on death row in our state, and I addressed the need to respect the will of the people as well as the finer points of my proposal, Senate Bill 6566.
That measure, which had a public hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee immediatly following the news conference, would essentially require a governor to individually consider the facts of a specific conviction after receiving a recommendation from the state Clemency and Pardons Board before granting a respite or reprieve.
It was terribly presumptuous of the governor to announce a statewide suspension of death-row executions without even speaking with the victims’ families. His office does not give him the authority to, by executive order, grant an across-the-board reprieve. It’s disrespectful to the family members of the victims whose opinions must be considered under existing law.
But the governor committed a new form of injustice by failing to consult with the families of victims and prosecutors before making his decision. My bill will ensure that future governors are required to adhere to the process established by the people of the state of Washington, and will reassure victims’ families that their voices will be heard through the state Clemency and Pardons Board.
During committee testimony, the governor’s representatives stated that he had contacted some family members of victims and lawmakers as well…but not one victims’ family member I spoke with, nor any of the county prosecutors I asked, were contacted. I’ve drafted and sent a letter to the governor asking him to identify the families and lawmakers he spoke with before issuing his blanket moratorium. You can read my letter by clicking the image above.
I will be sure to keep you informed as to the status of my bill as it makes its way through the legislative process. If you feel the need, I’d encourage you to contact the governor’s office to voice your opinion as well.
Funding for a UW-Tacoma law school
The proposed supplemental operating budget released by the Senate this week includes funding to assist the University of Washington-Tacoma in developing a law school. The fulfillment of my request for nearly half a million dollars reaffirms to students that the state is serious about its investments in higher education.
Supplemental budget years usually don’t contain a lot of new funding, but expanding opportunities at UW-Tacoma was one of my priorities heading into the 2014 legislative session. Some things are too important to wait another budget cycle, and developing a law school here in the South Sound area is integral to students who want to pursue careers in that field but don’t have the resources to travel all the way to Seattle.
The 2013-15 supplemental operating budget must be approved by budget committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives – as well as a majority of both chambers – before it can become law.
You can read a Tacoma News Tribune article about the rebirth of a law school at UW-Tacoma by clicking this link.
My bills as we approach another cutoff
This was the last week for Senate policy bills to receive public hearings in the House of Representatives, and vice versa. The House deadline was Wednesday while the Senate’s is today. Friday is also the House deadline for fiscal bills (those with cost implications), while the Senate’s is next Tuesday. From that point forward, we’ll be debating bills in each chamber for the rest of the legislative session, which is scheduled to end March 13th.
- Senate Bill 6566 – Prohibiting a governor from exercising his or her powers of clemency until after receiving a recommendation from the state Clemency and Pardons Board. Passed by the Senate Committee on Law and Justice today, and is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate.
You can watch committee testimony here, and see news reports of the press conference here:
- KING 5 – Victims’ Relatives Criticize Inslee’s Death Penalty Moratorium
- KOMO 4 – Families Urge Inslee to Reconsider Death Penalty Moratorium
- KCPQ 13 – Fighting for the Death Penalty
- Senate Bill 6464 – The “If you liked your insurance, you can get it back” bill. Awaiting a public hearing by the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness. Video of a news conference on this bill can be viewed here.
- Senate Bill 6050 – Encourages better communication between a woman and her doctor about mammographic breast density, a factor in identifying breast cancer. Awaiting a public hearing by the House Committee on Health Care and Wellness.
- Senate Bill 6122 – Requires long-term planning for developmental disabilities services to reduce the long wait for vital services. Approved by the House Committee on Early Learning and Human Services, and now awaiting a vote by the full House.
- Senate Bill 6126 – Gives children in foster care a voice to help accelerate the legal process and place them in a loving, permanent home. Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Appropriations.
- Watch the KING-5 story on this issue here.
- Senate Bill 6022 – Increases an assault on a state hospital worker to a felony to help reduce the almost daily assaults that occur at Western and Eastern State Hospitals. Awaiting approval by the House Committee on Public Safety.
- Senate Bill 6025 – Criminalizes wearing body armor by a criminal engaged in violent crimes. Approved by the House Committee on Public Safety, now awaiting a hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government & Information Technology.
- Senate Joint Memorial 8015 – Urges Congress to strengthen safety protections for tank rail cars carrying potentially hazardous liquids and gases. Approved by the House Committee on Environment, now awaiting a vote by the full House.
MILITARY AND VETERANS
- Senate Bill 6049 – B&O tax credit for businesses that hire veterans. Almost brought up for a vote yesterday, but will likely receive a vote of the full Senate Monday.
- Senate Bill 5969 – Awards academic credit for military training so a veteran can get his degree faster and more affordably. Passed by the House Committee on Higher Education and awaiting a vote by the full House.
- Senate Bill 5970 – A similar bill, this bill counts military training and experience toward meeting professional and other license requirements so that veterans can start new careers faster and more affordably. Passed by the House Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs and is awaiting a vote by the full House.
- Senate Bill 6051 – Reforming the Washington State Department of Transportation by requiring far greater transparency and accountability and speeding up the costly permitting system. Still awaiting a hearing by the Senate Committee on Transportation.
For the full list of bills I’ve proposed this year, please visit my website.
Transportation needs in Pierce County
Speaking of transportation, the Senate Transportation Committee (on which I serve) released it’s proposed supplemental budget this week and it included a number of improvements for Pierce County. Again, because it’s a supplemental budget there are only a few things that received new funding. Here are a few of the key areas:
- SR-16/I-5 to Tacoma Narrows Bridge: Adding HOV lanes.
- I-5 at JBLM: On/off-ramp meter installation.
- SR-704/Cross-Base Highway: New alignment work.
- Tacoma/Pt. Defiance: Numerous rail upgrades.
- Narrows Bridge: Maintenance and preservation.
To see the full list of proposed budget items for the 28th District, please see the PDF document here. Because it’s the Senate proposal, these projects will likely be amended further before a final budget is passed prior to the end of session.
Thanks for your participation in Graham!
I wanted to end by saying thank you to those of you who came out last Saturday to the Graham fire station for our joint 2nd-28th District town hall meeting. About 60 of you came to speak your minds, share your thoughts and ideas and receive a briefing on state legislative issues.
It’s people like you who make government more efficient, effective and less costly by staying involved and making your voices heard. Your participation is truly appreicated and I hope to see you all at our next physical town hall meeting, or hear from you at our next telephone town hall!