Legislative Update – April 16, 2015
Friends and Neighbors,
We are beginning the countdown to the end of the 2015 legislative session, highlighting the need to complete budget negotiations by April 26. Today is the 95th day of the 105-day legislative session, the 20th day since House Democrats rolled out a budget proposal that won’t balance without $1.5 billion in new taxes, and the 14th day that House leaders have failed to bring their proposed tax increases to a vote. The Senate budget balances without raising taxes and pays for significant new investments in education and mental health.
State Auditor indicted by grand jury
In a sad day for our state, Democratic State Auditor Troy Kelley, a resident of the 28th District, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of tax evasion, filing false tax returns, and possession of stolen property, along with seven additional charges. The Office of the State Auditor is responsible for holding state and local governments accountable for fraud, waste and abuse. The federal investigation and now indictment of Troy Kelley has seriously undermined the integrity of the Auditor’s Office. Governor Inslee, and Senate leaders from both parties, have called on Kelley to resign.
Before news of the indictment, I introduced Senate Bill 6108, which calls for all elected officials in statewide offices and any candidates wishing to run for a statewide office, to file a statement that they have no knowledge of any pending criminal charges or investigations against them. Failure to file this report, or filing a false report, would result in a gross misdemeanor. The investigation of Troy Kelley has convinced me that we need better ways to ensure our elected officials are not hiding potential criminal activity from voters.
Human trafficking: A growing epidemic in Washington State
On Tuesday, the Washington State House of Representatives unanimously approved Senate Bill 5933, which I prime-sponsored. The bill will establish a statewide training program for those who work on the front-line to combat the escalating problem of human trafficking. The measure was approved by the Senate earlier this year. We have a responsibility to take up difficult issues that are often hidden in the shadows. The legislation not only implements statewide training for law enforcement, prosecutors and other criminal justice personnel, it requires the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy to provide the Legislature with a report on the efficacy of the training programs. I have been working and will continue to work closely with Washington Engage on what I can do to assist and help to alleviate this rising problem. To learn more about how we are working to combat human trafficking go to http://www.waengage.com/ and http://www.atg.wa.gov/human-trafficking. Also, watch this moving film about real victims of this epidemic. http://www.thelongnightmovie.com/about/#thefilm
Bills combating youth homelessness and making the justice system more fair for our youth are heading to the Governor’s desk for signature
This year, I sponsored legislation addressing youth homelessness and fairness in our criminal justice system to give youth a second chance.
Senate Bill 5404, the Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Act, focuses on identifying homeless youth, reuniting them with their families, and getting them help so they do not fall prey to drug pushers and human traffickers. The bill, which passed the Legislature, seeks to coordinate our state’s efforts to provide needed services to vulnerable youth.
Another bill that I sponsored is Senate Bill 5564, known as the YEAR act, gives juvenile offenders an opportunity at a second chance. This allows youth who have committed non-serious offenses the possibility of having their records sealed so they can qualify for jobs and become productive members of society. Our current system allows only those juvenile offenders with means to seal their records. This law ensures that victims are kept whole when it comes to paying restitution but gives deserving juveniles another chance.
Senate backs effort to limit release of sex offenders to Pierce County
Monday the Senate gave support for legislation intended to keep Pierce County from becoming home to more than its share of sexually violent predators released from custody on McNeil Island. My efforts came in the form of an amendment to House Bill 1059, which was adopted almost unanimously by the Senate. With this legislation, predators will be returned to the county from which they were committed.
Senate capital budget invests in the people and future of 28th district
The state Senate passed a capital-budget proposal yesterday for 2015-17 which builds over 2,100 classrooms, fully funds 80 parks and trails, and devotes $60 million to local-government infrastructure projects statewide.
Significant projects, totaling $99,305,000, for our 28th district include investments for local government such as $1 million for the Chamber Creek Regional Park Pier, $450,000 for the Steilacoom Sentinel Way repairs, and $83,000 for Jacob’s Point on Anderson Island. About $9.5 million will fund preservation programs for the Military Department, nearly $50 million will be invested in mental health projects including patient safety improvements at Western State Hospital and a host of renovations and new facilities, including a new kitchen!
The Capital Budget proposed by the Senate also makes significant investments toward conservation efforts with $4 million to improve shellfish growing areas and an additional $4 million for natural resources investments tied to economic growth. The area’s community and technical colleges also receive just over $5 million for facility repairs, minor works and preservation.
Yesterday, marked the legislative policy cut-off, where bills are passed by the other chamber and are sent to the Governor for signature consideration or die a legislative death for the year. Below is a list of my bills that successfully made it through both chambers.
Please visit my website by clicking here to see the list of bills that I have sponsored.
It is an honor to represent you as your state Senator. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at (360)786-7654 if I can be of service to you or your family with issues pertaining to Washington State government.
28th District Senator
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
– Sir Winston Churchill
Share my E-newsletter
Do you know others who live in our district who may not be receiving my e-news updates? Please feel free to forward this e-mail invitation to them or click on the share button below.