Sen. O’Ban’s E-newsletter – June 1, 2015

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Update from Olympia – June 1, 2015

Friends and Neighbors,

This past Thursday was the final day of the 2015 special session. Budget negotiators have been working to finalize agreement on the state’s two-year operating budget, but it is apparent that another special session is necessary to finish that work. The hold-up is that despite a 12% increase in spending in the Senate budget, the House wants to spend more and continues to demand new taxes on income and energy, and an increase in taxes on small businesses.

Projected revenues continue to strengthen the Senate’s position. Last week the Economic Revenue and Forecast Council released their estimate a month early to assist in the budget talks. The report indicates that the state will collect an additional $400 million in revenue without raising taxes. That brings to a total, $1.1 billion, in NEW revenue since January 2015. Even the governor now concedes his requested tax increase of $1.4 billion  is no longer necessary although he and the House still call for new taxes, just not as much.

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Creating accountability for elected officials

As State Auditor Troy Kelley waits for his day in court, there has been a concern regarding a loophole in current state pension policy. Currently, the auditor is on a self-imposed leave of absence. This is problematic because most state employees have a supervisor that must approve instances of unpaid leave for legitimate issues. In the auditor’s case, he is an independent elected official who can approve his own leave. As the law stands today, the auditor could return to work for just one day and increase his pension significantly by purchasing credits for missed time. This is unacceptable. Despite calls from the Senate, and even the Governor and his own party to step down, the auditor seems committed to remaining in office. I co-sponsored a bill that would prohibit Kelley and other statewide-elected officials who are being investigated for criminal misconduct from exploiting this loophole for personal gain.

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Aiden’s Act

King 5 News has been following this legislation that I sponsored to protect children in suspected cases of child abuse, and featured the passage of the bill in a recent story.

Legislation inspired by the story of a Port Orchard boy was signed into law Monday, holding the Washington Department of Social and Health Services more accountable in cases where an endangered child is harmed.

Aiden Barnum was just 12 days old when he suffered a broken arm at the hands of his abusive father. Doctors warned at the time that the break didn’t look like an accident, but CPS did not act to remove Aiden from the home. A month later, Aiden’s father crushed the baby’s skull, resulting in significant brain damage… Please click here to read more.

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Other bills protecting the vulnerable and increasing accountability become law

As chair of the Senate Humans Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee I have worked on a number of bills that have become law that will improve our state’s social services.

Governor signs several significant social service reform bills into law…

Aiden’s Act signed by governor – reform will better protect children when abuse is suspected

New training for law enforcement to protect and identify victims of human trafficking

Pierce County ferries receive funding boost from O’Ban legislation

Please click here for information on more legislation.

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Senate recognizes the economic and cultural contributions of the U.S. Open

USGA

Legislators from our region, the Pierce County Executive and representative from the U.S. Golf Association

The Senate adopted Resolution 8675 that I sponsored to recognize the significant economic and cultural contributions that will result in hosting the U.S. Open golf championship at Chambers Bay. This is a historic opportunity that is expected to yield $140 million in economic activity and promote our community to a global audience.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Washington State Senate recognize the significant economic and cultural contributions of the U.S. Open golf tournament to Pierce County and the entire state of Washington… Click here to read resolution in its entirety.

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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.

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Steve O’Ban

28th District Senator

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Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

– Sir Winston Churchill

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