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01/23/2018   Washington House Democrats

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, is the sponsor of the New Hope Act (House Bill 2890), which would provide rehabilitated, formerly incarcerated individuals a chance to rebuild their lives after leaving prison so they can support their families.

01/23/2018   Washington House Republicans

ABORTION Rally against abortion draws 5,000 to state Capitol (The News Tribune) March for Life rally draws 5,000 to state Capitol (KIRO TV) Today in history: 45 years later, debate over Roe v. Wade continues (KIRO TV) AGRICULTURE & WATER Wheat prices expected to remain flat, hay exports continue to grow (Washington Ag Network/KONA Radio)... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 23, 2018 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/23/2018   Washington House Democrats

The state capital budget OK’d by the Legislature late Thursday night will pay for more than $65 million in construction and renovation projects in the 23rd legislative district, which includes part of Kitsap County, including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Kingston, Silverdale, Winslow and East Bremerton.

23rd-district state Rep. Sherry Appleton said the long-delayed budget was one of the best in memory for the district, for Kitsap County as a whole, and for the entire state.

“We fought hard for Kitsap,” Appleton (D-23rd, Poulsbo) said, “and in a tough budget year, I’m very pleased with the results. Just in the human services area, this budget invests a million dollars in improvements to Mary and Martha Health and Rehab Center.  We allocate more than three quarters of a quarter million to help Morrow Manner in its goal of providing safety and stability to victims of domestic violence.  And we’ve set aside more than half a million dollars to help Fishline provide food and emergency services to our neighbors in need.”

Additionally, Appleton said, the 2018 capital budget will pay for work on the district’s public schools, area parks, healthcare facilities, the library in Silverdale, and the ARC Community Center, to name a few. And she stressed that a University of Washington study found that every million dollars in construction spending produces 18 family-wage jobs.

“As pleased as I am by this capital budget,” Appleton added, “I find it hard to forgive the Senate Republicans who ran the Senate last year for refusing to consider it nine months ago, when it first was released. Their decision to hold the capital budget hostage until lawmakers passed an unrelated bill caused the Legislature to adjourn without a construction plan in place for the first time in Washington’s history.”

That delay, she said, which was ended when Democrats regained the majority in the Senate because of victory in a special election, cost Washingtonians thousands of jobs and caused the state to lose an entire construction season.

The capital budget was approved unanimously by the Senate and passed in the House with a 95-1 margin.  A separate bill authorizing bond sales to provide funding for the budget passed out of both chambers with strong bipartisan support. Gov. Jay Inslee wasted no time in signing both bills into law Friday (Jan. 19) afternoon.

01/23/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 23, 2018

International cooperation in science, technology, and innovation promotes security, prevents and reduces risks of manmade and natural hazards, and enhances resilience. As the research and development arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) understands the importance of global cooperation and engages with its international partners to enhance homeland security capabilities.

Through its International Cooperative Programs Office (ICPO), S&T maintains valuable partnerships with a number of nations. Among these international partners, Israel stands out due to a rich research and development collaboration portfolio with S&T. The U.S. and Israel began their annual bilateral meetings in 2008.Demo of EOD Robot prototype by DHS S&T’s First Responders Group and Israel National Police at New Jersey State Police (New Brunswick, NJ Nov 2017).

Through five working groups under various S&T components—the First Responders Group (FRG), Cyber Security Division, Borders and Maritime Security Division, Chemical and Biological Defense Division, and the Explosives Division—S&T and Israel’s Minister of Public Safety (MOPS) have collaborated on numerous projects benefiting public security.

“During my first visit to Israel in my current role, I had the chance to see firsthand the importance of our partnership with Israel and the how this joint collaboration is contributing to the success to our mutual portfolios,” said William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology for the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Bryan’s recent comments came after the two countries signed a comprehensive chemical/biological (chem-bio) project arrangement during the eighth annual bilateral meeting in Tel Aviv in September 2017. This project will fund develop technologies for first responders’ use during chemical or biological attacks, accidents or incidents.

“We have big expectations from this new initiative. The intent is to improve the response capability of first responders to chem-bio hazards. We want our first responders to be better prepared when dealing with such events,” said Yaron Kron, head of the Technology Division within the Ministry of Public Security of Israel.

The new chem-bio project is expected to open the door for collaboration between S&T and Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

S&T's First Responders Group and the BIRD Foundation

With its multiple projects and thanks to its partnership with the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, FRG actively collaborates with Israel. DHS S&T and the MOPS established a cooperative activity to promote and fund jointly developed technologies for first responders. Managed by the BIRD Foundation this joint research effort supports the development of S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex Program technology capabilities to ensure first responders are better protected, connected and fully aware.

Demo of EOD Robot prototype by DHS S&T’s First Responders Group and Israel National Police at New Jersey State Police (New Brunswick, NJ Nov 2017).“When you combine innovation from two countries with different points of view and experiences, the results you get can be very creative. The U.S. - Israel BIRD Foundation becomes a bridge between the innovation and the markets in both countries. It is an important bridge,” said Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Executive Director of the BIRD Foundation, as he described the partnership.        

The program has identified 21 first responder capability gaps. Entering its third year, the FRG-BIRD foundation partnership has approved investing $3.7 million in four projects, covering five of those 21 capability gaps, from indoor tracking of first responders to search and rescue using unmanned robots. Going forward, the program seeks to include additional innovative technologies, such as wearable sensors, advanced video capabilities and other technologies for next generation first responders

As a member of the International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation (IFARI), Israel actively participates with S&T and representatives from 12 other nations and the European Commission in identifying requirements for first responders around the world.

“IFARI provides a very good framework, and we encourage companies to use the outcomes of the forum decisions for better exposure to a broader market,” Dr. Yudilevich said. “We hope to extend the program to the larger homeland security space, including border protection and secondary response agencies, in the coming years.”

BIRD announced its third call for proposals early in January, 2018 and the selection of new projects is planned for June 2018.

 

Caption for both photos: Demo of EOD Robot prototype by DHS S&T’s First Responders Group and Israel National Police at New Jersey State Police (New Brunswick, NJ Nov 2017). S&T photo.

 

Topics: 
01/23/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 23, 2018

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON –  Today, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it has issued a waiver to ensure the expeditious construction of barriers and roads in the vicinity of the international border in the state of New Mexico, near the Santa Teresa, New Mexico port of entry.  The waiver was published in the Federal Register today.

This waiver is pursuant to authority granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security by Congress and covers a variety of environmental, natural resource, and land management laws.  Congress provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with a number of authorities necessary to carry out DHS’s border security mission.  One of these authorities is found at section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, as amended (“IIRIRA”).  Section 102(a) of IIRIRA provides that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall take such actions as may be necessary to install additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border to deter illegal crossings in areas of high illegal entry into the United States.  In section 102(b) of IIRIRA, Congress has called for the installation of additional fencing, barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors on the southwest border.  Finally, in section 102(c) of IIRIRA, Congress granted to the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to waive all legal requirements that the Secretary, in Secretary’s sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure the expeditious construction of the barriers and roads authorized by section 102 of IIRIRA.

The Department exercised the waiver authority in Section 102 (c) of IIRIRA on five occasions from 2005 to 2008 and on two occasions in 2017.

The geographic scope of this waiver covers an approximately 20 mile segment of the border starting at the Santa Teresa port of entry and extending westward.  This is within the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector. The El Paso Sector remains an area of high illegal entry.  In fiscal year 2016 alone, the United States Border Patrol apprehended over 25,000 illegal aliens and seized approximately 67,000 pounds of marijuana and approximately 157 pounds of cocaine in the El Paso Sector.  To begin to meet the need for additional border infrastructure in this area, DHS will replace legacy vehicle barrier that no longer meets the Border Patrol’s operation needs with new bollard wall.      

While the waiver eliminates DHS’ obligation to comply with various laws with respect to covered projects, DHS remains committed to environmental stewardship.  DHS has been coordinating and consulting, and intends to continue doing so, with other federal and state resource  agencies to ensure that impacts to the environment, wildlife, and cultural and historic artifacts are analyzed and minimized, to the extent possible.

DHS continues to implement President Trump’s Executive Order 13767 - also known as Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements – and continues to take steps to immediately plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.

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01/22/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 23, 2018

253 Russell Senate Office Building

Good morning Chairwoman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker, and distinguished Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me here today to testify about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) role in surface transportation security.

My colleagues at TSA and I appreciate the continued support of this Committee and its Members, as we carry out our vital security mission. We are grateful for the constructive relationship TSA enjoys with this Committee, and I look forward to building on this relationship during my tenure at the helm of TSA.

The U.S. surface transportation system is a complex, interconnected network made up of mass transit systems, passenger and freight railroads, over-the-road bus operators, motor carrier operators, pipelines, and maritime facilities. These modes operate in close coordination with – and in proximity to – one another every day. To that point, the different modes of the surface transportation system often use the same roads, bridges, and tunnels to function. In short, the American economy and way of life depend on this network continuing to operate securely and safely.

To put the size of the system into perspective, consider that over 11 million passengers daily travel on the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (NY MTA) system alone. And more than 10 billion trips are taken each year on 6,800 U.S. mass transit systems, ranging from very small bus-only systems in rural areas to very large multi-modal systems, like the NY MTA, in urban areas. More than 500 individual freight railroads carrying essential goods operate on nearly 140,000 miles of track. Eight million large capacity commercial trucks and almost 4,000 commercial bus companies travel on the four million miles of roadway in the United States and on more than 600,000 highway bridges greater than 20 feet in length and through 350 tunnels greater than 300 feet in length. Over-the-road bus operators carry approximately 750 million intercity bus passengers each year. The pipeline system consists of approximately 3,000 private companies, which own and operate more than 2.5 million miles of pipelines transporting natural gas, refined petroleum products, and other commercial products.

As you can see, securing surface transportation is a critically important and complex undertaking. Recent terror attacks and plots – like the attempted suicide bombing in the New York City Port Authority Bus Terminal and an increase in vehicle ramming incidents around the world, including the most recent attack also in New York City – provide compelling reminders of the difficulty in securing a “system of systems” that is designed to quickly move massive volumes of passengers and commodities.

I look at three things when assessing risk in any particular transportation mode; the threat, the vulnerability, and the consequence, should an incident occur. When it comes to the surface mode, I take the threat very seriously. Because of the open nature of these systems, high ridership, and the types of commodities transported, the system is inherently vulnerable and the consequences of an attack would be high. Although we have invested significant resources and implemented numerous programs and policies to reduce identified vulnerabilities and minimize potential consequences, in the current climate, vigilance and preparation can only take us so far. I am actively assessing how best to leverage and enhance TSA’s surface expertise to strengthen our partnership with surface stakeholders.

TSA’s Role

Unlike aviation, where TSA has been heavily involved in day-to-day security operations since its inception, surface transportation security has primarily been approached as a partnership with surface transportation owners and operators because they, not TSA, are primarily responsible for their own security operations. We believe this collaborative approach and relationship with surface owners and operators is appropriate. The interconnected, varied and expansive scope of the surface transportation system creates unique security challenges that are best addressed by system owners and operators and federally supported through stakeholder communication, coordination, and collaboration. TSA takes our security role for surface transportation very seriously. To best support surface transportation owners and operators with their security needs, we focus our efforts on system assessments, voluntary operator compliance with industry standards, collaborative law enforcement and security operations, accurate and timely exchange of intelligence information, and regulatory oversight.

TSA’s different role in security for surface transportation versus aviation is understandably reflected in its annual appropriation. Although TSA’s budget for surface transportation is small compared to the aviation sector, the nation realizes a significant return from this investment. TSA’s resources and personnel directly support ongoing security programs with committed security partners who, in turn, dedicate millions of dollars to secure critical infrastructure, provide uniformed law enforcement and specialty security teams, and conduct operational activities and deterrence efforts. TSA invests its resources to help those partners identify vulnerabilities and risks in their operations, and works with specific owners/operators to develop and implement risk-mitigating solutions to address their specific vulnerabilities and risks.

TSA is a co-Sector Specific Agency along with Department of Transportation (DOT) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) for the transportation sector. The USCG is the lead federal agency for maritime security in the U.S., and TSA supports the USCG in its maritime security efforts and in coordinating interagency efforts for the maritime mode. DOT and TSA work collectively to integrate safety and security priorities for the other modes of surface transportation. Although DOT’s regulations relate to safety, many safety activities and programs also benefit security and help to reduce overarching risk to the transportation system. In the surface environment, TSA has built upon those standards to improve the security posture with minimal regulations.

TSA’s Approach

Information and intelligence sharing is at the heart of TSA’s approach to surface transportation security. Whether we are providing unclassified information about known tactics, or classified information about specific threats, TSA works to deliver information to the appropriate surface transportation security partners. We maintain a communication network that facilitates the timely dissemination of information to stakeholders so they can take appropriate actions to prepare for, prevent and defeat acts of terrorism.

TSA also provides training and exercise support to surface transportation operators and their employees. The focus of those efforts is often on ensuring the effectiveness of communication channels, response plans, and other operational protocols. From frontline employees to security executives, TSA works to provide tools that enhance preparedness and close gaps in security planning. We host activities ranging from tabletop to full-scale exercises that focus on events associated with a single transit system to multi-modal regional events that bring federal, state, and local security and emergency response partners together.

Without the partnership, collaboration, and initiative of surface owners and operators, TSA could not fulfill our surface transportation security mission in making systems as safe and secure as practical. I have met with many representatives of the surface transportation community to better understand their concerns and perspective on securing the transportation network and continue to make this type of open dialogue a priority. To that end, TSA is hosting a Surface Public Area Security Summit next month to discuss security best practices and promote additional collaboration. This event will bring together domestic and international surface transportation stakeholders to discuss security challenges, various approaches to addressing them, and opportunities for future collaboration.

Innovation and Technology

The inherently open and expansive scope of surface passenger transportation and the evolving threat to it requires TSA to continue researching and developing innovative processes and technologies to increase security without creating undesired financial or operational burdens. Partnership is the key to fostering innovation and ensuring the surface transportation system is secure both today and in the future.

TSA incorporates partner needs and capability gaps into our work to influence and stimulate the development of new security technologies in the marketplace. This effort is designed to make more readily available innovative and advanced technologies useful for public area security. We try to keep pace with the fast-moving advancement of security technologies to address current and evolving threats by looking at emerging technologies, including from outside the transportation environment, to determine applicability to the surface transportation environment. TSA works closely with surface transportation owners and operators to introduce new technology and approaches to securing surface transportation through collaborative operational test beds for different modes of transportation (mass transit, highway motor carrier, pipeline, and freight rail), and critical infrastructure protection security technology projects to address the increasing threat demonstrated from attacks world-wide. For example, TSA is presently working with New Jersey Transit, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, Amtrak, and Los Angeles Metro to assess the effectiveness of technologies designed to address threats associated with person- and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

Implementing 9/11 Recommendations

We continue to work to address the remaining requirements of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Act, Public Law 110-53). To date, TSA has met over 90% of the mandates imposed by the 9/11 Act, including 39 of the 42 surface transportation security-related mandates. Completing the remaining 9/11 Act requirements is among my highest priorities.

These mandates include the issuance of regulations for surface transportation employee training and vetting, the conducting of vulnerability assessments and standards for security plans, and mandates for the technology work just described. In December 2016, TSA issued the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Surface Employee Training Rule and the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for the Vulnerability Assessment and Security Plan Rule; TSA anticipates publication of the final Training Rule this fiscal year. While working on these rulemakings, TSA has taken steps through collaborative initiatives and assessments to ensure that front line employees receive security training and that owners and operators have robust security programs which include security plans, employee vetting and exercises.

Although the finalization of these rules is pending, TSA has worked diligently with stakeholders that would be affected by these rules to implement programs that meet, and in several instances exceed, what would be required by the rules. For example, TSA evaluates several areas required for a sound security program through our Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE) program, including security training, security planning, and employee and contractor vetting. The majority of the higher-risk transit systems (those with daily passenger trips of 60,000 or higher) achieved a score of 90% or higher in the security planning, security training, and employee and contractor vetting areas in their most recent BASE reviews.

Conclusion

In closing, I believe a reinvigorated strategy is an essential foundation for success in our mission, and I have engaged my executive staff, with their years of experience, to reexamine and re-envision TSA’s strategy and to place a much greater emphasis on surface transportation security – both in organizational and mission focus. I have also engaged many private sector surface transportation owners and operators to improve strategic partnerships and promote effective collaboration, and look forward to ongoing engagement with members of this committee as we develop our strategic path forward for TSA.

Chairwoman Fischer, Ranking Member Booker, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I am honored to serve in this capacity and I look forward to your questions.

01/22/2018   Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA – Rep. Jeff Morris’s bill to rename the Blanchard Mountain state forest in honor of local legislator and community activist Harriet Spanel past the state House of Representatives today on a bipartisan vote. It is the second time the measure has passed the House.

Morris (D-Mt. Vernon) said the tribute (HJM 4010) would be a lasting legacy to Spanel, who passed away almost two years ago.

“Harriet did so much for our district over her 22 years as a legislator, including protecting the Chuckanut, Blanchard and Lake Whatcom forestlands so that thousands of visitors each year can enjoy the area’s natural beauty and recreational activities,” Morris said.

Morris and his legislative seatmate, Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes), have been working for years to protect the Blanchard Forest from timber harvest while also maintaining timber revenue that goes to the county and local school districts. Work started even earlier with a budget proviso  passed in 2001 that looked at the recreational benefits of Blanchard Mountain – Sen. Harriet Spanel, Rep. Dave Quall and Rep. Morris drafted the proviso.

Blanchard is currently part of the state Department of Natural Resources’ timber trust land, which is used to pay for schools and other local services. Morris and Lytton recently secured $10 million in the capital construction budget to swap out other working forest land for Blanchard land so that it can be preserved from timber harvest.

“We’re proud to continue Harriet’s fight to keep our wilderness and recreational areas intact,” Morris said. “Naming this core area after her is a fitting tribute to all she did throughout her career to make our region a better place to live.”

01/22/2018   Washington House Republicans

THE CURRENT | A WASHINGTON HOUSE REPUBLICAN E-NEWSLETTER A permanent Hirst solution | Jan. 19, 2018 CAPITOL CALENDAR RADIO/AUDIO AUDIO: Capitol Calendar | Jan. 22-26, 2018 ABORTION Weather cooperates as hundreds turn out for 3rd annual Walk for Life NW (KXLY) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Seafood company plans to leave the city due to Seattle’s... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 22, 2018 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/22/2018   Washington House Democrats

The state capital budget OK’d by the Legislature late Thursday night will pay for more than $7 million in construction and renovation projects in the 45th district, which includes Woodinville and Duvall, as well as large parts of Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish.

45th-district state Reps. Roger Goodman and Larry Springer said the long-delayed budget was one of the best in their memories, and pointed to a number of significant investments.

“The budget allocates $3 million in repair and maintenance work at Lake Washington Institute of Technology.  It pays for nearly $2 million in improvements to Northshore Athletic Fields and the Willows Road Regional Trail, which completes the hike and bike connection between the Cross Kirkland Corridor and Redmond.” Springer (D-Kirkland) said. “These and other projects will not only help improve the quality of life in the district, they’ll also create scores of family-wage jobs.”

Other significant funding streams created for district projects include more than $2 million for improvements at the aging 12-bed Woodinville Community Facility run by the Department of Social and Health Services, with much of the funding paying for upgrades in the security system; and $200,000 in repairs and maintenance at several Department of Wildlife sites throughout the district.

“This critical construction budget will make historical investments in school construction, community and technical colleges, affordable housing, and community behavioral health, as well as funding important local projects,” said Goodman (D-Kirkland). “I’m pleased that we could break through the gridlock to get this done, put people to work, and improve the quality of life in communities across the state.”

The capital budget was approved unanimously by the Senate and passed in the House with a 95-1 margin.  A separate bill authorizing bond sales to provide funding for the budget passed out of both chambers with strong bipartisan support. Wasting no time, Gov. Jay Inslee signed both bills into law Friday (Jan. 19) afternoon.

 

01/21/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats ended the second week of the 2018 session by passing a list of long-delayed priority legislation with bipartisan votes, including: $4 billion capital construction budget (Passed the Senate 49-0) Washington Voting Rights Act (29-19) Same-day registration (29-20) The DISCLOSE Act (32-17) Breakfast After the Bell (40-8) Protecting transgender students from bullying in school (30-18) A ban on the so-called practice of “conversion therapy” (32-16) Eliminating unfair credit “freeze” fees for consumers (46-2) The third week will focus on more policies that put people first, led by package of bills aimed at improving health care access for women in Washington. The Senate will focus on the next steps in education funding, with a hearing in the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee on Monday afternoon. Other highlights this week include hearings on the death penalty, sexual harassment, clean energy, reducing gun violence, protecting orca whales, preventing oil spills, and many more. Democratic leaders from the House and Senate will hold a press availability at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in the House Caucus Room. Possible floor action Wednesday-Friday. This is not a complete list of committees or agendas. It only includes items we think you might find of interest. Check the legislative website for complete agendas. Download a printable PDF – Media contacts listed by senator – Follow Us – Like us – Subscribe/Unsubscribe  Monday, Jan. 22 Health & Long Term Care, 10 am, Senate HR1 Public Hearing: SB 5912 – Concerning insurance coverage of tomosynthesis or three-dimensional mammography. SB 6102 – Enacting the employee reproductive choice act. SB 6105 – Enacting the reproductive health access for all act. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.) SB 6048 – Concerning the age of individuals at which sale or distribution of tobacco and […]
01/21/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear three pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Senate Hearing Room 4. Where you can watch it live: /www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011337 Brief Summary: ·  Senate Bill 5996 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault. · Senate Bill 6313 addresses mandatory employment contracts and agreements that limit an employee’s right to file a complaint or cause of action for sexual harassment or sexual assault. · Senate Bill 6471 relates to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment. Quote: · Sen. Karen Keiser: · “For a long time, women felt sexual harassment was something we had to deal with just to have careers. I want to make clear that sexual harassment will no longer be accepted, time is up, and we must make a change. “There’s a burden of humiliation and fear of reprisal that intimidates victims from coming forward. These bills will provide a path forward for victims to report without fear of losing their jobs or suffering other forms of retaliation. We must no longer limit the economic and career potential of half of our population. We must demand that our workplace culture shifts to reflect our values of fairness and respect.”
01/19/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 19, 2018

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

DHS Enforcing Critical Identification Requirements to Protect the Homeland

WASHINGTON – Beginning February 5, 2018, residents of American Samoa will no longer be able to use territory-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards to fly domestically, or enter federal buildings and military installations. On that date, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing compliance with the Real ID Act to better protect the American people.

American Samoa formerly had an extension that allowed federal agencies to continue to accept its driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, that extension expired on October 10, 2017, triggering a three month grace period before enforcement would begin on February 5, 2018. American Samoa has subsequently not been able to demonstrate a clear achievable plan for compliance as needed to receive a new extension. 

DHS continues to work with American Samoa on what actions it can take to receive a new extension. DHS has provided grants and offers technical assistance to support compliance with the REAL ID security requirements.

IMPACT ON AMERICAN SAMOA RESIDENTS

As a result of today’s decision, a driver’s license or ID issued by American Samoa (AS) will no longer be an acceptable document to board a federally-regulated commercial aircraft. American Samoa is the only state or territory that has not reached compliance or received an extension. As a result, starting February 5, 2018, American Samoan residents should bring to the airport an identity document acceptable to TSA. TSA provides a list of acceptable documents here

To allow for a smooth transition, between February 5, 2018 and May 6, 2018, TSA will provide assistance to American Samoans who arrive at an airport without an acceptable identification document. 

For federal buildings and military bases, REAL ID only affects locations where individuals are required to present an identification document for access. It does not require individuals to present identification where it is not otherwise required. When planning a visit to a Federal facility or military base, residents of American Samoa should contact the facility to determine what, if any, identification is needed for access.

BACKGROUND ON REAL ID

Based on a recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses and identification cards. The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, and is designed to ensure that people boarding a flight or entering a federal building are who they say they are.

REAL ID established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. This includes incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial aircraft. The goal of REAL ID is to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards used for Federal official purposes.

Because of the potential for confusion about the REAL ID enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.

  • Be aware of changes to American Samoa’s status. You can check for updates on REAL ID compliance or extensions at www.dhs.gov/real-id.
  • Read answers to frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
  • Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. TSA provides a list of acceptable alternative documents at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow sufficient processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.

DHS is working closely with American Samoa to implement their REAL ID requirements and stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed. The women and men of DHS will continue to work tirelessly to put protections in place to keep our country and our people safe.

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Keywords: 
01/19/2018   Washington House Republicans

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Debra L. Stephens wrote: “The majority’s decision hinges on an interpretation of RCW 19.27.097 that is unsupported by the plain language of the statute, precedent, or common sense.” You can read the full decision here. Since the October 2016 state Supreme Court ruling known as Hirst, House Republicans have held... Read more »

The post Protecting property rights: A permanent Hirst solution appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/19/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 19, 2018

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

DHS Enforcing Critical Identification Requirements to Protect the Homeland

WASHINGTON - Beginning February 5, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing compliance with the Real ID Act to better protect the American people. Fifty-five out of fifty-six states and territories are currently compliant or have received an extension until October 10, 2018. Passengers who have licenses issued by a state or territory that is compliant or has an extension to become compliant with REAL ID requirements may continue to use their licenses as usual.

As of today, American Samoa (AS) is the only territory that has not reached compliance or received an extension. This means that starting February 5, 2018, residents will not be able to use AS-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards to fly domestically, access federal facilities (including military bases), or nuclear power plants.

American Samoa formerly had an extension that allowed federal agencies to continue to accept its driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, that extension expired on October 10, 2017, triggering a three month grace period before enforcement would begin on February 5, 2018. American Samoa has subsequently not been able to demonstrate a clear and achievable plan for compliance as needed to receive a new extension. 

DHS has worked extensively with every state and territory to provide time, technical assistance, and grants to support compliance with the REAL ID security requirements. The Department continues to urge territorial officials to take action, allowing residents of American Samoa to obtain driver’s licenses or identification cards that meet these enhanced security standards.

Background on REAL ID

Based on a recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses and identification cards. The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, and is designed to ensure that people boarding a flight or entering a federal building are who they say they are.

REAL ID established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. This includes incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial aircraft. The goal of REAL ID is to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards used for Federal official purposes.

Because of the potential for confusion about the REAL ID enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.

  • Be aware of your state’s status. You can check if your state is REAL ID compliant or has an extension at www.dhs.gov/real-id.
  • Read answers to frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
  • Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. TSA provides a list of acceptable documents at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow sufficient processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.

DHS is working closely with all states and territories to implement their REAL ID requirements and stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed. The women and men of DHS will continue to work tirelessly to put protections in place to keep our country and our people safe.

# # #

 

Keywords: 
01/19/2018   Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA – Legislators passed the state’s capital budget last night, providing $4.3 billion in construction projects across the state, including $106 million for projects in San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Reps. Jeff Morris (D-Mt. Vernon) and Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes) were instrumental in securing those funds, which will kick-start important projects in the 40th Legislative District.

“Capital budget investments build and repair critical projects and create thousands of jobs,” Morris said. “While all these projects are important, I’m particularly glad we’re replacing and upgrading WWU facilities, high schools, and elementary schools.”

Lytton joined Morris in praising the budget’s passage.

“As someone working on fully funding education over the years, building new schools is an absolute necessity. This capital budget provides great investments in our local schools, and a total of a billion dollars in school construction throughout the state,” Lytton said.

Lytton and Morris said they continued fighting to preserve Blanchard Mountain by including $10 million to “swap out” other working forest lands in the region for the Department of Natural Resource’s land in the Blanchard Forest.

Project highlights include:

Education

  • Mt. Vernon High School construction:  $19.1 million
  • Sehome High School replacement:  $15.4 million
  • Madison Elementary replacement:  $7.9 million
  • Lincoln Elementary replacement:  $7.1 million
  • Anacortes High School modernization:  $3.1 million
  • Lopez Island schools:  $1.8 million
  • Western Washington University:  $24.8 million
  • Skagit Valley College maint./repair:  $2.8 million

Conservation/Community projects

  • Blanchard Mtn. protection:  $10 million
  • Skagit Valley YMCA:  $3.5 million

Total all projects 40th LD:  $106 million

Overall, the capital budget invests $4.3 billion across the state and will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next four years. Schools, parks, community centers, clean air and water systems, corrections facilities, hospitals, clinics, housing and higher education projects are just a sampling of what the budget creates for the public and for economic development.

01/19/2018   Washington House Republicans

OUR NEWS RELEASES FROM THIS WEEK Hirst compromise bill passes Legislature Bipartisan Hirst fix passes Legislature with support from local lawmakers Statement from Rep. Luanne Van Werven on passage of Hirst agreement and capital budget Capital budget plan prioritizing K-12 school construction and mental health care approved by House DeBolt’s bill giving volunteer midwives and... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 19, 2018 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/18/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA – The Senate today approved a bill to eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information. Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans. “Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own shouldn’t have to pay to protect their credit ratings,” Mullet said. “I’m pleased that we’re taking real steps to help people protect themselves and their personal information by removing undue financial penalties.” Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request credit freezes from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data. Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees. Mullet said that he would now urge the House of Representatives to pass the bill in a timely fashion to speed up the timeline of giving consumers relief from credit freeze fees.
01/18/2018   Washington House Republicans

LEADERSHIP PODCAST House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen | Jan. 18, 2018 VIDEO UPDATE OF THE WEEK Rep. Dave Hayes: Top issues of the 2018 session | Jan. 16, 2018 ABORTION Bishops say no to abortion coverage (Daily Sun) AGRICULTURE & WATER Demand wasn’t there for 2017 cherry crop (Washington Ag Network/KONA Radio) Winter storms —... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 18, 2018 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/18/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 18, 2018

DHS has received new information about this privacy incident that clarifies the impacted population:

  1. If you received a written notification from Philip S. Kaplan, you were part of a finite list of approximately 246,167 DHS employees.  Most but not all of the DHS employees on this list were employed by DHS in 2014, however, some may have been employed by DHS in other years.  The written notice you received incorrectly identified the year in which an affected person may have been employed by DHS as 2014.  This update does not change your inclusion on the list of affected individuals.
  2. You may also have been affected if you were associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2017.  This population was previously indicated as being from 2002 -2014.  Due to technological limitations, DHS is unable to provide direct notice to these individuals.

Please refer to the updated FAQs below for more information and guidance.

Original Message

Release Date:  January 3, 2018

On January 3, 2018, select DHS employees received notification letters that they may have been impacted by a privacy incident related to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) Case Management System.  The privacy incident did not stem from a cyber-attack by external actors, and the evidence indicates that affected individual’s personal information was not the primary target of the unauthorized unauthorized transfer of data.

Message Received by Affected DHS Employees

This message is to inform you of a privacy incident involving a database used by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  You may have been impacted by this privacy incident if you were employed by DHS in 2014, or if you were associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2014. 

On May 10, 2017, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by DHS OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DHS OIG discovered an unauthorized copy of its investigative case management system in the possession of a former DHS OIG employee.

This privacy incident involved the release of personally identifiable information (PII) contained in the DHS OIG case management system and affects two groups of individuals. The first group consists of approximately 247,167 current and former federal employees that were employed by DHS in 2014 (the “DHS Employee Data”).  The second group is comprised of individuals (i.e., subjects, witnesses, and complainants) associated with DHS OIG investigations from 2002 through 2014 (the “Investigative Data”).

The privacy incident did not stem from a cyber-attack by external actors, and the evidence indicates that affected individual’s personal information was not the primary target of the unauthorized exfiltration.

All individuals potentially affected by this privacy incident are being offered 18 months of free credit monitoring and identity protection services. Notification letters were sent to all current and former employees who were potentially affected by the DHS Employee Data on December 18, 2017.  Due to technological limitations, DHS is unable to provide direct notice to the individuals affected by the Investigative Data. Therefore, if you were associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2014, you may contact AllClear ID at (855) 260-2767 for information on credit monitoring and identity protections services. 

The Department of Homeland Security takes very seriously the obligation to serve the Department’s employees and is committed to protecting the information in which they are entrusted. Please be assured that we will make every effort to ensure this does not happen again.  DHS is implementing additional security precautions to limit which individuals have access to this information and will better identify unusual access patterns. We will continue to review our systems and practices in order to better secure data. DHS OIG has also implemented a number of security precautions to further secure the DHS OIG network.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.  See below for additional information you may find useful.

Sincerely,

Philip S. Kaplan
Chief Privacy Officer
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: January 18, 2018

I received a notice letter that states the DHS Employee List included individuals employed by DHS in 2014.  I was not employed by DHS in 2014.  Am I still affected by this privacy incident? 

If you received a letter, DHS has confirmed that your personal information was included in this privacy incident regardless of when you were employed by DHS.  The DHS OIG investigation identified a list of individuals employed directly by DHS in 2014.  In addition to this specific list, DHS OIG later discovered the names and PII of individuals employed by DHS in various years before and after 2014 that were compiled into a second list.  Notice was provided to all DHS employees whose names and PII were found on the aforementioned lists during the DHS OIG investigation.  Earlier communications and notice letters mistakenly stated that individuals affected by the breach were employed by DHS exclusively in 2014.  While the majority of the affected individuals whose names and PII were included in this privacy incident were employed by DHS in 2014, the population of affected individuals also includes individuals employed by DHS in other years.  DHS OIG sincerely apologizes for this error and any confusion it may have caused.

What information was compromised?

The compromised information included the personally identifiable information (PII) of two groups of individuals:

  1. DHS Employee Data:  Approximately 246,167 federal government employees who were employed directly by DHS.  Most of these individuals were employed by DHS during 2014. However, this data may include some individuals that were employed by DHS in other years. The PII for these individuals includes names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, positions, grades, and duty stations. This list of federal government employees was used by DHS OIG Office of Investigations to conduct identity confirmation during the complaint and investigative process.
  2. Investigative Data:  Individuals associated with DHS OIG investigations from 2002 through early 2017, which includes subjects, witnesses and complainants who were both DHS employees and non-DHS employees.  The PII contained in this database varies for each individual depending on the documentation and evidence collected for a given case.  Information contained in this database could include names, Social Security numbers, alien registration numbers, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, and personal information provided in interviews with DHS OIG investigative agents.            

Why did it take from May 2017 to December 2017 to get a notice sent to those individuals who were affected?

The investigation was complex given its close connection to an ongoing criminal investigation.  From May through November 2017, DHS conducted a thorough privacy investigation, extensive forensic analysis of the compromised data, an in-depth assessment of the risk to affected individuals, and comprehensive technical evaluations of the data elements exposed.  These steps required close collaboration with law enforcement investigating bodies to ensure the investigation was not compromised.

What do I need to do?

DHS has arranged for AllClear ID to protect your identity for 18 months at no cost to you.   The following identity protection services start on the date of this notice and you can use them at any time during the next 18 months.

  • AllClear Identity Repair: This service is automatically available to you with no enrollment required.  Identity repair is intended to address issues related to credit restoration or recovery of financial losses.  If an issue arises, please call AllClear ID at (855) 260-2767 and a dedicated investigator will assist you. 
  • AllClear Credit Monitoring: This service entails credit monitoring and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy.  To use this service, you will need to provide your personal information and the redemption code in your Notice to AllClear ID directly. You may sign up online at www.enroll.allclearid.com or by calling AllClear ID at (855) 260-2767.

After contacting AllClear, you will need to take additional steps in order to activate your phone alerts and other monitoring options available to you.  AllClear staff will guide you through the process.

What else can I do to protect myself?

The Department’s Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Security Officer recommend that you help prevent unauthorized access and/or possible fraudulent activity on your financial accounts.  Below are steps you can take to protect your identity. 

  • Consult Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov (www.identitytheft.gov/steps) website
  • Determine if a credit freeze is right for you.  Credit freezes, also known as security freezes, make it more difficult for someone to open new accounts in your name.  Generally, during a credit freeze your credit information can only be accessed by your existing creditors and debt collectors.  Opening a new account in your name is more difficult because most institutions require a credit report to open a new account.  However, please note that a credit freeze may not be suitable if you anticipate obtaining a loan or line of credit in the near future (i.e., mortgage or a car loan).      Please contact the credit bureaus below for more information.
  • Reach out to the three major credit bureaus regarding credit freezes and credit reports:
  • Review your free credit report carefully.  If you find errors, take these steps:
    • Dispute them yourself. You don’t need to use a credit repair service. By law, consumer reporting agencies and the creditors that provide the information in your credit report are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.
    • If errors on your credit report seem to be the result of someone stealing your identity, go to identitytheft.gov to get personalized steps to report and recover from identity theft.

Please be alert to any phone calls, emails, and other communications from individuals claiming to be from DHS, or other official sources asking for your personal information or asking that you verify such information.  This is often referred to as information solicitation or “phishing.”  DHS will never contact you by phone and ask you to provide any sensitive/identifying information.

Did this privacy incident include information about my spouse, children, other family members and/or close associates?

The DHS Employee File is a file that only contained information about individuals that were employed directly by DHS.  This file did not include any information about employees’ spouses, children, family members and/or close associates.

The breach of the DHS OIG Case Files included individuals associated with DHS OIG investigations.  Family members and close associates were impacted by this privacy incident only if they were involved in a DHS OIG investigation.  If you, a family member, and/or close associate believe you/they were impacted by this incident, please contact AllClear ID at (855) 260-2767 for more information on credit monitoring and identity protection services.       

Does this mean that all employees who appear in the DHS Employee File are or were under investigation by DHS OIG?

No.  All employees’ information was in this file regardless of whether or not they were involved with an investigation.  You were mailed a notification because DHS determined that you were included in the DHS Employee File.  DHS OIG runs queries against this file to confirm the identities of individuals associated with DHS OIG investigations.  In order for this search to function properly, the file must include all employees regardless of whether they are associated with an investigation.

I believe I was associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2017.  Am I impacted by this privacy incident?  What should I do?

You may be impacted by this privacy incident if you were associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2017 in any capacity including as a subject, complainant, or witness.  If you believe you were associated with a DHS OIG investigation from 2002 through 2017, please contact AllClear ID at (855) 260-2767 for more information on credit monitoring and identity protection services.

What if I already have identity theft protection from a prior privacy incident?

You may have been offered similar services in the past if you were impacted by other cybersecurity or privacy incidents.  If you are already enrolled in identity theft protection and credit monitoring services, the decision of whether to sign up for services provided by DHS is your choice.  The Federal Trade Commission has helpful resources available on its website concerning identity theft and what steps you should take when an incident occurs https://www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

What is DHS doing to better secure employees’ PII?

DHS OIG has implemented a number of security precautions to further secure the DHS OIG network which includes:

  • Placing additional limitations on which individuals have back end IT access to the case management system;
  • Implementing additional network controls to better identify unusual access patterns by authorized users; and
  • Performing a 360-degree review of DHS OIG’s development practices related to the case management system. 
01/17/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 18, 2018

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Good afternoon Chairman Katko, Ranking Member Watson-Coleman, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) technology initiatives.

First and foremost, I would like to recognize the Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) on their success in providing security to over 44 million airline passengers during the December holiday travel period. They did so professionally and adapted to accommodate daily screening challenges. Over the past six months, we have seen five of the top 15 total passenger volume days in TSA’s history. On average, TSA screens 2.2 million passengers each day. During this past holiday season, the daily rate grew as high as 2.4 million. Keeping up with this challenge would not be possible without our outstanding workforce.

Additionally, I would like to thank Chairman Katko and Ranking Member Watson-Coleman for taking the time to visit TSA headquarters last month for a discussion on transportation security. I look forward to continuing to work with you and your staff to advance TSA’s critical mission.

Today’s hearing is timely, as technology deployment will be critical to TSA’s success in 2018 and beyond. Terrorists continue to target commercial aviation, including cargo, and we must strive each and every day to stay ahead of the myriad threats. In the five months since I have been on board at TSA, we have seen scores of threats against aviation. I am committed to ensuring TSA remains as successful as it has been in the sixteen years since the agency’s founding to protect our transportation systems, especially aviation. Since I have been TSA Administrator, we have improved training, deployed enhanced screening procedures, and have aggressively pursued new technologies. We are continually increasing our ability to detect threat items throughout the aviation security system, and improving technology at the checkpoint will be the focus of my remarks today.

Checkpoint System

One of the most significant initiatives at the checkpoint is the introduction of Computed Tomography technology, or “CT,” as it is commonly referred. I know some of you have seen CT being tested overseas at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and domestically at Boston Logan International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. CT is not new technology. The idea for CT was conceived in the 1960s and first employed for medical applications in the early 1970s; however, it has evolved and is now used in other arenas, such as in aviation security. In fact, TSA has been using CT scanners to screen checked baggage since the agency’s inception in 2001. Over the past few years, industry has been aggressively working to reduce the technology equipment’s size and adjust its configuration to make it a viable option for deployment at most airport checkpoints. TSA continues to work closely and expeditiously with CT equipment manufacturers to improve detection algorithms, optimize throughput, and automate the detection of prohibited items so that CT technology can deliver the full host of capabilities needed to address checkpoint vulnerabilities into the future.

Once fully developed for the aviation environment, checkpoint CT technology will deliver a significant advancement over today’s two-dimensional X-ray technology platforms. Checkpoint CT screening technology provides a three dimensional view of the bag and enables the TSA officer to rotate the bag 360 degrees to show the contents at every angle. CT features allow officers to virtually remove unwanted clutter, and greatly enhances their ability to visually inspect the contents of carry-on bags for explosives and prohibited items. In these ways, CT offers substantially improved detection capability by more effectively detecting smaller and artfully concealed threats, thereby increasing our overall security effectiveness while enabling passengers to leave electronics in their carry-on bags. Ultimately, we hope to refine checkpoint CT technology to the point where, similar to the checked baggage process, we have automated the carry-on baggage screening process and reduced the need for officers to review all images.

In order to further our efforts and capabilities, TSA is working closely with industry partners, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, and international counterparts. Together, we are exchanging information and best practices related to operational and laboratory testing, explosives characterization, CT platform enhancements, and image library development. TSA is working closely with the European Commission, European Civil Aviation Conference, and bilaterally with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands to share test results with the goal of aligning detection requirements and testing methodologies. The Netherlands, Turkey, Japan, Singapore, and South Africa are currently testing CT technology at their checkpoints, which allows for robust information sharing and ultimately guides the successful deployment of this technology.

We are also leveraging academia to develop innovative software algorithms to more accurately identify prohibited items. Through our own Innovation Task Force, TSA is providing CT vendors with end-user feedback and real world operational data to further operational development, effectiveness, and efficiencies. In short, checkpoint CT development is a worldwide effort to achieve the best screening solution that is technologically possible today. Deployment of this technology, both here at home and abroad, is a critical component of raising the global aviation security baseline.

My team has developed an aggressive plan to deploy checkpoint CT technology. We are currently pursuing a flexible approach to test, procure, and deploy CT systems, while concurrently developing CT system algorithms to significantly improve automated threat detection capabilities. This approach employs the concepts of modularity and iterative design to support deployment of specific capabilities as part of a larger solution, while progressively expanding functionality until the full CT capability is realized.

Deployment of CT technology at checkpoints is one of my top priorities, and a priority for DHS leadership as well. In FY2018, we will field almost 40 units for developmental and operational testing, with the goal of pursuing broader deployment and continued algorithm development in the first half of FY2019, dependent on funding availability. Such efforts for the acquisition of this technology and others will be reflected in the Capital Investment Plan and TSA Strategy and Intent that I am currently developing to guide our investment approach moving forward.

Concurrent with our CT efforts, we are also pursuing other technologies to increase security at checkpoints. Two such technologies are enhanced Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) and Credential Authentication Technology (CAT). TSA continues to improve our current AIT capabilities. As you may know, AIT uses imaging technology to scan individuals and analyze the images for the presence of anomalies beneath clothes, and in obscured areas. There are currently 945 AIT units deployed at 340 airports system-wide. Upgrades to this technology include greater detection capabilities in response to some of the vulnerabilities identified by the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in 2015 and in 2017. Other changes include software that will allow TSOs to process passengers through the AIT more expeditiously, thereby improving passenger flow through the checkpoint. In addition to these upgrades to currently fielded AIT units, TSA is working with other vendors to ensure we are testing every passenger screening technology available to provide our TSOs with better tools to assist them in performing their duties. TSA will be demonstrating an enhanced AIT capability in the field later this quarter, gaining critical insights into potential technology improvements that will move us closer to the future checkpoint vision.

Another key technology under development for our checkpoints is CAT; which will greatly enhance the vital role that the Travel Document Checker (TDC) plays in ID verification, boarding pass validation, and screening status determination. Specifically, CAT will improve the TDC’s ability to accurately authenticate passenger identification documents, passenger ticketing status, and Secure Flight passenger vetting status, thereby addressing vulnerabilities associated with ID fraud and providing real-time vetting information at the checkpoint on passengers. There are 33 CAT systems currently deployed for technical testing in TSA Pre?® lanes at 10 airports, including both Reagan National and Dulles airports, to optimize system functionality and associated Concept of Operations (CONOPS.)

TSA is currently assessing another technology known as Automated Screening Lanes (ASLs). ASLs are already proving their worth and currently 111 ASLs are deployed at 12 airports including Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Boston, and Atlanta. These lanes are not only designed to increase throughput, they also provide better security by offering capabilities such as automated pulls of bags needing further inspection, automated tracking of bins linking to the x-ray and picture images, and automated bin return allowing officers to focus on security, instead of moving bins from the end of the lane to the beginning. I envision that integrating CTs with ASLs will provide significant technological and screening process improvements at our checkpoints, and we plan on testing this integration in the near future. I appreciate the great partnerships with airlines and airports for their role in the procurement and deployment of ASLs.

Acquisition Process

Critical to the success of TSA’s technology strategy and our ability to stay ahead of the threat is the capability to acquire, procure, develop, test and field new technologies in a timely manner. As the Chairman has noted, this is an area that needs improvement and I want to assure you we are evaluating ways to accelerate the acquisition process. In an effort to further identify ways to improve efficiencies in the process, DHS and TSA are evaluating existing rapid acquisition processes across the U.S. government to leverage known experience and best practices as we develop a model to accelerate acquisition efforts and the ultimate deployment of effective solutions within a dynamic operational environment. With your support, we are confident that we will be able to create an acquisition paradigm that ensures accelerated deployment and preserves the integrity needed to deploy effective and cost efficient capabilities.

Conclusion

TSA is committed to securing the Nation’s transportation systems from terrorist activities and attacks. This year, we are focused on maturing and deploying additional CT-based systems and working closely with our domestic and international partners to raise the global baseline for aviation security. In addition, I’m developing a Capital Investment Plan, coupled with the TSA Strategy and Intent, which will chart the future course for improvements in checkpoints and checked baggage systems. I look forward to working with you on these efforts to secure our robust transportation sector. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these important issues. I look forward to the Subcommittee’s questions.

01/17/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 18, 2018

210 House Capitol Visitor Center

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and distinguished members:

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the mission of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), its efforts to identify, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), to include transnational gangs, drug cartels, and smugglers, and its information sharing initiatives dedicated to combatting the aforementioned threats. ICE enforces approximately 400 federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety. With more than 20,000 employees and more than 400 offices across the United States and in 50 countries, the men and women of ICE execute our mission humanely, professionally, and always in accordance with the law. ICE has three operational directorates: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor. As a Senior Executive of ICE/HSI, I serve as the Assistant Director of ICE/HSI International Operations.

As the largest investigative component in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), ICE/HSI protects U.S. borders by conducting multi-faceted, international law enforcement operations, and by partnering with foreign and domestic counterparts to combat criminal organizations and prevent terrorist activities.

ICE/HSI International Operations has a network of over 400 personnel, including over 180 special agents deployed to 67 attaché offices in 50 countries, who conduct investigations against TCOs, terrorist, and other criminal organizations that threaten our national security. ICE/HSI leverages its international footprint and partnerships to disrupt and dismantle TCOs that seek to exploit America's legitimate trade, travel and financial systems, and enforces U.S. customs and immigration laws at and beyond our Nation's borders to prevent threats from entering the United States.

ICE/HSI manages several strategic/information sharing initiatives, which include:

  • Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU)
  • Biometric Identification Transnational Migration Alert Program (BITMAP)
  • Visa Security Program (VSP)
  • Trade Transparency Units (TTUs)

HSI, domestically and abroad, focuses on critical investigative areas, which include:

  • National security
  • Counter-proliferation of arms and controlled technology
  • Human smuggling and trafficking
  • Financial crimes
  • Child exploitation
  • Commercial fraud and intellectual property
  • Anti-Gang Enforcement
  • Narcotics
  • Identity and Benefit Fraud
  • Worksite Enforcement
  • Cyber
  • Human Rights Violators and War Crimes

ICE/ERO identifies, arrests, and removes aliens who present a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety, as well as those who enter the United States illegally, or otherwise undermine the integrity of U.S immigration laws and border control efforts. ERO upholds America’s immigration laws at, within, and beyond its borders through efficient enforcement and removal operations. ERO also develops investigative leads and provides support in locating and arresting foreign nationals wanted for crimes committed abroad who are now at-large in the United States.

ERO removal operations require complex coordination, management, and facilitation efforts to successfully remove or return aliens from the United States to their country of origin. ERO has enforcement officers strategically deployed to 19 locations around the world and leverages resources available through foreign law enforcement partners, including INTERPOL, EUROPOL and the HSI Attaché corps.

Combatting Transnational Criminal Organizations

ICE utilizes its broad legal authorities to investigate immigration and customs violations, including those related to export control, human rights abuses, narcotics, weapons and contraband smuggling, financial crime, cybercrime, human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, intellectual property theft, transnational gangs, immigration document and benefit fraud, and worksite enforcement. ICE is grateful for continued Congressional support that allows ICE to maintain critical operations at home and abroad and increase our efforts to target and combat dangerous transnational gangs and other criminal organizations.

During Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, ICE investigations led to the disruption or dismantlement of TCOs with more than 32,958 criminal arrests, including arrests of more than 4,818 transnational gang members. ICE also seized 981,586 pounds of narcotics, made 1,205 seizures for violations of U.S. export laws and regulations, and seized nearly $307 million in currency and monetary instruments. Additionally, ICE identified and assisted 518 human trafficking victims and more than 904 child exploitation victims.

During the last two decades, transnational organized crime has expanded dramatically in size, scope, and impact, which poses a significant threat to national security. ICE takes very seriously this threat, and targets TCOs at every critical location in the cycle: internationally, in cooperation with foreign counterparts, where transnational criminal and terrorist organizations operate; at our Nation’s physical border and ports of entry, in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where the transportation cells attempt to exploit America's legitimate trade, travel, and transportation systems; and in cities throughout the United States, where criminal organizations earn substantial profits off their illicit activities.

As directed by the President’s Executive Order 13773, Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, ICE will continue to give a high priority and devote sufficient resources to dismantling TCOs and subsidiary organizations. ICE will continue to focus on cooperative work with other federal agencies, as well as with foreign counterparts, by sharing intelligence and law enforcement information when appropriate and permitted by law.

Joint Task Forces

In 2014, the Department announced its new Unity of Effort Initiative and directed our Department-wide Southern Border and Approaches Campaign (SBAC) Plan. The SBAC is part of a comprehensive security strategy designed to unify efforts across DHS components to address threats specifically associated with terrorism, illicit market-driven flows, and illegal migration across our Southern Border and Approaches. In furtherance of the SBAC, the Department commissioned three Joint Task Forces (JTFs) in November 2014. The three Joint Task Forces, JTF-East (JTF-E), JTF-West (JTF-W), and JTF-Investigations (JTF-I), are responsible for establishing operational priorities and synchronizing capabilities in order to achieve SBAC objectives.

Two of the JTFs, JTF-E and JTF-W, are geographically focused task forces that concentrate on the southern land and maritime borders and approaches to the United States all the way to Central and South America. JTF-I is a “functional”, multi-component task force that employs National Case Management to identify and prioritize top TCOs affecting homeland security, manage investigations and operations to dismantle them, and identify weaknesses or gaps in our practices, technology, etc.

To address these gaps, JTF-I created and implemented HOMECORT (Homeland Criminal Organization Target), the DHS-wide process for identifying and prioritizing the top criminal networks affecting homeland security.

In order to manage and unify U.S. Government efforts against these HOMECORT criminal networks, JTF-I developed three complementary processes:

  1. National Case Management to manage, integrate and support all the investigations and operations related to the targeted criminal network;
  2. Comprehensive Criminal Network Analysis to provide knowledge of the criminal network; and
  3. Integrated Action Planning to establish the business rules for conducting National Case Management and producing Comprehensive Criminal Network Analysis.

Through the sharing and fusing of each other’s information, these JTF-I processes allow DHS components to:

  • Identify and prioritize the top criminal networks impacting homeland security;
  • Tie together and manage all the investigations, operations, arrests, and seizures (covering multiple countries, jurisdictions, areas of responsibility and programs) related to all the activities (smuggling, money laundering, corruption, etc.) of a criminal network (see complementary processes below);
  • Move towards a complex common goal through a formal integrated action planning process.

Since its inception, JTF-I’s interagency delegates managed and supported the targeting of 21 HOMECORT criminal networks, comprised of more than a thousand criminal investigations. To date, 13 of those networks were dismantled to the point they no longer threaten homeland security. The networks include money launderers, human smugglers, sex traffickers, drug smugglers, bulk cash smugglers, and weapons smugglers. The remaining HOMECORT designated criminal networks continue to be the targets of active criminal investigations.

Another example of a successful joint task force model is the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) initiative. BEST teams are ICE-led, multiagency task forces that target illicit movement of people and contraband through border areas. Other DHS entities, particularly CBP and the United States Coast Guard, participate. There are 38 BEST teams on the U.S.-Canada border and U.S.-Mexico border. Canadian and Mexican (multiagency) law enforcement partners work directly with DHS and other U.S. counterparts on investigative and interdiction missions. Canadian officials are often cross-designated as U.S. law enforcement (U.S. Code: Title 19) to promote full sharing of law enforcement information. These units are housed on the U.S. side of the border. In FY 2017, the BEST teams initiated 4,034 investigations and effected 4,967 criminal arrests.

National Gang Unit

The National Gang Unit (NGU) is a critical part of ICE’s mission to bring the fight to transnational criminal gangs. The NGU identifies and develops intelligence on gang membership, associations, activities, and international movements. It also deters and disrupts gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons, and other assets derived from illicit activities.

In 2005, ICE initiated Operation Community Shield, an international law enforcement initiative that combines ICE’s expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs throughout the United States. With assistance from state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement partners, the initiative helps ICE locate, investigate, prosecute, and where applicable, immediately remove gang members from our neighborhoods and ultimately from the United States.

Operation Community Shield has resulted in the criminal and administrative arrests of nearly 60,000 gang leaders, members, and associates since its inception. Among those arrests, Community Shield operations have resulted in the criminal and administrative arrests of over 7,800 leaders, members, and associates of Mara Salvatrucha-13 (MS-13), the international criminal street gang.

In 2012, ICE worked with the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to designate MS-13 as a TCO, the first criminal street gang so designated. As a result of the designation, any property or property interests in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which MS-13 has an interest, are blocked. In addition, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with MS-13 and are subject to civil monetary penalties up to $250,000 and imprisonment up to 20 years.

In 2016, ICE utilized the 2012 OFAC designation to develop and implement a new strategy targeting MS-13. ICE recognizes that TCOs need funding to maintain and expand their criminal organization and has been successfully identifying, exploiting, and disrupting MS-13’s global financial networks. Part of ICE’s new strategy is to address the threats posed by MS-13 in the United States and at their command and control structure in El Salvador simultaneously. Since January 2016, ICE has been deploying special agents to El Salvador to work with our host country law enforcement partners to build their financial investigative capacity to combat MS-13 and identify MS-13’s financial networks within El Salvador. In addition, the deployment allows the free flow of actionable intelligence between ICE and our host country law enforcement partners.

In 2017, ICE worked with our DHS partners to form a departmental MS-13 Working Group, to include ICE, CBP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The DHS MS-13 Working Group was formed to share intelligence, bridge intelligence gaps, eliminate redundancies, enhance collaboration, and provide visibility to all DHS entities involved in the fight against MS-13. The ultimate goal of the DHS MS-13 Working Group is to develop and implement a DHS enterprise enforcement strategy to disrupt and dismantle MS-13’s global criminal networks.

As of December 28, 2017, ICE maintains 107 open investigations targeting MS-13 members and their criminal organizations globally, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, California, Washington, and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador through Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR), and criminal conspiracy prosecutions. Without information sharing and partnering with our federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement partners, ICE would not be nearly as successful at battling MS-13 and other gangs.

Law Enforcement Information Sharing Efforts

In addition to leveraging domestic assets, ICE uses its strategically deployed personnel around the globe to use established relationships with host country law enforcement officials and mechanisms such as Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAs) to share information and further its investigations. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) are also invaluable instruments in obtaining and receiving international legal assistance, including evidence, for criminal investigations and prosecutions.

ICE International Operations also partners with TCIUs and international task forces in 12 countries around the world. TCIUs are comprised of foreign law enforcement officials, customs officers, immigration officers, and prosecutors who receive ICE training and undergo a strict vetting process to ensure that shared information and operational activities are not compromised. Partnering with these TCIUs enables ICE to promote direct action via information sharing and investigative leads while respecting the sovereignty of the host country and cultivating international partnerships.

Aligned with the President’s Strategy in Combatting Transnational Organized Crime, TCIUs identify targets, collect evidence, share intelligence, and facilitate the prosecution of TCOs both in-country and in the United States. These efforts, which often occur thousands of miles from the U.S. borders, essentially act as an outer layer of security for the United States.

Another ICE program, BITMAP, helps provide infrastructure and capability for host governments to collect biometric data on individuals they encounter. This information is shared with U.S. law enforcement and the Intelligence Community; DHS in turn provides information back to these countries about these individuals. Through this process, ICE is able to track movement towards the United States, take joint action with partner nations along the route, and deter human smuggling through South and Central America. Comparisons of biometric data through BITMAP serve to identify criminal persons, wanted subjects (including international fugitives), and known or suspected terrorists. BITMAP is currently deployed to 14 countries, with near-term plans to expand to two additional countries.

ICE also leverages its information sharing capabilities through the use of the Visa Security Program (VSP) and Trade Transparency Units (TTU). VSP deploys trained ICE special agents abroad to high-risk visa activity posts to identify and investigate potential terrorist and criminal threats before they reach the United States. VSP contributes to both counter-flow and counter-network capabilities, as well as providing support for intelligence, interdiction and engagement. VSP special agents work alongside Department of State Consular Officers to provide real-time feedback on visa applicants prior to visa adjudication. VSP agents receive referrals based on automated screening of U.S. visa applicants conducted by ICE, in cooperation with CBP.

The core mission of the TTU is to aggressively target criminal organizations and individuals involved in trade-based money laundering (TBML) but also those perpetrating contraband smuggling and customs fraud. In order to achieve this mission, HSI reached out to key foreign trading partners and successfully established (16) TTUs abroad. TTU currently has partnerships with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, France, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, United Kingdom, and Uruguay. These countries are highly dependent upon value added taxes (VAT) on commodities, which served as a motivating factor in the establishment of TTUs. These foreign partners recognize the value of information sharing, which permits the comparison of international trade and cross border movement of merchandise.

The United States and its foreign TTU partners currently provide trade data which that allows HSI investigators and analysts to detect anomalies which may be indicative of criminal activity such as TBML, contraband smuggling, and trade/customs fraud. This information sharing allows for the cross referencing of trade data with other pertinent information such as Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) reports. The ultimate goal of most criminal organizations is financial gain either to promote ongoing illicit activity or as the finality of this activity, hence trade-based money laundering is often the primary means by which they launder proceeds for their criminal enterprises.

ICE’s Law Enforcement Information Sharing Initiative (LEISI) serves as an active advocate in support of law enforcement information sharing both internal and external to DHS. This includes information sharing between Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and foreign partners. LEISI coordinates throughout the law enforcement community to improve the understanding of information needs, provide leadership in resolving policy issues that may inhibit law enforcement information sharing, and develop approaches to overcome traditional barriers to information sharing.

The LEISI program provides program management support and oversight to include administration of the Law Enforcement Information Sharing Strategy. For FY 2018, additional focus is on international information for initiatives such as: Preventing and Combatting Serious Crimes (PCSC), the Five Country Ministerial (FCM), the Five Country Conference (FCC), and ERO’s Criminal History Information Sharing (CHIS) program.

CHIS is a DHS-led initiative between the United States and its international partners whose purpose is to provide participating nations with criminal history information in advance of an alien’s removal. In turn, foreign countries share their information with the United States. The information shared helps protect law enforcement personnel, regional security, and public safety officers all over the globe. The initiative supports efforts in immigration management, law enforcement and national security. Countries currently participating in the CHIS initiative are: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Bahamas, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, with planned expansion to additional countries in FY 2018.

CHIS enables ICE to identify wanted felons, including gang members, who fled to the United States to avoid prosecution in their home countries. Without this initiative, dangerous criminals might be able to circumvent prosecution. In FY 2017, CHIS sent 84,067 outbound notices of removal and ICE’s foreign partners returned 21,434 positive responses, including 2,810 foreign criminal history records, 93 foreign criminal warrants and information related to 199 transnational gang members.

During FY 2017, ICE achieved significant successes in Latin America and the Caribbean through the development of programs that bolstered the law enforcement, customs, and immigration enforcement capabilities of international partners. These successes included the joint interagency execution of Operation CITADEL, which focused efforts on building partner nation capacity in identifying, disrupting and dismantling TCOs, including those designated as drug trafficking organizations and terrorist support networks. Interagency information sharing and collaboration from agencies within DHS, the Department of State, the Department of Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the Department of Defense, as well as participating partner nations, has been an essential piece of Operation CITADEL’s efforts to build capacity and to address identified threats. Operation CITADEL provided resources to enhance foreign partners’ investigative capabilities to counter transnational threats and organized crime that, in turn, provided ICE the ability to expand domestic and international investigations well beyond the U.S. borders and to more effectively target the illicit pathways exploited by TCOs.

In FY 2017, the Operation CITADEL effected the training of 809 partner national personnel, 231 criminal arrests, 54 indictments, nine (9) convictions, 2,005 BITMAP enrollments, seizure of $252,235 in currency, 18,224 pounds of narcotics, seizure of 27 firearms, and encountered 3,669 aliens of possible national security concern.

Conclustion

Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of DHS and ICE and their missions. ICE is committed to continuing its successful practice of sharing information with domestic and foreign partners and leveraging its resources around the world to stem cross-border criminal organizations. I appreciate your interest in these important issues and the efforts I have discussed today.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

01/17/2018   Washington House Republicans

HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICAN MEDIA AVAILABILITY Video: Media availability of Washington House and Senate Republicans | Jan. 16, 2018 ABORTION Bill would expand women’s reproductive health care (The Spokesman-Review) AGRICULTURE & WATER Buys: Carbon tax proposal would have a devastating impact on agriculture (Washington Ag Network/KONA Radio) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR More than half of... Read more »

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01/16/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 17, 2018

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

Good morning Chairman Hunter, Ranking Member Garamendi, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. It is my pleasure to be here today to discuss the state of the U.S. maritime industry and the Coast Guard’s role serving that industry.

The U.S. Coast Guard is the world’s premier, multi-mission, maritime service responsible for the safety, security, and stewardship of the maritime domain. At all times a military service and branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, a federal law enforcement agency, a regulatory body, a first responder, and a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, the Coast Guard operates on all seven continents and throughout the homeland, serving a Nation whose economic prosperity and national security are inextricably linked to broad maritime interests.

America’s economic prosperity is reliant on the safe, secure, and efficient flow of cargo through the Marine Transportation System (MTS), which now includes 361 ports and more than 25,000 miles of river and coastal waterways. The Nation’s waterways support $4.5 trillion of economic activity each year, including over 250,000 American jobs.1 Transportation of cargo on water by the maritime industry is the most economical, environmentally friendly, and efficient mode of transport. The maritime industry and MTS connect America’s consumers, producers, manufacturers, and farmers to domestic and global markets. Similarly, our national security depends on a healthy maritime industry and reliable MTS. The majority of the military equipment used by the Nation’s warfighters is loaded in U.S ports and delivered to theatre on Coast Guard-inspected merchant vessels that are manned by civilian merchant mariners.

As the lead federal regulator for the maritime industry, the Coast Guard must be attentive to the industry’s changing needs and dynamic challenges. Amidst emerging trends within the MTS and the maritime industry, the Coast Guard’s underlying concept of operations and our approach to continuous improvement remains unchanged. We continue to conduct our work using a consistent and enduring concept of operations that has successfully guided us for decades: the Coast Guard develops standards for safe, secure, and environmentally sound operations in the MTS; the Coast Guard assesses and enforces compliance with those standards; and when failures occur, the Coast Guard aggressively investigates them and drives the lessons learned back into our compliance and standards activities. These three phases of operations rely on our ability to leverage our marine safety workforce, engage governmental, non-governmental, and industry partners, and properly manage information and risk.

The Coast Guard’s marine safety program and regulatory process advance economic prosperity and national security by leveraging our unique capabilities to ensure that the maritime industry and MTS operate safely, predictably, and securely. We are mindful of the need to facilitate maritime commerce, not impede it. Our marine safety program does this by establishing a level playing field for industry through a framework of common-sense regulations that are enforced in a predictable and consistent manner. The Coast Guard’s regulatory standards and compliance functions also promote investment and innovation throughout the maritime sector by providing the means for investors and operators to evaluate and manage risk. This regulatory framework enables U.S. shipping to compete internationally and U.S. ports to compete equally against each other, while protecting American interests from the risk of substandard shipping.

In recent years, the maritime industry has undergone a series of cyclical changes. Within the last ten years, dramatic increases in U.S. energy production led to new construction of U.S.-flag tank barges and tank ships, and sharp increases in shipments of petroleum and petro-chemicals throughout our Nation’s ports and waterways. The expansion of oil exploration and production further offshore led to an increase in the size, complexity, and number of offshore support vessels. Though a recent prolonged downturn in the price of oil has eroded much of the oil and gas exploration and related support activity on the outer continental shelf, the volume of oil, petrochemicals, and liquefied natural gas shipments are still reaching new highs. At the same time, legislative and regulatory changes have led to increased oversight of fishing and towing vessels. The Coast Guard is now examining or inspecting as many as 6,000 additional commercial fishing vessels and 5,000 additional commercial towing vessels. Combined, these trends have shown that the maritime industry and Coast Guard are subject to rapid changes in demand and increasing volume, as technology accelerates commodity production and more vessels are brought under increased Coast Guard oversight.

Today, the maritime industry is an innovative and dynamic global industry that continually seeks new ways to efficiently meet stakeholder demands. To meet these growing demands and improve efficiency, the maritime industry is increasingly turning to new and emerging technologies, such as cyber systems, higher levels of automation, and new fuel sources. These technologies enable the maritime industry and MTS to operate with impressive reliability and capacity that drive efficiencies and economic benefits. The regulatory regime should not impede these developments. Our standards and compliance program must evolve to facilitate these changes safely and securely. As the pace and complexity of maritime commerce and operations have increased, third parties have enabled the regulatory regime to evolve and keep up with increasing demand.

Third party programs, such as the Alternate Compliance Program (ACP), have become a necessity upon which both the maritime industry and the Coast Guard rely. Like other flag states around the globe, the United States relies far more heavily on third parties today than ever before. However, as recently highlighted in the Coast Guard’s investigation after tragic sinking of the El Faro, the Coast Guard must provide the final element of the safety framework with sustainable policy, oversight, and accountability. Now, more than ever, the system requires reform. The Coast Guard plans to establish a risk-based and enduring policy framework that is easily executable and enables more robust oversight of delegated functions. Further, recognizing that the ACP is only one program among many that rely on delegation of technical functions and services to third parties, it is imperative that changes we make to ACP be applied to all programs that rely on a similar structure.

A healthy maritime industry is vital to the nation’s economic prosperity and national security. It is also dynamic and continually evolving to meet stakeholder demand. The Coast Guard’s regulatory development and compliance programs evolve to keep pace with industry change and ensure the continued safety, security, and environmental compliance in the MTS. We are focused on ensuring every Coast Guard action sustains the smooth operation of the MTS, without imposing unnecessary costs on U.S. entities competing in a global industry.

Thank you for your continued support and the opportunity to testify before you today. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.


1 “Ports’ Value to the U.S. Economy: Exports, Jobs & Economic Growth.” American Association of Port Authorities, http://www.aapa-ports.org/advocating/content.aspx?ItemNumber=21150, Accessed April 17, 2017.

 

01/16/2018   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Snoqualmie Pass snowfall higher than normal (Daily Record) EDITORIAL: Ag leaders worthy of special honors (Tri-City Herald) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Pilot shortage leads airline to offer $45,000 signing bonuses (Puget Sound Business Journal) CONGRESS & FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MLK rally speakers call out Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ hecklers (The Spokesman-Review) COLUMN: Rep. Jayapal... Read more »

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01/16/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson released the following statement after the death of former Gov. John Spellman. “Gov. Spellman cared deeply for our state and devoted a large part of his life to serving the people, first in King County and then in the governor’s office. “He led our state during a difficult financial time in the early 1980s and left his mark by working to strengthen local governments. He also recognized early on that the state had an important role to play in protecting the environment and the open spaces in our unique corner of the world. “The Senate Democratic Caucus extends its deepest condolences to the entire Spellman family.”
01/16/2018   Department of Homeland Security
Release Date: 
January 16, 2018

Departments of Homeland Security and Justice Release Data for the First Time on Terrorism-Related Activity 

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

WASHINGTON – On January 16, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report revealing that three out of every four, or 402, individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born. Over the same period, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed approximately 1,716 aliens with national security concerns. Further, in 2017 alone DHS had 2,554 encounters with individuals on the terrorist watch list (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States.

This report was prescribed by Executive Order 13780, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, which declared that “it is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals,” and directed a series of actions to enhance the security of the American people.

The actions directed by Executive Order 13780 have—among other things—raised the baseline for the vetting and screening of foreign nationals, improved our ability to prevent the entry of malicious actors, and enhanced the security of the American people.

“My top priority as Secretary of Homeland Security is to ensure the safety and security of the American people,” said Secretary Nielsen. “This report is a clear reminder of why we cannot continue to rely on immigration policy based on pre-9/11 thinking that leaves us woefully vulnerable to foreign-born terrorists, and why we must examine our visa laws and continue to intensify screening and vetting of individuals traveling to the United States to prevent terrorists, criminals, and other dangerous individuals from reaching our country. Without legislative change DHS will continue to see thousands of terrorists a year attempt to enter the United States, and while we must be right every time, the terrorists only need to be lucky once. Therefore, DHS has personnel deployed around the world and along our borders working with our global and domestic law enforcement partners to stop terrorists before they enter the homeland.” 

“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality—our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “And the information in this report is only the tip of the iceberg: we currently have terrorism-related investigations against thousands of people in the United States, including hundreds of people who came here as refugees.  Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds.  The pillars of President Trump’s immigration policy—securing our porous borders, moving to a merit-based immigration system that ends the use of diversity visas and chain migration, and enforcing our nation’s laws—will make their jobs easier and make the United States a safer place.”

The report reveals that at least 549 individuals were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016.  An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born.  Breaking down the 549 individuals by citizenship status at the time of their respective convictions reveals that:

  • 254 were not U.S. citizens;
  • 148 were foreign-born, naturalized and received U.S. citizenship; and,
  • 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.

According to information available to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), since September 11, 2001, there were approximately 1,716 removals of aliens with national security concerns. 

As mentioned above, in FY 2017, DHS encountered 2,554 individuals on the terrorist watchlist (also known as the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database) traveling to the United States. Of those individuals, 335 were attempting to enter by land, 2,170 were attempting to enter by air, and 49 were attempting to enter by sea. Where consistent with the law, such individuals are denied entry into the United States, while in some cases law enforcement authorities are notified and can take appropriate action.

From October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2017, a total of 355,345 non-U.S. citizen offenders, were administratively arrested after previously being convicted of an aggravated felony, as defined in 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43), or two or more crimes each punishable by more than one year (felony offenses).  During that same period, a total of 372,098 non-U.S. citizen offenders were removed from the United States after conviction of an aggravated felony or two or more felonies. 

Data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate shows that between 2007 and 2017, USCIS referred 45,858 foreign nationals who applied for immigration benefits to ICE for criminal or civil enforcement action, based on information indicating that such foreign nationals had committed egregious public safety-related offenses within the United States.

Between FY 2010 and FY 2016, CBP identified and prevented the boarding of 73,261 foreign travelers on flights destined for the United States, who may have presented an immigration or security risk.

In October, the Trump Administration sent to Congress a list of legislative priorities that would enhance our national security—such as eliminating the diversity visa lottery and extended family chain migration, funding the wall, closing loopholes in our asylum system, combatting visa overstays, and closing other loopholes in existing law that potentially benefit aliens who pose threats to our national security.

Background on the Executive Order

Section 11 of Executive Order requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, to collect and make publicly available the following information:

  1. Information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation with or provision of material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national-security-related reasons;
  2. Information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and who have engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States;
  3. Information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called “honor killings,” in the United States by foreign nationals; and,
  4. Any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.

The link to the report is available HERE.

# # #

 

01/15/2018   Washington House Republicans

THE CURRENT | A WASHINGTON HOUSE REPUBLICAN E-NEWSLETTER 2018 session begins with new power shift in Legislature | Jan. 12, 2018 CAPITOL CALENDAR RADIO/AUDIO AUDIO: Capitol Calendar | Jan. 15-19, 2018 AGRICULTURE & WATER Winter wheat acreage up slightly this year (KQQQ Radio) Apple prices stabilize even though exports to China decrease (iFiberOne TV) BUSINESS,... Read more »

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01/15/2018   Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA—How can we tackle Washington state’s housing shortage and affordability crisis?

Legislation by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) is designed to help by spurring greater housing density near transit stations in Washington’s urban centers.

“People are flocking to our cities for economic opportunities,” said Ryu. “Unfortunately, there’s just not nearly enough available housing to support this growing demand. We can do better.”

Ryu said the state must provide innovative solutions to meet a 225,000-unit underproduction across the state – most of which is concentrated in the Puget Sound region, according to an analysis by ECONorthwest.

“If we are going to curb the housing crisis and reduce homelessness in our region we have to step up the production of housing options. This needs to include a market-rate component for the middle-income earner.” Ryu said. “My bill tries to address the problem by bringing the public and private sectors together and creating the right incentives.

Ryu’s proposal, House Bill 2711, creates a voluntary, opt-in program that enables jurisdictions to create “housing opportunity zones” within a one-half mile radius of high-quality transit, where context-appropriate density may be zoned and approved “by-right” on any parcel within the zone upon a project’s meeting state building code requirements. By-right approval is ministerial approval that is granted to a project upon meeting clear and objective standards.

“Streamlining the approval for more density near transit centers will have the direct impact of making housing more available for people to live either close to where they work or close to transit for efficient commuting,” said Ryu. “They also include improved access to economic opportunity, reduced economic displacement, which is major social justice concern, as well as reduced tailpipe emissions, the state’s largest contributor to climate change.”

Other key provisions of the bill:

  • Allowable heights would be based on population size and proximity to the transit station;
  • The multifamily tax exemption program, which provides property tax abatement to developers who designate 20 percent of a project’s units to low- and moderate-income households, would apply to projects within a housing opportunity zone;
  • State Environmental Policy Act requirements would be addressed through planned action and area-wide environmental mitigation; and
  • Fees would be waived in exchange for planning and capacity funding, backfill funding for forgone impact and other fees, and incentive payments for affordable housing units put into service.

Ryu said, “Cities have come to rely on impact fees as a much-needed revenue source, but, when they’re not right-sized to the actual costs of development, impact fees can be a disincentive for the production of the housing. This bill seeks to provide cities with a new set of tools to meet their housing needs.”

HB 2711 will receive a public hearing in the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 1:30 p.m. in Hearing Room E of the John L. O’Brien Building.

01/14/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
Last week Senate Democrats moved quickly on key policy priorities such as voting rights and equal pay — issues that had been bottled up by Republican committee chairs over the last five years. The pace won’t slow this week with hearings on legislation that will finally put the people of Washington state first: preventing gun violence, combating the opioid epidemic, reducing carbon pollution, ensuring a women’s right to quality reproductive care and more. Democratic leaders from the Senate and House will hold a joint media availability at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in the Senate Majority Caucus Room. Possible floor action on Wednesday and Thursday. Subscribe to Weekly Hot Topics.  Download a printable PDF of the Weekly Highlights. MONDAY, Jan. 15 Martin Luther King Jr. Day Resolution in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at noon on the Senate floor. Law & Justice 10:00 am, Senate HR 4 SB 5992 – Concerning trigger modification devices. SB 6049 – Concerning high capacity magazines. SB 5444 – Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and large capacity magazines. SB 5463 – Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms. SB 6146 – Relating to local government authority to regulate firearms. Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2 SB 6150 – Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services. SB 6050 – Concerning restrictions on prescriptions for opiates. Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 4 SB 6316 – Concerning the certification and evidence of adequate and available water Labor & Commerce 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3 SB 6227 – Concerning workplace injuries by janitors. SB 6214 – Allowing industrial insurance coverage for posttraumatic stress disorders of law enforcement and firefighters. Human Services & Corrections 1:30 […]
01/12/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA — The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear several gun-related bills on Monday. Gun violence is a public health crisis in our state and nationwide, and it’s time to impose reasonable restrictions on firearms to ensure the safety of Washingtonians. Senate Bill 5463, Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms: Creates liability for people who don’t safely store firearms, when those firearms are used to kill or injure someone. More than 65 percent of school shooters obtained their fire at home, or at the home of a relative. More than 75 percent of youth who attempt to take their own lives do so with a gun found at home. Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby: “This bill simply says that if you are an irresponsible gun owner who allows an unsecured weapon to be used by somebody prohibited from owning a gun, such as a terrorist, domestic abuser or a child, that there will be legal repercussions. The grim reality is that easy access to firearms is a leading factor in shootings, and deaths, among children.” Senate Bill 5992, Concerning trigger modification devices: Would ban the conversion kit known as a “bump stock” that essentially allows people to turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns. This type of modification is easily purchased, and allowed a shooter in Las Vegas to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in 2017. Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim: ““The clear purpose of bump stocks is to give a legal semiautomatic weapon the rapid-fire capability of machine gun, which is an illegal weapon. As a lifetime NRA member and longtime supporter of gun rights and responsible gun ownership, I don’t take this action lightly. But these devices pose an […]
01/12/2018   Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA – A measure that would provide a much-needed boost to law enforcement in the fight against child pornography and exploitation had a public hearing today in the House Finance committee. House Bill 2389, sponsored by Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma), would levy a 40 cent tax on the retail sale of wireless devices used to access the Internet – such as laptops and cell phones – and dedicate those revenues to the Washington Internet Crimes Against Children Account.

“That 40 cents we can measure in lives saved,” Sawyer testified to the committee. “You will literally save the lives of children and prevent them from being raped.”

According to the Washington Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, our state ranks consistently near the top for the highest rate of child pornography downloads per capita in the nation. In 2015, Sawyer successfully fought to get the task force the funding to do its critical work of rescuing children from abuse and exploitation. His bill that year makes perpetrators pay a fine of $1000 for each image or video they download. However, the task force is overwhelmed with cases and needs a dedicated revenue stream to fulfill its mission.

According to Capt. Mike Edwards of the Seattle Police Department, who also testified today, the task force needs specialized training and currently only has one full-time prosecutor for ICAC cases. Captain Edwards is the ICAC task force commander.

Most child pornography images downloaded in Washington state depict children under the age of eight. Thirty-three percent are of children under the age of three. The technology already exists to help law enforcement track and find who is downloading these images, but the resources to investigate and rescue children is limited. Sawyer’s bill provides those resources and would cost consumers only pennies on the purchase of a wireless device.

“I think it’s reasonable if you’re buying a new laptop or cell phone to pay 40 cents and rescue more children from being victims of these heinous crimes,” Sawyer said.

01/12/2018   Washington House Republicans

OUR NEWS RELEASES FROM THIS WEEK Rep. Joyce McDonald selected by House Republicans to serve as assistant floor leader Manweller introduces new bill to address school violence, hearing scheduled for Tuesday Stambaugh’s road worker safety bill unanimously passes House Rep. Mike Steele aims to help low-income students, create partnership between local farmers and schools Vick... Read more »

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01/11/2018   Washington House Democrats

OLYMPIA—How can we create jobs in timber and farm country? House Bill 2177 by Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) is designed to do exactly that, and the legislation recently got a hearing in the Higher Education Committee.

“One year beyond high school is the tipping point for family wage jobs,” Chapman said. “This is about giving every family in rural Washington a chance to join the middle class–while providing local businesses with the skilled workforce they need to compete and thrive.”

Chapman’s legislation would offer one year of free tuition at local community colleges in rural counties. The program is targeted at high-demand fields in each region. Examples of high-demand programs around the state include firefighting, early childhood education, computer science, accounting, law enforcement and computer science.

Those testifying in favor of the idea included Sierra Pacific Industries, the Association of Washington Business, the Washington Forest Protection Association, sustainable timber firm Green Crow and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges.

Others who signed in to support the legislation include the Northwest Progressive Institute, the Port of Port Angeles and the Poverty Action Network.

No one testified against the legislation.

You can watch the entire hearing on TVW by clicking on the photo below:

Lawmakers on the House Higher Education Committee listen to testimony in support of legislation Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) to offer free college tuition for high-demand jobs in rural counties.

Lawmakers on the House Higher Education Committee listen to testimony in support of legislation Rep. Mike Chapman (D-Port Angeles) to offer free college tuition for high-demand jobs in rural counties.

“Education is the great equalizer,” Chapman said. “If you look at any community—a city of one million or a small town with 400 people—you can predict a family’s average income by looking at one number: the percentage of workers with any education beyond high school. This legislation lifts up families in timber and farm country with high-demand skills for high-wage jobs. And it goes further by targeting the specific programs and certificates that industries and businesses need in each part of the state.”

Some key details about House Bill 2177:

Where: Rural counties are defined as those with a population density of less than 100 people per square mile, or a county smaller than 225 square miles. That means residents in 30 out of the state’s 39 counties would be eligible, with the exception of the nine biggest counties (King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Whatcom, Thurston, Clark, Benton and Spokane).

Who: Eligible students would have to be a resident of one of those 30 rural counties who is enrolled in a community or technical college in a rural county, have a family income that’s not more than 70 percent of the state median (adjusted for family size), be enrolled in a program that’s identified as a high-demand field and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

How long: One year, which translates to 45 credits of full-time study.

When: The state board of Community and Technical Colleges would award grants no later than the fall term of the 2019 academic year.

What’s next: House Bill 2177 is scheduled for a vote in the Higher Education Committee on Jan. 17.

01/11/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA – A bill passed today by the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee would eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information. Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, the committee’s chair, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans. “This bill is an important, bipartisan consumer protection measure that I’m hoping will pass out of the Senate very soon,” Mullet said. “Washington residents can’t afford a delay and need this problem solved.” Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request a “credit freeze” from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data. Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees. “Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own should not have to pay to protect their credit rating,” Mullet said. “These high-profile, cyber security threats have created a lot of fear, but I’m confident that my bill will make it easier for people to protect themselves and their identities without financial penalties.” Mullet noted that the bill is one of his […]
01/11/2018   Washington House Republicans

BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR This Bellingham-based bank is raising wages as a result of federal tax reform (The Bellingham Herald) Peoples Bank raises employees wages, responding to tax reform (KGMI Radio) CAPITAL BUDGET Housing for homeless veterans threatened if Washington state lawmakers don’t pass construction budget (The Seattle Times) EDITORIAL: Legislature must pass capital budget... Read more »

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01/10/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats have introduced a package of higher education bills to ensure access and opportunity for all Washingtonians. The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will begin work to ensure DREAMers have opportunity regardless of federal action, find solutions for students mired in massive student loan debt and make college free for low-income students facing the high cost of higher education. The committee will hear bills at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 2. SB 5074, Eligibility for financial aid programs for DREAMers • Extends the standard established in 2003, when the state first allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges to include those who were granted DACA status to ensure DREAMers are eligible for state financial aid programs. • Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Every Washingtonian deserves access to higher education, and the opportunities that will follow. Policies at the national level have placed DREAMers in jeopardy. We as a state need to make it clear that DREAMers deserve respect, and that they deserve access to the financial aid packages that Washington offers.” SB 6029, Establishing a student loan bill of rights. • Creates new protections for borrowers, requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the state and establishes a Student Education Loan Advocate to assist and aid borrowers. • Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “I’m one of the 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off my student loans, so I really understand the economic pressures people face when trying to plan for their future. The student debt crisis is going to continue to grow and we should act now to protect borrowers from predatory loan servicers.” SB 6101, Evergreen Free College […]
01/10/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
What’s happening: The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will hear legislation to ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth in Washington state. When: 10 a.m. Thursday in Senate Hearing Room 2. Where you can watch it live: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011104 Brief Summary: Senate Bill 5722 would make it unprofessional conduct for a licensed health care provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under the age of 18. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “Every major medical organization which has reviewed ‘conversion therapy’ has condemned the practice. It is barbaric to deny young people their identity and we have an obligation to protect our children from so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”
01/10/2018   Washington State Senate Democrats
The Senate Members of Color Caucus welcomes Senator Manka Dhingra; lays out an agenda focused on inclusion Olympia – Democrats welcomed the newly elected senator from the 45th Legislative District, Manka Dhingra, as the Washington State Senate convened for the 2018 legislative session. Dhingra becomes the 25th member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and the fifth member of the Senate Members of Color Caucus (MOCC). Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Chair of the MOCC, and members Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, released the following statement: “We are honored to celebrate the start of the 2018 legislative session by welcoming our new colleague, Sen. Manka Dhingra, to the Washington State Legislature. “The election of Sen. Dhingra this past November not only led to a Democratic majority in the Senate but also expanded the membership of the Members of Color Caucus. As the power shifts in Olympia, the MOCC will continue to give a voice to communities of color across our great state, and ensure that they are represented in policy discussions. “We have made significant progress in Washington, but we cannot solely rely on our past achievements. Serving you is a great privilege; one we do not take lightly. Our priority as a coalition will always be to amplify the voices of underrepresented and disenfranchised communities. “At a time when our country appears deeply divided, Washington state will continue to be a beacon for the rest of the nation. We will continue to move forward on a unified path together. Uplifting the voices of our communities is a collective effort. That is why we stand together to support the economic and social growth of all people. “We will stand […]
01/04/2018   Washington House Democrats
Rep. Sawyer with AG Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee at the AP Legislative Forum on January 4, 2018.

Rep. Sawyer with AG Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee at the AP Legislative Forum on January 4, 2018. Courtesy LSS photo

“Today the Trump Administration reversed years of federal policy that has enabled states like Washington to implement a legal marijuana market as the voters directed us to do in 2012. Over the past few years, legislators have worked in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Washington’s recreational market complies with the enforcement guidelines outlined in the Department of Justice’s Cole Memorandum. These include steps to prevent minors from accessing marijuana, preventing cross-border sales to other states, and preventing adverse public health consequences.

“By rescinding the Cole Memorandum and other guidance, the Trump Administration is jeopardizing the protections our state created for a tightly-regulated market, enabling the black market to jeopardize public safety and health. This move also jeopardizes our state budget, which allocates millions of dollars in marijuana revenues toward things like substance abuse prevention and treatment, youth services, and children’s health. It’s worth noting nearly 20 percent of marijuana revenues go to the state’s General Fund, which funds our public schools. The budget passed in the 2017 session dedicates over 50 percent of the General Fund toward our K-12 public schools, so the potential loss of revenue from a legal marijuana market could harm these investments.

“In anticipation of this short-sighted move by the Trump Administration, I have sponsored legislation together with colleagues from both sides of the aisle that would prohibit the use of public resources to assist the federal government in any activity that will impede or interfere with our state’s marijuana market. As chair of the House Commerce & Gaming committee, I will work to maintain and protect this market and the will of the voters.”