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01/14/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats
01/14/2022   Department of Homeland Security

Colleagues,

On Monday, people across the United States will pause to honor the life of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is a moment for all of us to reflect on Dr. King’s vision and consider how his message of nonviolence and his pursuit of justice can remain a part of our Department’s daily work to keep our communities safe and secure.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is also a National Day of Service. For our extraordinary DHS workforce – for all of you – service is a part of who we are. We demonstrate it by doing our jobs and always answering the call.

In the spirit of this day, I will join our partners at On Ramps to Careers and Urban Alliance to engage with youth from across the country, including those here in Washington, D.C. Some of these remarkable young people are serving, or have served, as interns at DHS. Through their willingness to step up and strengthen our communities and our country, they embody the spirit of Dr. King.

As we mark MLK Day, I hope you will take the time to find a volunteer opportunity or service project in your area. Please visit MLK Day | AmeriCorps to learn more. Many of you, of course, will be marking the day by serving in your DHS role; we in DHS safeguard our homeland every single day.

As Dr. King stated, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Thank you for everything you do to honor Dr. King and strengthen our nation.

 

Alejandro N. Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security

With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.

Keywords: Employee Resource, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics:
01/14/2022   Washington House Republicans

OUR NEWS RELEASES FROM THIS WEEK Republican leaders say tax relief critical as higher prices crush working families Stokesbary introduces legislation to repeal long-term care mandate and replace it with affordable and optional alternative Rep. Jeremie Dufault proposes legislation to repeal capital gains income tax McCaslin bill would allow WSDOT to hire back workers who... Read more »

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01/14/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – It has been a week of firsts in the Washington State Legislature.

The swearing in of Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma) on Monday, joining Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) and Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), marked the first time in American history that Muslim, Sikh and Hindu lawmakers have served together in any state or federal legislative body.

Tuesday saw Dhingra and Trudeau presiding over the Senate Law & Justice Committee as chair and vice chair, the first time two South Asian women have served in such roles together in Washington state history.

“When I joined the Senate in 2017, I doubled the size of the Women of Color Caucus, from one to two,” said Dhingra, who was the first Sikh American ever elected to a state legislature. “Then, in 2018, we doubled it again, from two to four. Now we have one of the most diverse legislatures in the country. This is what it means for our government to look like the people it represents.”

“We are proving every day to the world that America celebrates the diversity of our communities,” said Das, the first person from the Indian state of Bihar, one of the country’s largest, elected to legislative office in the U.S. “Women of color are leading the way by lifting up the voices of constituents who haven’t been represented before in the halls of power.”

Das’s 2018 election to the Senate led to the first time that three Indian-American women served together in a state legislature in the U.S. Upon election, she joined Dhingra and Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue), who had been appointed to the Washington State House of Representatives in 2017 and was the first-ever Indian-American legislator in that body.

“I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in bringing a new and diverse perspective to the Legislature,” said Slatter. “Each generation has the opportunity to forge a path and to be an inspiration for the next.”

“Every day, we take seriously the responsibility of using our lived and professional experience to amplify the stories, ideas and concerns of the most marginalized,” said Trudeau, the first Muslim and first immigrant from Bangladesh to serve in the Washington state Legislature. “We know that we are not only representing the people of our district; we are representing everyone who has been on the outside looking in.”

“None of us is defined solely by our religion or our background or our community,” said Dhingra. “But all of us are shaped by them. And now those communities are shaping our civic culture for the better.”

The legislators are joined by new Senate Counsel Suchi Sharma, who this year became the first Indian American to serve in that role in Washington state history.

The 60-day legislative session began on Jan. 10.

01/13/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Year after year, Washington ranks among the best economies in the country, and yet existing policies and systems have not enabled all residents to thrive.

01/13/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

With COVID-19 cases rising due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in COVID hospitalizations. The health care staffing shortages have led hospitals to be at or over their capacity to treat patients. Gov.

01/13/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
01/13/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 13, 2022

Senate Bill 5752, known as the Washington Future Fund, today had its first public hearing in the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee. The bill would establish the nation’s first debt-free trust fund to create asset-building opportunities in the form of capital for eligible Washingtonians to help provide a pathway out of poverty.

“The Washington Future Fund is a bold idea – but big issues demand bold solutions,” said Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), the prime sponsor of the bill. “I’m so proud to work with the state treasurer’s office to address wealth inequality and create opportunities to break generational cycles of poverty here in our state.

“Too many of our community members are born into financial instability and that leads to cyclical financial instability, passed on from one generation to the next. I know how hard it is to break that cycle because that story – the story of so many of our neighbors – was my family’s story too.

“Had there been something like the Washington Future Fund to give my family and me the tools to not only survive but to thrive, we could have gotten our financial footing under us sooner and been better equipped to make the choices that were best for us and our community. That’s what I want for all Washingtonians, and that’s what this bill is about.”

For every child born under Apple Health, Washington would allocate $3,200 into an investment pool. The Office of the State Treasurer would administer the program and the state Investment Board would manage and maximize the investment. Eligible Washingtonians aged 18 to 30 years old would then have access to a one-time disbursement to use for three in-state purposes: buying a home, pursuing post-secondary education, or starting a small business.

“Fundamentally, wealth is the key determinant of the long-term economic stability for Washington families and which opportunities they may have access to,” said Washington State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti. “So let’s invest now and send the message to those born with the least that Washington will have your back by providing the basic capital needed to start your journey toward financial security.”

The program would be housed in the Office of the State Treasurer. Five years after the initial investment is made, the treasurer would convene a workgroup with representatives from the Legislature and key stakeholder groups to address concerns like disbursement procedures and fraud mitigation. After 10 years, the workgroup would report to the Legislature on program development.

With an estimated 40,000 Apple Health births each year, approximately $128 million would be invested annually, initially from the General Fund. Unclaimed funds would be re-invested in the program to create a long-term, sustainable revolving fund for generations to come.

“The Washington Future Fund would give residents of our state one tool by which folks born into generational poverty could meaningfully address that cycle,” added Trudeau. “I’m ecstatic about the potential of this bill, and proud that we’re starting a conversation about the importance of closing generational wealth gaps to build a stronger economy, healthier communities, and a better Washington for all.”

Today’s public testimony on SB 5752 can be viewed here. House companion legislation, HB 1861, is sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) and is scheduled for a public hearing in the House committee on Housing, Human Services & Veterans on at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

SB 5752 has until Feb. 3 to advance from the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee. The 2022 legislative session lasts for 60 days.

 

 

01/13/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER After flooding, farming group calls for comprehensive water reform (The Center Square) Washington wineries, lawmakers push for wine license plates (KAPP/KVEW) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR U.S. jobless claims rise by 23,000 to 230,000 (AP/The Seattle Times) For retail workers, omicron disruptions aren’t just about health (The New York Times/The Seattle Times) Nike,... Read more »

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01/13/2022   Washington Attorney General News

Debt relief, restitution, will go to Washington borrowers impacted by Navient’s deceptive practices

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that, as a result of his lawsuit, student loan servicer Navient will provide nearly $45 million in debt relief, restitution and costs to resolve Washington’s lawsuit. Ferguson asserted Navient, the Sallie Mae offshoot that was then the nation’s largest student loan servicer, engaged in numerous unfair and deceptive practices harming Washington student loan borrowers.

01/12/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 12, 2022

The Toxics-Free Cosmetics Act, heard today by the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, would protect consumers of cosmetic products from dozens of harmful chemicals by banning the use and distribution of those chemicals in Washington state.

“Every single one of us knows someone – or is someone – who uses cosmetics,” said Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), the bill’s sponsor. “We deserve to know what’s in the cosmetics we use, and we deserve a guarantee that those things are safe.”

SB 5703 bans some of the most concerning chemicals used in cosmetic products, including phthalates, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), parabens and formaldehyde. The bans would go into effect in 2025. It builds on other similar laws adopted in California, Maryland and parts of Europe.

“It’s been demonstrated time and again that many of the toxic chemicals commonly used in makeup pose serious health concerns, including cancer, reproductive problems and developmental effects. They’ve also been found to pollute our environment,” Das said. “This bill affects, and protects, all of us – not only now but for generations to come.”

SB 5703 would require the Department of Ecology to work with the Department of Health to create and adopt a community engagement plan to:

  • Test cosmetic products marketed to communities of color and identify potentially harmful ingredients;
  • Seek information through outreach and provide culturally appropriate education concerning identified harmful ingredients used in cultural and cosmetic products; and
  • Obtain recommendations for priority chemicals or products to be regulated under the Safer Products for Washington program.

The legislation would also require manufacturers to more transparently disclose information about cosmetic products sold in the state, including:

  • Information that satisfies all labeling requirements under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the federal Fair Packaging and Labeling Act; and
  • A list of chemicals or chemical classes added to a product if those chemicals have been identified by the Department of Ecology as chemicals of high concern for children or high-priority chemicals.

“This bill has received broad support from every corner of our state,” Das added. “Our neighbors are ready for industry to step up and take better care of the people who use their products, especially communities of color that have historically been targeted with marketing and outreach by the makers of these harmful products. It’s a matter of health and environmental well-being. We need to take action now.”

“This bill is critically needed to clean up the cosmetics industry,” said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future. “There is no reason for companies to continue to use toxic chemicals like PFAS and phthalates in products we use on our bodies.”

Today’s public hearing of SB 5703 can be viewed here. The bill has until Feb. 3 to advance from committee.

 

01/12/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – Survivors of domestic violence in Washington state could be protected against severe emotional abuse through the civil protection order system through the passage of legislation sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) and Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland).

SB 5845 and its companion HB 1901 would allow victims to file for protection against coercive control, which is a pattern of behavior that attempts to control a victim through the threat of physical, emotional or psychological harm. It includes manipulation through isolation, intimidation, threats, online stalking or economic control, among other tactics.

“Research has shown that coercive control is widespread but often goes unrecognized despite the severe harm it often causes,” said Dhingra, chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. “It’s time our culture and our laws catch up with the science.”

CDC data reveals that 40 percent of both men and women reported experiencing coercive control at some point in their lives.

“Often, people say that this invisible abuse is even more frightening than physical force, but they don’t know that coercive control is a form of domestic violence,” said Goodman, chair of the House Public Safety Committee. “This bill would help provide the tools and knowledge that survivors need to protect themselves.”

The proposed bill follows major 2021 legislation streamlining, updating and improving access to the courts for civil protection orders.

The 60-day legislative session began on Jan. 10.

01/12/2022   Washington House Republicans

BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Inflation highest in nearly 40 years as consumer prices rise 7% in 2021 (AP/The Oregonian) Not finding what you want at the grocery store again? Here’s why (Washington Post/The Bellingham Herald) Freeway, mountain pass closures hit Puget Sound region grocery stores with shortages (MyNorthwest) A bumpy run at Stevens Pass (The... Read more »

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01/12/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA — Workers in Washington state would benefit from new apprenticeship programs in growing fields, reinvigorated support for existing apprenticeships, and significantly increased state funding for apprentices at public colleges, under two bills scheduled for committee hearings on Thursday.

“The ‘earn-while-you-learn’ approach, with both classroom instruction and supervised on-the-job training, makes apprenticeships accessible to many—especially women and people of color—who can’t take time off work or afford to go to a traditional college or university,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), chair of the Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee. “We can build a more diverse and expanded apprenticeship system that opens the door to a successful future for so many more Washingtonians.”

Currently these benefits are out of reach for many workers and employers because several high-growth fields lack existing or sufficient apprenticeships.

“So many of our neighbors – and so many across the state – have built their educational and career journeys with our nation-leading apprenticeship programs,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. “We can do a better job of recognizing and honoring their many hours of on-the-job learning they’ve invested, and make sure they get credit for that when they want to pivot and grow in their careers.”

SB 5764, sponsored by Randall, would create permeable pathways between apprenticeship programs and college so that students in apprenticeship programs are treated equally when it comes to tuition and grants, and successful apprenticeship graduates have a clearer pathway to earn an associate degree or four-year bachelor’s degree in the future, if they choose.

Randall’s bill would improve a funding system that can create disincentives for community colleges to partner with and participate in state-registered apprenticeship programs, and instead establish parity in funding for both apprenticeship students and traditional college students. Red tape that prevents apprenticeship students from using the Washington College Grant would also be removed. And outdated systems that burden individual apprentices, making college credit difficult to earn for on-the-job-experience and coursework in their registered apprenticeship programs, would be reformed, recognizing more completely the value of their experience.

SB 5600, sponsored by Keiser, would expand apprenticeships across the board. This approach builds on work done by the building trades, as well as the new state initiative Career Connect Washington and other advances since the Legislature passed the Workforce Education Investment Act in 2019.

The new bill would create collaborative platforms by economic and industry-based sectors, giving industry stakeholders the tools to work together to modernize and improve their offerings, as well as fill gaps in rapidly changing industries. Platforms for health care, maritime, manufacturing, high technology and education are among the sectors identified as high-skill, high-job-growth areas for innovative apprenticeships.

Keiser’s bill would include three new grant programs to fund wraparound support services to address barriers to participating in apprenticeships, help existing apprenticeships incorporate remote instruction, and upgrade equipment to expand capacity in existing apprenticeships.

Hearing information:

Thursday, Jan. 13

8 a.m.: The Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee will hear public testimony on SB 5600, which concerns the sustainability and expansion of Washington’s apprenticeship programs. Watch on TVW.

1:30 p.m.: The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will hear public testimony on SB 5764, to improve opportunities for Washington students who are in or have completed a state apprenticeship program, by removing barriers to increase access to higher education and creating more permeable pathways. Watch on TVW.

Read more in this Seattle Times op-ed from Sens. Keiser and Emily Randall: “Help more students access quality job apprenticeships.”

01/12/2022   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of a new Climate Change Professionals Program to recruit recent graduates and current federal employees to support the Department’s growing focus on adapting to climate change and improving resilience.  The program is one of many new activities under the umbrella of the DHS Climate Change Action Group, established in 2021 by Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. 

“The Climate Change Professionals Program will be instrumental in helping the Department adapt to our changing climate by providing hands-on experience and guidance to young professionals interested in climate adaptation and resilience,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “This program will develop the next generation of climate experts, improve climate literacy throughout the Department, and help us execute our Climate Action Plan to remain mission-resilient while reducing our own impacts on the environment.” 

This two-year program will be run by the DHS Office of the Chief Readiness Support Officer and provide participants with hands-on opportunities to contribute to new initiatives that have the potential to substantially help DHS adapt to climate change and improve resilience.  Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive a Climate Change Professional accreditation from the Association of Climate Change Officers and be eligible for permanent, full-time positions at DHS. 

Participants in the program will work under the leadership of the Climate Change Action Group.  The CCAG is comprised of senior officials from across the Department and focuses on promoting resilience and addressing multiple climate change-related risks, including flooding, extreme heat, drought, and wildfires. 

The Climate Change Professionals Program is part of the Secretary’s Honors Program, which was launched in July 2021 to recruit recent graduates and current federal employees with degrees in relevant fields for professional development programs at DHS.  Climate change is the second field included in the Secretary’s Honors Program, following the launch of the cybersecurity program last year. 

Interested applicants can view the first job postings for the Climate Change Professionals Program on the DHS is Hiring webpage.  To learn more about DHS’s climate commitment, visit DHS Actions: Climate Change

Keywords: Climate, Climate Change, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Homeland Security Careers, Secretary of Homeland Security
01/11/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Farm Bureau: Uncertainty over latest WOTUS regulations may require Supreme Court to sort out issue (Capital Press) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Inflation up, virus down as priorities in U.S.: AP-NORC poll (AP/The Columbian) Seattle’s cost of living increase is largest in the country, study finds (Puget Sound Business Journal) The rising cost... Read more »

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01/11/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

Olympia– State Sen. T’wina Nobles has sponsored legislation to provide financial education and support to youth experiencing foster care.

Senate Bill 5824, the Fostering Finances Act, will address a gap in financial preparedness for youth who are aging out of foster care by providing an opportunity for all youth experiencing foster care to open a bank account.

“When I experienced foster care, I participated in transitional and independent living programs which taught me how to budget and encouraged my growth in financial independence,” said Nobles. “The similar learning environment provided in this bill was how I truly learned responsibility, and that prepared me for adulthood. I want that same opportunity for independence for our dependent youth.”

The bill instructs the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to ensure that every youth experiencing foster care at age 14 or older can open a bank account prior to the end of the youth’s dependency. DCYF will also be responsible for depositing a minimum of $25 per month into this account.

The legislation also charges DCYF to convene a stakeholder group which will develop an implementation plan and ensure statewide access to developmentally and culturally appropriate financial education for dependent youth ages 12 and older. DCYF will report on the status of the program and the work of the stakeholder group by Dec. 1, 2022. The program is to be operational by Jan. 1, 2023.

“If we want kids to succeed, we need to make sure they have the right tools for their respective needs,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), cosponsor of the bill. “I can’t think of a better investment than something that introduces and reinforces the value of financial security. The benefits of this bill could change lives forever and far exceed the state’s investment.”

The text of the bill is available here. The 2022 legislation will end in 60 days.

01/10/2022   Washington House Republicans

News & Media Watch: Safe Washington Plan news conference | January 5, 2022 News release: Republican legislators prioritize policing, public safety, and corrections in ‘Safe Washington’ Plan | January 5, 2022 Radio report: Republican legislators unveil ‘Safe Washington’ plan to prioritize policing, public safety and corrections | January 5, 2022 Learn more: Why Democrats’ police... Read more »

The post Public safety: The Republican Safe Washington Plan appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/10/2022   Washington Attorney General News

TACOMA — Today the Washington Attorney General filed 36 gross misdemeanor charges against Electron Hydro, LLC and its Chief Operating Officer, Thom A. Fischer. Electron Hydro operates a hydroelectric dam on the Puyallup River. Each of the 36 charges, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, are against both Fischer and the business. The charges include violations of the state’s Water Pollution Control Act, Shoreline Management Act and Pierce County Code.

01/10/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, will work the initial days of the 2022 legislative session from home after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I’m grateful that I can isolate at home with my family to minimize the possibility of spread, and I’m especially glad that my husband and I were vaccinated against this virus,” said Trudeau. “It’s scary to have COVID when we have a little one here at home who’s too young to be vaccinated, but we’re monitoring all of our symptoms extremely closely and know that we have an incredible community surrounding us to help us take care of our family.

“I’m drawing on the resilience of our loved ones, the support of my colleagues and the encouragement that comes from knowing the Legislature is well-prepared to conduct the people’s business remotely.

“This isn’t the way I wanted to start my first session, but I’m no less excited and ready to do the work our community wants done. After a full isolation and recovery, I plan to go to Olympia when it is safe and possible to do so – but whether I’m there or here at home, I’m ready to work.”

01/10/2022   Washington House Republicans

BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR King County’s top health official sounds COVID quarantine alarm for businesses (KOMO TV) Alaska Airlines announces deep flight cuts due to Omicron surge (Puget Sound Business Journal) Here’s why Bellingham businesses face a tight building market, increasing rent prices (The Bellingham Herald) COMMUNITY & FAMILY ISSUES Tacoma Creates: Where did millions... Read more »

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01/10/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement today on the first day of the 2022 legislative session.

01/08/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig announced Saturday he has tested positive for Covid-19. Billig, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, said he has virtually no symptoms and has been quarantining since Tuesday after he thought he may have been exposed.

“I am grateful to have been vaccinated and boosted, which I know has prevented me from having any significant symptoms.” said Billig, 53. “I also appreciate that we have the technology in place to facilitate a hybrid legislative session so Senators can fully participate in legislative activities even while they quarantine. I do not expect this positive test will keep me from any of my legislative duties as session gets underway next week.”

Billig, who represents the 3rd Legislative District in Spokane, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and then to the Senate in 2012. He has served as Senate Majority Leader since 2019.

01/08/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Yesterday, Gov.

01/07/2022   Washington State Senate Democrats

The 60-day 2022 legislative session starts today! Don’t miss a moment of Senate Democrats taking action on climate change, tax reform, job creation, education, infrastructure, housing and much, much more. You can watch all the action, all the time at TVW.org.

2022 OPENING CEREMONIES

The 60-day 2022 legislative session begins Monday, Jan. 10.

Monday, January 10
Noon

The 2022 legislative session officially gets underway with the swearing in of new Senators Yasmin Trudeau and John Lovick, and the adoption of new Senate rules. Watch on TVW.

COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE

Sen. Marko Liias will hold his first meeting as the new chair of the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday.

Monday, January 10
4 pm

The Senate’s new Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Marko Liias will lead his first committee meeting Monday. The committee will receive an update on federal infrastructure dollars headed to our state and on the implementation of the Climate Commitment Act and Low Carbon Fuel Standard. The committee will also have a hearing on Gov. Inslee’s proposed transportation budget (SB 5689). Watch on TVW.

INDEPENDENT YOUTH HOUSING PROGRAM

Sen. Patty Kuderer, chair of the Housing & Local Government Committee and sponsor of SB 5566.

Tuesday, January 11
8 am

The Housing & Local Government Committee will hear public testimony on Senate Bill 5566. This policy gives young adults who have exited the foster care system an additional two years to participate in the Independent Youth Housing Program, which provides safe and stable housing along with other critical services for an at-risk population. Watch on TVW.

CASH FOR LAWN CLUNKERS

No offense to this lawn mower, but broken-down equipment like it often ends up in landfills and is bad for our environment.

Tuesday, January 11
10:30 am

The Environment, Energy & Technology Committee will hear public testimony on Senate Bill 5543, the Cash for Lawn Clunkers Bill. This policy will provide rebates for people who scrap their gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and hedge trimmers, and replace them with electric-powered equipment. Watch on TVW.

STATE OF THE STATE

Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver his annual State of the State address at noon.

Tuesday, January 11
Noon

Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver his annual State of the State speech (spoiler alert: Washington is awesome.) Watch on TVW.

GOVERNOR’S OPERATING BUDGET

Ways & Means Chair Sen. Christine Rolfes will lead a public hearing on the Governor's supplemental budget proposal.

Tuesday, January 11
4 pm

The Ways & Means Committee will take public testimony on Gov. Inslee’s 2021-23 supplemental operating budget (SB 5693). Watch on TVW.

WASHINGTON FERRIES

A work session will look at ways to mitigate the impacts of Covid on the state's ferries.

Tuesday, Jan. 11
4 pm

The Transportation Committee will hold a work session to look at ways to improve ferry service that has been impacted by the pandemic. Watch on TVW.

APPRENTICESHIPS, PAID FAMILY LEAVE

Sen. Karen Keiser, Chair of the Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee, is the sponsor of SB 5600.

Thursday, January 13
8 am

The Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee will hear public testimony on Senate Bill 5600, which concerns the sustainability and expansion of Washington’s apprenticeship programs. The committee will also hear SB 5649, which makes improvements to the state’s successful Paid Family Leave program. Watch on TVW.

You can read more about the importance and need for apprenticeship programs in this Seattle Times op-ed from Sens. Keiser and Emily Randall: Help more students access quality job apprenticeships

IMPROVING WA’S APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS

Sen. Emily Randall is the sponsor of a bill to improve Washington's apprenticeship programs for students.

Thursday, January 13
1:30 pm

The Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will hear public testimony on Senate Bill 5764, a policy sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall to improve Washington’s apprenticeship programs for students by increasing funding and making efforts to ensure their learning is reflected in academic credits. Watch on TVW.

You can read more about the importance and need for apprenticeship programs in this Seattle Times op-ed from Sens. Randall and Karen Keiser: Help more students access quality job apprenticeships

COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

Sen. Lisa Wellman, chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and sponsor of SB 5537.

Friday, January 14
8 am

The Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 5537, which will change the age for compulsory school attendance from eight to five. Watch on TVW.

You can read more about this issue in this Seattle Times editorial: Not enroll in school until 8? Change state age requirement to 5

ACCESS TO DEMOCRACY

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña is sponsor of a bill to further strengthen the Washington Voting Rights Act.

Friday, January 14
10:30 am

The State Government & Elections Committee will hold a public hearing on legislation that builds on the 2018 access to democracy election reform bills. Senate Bill 5597 strengthens the protections for a truly representative democracy created in the original Washington Voting Rights Act. SB 5636 streamlines Washington’s Automatic Voter Registration program. Watch on TVW.

Here’s some coverage from 2018 from the Huffington Post of Washington’s efforts to improve voting access: Could One State Save American Democracy?

01/07/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
01/07/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee made two announcements today related to breaking down systemic barriers around race and increasing equity.

01/07/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Washington lawmaker files seasonal farmworker pay bill (Capital Press) Wetland projects accused of infringing on irrigation water rights (Capital Press) Ag News: Food inflation in 2022 and farmers plant more wheat-corn-soy (KIT Radio) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Mounting omicron infections force businesses to scramble, threatening economic recovery (The Washington Post/The Seattle Times)... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 07, 2022 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/07/2022   Department of Homeland Security

New integrated financial, procurement, and asset management system improves DHS resource management

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Management Directorate announced that the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has recently transitioned to an updated integrated financial, procurement, and asset management system, called the Financial System Modernization Solution (FSMS). The new system includes automated and integrated controls, a common appropriations structure and accounting line, standard business practices, up-to-date security, and functionality that will assist the USCG in overseeing their annual budget of more than $12 billion more efficiently and effectively.

“Modernizing our financial support systems is vital to the Department of Homeland Security and is one of our top priorities,” said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Chief Financial Officer Stacy Marcott. “The new system will vastly improve the U.S. Coast Guard’s business systems, help employees be more productive, and allow them to achieve more reliable results when paying bills, procuring goods and services, reporting and managing budgets, and much more.”

The DHS Financial Systems Modernization initiative works by updating legacy financial systems to provide greater security, data integrity, efficiency, and flexibility. These improvements will lead to more accurate reporting, therefore improving transparency and accountability.

“This is truly the beginning of a new era for the United States Coast Guard’s Financial Management and Procurement Services,” says Rear Admiral Mark Fedor, Assistant Commandant for Resources & Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Coast Guard. “I’m honored to help lead the Coast Guard through this financial transformation and confident the Service will be more efficient, adaptable to our dynamic operational environment, and better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars. Hundreds of people have invested thousands of hours to make this vision a reality, so it’s fitting to celebrate this milestone achievement.”

USCG is the third DHS component to transition to FSMS. In October 2019, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) made the transition, and in October of 2020, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also successfully transitioned to the new system.

Keywords: Financial Services Sector, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
Topics: Homeland Security Enterprise
01/06/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee released the following statement today announcing his support for legislation currently being written that would outlaw attempts by candidates and elected officials to spread lies about free and fair elections when it has the likelihood to stoke violence.

01/06/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a flag directive today to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

01/06/2022   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with its federal, state, local, and non-governmental partners to support the needs of the areas affected by the devastating wildfires in Colorado.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remind the public that sites that provide emergency response and relief are considered protected areas for purposes of ICE and CBP enforcement actions. To the fullest extent possible, ICE and CBP do not conduct enforcement activities at protected areas such as along evacuation routes, sites used for sheltering or the distribution of emergency supplies, food or water, or registration sites for disaster-related assistance or the reunification of families and loved ones.

At the request of FEMA or local and state authorities, ICE and CBP may help conduct search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction, and other public safety missions. ICE and CBP provide emergency assistance to individuals regardless of their immigration status and are not also conducting immigration enforcement in these roles. DHS officials do not and will not pose as individuals providing emergency-related information as part of any immigration enforcement activities.

DHS encourages all eligible individuals to apply for and seek out assistance. Please go to www.disasterassistance.gov/get-assistance/forms for instructions on how to apply for FEMA disaster assistance. DHS is aware that some disaster survivors may fear applying for FEMA assistance due to their immigration status. FEMA does not collect information regarding the immigration status of an applicant or any member of an applicant’s household and does not proactively provide personal information to ICE or CBP for immigration enforcement. However, in rare circumstances, based on a specific request, ICE or CBP could request this information if a person poses a current threat to national security or public safety based upon an articulable risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person. Please see, FACT SHEET: Citizenship Status and Eligibility for Disaster Assistance FAQ.

If individuals believe that the emergency event may affect their U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application, petition, or immigration status, they should contact USCIS or go to www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations for more information.

DHS is committed to ensuring that every individual who seeks shelter, aid, or other assistance as a result of the wildfires is able to do so regardless of their immigration status. DHS carries out its mission without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, national origin, or political associations, and in compliance with law and policy.

Keywords: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Topics: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
01/06/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Ag News: CPI for food higher and SCOTUS new year ag cases (KIT Radio) Farming community must be active this legislative session (Pacific Northwest Ag Network) EDITORIAL: Help tell Tales of Two Rivers and their importance (The Everett Herald) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR US jobless claims rise by 7,000, but still low... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 06, 2022 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/06/2022   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee today commended the Biden Administration, which approved Inslee’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and agreed to provide federal assistance to help those impacted by last November’s historic floods.

01/05/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Washington’s snowpack may not be as great as many think (Pacific Northwest Ag Network) Panel rules against Canada in U.S. dairy dispute (Capital Press) Biden administration targets meat, poultry processors (Capital Press) OPINION: Whatcom farmers call for these immediate Nooksack flood, water solutions (Rich Appel is president of Whatcom Family Farmers/The Bellingham... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 05, 2022 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/04/2022   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER In latest effort to combat rising prices, White House to offer $1 billion in aid for smaller meat-industry producers (Washington Post/The Spokesman-Review) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Washington increases minimum wage (KONA Radio) Starbucks to require coronavirus vaccine or weekly testing for U.S. workers (Bloomberg/The Seattle Times) Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: January 04, 2022 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

01/03/2022   Washington Attorney General News

Similar to “silver alerts,” information will be shared on message signs and in highway advisory messages

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that he is working with Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Anacortes, to propose a bill in the next legislative session to create an alert in Washington state to help identify and locate missing Indigenous women and people.

12/31/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the last group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base. Fort Bliss is the third of eight Department of Defense (DOD) installations supporting the resettlement of Afghan nationals that are also known as “safe havens” to complete operations. To date, more than 52,000 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in communities across the country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.

“The end of operations at Fort Bliss marks another important step in our mission to safely and successfully resettle our Afghan allies. We are thankful for the partnership the local communities have forged with our teams and their support for this historic effort,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “We have made incredible progress over the last four months thanks to the dedication of our workforce and the backing Operation Allies Welcome has received from veterans, faith groups, non-governmental organizations, and Americans across the country. This is truly a whole-of-society effort to support the people who supported our Nation over the last twenty years.”

DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 22,500 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the following five military installations: Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. While on these installations, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.

“I am incredibly proud of the military men and women of Task Force Bliss and the entire interagency team who enabled the resettlement of approximately 11,400 Afghan evacuees,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command. “Over the past four months, our service members at this and other military installations provided essential support to Operation Allies Welcome for this important mission, ensuring Afghan nationals had what was needed while they completed resettlement requirements and prepared to transition to their new communities across America. As Task Force Bliss concludes its support, the service members and the entire team should take pride in the professionalism, selflessness, and empathy they demonstrated as they carried out this incredibly complex endeavor.”

As of December 31, the U.S. has welcomed more than 75,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, providing them with support and assistance as they begin their new lives in America – and we are prepared to welcome additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from multiple federal agencies. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, COVID-19, and others – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.

Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.

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Operation Allies Welcome is the coordinated effort across the federal government to support and resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the United States.  For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/allieswelcome

Keywords: Operation Allies Welcome
Topics:
12/23/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the last group of Afghan nationals temporarily housed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia as part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) departed the base. Marine Corps Base Quantico is the second of eight Department of Defense (DOD) installations supporting the resettlement of Afghan nationals that are also known as “safe havens” to complete operations. To date, more than 49,000 Afghan evacuees have been resettled in communities across our country. These resettlement efforts are led by the Department of State in close coordination with more than 290 local resettlement affiliates.

“As another one of our safe haven locations completes operations, we remain steadfast in our commitment to safely welcome our Afghan allies to the United States,” said Robert J. Fenton, Jr., Senior Response Official for Operation Allies Welcome. “With operations now completed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, I would like to thank all the federal staff, servicemembers, and volunteers who made it possible for more than 49,000 Afghan evacuees to begin to rebuild their lives in America. We are grateful for the support the local community has shown our Afghan allies and the staff working with them throughout this historic effort.” 

DOD continues to provide temporary housing facilities for the remaining approximately 25,000 vulnerable Afghans who are in the process of completing their resettlement while at the following six safe havens: Camp Atterbury, Indiana; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Pickett, Virginia; and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. While on these military installations, Afghan evacuees have access to a range of services, including medical care and resettlement services, and they can apply for work authorization.

“Over the past four months, the men and women in uniform at Task Force Quantico have provided unflagging support to Operation Allies Welcome, working with myriad partners enabling the successful resettlement of more than 49,000 Afghans into their new communities throughout the United States,” said Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command.  “I met with service members, interagency partners, and volunteers at each of the eight military installations that supported Operation Allies Welcome over the course of the mission. In every instance, l was impressed with the incredible professionalism and compassion displayed, and I am extraordinarily proud of what members of DOD did to contribute to a brighter future for these Afghans.

As of December 23, the U.S. has welcomed more than 75,000 Afghans to the United States through Operation Allies Welcome, providing them with support and assistance as they begin their new lives in America – and we are prepared to welcome additional qualifying Afghans over the coming weeks and months. Prior to entering the United States, Afghan evacuees must successfully complete a rigorous, multi-layered screening and vetting process that includes biometric and biographic screenings conducted by intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals from multiple federal agencies. Afghan evacuees also receive critical vaccinations – which include measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), varicella, polio, COVID-19, and others – as a condition of their humanitarian parole. All OAW arrivals are tested for COVID-19.

Those who are interested in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable Afghans can go to www.welcome.us to learn more about how to get involved. Welcome.US is a national non-profit initiative to welcome and support Afghan nationals as they rebuild their lives in communities across America. Groups of individuals and community organizations can also apply to form a sponsor circle to directly support arriving Afghan evacuees. For more information on the Sponsor Circle Program and to learn how to apply to form a sponsor circle, visit www.sponsorcircles.org.

Keywords: Operation Allies Welcome
Topics:
12/21/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a pilot program in select cities where ICE law enforcement officers will begin to wear body worn cameras for pre-planned operations.

“With its body worn camera pilot, ICE is making an important statement that transparency and accountability are essential components of our ability to fulfill our law enforcement mission and keep communities safe,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “The Department will continue to seek ways to ensure the safety and security of our workforce, our state and local partners, and the public, while at the same time building confidence with the communities we serve.”

The deployment of body worn cameras will occur in phases throughout the United States, beginning with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and to be followed by Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers at a later date.  The HSI pilot locations are Houston, TX; New York City, N.Y.; and Newark, N.J.  The HSI phase of the pilot will be conducted with members of the special response teams (SRT) that operate as a federal special weapons and tactics (SWAT) element for the office’s area of responsibility.

“The body worn camera pilot is an effort to increase transparency between ICE and the communities we serve, enhance officer safety, and deliver on our commitment to accountability,” said Acting ICE Director Tae D. Johnson.  “Safety of both ICE personnel and the public are the primary consideration when implementing these new technologies and tools.”

ICE personnel participating in the pilot program received training on the proper use of the devices, adherence to the ICE Directive outlining the pilot program, legal considerations, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties safeguards, as well as training on data uploading, storage, retention, and tagging.  The body worn camera will be mounted on an officer’s or agent’s outerwear (e.g., vest, shirt, or helmet).

The use of body worn cameras will enhance ICE operations, including at-large arrests and searches incident to arrest; execution of search warrants; and questioning of individuals encountered in the field.  Body worn cameras are expected to increase the transparency of ICE in communities, as footage may be used in assessments of police conduct, including in instances where force was used.  Additionally, footage can be used for non-investigative purposes, including for training and assessing officer performance. 

ICE recently posted a privacy impact assessment by the DHS Office of Privacy detailing the broader implementation of body worn cameras. ICE looks forward to expanding the body worn camera pilot to ERO in the near future.  The timing of the ERO pilot is dependent on the conclusion of negotiations with the ERO union.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move.  HSI agents investigate a wide array of transnational crime, including terrorism; narcotics smuggling; child exploitation; human smuggling and trafficking; illegal exports of controlled technology and weapons; money laundering; financial fraud and scams; labor exploitation; cybercrime; intellectual property theft and trade fraud; identity and benefit fraud; and human rights violations and war crimes.

Keywords: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics:
12/21/2021   Washington Attorney General News

El dinero estará disponible para personas que fueron detenidas, arrestadas o deportadas después de que agentes de inmigración se les acercaran, o abordaran su autobús, en el Spokane Intermodal Center

12/21/2021   Washington Attorney General News

Money available for those detained, arrested or deported after immigration agents approached them, or boarded their bus, at the Spokane Intermodal Center

12/21/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with its federal, state, local, and non-governmental partners to support the needs of the areas affected by the devastating severe weather and tornadoes in Kentucky and throughout the South and Midwest. DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell traveled to Kentucky on Sunday, December 12, 2021, and Wednesday, December 15, 2021, to meet with local and commonwealth officials and survey the damaged areas.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remind the public that sites that provide emergency response and relief are considered protected areas for purposes of ICE and CBP enforcement actions. To the fullest extent possible, ICE and CBP do not conduct enforcement activities at protected areas such as along evacuation routes, sites used for sheltering or the distribution of emergency supplies, food or water, or registration sites for disaster-related assistance or the reunification of families and loved ones.

At the request of FEMA or local and state authorities, ICE and CBP may help conduct search and rescue, air traffic de-confliction, and other public safety missions. ICE and CBP provide emergency assistance to individuals regardless of their immigration status and are not also conducting immigration enforcement in these roles. DHS officials do not and will not pose as individuals providing emergency-related information as part of any immigration enforcement activities.

DHS encourages all eligible individuals to apply for and seek out assistance. Please go to www.disasterassistance.gov/get-assistance/forms for instructions on how to apply for FEMA disaster assistance.

DHS is aware that some disaster survivors may fear applying for FEMA assistance due to their immigration status. FEMA does not collect information regarding immigration status or that of any member of an applicant’s household and does not proactively provide personal information to ICE or CBP for immigration enforcement. However, in rare circumstances, based on a specific request, ICE or CBP could request this information if a person poses a current threat to national security or public safety based upon an articulable risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person. Please see, FACT SHEET: Citizenship Status and Eligibility for Disaster Assistance FAQ.

If individuals believe that the emergency event may affect their U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application, petition, or immigration status, they should contact USCIS or go to www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations for more information.

DHS is committed to ensuring that every individual who seeks shelter, aid, or other assistance as a result of the severe weather is able to do so regardless of their immigration status. DHS carries out its mission without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, national origin, or political associations, and in compliance with law and policy.

View translations of this press release.

 

Keywords: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Topics:
12/20/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas authorized U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to move forward with activities necessary to address life, safety, environmental, and remediation requirements for border barrier projects previously undertaken by the Department of Defense (DoD) and located within the Border Patrol’s San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso, and Del Rio Sectors.  The activities will be undertaken in accordance with the Department’s plan for the use of border barrier funds.  

In furtherance of Presidential Proclamation 10142, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the cancellation of all DoD 284 Projects.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), on behalf of DoD, is in the process of terminating the construction contracts for these projects.  As part of that process, DoD will turn over unfinished projects to DHS in various stages of completion to undertake activities necessary to address urgent life, safety, environmental, or other remediation required to protect border communities. 

Activities include but are not limited to: 

  • Completing and/or installing drainage to prevent flooding.  
  • Installing and completing permanent erosion control and slope stabilization measures to ensure the safety and stability of structures in the region.  
  • Completing prior construction of patrol, maintenance, and access roads by adding guardrails, signage, and integrating existing roadways to address safety concerns. 
  • Remediating temporary use areas such as laydown yards, haul roads, and project areas impacted by construction. 
  • Disposing of residual materials not required for completion of the work as identified above.   
  • Closing small gaps that remain open from prior construction activities and remediating incomplete gates. 

The type of work that is required will vary by Sector and will be executed with available funding in priority locations identified by CBP.  A large majority of the incomplete DoD 284 Projects are located within the Tucson Sector.  Following a safety analysis by CBP in the Tucson Sector, work to address life, safety, environmental, or other remediation requirements will begin.   

Work will be completed within the Tucson, El Paso, and Yuma Sectors to address safety concerns by closing construction access gaps that were left open at the time of the border barrier construction pause, and will also include adding missing gates, addressing incomplete foundations, and connecting power to gates that are already hung but are currently inoperable.  Rescue gates provide access for Border Patrol agents and first responders to access irrigation canals in emergency situations where the water is fast moving and extremely dangerous.  These emergency rescue gates are currently inoperable due to missing hardware or being welded shut.    

CBP will assess additional remediation needs in the San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, El Paso, and Del Rio Sectors and will prioritize completion of drainage and erosion control measures, safety work on border and access roads, and remediation of temporary use areas used for construction. 

For these projects, CBP will work closely with stakeholders, including impacted landowners, tribal, state, and local elected officials, and federal agencies to seek input and help on prioritizing potential remediation activities within each Sector.  

The Administration continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border. 

Keywords: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics:
12/20/2021   Washington Attorney General News

Ferguson seeks to ensure towing industry complies with the law protecting active duty service members

PORT ORCHARD — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today a court order will require a Kitsap County towing company to pay a former Navy sailor for illegally selling his car at auction. The order also requires it to implement specific policies so it will not harm service members in the future.

12/20/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) today announced the forthcoming publication of a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2022.  These visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or before March 31, 2022.

This supplemental cap marks the first time that DHS is making additional H-2B visas available in the first half of the fiscal year.  Earlier this year, USCIS received enough petitions for returning workers to reach the additional 22,000 H-2B visas made available under the FY 2021 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule. 

The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of 13,500 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years.  The remaining 6,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are reserved for nationals of Haiti and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

“At a time of record job growth, additional H-2B visas will help to fuel our Nation’s historic economic recovery,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “DHS is taking action to protect American businesses and create opportunities that will expand lawful pathways to the United States for workers from the Northern Triangle countries and Haiti.  In the coming months, DHS will seek to implement policies that will make the H-2B program even more responsive to the needs of our economy, while protecting the rights of both U.S. and noncitizen workers.”

DHS intends to issue a separate notice of proposed rulemaking that will modernize and reform the H-2B program.  The proposed rule will incorporate program efficiencies and protect against the exploitation of H-2B workers.

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States.  The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need.  Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market.  They must also certify in their petitions that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker.  In addition, they must certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.  Additional details on these safeguards, and on eligibility and filing requirements, will be available in the temporary final rule and the Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants webpage.

Keywords: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Topics: Citizenship and Immigration Services, Secretary of Homeland Security