ABORTION Court to hear Washington challenge to Trump abortion rule (AP/The Seattle Times) AGRICULTURE & WATER Dent already looking forward to addressing Ag issues after ’19 session (Washington Ag Network/KONA Radio) ‘On the tipping point’ of the spear: U.S. asparagus farmers worry as import competition grows (NW News Network) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Boeing CEO... Read more »
WASHINGTON - Since President Donald J. Trump announced the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand on March 19, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has embarked on an aggressive inter-agency operation to implement the president’s initiative and to stem the flow of opioids into U.S. communities.
“Through innovation, partnership and prevention, the men and women of DHS are working to curtail the flow of illicit substances at the source and at the border—before they reach our communities." said DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. “Our Department will continue to improve its efforts to interdict illicit drugs at or before they reach our borders, and remains committed to working with federal, state and local partners and relevant stakeholders to disrupt and dismantle the production and movement of these substances devastating American families and poisoning our communities. By mobilizing the entire administration to address this crisis, President Trump is galvanizing all of our resources to combat this deadly epidemic.”
DHS currently leads U.S. Government efforts to interdict illicit opioids and their analogues at or before reaching U.S. borders. In fact, DHS is seizing and blocking more fentanyl shipments than ever before. In Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 18), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) together seized almost 5,000 lbs. of fentanyl combined—or more than 1.2 billion lethal doses and enough to kill every American by overdose four times.
In FY 18, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized over 1 million lbs. of illegal narcotics, including 2,737 lbs. of fentanyl and 7,103 lbs. of heroin, and has made over 11,400 narcotics-related criminal arrests over the same time period—of which over 720 were for fentanyl-related offenses.
During the first six months of Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 19), ICE HSI fentanyl seizures totaled 1,340 lbs., compared to 1,314 lbs. for the same period in FY 18. CBP total fentanyl seizures from the Office of Field Operations (OFO) at ports of entry totaled over 939 lbs., compared to 914 lbs. during the same period in FY 18.
Additionally, DHS is blocking more fentanyl shipments through the mail. Thanks to the STOP Act, CBP is detecting more packages containing fentanyl from our mail—a 748 percent increase —and keeping it from reaching American communities. Over 50 percent of all international packages are now being scanned.
CBP operates within major international mail facilities, inspecting international mail and parcels arriving from more than 180 countries. Additionally, CBP and the U.S. Postal Service are working to increase the amount of advance information we receive on international mail. This advance information enables ICE and other agencies to identify networks of foreign suppliers and domestic importers that are responsible for smuggling fentanyl into the United States. These networks have been targeted for investigation and prosecution.
DHS remains committed to both stopping illicit opioids and opioid analogues at their source and preventing them from coming into our country.
DHS is using a vast array of tools to confront the crisis.
DHS recognizes that combatting the illegal flow of opioids also means ensuring they do not get into the hands of those who would abuse them. That is why Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan today spoke to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees to encourage their ongoing work to confront the opioid crisis, urging continued vigilance and noting the critical role they can play in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.Keywords: Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security investigations, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, opioids
AGRICULTURE & WATER Central Washington health officials respond to mumps exposure in farmworkers (MyNorthwest) Ecology open house draws an outpouring (Lynden Tribune) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR 737 MAX grounding cuts into Boeing profit and cash reserves (The Seattle Times) Boeing’s troubled jet will cost $1 billion to fix (AP/The Olympian) Another thing to blame on... Read more »
BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Boeing’s quarterly report will give first look at financial impact of MAX crisis (The Seattle Times) Amazon’s growth puts more than one third of its corporate workers outside of Seattle (Puget Sound Business Journal) Experts find room for error in unemployment data used in the EB-5 program (Puget Sound Business Journal)... Read more »
THE CURRENT | A WASHINGTON HOUSE REPUBLICAN E-NEWSLETTER $4.5 billion in new tax increases | April 19, 2019 CAPITOL CALENDAR RADIO/AUDIO Capitol Calendar for April 22-26 (SoundCloud) VIDEO UPDATES OF THE WEEK Week 14 Review with House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox Rep. Drew Stokesbary pushes back on Democrats’ $4.5 billion in tax increases AGRICULTURE &... Read more »
On April 21, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan released the following statement in response to the reported terror attacks in Sri Lanka:
"On behalf of the men and women of DHS, I want to express condolences and sympathies for those affected by the Easter Sunday attack on multiple hotels and places of worship in Sri Lanka.
“DHS stands resolutely with persons of every faith who look to worship in safety and peace. We will continue our work with partners around the world to ensure that all are able to worship without fear.
"As the Department has made clear regarding attacks on members of multiple faiths: religious liberty for all is a hallmark of this country and attacks on peaceful people in their places of worship are abhorrent and must not be allowed.
"At this time we are not aware of any current, credible or active threat domestically. Regardless, the Department is doing all it can to protect the homeland from potential violent extremists.
"We will continue to monitor the situation as the response to this tragedy unfolds and investigations continue."
OUR NEWS RELEASES FROM THIS WEEK Democrats vote $4.5 billion in new tax increases out of House Finance Committee Griffey commends signing of bill ending, extending statute of limitations for ‘heinous’ sex crimes Governor signs Graham bill to protect privacy of those seeking help for PTSD Governor signs Rep. Goehner’s legislation related to foreclosure proceedings... Read more »
On April 19, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan released the following statement on the establishment of the new DHS Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention:
“I am pleased to announce the establishment of the DHS Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. DHS remains committed to preventing all forms of terrorism, including both international and domestic, as well as preventing acts of targeted violence such as racially motivated violence. This new office supports the direction the President outlined in the National Strategy for Counterterrorism and will enable DHS to more effectively coordinate our resources and capabilities to better serve the needs of states and local communities. By expanding the aperture of terrorism prevention to include targeted violence, DHS can help communities better protect themselves against a broader range of current and emerging threats. This new office will focus on moving beyond ‘whole of government’ efforts to ‘whole of society’ and give prominence to the needs and leadership of states and local communities.”
The Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention widens the scope of previous Departmental efforts to ensure that all forms of violence, regardless of the ideological motivation, are being addressed. The Office will leverage, coordinate, and build upon the broad range of prevention activities that are currently implemented across DHS, including grants, community awareness and law enforcement awareness briefings, threat assessments, information sharing, and reporting of tips and leads.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR EU threatens to tax $20 billion of US goods over Boeing aid (AP/The Seattle Times) Ailing Boeing 737 Max customer Jet Airways of India cancels all flights (Puget Sound Business Journal) OPINION: More companies need transparency on sexual-harassment cases (Ruchika Tulshyan (founder of Candour, an inclusion strategy firm/The Seattle Times) EDITORIAL: Was Boeing... Read more »
BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR U.S. trade deficit narrows to $49.4 billion in February (AP/The Columbian) State Legislature passes trio of bills restricting debt collectors (MyNorthwest) CAPITAL BUDGET Grant funds for South Sound prairies project appear likely as state Legislature begins budget reconciliation (The Chronicle) COMMUNITY & FAMILY ISSUES Washington needs to move faster on plans to enroll... Read more »
In 2019, 11 new representatives joined our ranks. Learn more about them here!
WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan today released the following statement on the Homeland Security Advisory Committee’s report on CBP Families and Children Care:
“Today, a panel of experts under the DHS Homeland Security Advisory Committee - a nonpartisan federal advisory committee - issued a report on the current humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border. The 'Emergency Interim Report on CBP Families and Children Care' made a series of important findings and recommendations to address the crisis that will form key elements of the Department’s response in the coming weeks.
"The unprecedented surge in unaccompanied children and family unit migration is overwhelming our ability to provide humanitarian aid within our immigration system. The reasonable changes proposed by this nonpartisan panel, could dramatically reduce migration of family units from Central America, help eliminate dangerous and illegal border crossings, as well as improve the care of children who are brought on this harrowing journey. These recommendations are essential to secure our border and for the safety and welfare of children living in Central America and elsewhere who will continue to make this dangerous trek north.
“I want to thank the Committee for their diligent and rapid work in producing this report. This emergency report should help inform decision makers throughout the government, and I look forward to discussing the findings with Congress in order to find a common path forward."
The recommendations included in the report are emergency legislative recommendations; emergency regulatory changes; establishing temporary regional processing centers for all family units; co-locate necessary personnel to facilitate rapid adjudication of asylum claims of family units within the regional processing centers; propose and negotiate a North American Family Protection Initiative (NAFPI) that includes the essential elements of a Safe Third Agreement with Mexico; increase contracted medical and transport professionals; provide additional training and child exploitation safeguards; and for the Acting Secretary to name a DHS Commander/Coordinator to assure a whole of government approach to achieve these goals.
# # #Keywords: Homeland Security Advisory Council
AGRICULTURE & WATER Lawmakers clear legislation saving Washington’s livestock ID program (Washington Ag Network/KONA Radio) Floating barge could help bring more water to Tri-Cities during droughts (Tri-City Herald) EDITORIAL: Let Kachess plan proceed, but listen to homeowners (Yakima Herald) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR As clock strikes midnight, Russell Wilson strikes deal to become highest-paid player in NFL... Read more »
THE CURRENT | A WASHINGTON HOUSE REPUBLICAN E-NEWSLETTER The budget debate | April 12, 2019 CAPITOL CALENDAR RADIO/AUDIO Capitol Calendar for April 15-19 (SoundCloud) VIDEO UPDATE OF THE WEEK Week 13 Review with House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox AGRICULTURE & WATER Irrigators keeping eye on weather amid drought declaration (AP/Seattle P-I) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Proposed eviction-law... Read more »
On April 15, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan announced his designation of John P. Sanders, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Chief Operating Officer, as the senior official performing the functions and duties of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Acting Secretary McAleenan stated, “John Sanders has proven instrumental to advancing CBP’s mission and organizational priorities across the agency. In addition to bringing greater focus on the agency’s operational requirements, he has provided strategic direction and oversight to critical enterprise services and operations support functions across the agency. With John Sanders’ leadership, CBP will continue to excel, remain ever vigilant, and accomplish the mission with steadfast resolve.”
###Keywords: Customs and Border Protection, leadership
On April 12, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary David P. Pekoske announced the release of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling more than $1.7 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. The grants reflect the Department’s focus on funding for programs that address our nation’s immediate security needs and ensure public safety in our communities.
“The administration remains committed to strengthening the security and resilience of our state and local communities,” Pekoske said. “The DHS grant programs are flexible by design and will be used to help address evolving threats. They will go toward building and sustaining capabilities across all levels of government and the whole community to maximize preparedness.”
The FY 2019 grant guidance will continue to focus on the nation’s highest risk areas, including urban areas that face the most significant threats. For FY 2019, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) will enhance regional preparedness and capabilities by funding 31 high-threat, high-density urban areas. This represents Congressional intent to limit FY 2019 UASI funding to those Urban Areas that represent up to 85 percent of the nationwide risk, as stated in the Explanatory Statement accompanying the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2019 (Pub. L. No. 116-6).
Consistent with previous grant guidance, dedicated funding is provided for law enforcement and terrorism prevention throughout the country to prepare for, prevent and respond to pre-operational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity.
Grant recipients are encouraged to use grant funding to maintain and sustain current critical core capabilities through investments in training and exercises, updates to current planning and procedures, and lifecycle replacement of equipment. New capabilities that are built using homeland security grant funding must be deployable if needed to support regional and national efforts. All capabilities being built or sustained must have a clear linkage to the core capabilities articulated in the National Preparedness Goal.
Preparedness Grant Program Allocations for Fiscal Year 2019:
Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG)—provides more than $350 million to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities.
Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)—provides more than $1 billion for states and urban areas to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism and other threats.
Since the enactment of the 9/11 Act, FEMA has required states to ensure that at least 25 percent of the total funds awarded to them under SHSP and UASI are dedicated toward law enforcement terrorism prevention activities (LETPA). The total LETPA allocation can be satisfied from SHSP, UASI, or both. In addition, states must obligate at least 80 percent of the funds awarded under SHSP and UASI to local or tribal units of government within 45 days of receipt of the funds.
Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)—provides $10 million to eligible tribal nations to implement preparedness initiatives to help strengthen the nation against risk associated with potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP)—provides $60 million to support target hardening and other physical security enhancements for nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. This year, $50 million is provided to nonprofits in UASI-designated urban areas, and $10 million is provided to nonprofits located in any state or territory.
Intercity Passenger Rail - Amtrak (IPR) Program—provides $10 million to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system.
Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)—provides $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness, improve port-wide maritime security risk management, and maintain or reestablish maritime security mitigation protocols that support port recovery and resiliency capabilities.
Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)—provides $88 million to owners and operators of transit systems to protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.
Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP)—provides $2 million to owners and operators of intercity bus systems to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.
OLYMPIA – A historic bill to commit Washington to 100-percent clean energy from renewable and zero-emission sources took another step forward today following passage by the Washington House of Representatives. Representatives voted 56-42 in favor of Senate Bill 5116, a centerpiece of Gov. Jay Inslee’s 2019 agenda to take meaningful action on climate change and reduce Washington’s carbon footprint. Sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) and in House companion legislation by Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard), the bill requires all electric utilities in Washington to transition to a 100-percent, carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2030 and to 100-percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. “It’s time to move past the era of carbon into the next generation with modern, 21st-century energy systems using integrated wind, hydro and solar power,” said Carlyle, who chairs the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. “At a time when the federal government has functionally imploded on addressing climate change, the states are now taking the lead and moving forward on climate action.” “Moving away from fossil fuels has to start somewhere, so why not here?” asked Tarleton, who chairs the House Finance Committee. “Washington has the courage to build a 21st century economy beyond coal, beyond fossil fuels, to maintain and build a quality of life for generations to come. Thank you to Sen. Carlyle and my colleagues for having the courage to make this choice.” “We are rightly proud of how clean Washington’s electricity already is,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), chair of the House Environment & Energy Committee. “This landmark bill will take Washington the rest of the way there to 100 percent clean electricity, ensure reliability and lay the foundation for continued pollution reductions throughout our whole economy.” Senate Bill […]
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On April 11, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan designated David P. Pekoske, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator, senior official performing the duties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary. Patricia Cogswell, TSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator, will oversee day-to-day operations at TSA and continue to focus on TSA’s mission and priorities.
Acting Secretary McAleenan stated, “Administrator Pekoske brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Department, previously serving as a senior leader within two DHS agencies: the United States Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration. Additionally, he has tackled impressive challenges over the course of his career, ranging from acquisition and procurement reform as the Coast Guard’s Vice Commandant to securing America’s traveling public as TSA’s Administrator. I look forward to working with him to meet the homeland security challenges facing our nation.”
As I assume the role of Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, I look forward to working to support the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as they carry out the critical missions that keep our country safe. I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for her service to the country as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security, and for her tireless work on behalf of the people and organizations of DHS. She deserves our enduring respect and appreciation for her leadership, and I’m personally grateful for it.
In many roles in my career at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, I’ve had the opportunity to work with virtually every component of DHS, and have witnessed the extraordinary commitment and steadfast resolve of the men and women across this Department. While we face many challenges, including a growing crisis on our southern border, I know that, working together, we can overcome them. I’ve also learned that the true strength of DHS is our people, and during my time as Acting Secretary, I pledge to be an aggressive advocate for you.
I look forward to working alongside you to accomplish the vast mission of securing our homeland with honor, integrity and vigilance. Let’s power on. The American people are counting on us.
Kevin K. McAleenan
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security
With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.
As you know, I submitted my resignation to the President earlier this week. Today is my final day at the Department. For nearly two years, I’ve had the honor to work alongside a talented, dedicated workforce. You serve with professionalism, respect, and determination in fulfilling DHS’ important missions. The commitment you make day in and out – securing the land air and sea domains, preventing terrorism, administrating immigration laws, ensuring disaster resilience, safeguarding our cybersecurity landscape and infrastructure, and so much more – is awe inspiring.
Your work is vital to making every American safer, and as I leave you, know that I’ll always admire what you’ve done to defend our way of life. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will now lead DHS as your Acting Secretary. Kevin has led the Department’s largest component for two years and his qualifications and experience will be instrumental in overseeing the crisis at our nation’s borders. I have full confidence in Kevin’s ability to carry out the DHS mission of safeguarding the American people, our homeland, and our values. Please join me in welcoming Kevin as the Acting Secretary.
To each of you I am eternally grateful for your service and could not be prouder to have served alongside you. Thank you for your devotion and sacrifice. God bless each of you and your families, and God bless this great country.Keywords: Secretary Nielsen
Sen. Karen Keiser has served in the Washington State Legislature since 1996 — and she’s seen a lot of change. She watched as the number of women in the Senate grew, and then dropped again. Keiser chairs the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, and frequently presides over the Senate as President Pro Tempore. She shared some insights from her long career in this episode of the Everblue State.
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate today approved a $52.2 billion state operating budget to fund vital state services, including targeted support for the state’s behavioral health system, K-12 special education, higher education, and the environment. Because the Senate amended ESHB 1109 before passing it, budget writers from the Senate and House must now begin a conference process to negotiate the differences in the versions that passed each chamber and pass a final operating budget before the end of the legislative session on April 28. More than half of the state budget pays for K-12 education, honoring commitments made in 2017 to increase basic education funding. A new investment of $283 million is dedicated to improving behavioral health services over the next two years. “This is a smart budget that puts people first and fulfills commitments to quality education and a more effective behavioral health system,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and its chief budget writer. “We deepen our commitment to quality early learning, give more kids a chance at college, invest in our state’s vital workforce, and address threats to our health and environment. This budget continues our commitment to putting people first.” The budget represents a $4.5 billion increase in K-12 education spending above the last biennial budget, including a $937 million increase for special education. Other budget highlights include the funding of Gov. Inslee’s climate initiatives and orca whale protection, investments to address housing needs and homelessness, expansion of college scholarship programs, improving the foster care system, police de-escalation training, expanded access to early learning, and funding the sexual assault kit backlog at the Washington State Patrol. Click here for Senate Operating Budget […]
The operating budget passed today by the Senate includes $20,000 to fund a study of the feasibility of the state producing certain generic drugs. “One of the biggest concerns in many households today is the high cost of prescription drugs,” said Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), who inserted the proviso in the budget. “This is an opportunity to lower the cost of some essential drugs significantly.” Van De Wege’s proviso would enable the state Department of Health to research the feasibility of the state’s ability to produce generic drugs, and report its finding to the Legislature by Dec. 1. “This could have a huge impact on prescription drug prices, while also addressing shortages of a number of critical drugs,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), who helped draft the proviso. “Many generic drugs are expensive because of the limited number of companies that produce a particular drug. Production by the state might lead to lower prices simply by increasing competition and options for consumers.” Insulin is a good example, Van De Wege said, because there is still no generic version available even though there have been no significant improvements to the drug, yet prices have tripled over the past decade. “Not only would a generic version cost less, a generic version produced by the state would cost even less than that because, unlike pharmaceutical companies, the state doesn’t have to turn a profit,” Van De Wege said. “Insulin has been around for nearly 100 years, but instead of getting less expensive, prices keep going up at a rate higher than inflation. That is unjustifiable and unacceptable.” In 2016, Washington State Attorney Gen. Bob Ferguson joined several other states in filing a lawsuit against the […]
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OLYMPIA – The 2019-21 Transportation budget cleared the Senate on Thursday with unanimous support. ESHB 1160 will now head to conference where Senate and House transportation leaders will negotiate through the differences between the two chambers. “This budget addresses the transportation needs of our state in a fiscally responsible way,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, chair of the Senate Transportation committee. “This was a good, bipartisan effort to keep our promises and move our state forward.” There are several highlights and new investments made as part of the $9.8 billion, two year plan including the continued delivery of projects first adopted as part of the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package. “We are keeping the promises made in Connecting Washington to reimagine transportation in Washington,” Hobbs said. “These projects continue forward and are complimented by the additional investments made in this budget.” New investments include an $8.5 million investment in the creation of a project office to continue the work of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River. This office will begin the reevaluation of scope, schedule, and budget for a reinvigorated bi-state effort. Additional investments include providing $35 million in savings and $20 million in toll revenue to advance the design and complete right-of-way acquisition for the I-405 north end completion. Several projects had funding advanced including $40 million for the SR 167/SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway project and $17 million for I-90 Snoqualmie Pass. Ferry investments include providing for the start of building a new 144-car hybrid electric vessel as well as the conversion of two existing ferries. The ferries division was provided $990,000 for the planning work needed to prepare for hybrid-electric vessel terminal charging investments. The Colman Dock project in Seattle […]
For this episode of the Everblue State, Sen. Manka Dhingra tells us about her path to the state Senate, what it’s like to be deputy majority leader, and why improving Washington’s behavioral health system is one of her priorities. Plus, she told us what it was like to make history as a woman of color in the King County Prosecutor’s Office and in the Senate.
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Washington’s tax structure is broken. Lower and middle-income families pay nearly 18 percent of their total income in taxes, while the very wealthiest Washingtonians pay just 3 percent. The Evergreen State’s tax structure consistently ranks dead last in terms of fairness. It’s with this in mind that Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and others introduced a striking amendment to Senate Bill 5961 today to help fix Washington’s tax code. “While we know we must do more to fix our upside-down tax structure, this would represent modest but concrete progress,” Billig said. “Our existing tax system disproportionately burdens the middle class and vulnerable households living paycheck to paycheck, which is the majority of households in our state.” The proposal creates a capital gains tax that would impact approximately 8,000 of the wealthiest Washingtonians while offering tax relief to the vast majority of lower- and middle-class families in the state. Washington is one of only nine states that give the ultra-wealthy a pass on capital gains taxes. Under the Senate proposal, if someone turns a profit of more than $250,000 on the sale of stocks, bonds, commercial real estate, or a large business, they will pay a tax of 8.9 percent on the profits above that threshold. Revenue generated by the capital gains tax would be used to provide tax reductions for less wealthy Washingtonians. Under the bill, expected revenues of $780 million starting in 2021 would fund: Working Families Tax Credit ($220 M): A tax break for 400,000 of the state’s most underprivileged families – phase-outs begin when income is greater than $19,000 per year. Small businesses tax cut ($260 M): Up to $3,000 in B&O tax relief for businesses grossing less than $2.5 million in […]
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OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats today introduced a $52.2 billion state operating budget proposal to fund vital state services, including targeted support for the state’s behavioral health system, K-12 special education, higher education, and the environment. More than 50 percent of the state budget pays for K-12 education, honoring commitments made in 2017 to increase basic education funding. A new investment of $283 million is dedicated to improving behavioral health services over the next two years. “This is a smart budget that reflects our shared values and fulfills commitments to quality education and a more effective behavioral health system,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. “We deepen our commitment to quality early learning, give more kids a chance at college, invest in our state’s vital workforce, and address threats to our health and environment. This budget continues our commitment to putting people first.” The budget represents a $4.5 billion increase in K-12 education spending above the last biennial budget, including a $937 million increase for special education. Other budget highlights include the funding of Gov. Inslee’s climate initiatives and orca whale protection, investments in housing and homelessness, expansion of college scholarship programs, improving the foster care system, police de-escalation training, expanding access to early learning, and funding the sexual assault kit backlog at the Washington State Patrol. Click here for Senate Operating Budget details. Senate Democrats are proposing roughly $518 million in new revenue to pay for many of the new investments. The proposal calls for changes to make the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) more fair and the closure or reduction of three preferential tax rates: non-resident sales tax, prescription drug resellers, and travel agents. The budget […]
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Senate Democrats introduced a capital budget proposal today that would invest in infrastructure to support behavioral health, affordable housing, education, and other priorities across the state. “This budget is good for Washington from east to west, and I am pleased it already has bipartisan support,” said Sen. David Frockt, vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “We continue to prioritize behavioral health, provide more than $1 billion in funding for school construction, and we invest heavily in fish habitat restoration in and around the Puget Sound as part of our orca recovery strategy. We even provide funding for the first new state park in decades.” The budget invests more than $200 million in behavioral health, including 117 million in behavioral health capacity grants, helping patients transition to care in their own communities. These investments are consistent with proposals by Gov. Jay Inslee. The Senate also joins the House in providing design planning for the proposed Behavioral Health Innovation and Integration campus within the University of Washington Medical School. This proposal has broad bipartisan support, and will be a critical component of Washington’s long-term strategy to create a new paradigm for mental health treatment in Washington State. “The budget will dramatically improve the quality of behavioral health treatment in our state as we transition to a better system,” Frockt said. “We have also made a critical down payment on housing for those most in need, with the second-highest investment ever in the Housing Trust Fund, including $35 million dedicated specifically for housing with behavioral health supports. “ The budget also continues to provide grants to create more bed capacity for children in the foster system. The […]
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Sen. Steve Hobbs on Tuesday introduced the 2019-21 Transportation Budget, totaling nearly $9.8 billion in appropriations. Hobbs, the chair of the Transportation Committee, highlighted several new investments made as well as the continued delivery of projects first adopted as part of the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package. “This budget keeps the promise we made in Connecting Washington to reimagine transportation in Washington,” Hobbs said. “These projects continue forward and are complimented by the additional investments made in this budget.” The transportation budget is highlighted by an $8.5 million investment in the creation of a project office to continue the work of replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge across the Columbia River. This office will begin the reevaluation of scope, schedule, and budget for a reinvigorated bi-state effort. Additional investments include providing $35 million in savings and $20 million in toll revenue to advance the design and complete right-of-way acquisition for the I-405 north end completion. Several projects had funding advanced including $40 million for the SR 167/SR 509 Puget Sound Gateway project and $17 million for I-90 Snoqualmie Pass. Ferry investments include providing for the start of building a new 144-car hybrid electric vessel as well as the conversion of two existing ferries. The ferries division was provided $990,000 for the planning work needed to prepare for hybrid-electric vessel terminal charging investments. The Colman Dock project in Seattle and the Mukilteo terminal also received additional funding to keep those projects moving forward. Also included is $160,000 for a vessel noise reduction study aimed at helping protect the endangered southern resident orcas. The Commute Trip Reduction program received a $1 million investment for a new first/last mile transportation demand management pilot program and $1 million for the […]