Archive for Governors Office

Supplemental operating budget signed into law

By | April 18, 2016 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed the supplemental operating budget passed by lawmakers last month, which pays for wildfire and mental health costs. It also commits the Legislature to fully fund basic education next year.

“This sets the state up for success in 2017,” he said. “We have what we need, which is a budget with financial rigor.”

Inslee vetoed a section of the budget that would have cut $10 million in funding to the State Auditor’s Office. The governor said he didn’t know if lawmakers made the budget cut in response to the criminal case against State Auditor Troy Kelley, who is on trial for charges of tax evasion, stealing money and lying under oath.

The veto restores funding that allows the auditor’s office to conduct performance audits. “These things have value,” Inslee said. “They help government perform its job better.”

As part of the agreement with the auditor’s office, $5 million dollars from the performance audit account will move back to the general fund.

Watch TVW video of the bill signing here.

Categories: Governors Office

Gov. Jay Inslee fires Western State Hospital CEO in wake of escape

By | April 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee has fired Western State Hospital CEO Ron Adler after an accused murderer and another mental health patient escaped through a window in the psychiatric hospital last week.

“This incident comes on the heels of numerous other ongoing issues at Western State,” Inslee said at a press conference Tuesday. “These incidents have justifiably eroded public confidence in the hospital and my confidence regarding the management of this troubled hospital.”

Cheryl Strange speaks at a press conference with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Cheryl Strange with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Adler took over the hospital in 2013. His termination was effective immediately Tuesday.

Inslee is replacing him with Cheryl Strange, who has managed both private and state-run mental health hospitals during a 30-year career. She begins her new job April 25.

Strange said her priority is restoring cuts to the hospital and seeking feedback from employees.

“I’m going to be out there meeting staff, residents. Hear from them directly about what’s working, what’s not working,” Strange said. “I think that’s a really critical component.”

Inslee said he’s known for “some time” that Western State Hospital needed an overhaul, in part because the Legislature slashed 400 jobs during the recession. New recruiting efforts, including bonuses, have helped the hospital add new staff at a rate of about 15 people per month, Inslee said.

“We are still well short and we’re going to have to double down on our recruiting efforts,” Inslee said.

The governor said the escapes “accelerated” his decision to fire Adler, but it had been considered prior to the incident.

Anthony Garver, who is accused of the torture killing of a 20-year-old woman, escaped from the hospital on April 6 along with another patient, Mark Alexander Adams. Police caught Adams the next day, and Garver was captured Saturday in Spokane Valley.

In response to the incident, Western State Hospital officials say all windows in the hospital have been inspected and secured. The Department of Corrections also has a security team at the hospital to inspect the grounds and review procedures.

Watch TVW video of the governor’s press conference here.

Special session underway after Legislature adjourns without supplemental budget

By | March 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee told lawmakers Thursday evening there will be “no break and no rest” after they failed to come up with a supplemental budget agreement by the end of the regular 60-day session. 

The governor immediately called them into a 30-day special session. He also vetoed 27 bills, following though on a threat he made earlier in the week to veto bills if lawmakers did not finish their job on time.

Among the 27 bills vetoed is one establishing guidelines for growing legal industrial hemp, and another bill that changes rules for how restaurants have to store Asian noodles and Korean rice cakes.

DSC_0788He also signed ten bills that he said have a “common thread of public safety and health and law enforcement.” Those bills include one making epi pens more widely available at places like sports arenas and youth camps, and another that makes vehicular homicide a more serious crime

Read the full list of bill action here.

The governor said lawmakers have made progress on budget talks, but they still fall short. “Given the nature of the numbers involved, there is no reason they should not be able to reach the necessary compromises in the next several days,” he said. 

He also expressed frustration with the recent repeated special sessions.

“Unfortunately it’s become a little bit of a habit for the Legislature, and I don’t believe that habit should continue,” he said. 

Categories: Governors Office

Legislature passes bill expanding DUI laws

By | March 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Legislature has given final approval to a bill that modifies several DUI laws, including one that shortens the time that someone arrested for drunk driving can continue to use their driver’s license from 60 days to 30 days.

House Bill 2700 passed out of the House on Thursday on a 80-17 vote. The bill previously passed out of the Senate unanimously and it now goes to the governor for signature.

Watch TVWvideo of the House session here.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 3.50.22 PMPrime Sponsor of the bill Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, said the bill also prevents DUI offenders from “gaming” the system when it comes to ignition interlock devices.

Currently, offenders with an ignition interlock device are monitored during the last four months of their restriction period before having the device removed. The bill would require that offenders are monitored during the entire restriction period, which can be from six months to ten years.

“Some of the DUI offenders have been gaming the system and putting the device in at the very end when they are being watched,” Goodman said. “But now they are going to be watched the whole period.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill.

Lawmakers discuss final day of session, possibility of special session

By | March 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders told TVW’s Anita Kissee on Thursday they believe they might reach a supplemental budget deal by the end of the night, but it will likely take a special session to complete their work. The regular 60-day session ends at midnight Thursday.

Lawmakers spoke as part of a special Sine Die edition of “The Impact” at the Capitol. Watch interviews from the Sine Die show here.

“I’m disappointed we aren’t going to have something on the governor’s desk today,” said Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger. “There’s plenty of budget all over Olympia. But an agreed upon one, no.”

Budget writer Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said there might be a “handshake” deal tonight, followed by a period of time to check the document.

“This is a real document that does things,” Dunshee said. “You don’t just want to send a hundred million dollar check to uncle Bernie.”

Gov. Jay Inslee has threatened to veto bills if lawmakers did not have a budget deal by Thursday. The governor has also said he will immediately call lawmakers back into special session on Friday to complete a supplemental budget.


Lawmakers on the set of the Sine Die show at the Capitol

Sen. Mark Shoesler, R-Ritzville said he was disappointed that negotiations are not where they should be. He emphasized the need for a four-year balanced budget.

“It should be important to every taxpayer in the state of Washington,” he said.” It brings stability to budgeting, predictability and honesty.”

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, said the a four-year balanced budget is nonnegotiable and one of the main differences between the House and the Senate proposals.

“We need to resolve that. We can no longer kick the can down the road, like both parties use to do,” she said.

Democratic leadership from the House say their budget does comply with the four-year balanced budget requirements.

“We are within the law,” Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington said. “We moved more than halfway to the middle and I think that in good faith we are working toward that goal.”

Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, says that the House has been focused on other issues besides the budget. She said the Democratic budget team has been working as fast as possible, but “getting it done right takes precedence over getting it done right on time.”

Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, and Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, spoke on behalf of the House Republicans. Kretz said wildfires must be addressed in the supplemental budget, but it shouldn’t be remedied through the rainy day fund.

“There’s a temptation here to say ‘fire’ and go crazy on the budget stabilization account,” he said. “I think we need to be honest with what parts of the fire are truly emergency situations.”

Kristiansen said lawmakers remain at at a “stalemate” over the supplemental budget, in part because of a disagreement over whether or not to eliminate certain tax breaks.

Senate Democratic minority leaders Sen. Sharon Nelson, D- Maury Island, and Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, say they are optimistic a deal will be struck by tonight.

“The governor has been exerting his leadership, keeping everybody talking and I’m hoping that by the end of the day we will at least have a budget agreement,” Nelson said.

Billig said this time last year there wasn’t any conversation going on about the budget.

“This year it’s a different atmosphere where everybody seems to be driving toward getting it done and the negotiations are on going,” he said.

Police body camera bill approved by Legislature

By | March 9, 2016 | 0 Comments

The House on Tuesday passed a police body camera bill that aims to limit some requests for video footage for privacy reasons while also setting up the process to make some footage available to the public.

Watch TVW video of House floor debate here.

House Bill 2362 passed out of the House on a vote of 57-39. The bill sets parameters under the Public Records Act for people who request body camera video and sound recordings.

The Senate passed the bill on a 37-9 vote last week after making changes to the original bill, including adding language that prohibits the release of footage that shows a patient at a medical center. The Senate also required law enforcement agencies to keep footage for 60 days, after which they can destroy the video.

Rep. Terry Nealey, R- Dayton, admitted the bill is controversial, but urged members to support it.

0814_police_body_cameras_970-630x420“There are a lot of diverse groups on both sides that are opposed or in favor of it,” he said. “I don’t think we will ever have complete agreement from all agencies and there’s a lot of them that have weighed in this matter.”

He said there needs to be guidelines around body cameras, and the bill is a start.

“If we pass this law, than at least we are placing some parameters and some protection of privacy on body cameras,” he said. “That’s very important.”

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, voted no on the bill, saying there is not enough privacy protections for people in the bill.

“When in doubt, we have to draw a line that protects constitutional rights. We have to draw a line that protects privacy,” he said. “We have to draw a line that prevents warrantless searches and seizures. We have to draw a line that says we understand this technology is out there, but it can’t be used everywhere all the time for any reason.”

The bill also creates a task force to review and report on the use of body cameras by law enforcement and corrections agencies. It now goes the governor for his signature.

Republican leaders offer update on session

By | March 9, 2016 | 0 Comments

With only a few days left of session, Republicans from the House and Senate held a press conference Tuesday addressing the ongoing supplemental budget negotiations, charter schools and the DOC investigation.

Watch TVW video of the press conference here. 

Supplemental Budget

According to Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, one of the main hangups in budget negotiations has to do with whether the supplemental budget includes projected expenditures for K-3 class size reductions.

“One very enormous factor is pretending that we are not going to fund K-3 class size in the next biennium,” Schoesler said.

DSC_0789Republicans also want the Democratic-controlled House to pass a bill that would keep charter schools open in Washington.

“I think that one of the things that’s a little bit different is we’ve yet to take any action on charter schools,” said Rep. JT Wilcox, R-Yelm. “We hope to have that taken care of in the next couple days.”

Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, said that House is close to moving a compromise bill, but probably wont see any action until Wednesday.

Gov. Jay Inslee veto threat

Schoesler said that he thinks there are bipartisan problems with the governor’s threat to veto bills if lawmakers don’t agree to a supplemental budget. He said that there are 37 bills on the governor’s table and that that would be “a very poor decision.”

“We are still committed to doing the right thing and the right thing is a four-year balanced budget that takes care of the priority needs of the state,” he said.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said there are a number of bills from both Republicans and Democrats that would be difficult for the governor to veto.  “I don’t know how serious he was in actually vetoing or if it was more of a rhetorical statement,” he said.

DOC investigation

Sen. Padden said that he does not anticipate anymore DOC hearings this session, but said the investigation is still ongoing. “We are still getting comments and leads and communications from DOC workers,” he said.

Padden said that there will be a written Senate report released in April or early May. Padden also responded to the governor’s decision to replace Former DOC Secretary Dan Pacholke with Dick Morgan as acting secretary.

“We’ll see how he does,” Padden said. “I would have preferred he brought somebody new in from outside that wasn’t part of this system and this culture that’s been there.”

Gov. Jay Inslee discusses budget negotiations, DOC investigation

By | March 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee said at a press conference Monday he will veto bills if lawmakers do not come to an agreement on a supplemental budget by Thursday, the final day of session.

“We have four days left in this session and there is no reason for them not to get this budget done on time,” Inslee said.

Inslee said he met with Democratic and Republican leaders and budget negotiators Monday morning, and told them he will not “entertain any delays.”

“There are currently about 35 bills on my desk awaiting my signature and hundreds more are coming down the pipe,” Inslee said. “This morning I let leadership know that they should not expect me to sign bills until they reach a budget agreement.”

Watch TVW video of the press conference here. 

DSC_0788Inlsee also gave an update on the Department of Corrections sentencing error that resulted in the early release of more than 3,000 prisoners.

The governor named Dick Morgan to serve as acting secretary of the agency. Morgan retired in 2010 as director of prisons after a 30-year career with the DOC.

Inslee said new leadership is part of the DOC effort to “rebuild trust and implement systemic reforms.”

“This is a interim position,” Inslee said. “But we don’t want to wait months to start the improvements that are going on now.”

Morgan will be replacing Dan Pacholke, whose expected last day is Thursday.

The governor said he’s also taken other personnel action in the wake of the sentencing error.

Two people at DOC have been demoted — a risk manager and a former business manager — and letters of reprimand have been issued to an IT business analyst and a senior records manager.

Additionally, the DOC’s former chief information officer has resigned from his position at another state agency.

The disciplinary actions follow an independent investigation into the DOC error released by the governor’s office in February. Inslee said a supplemental report will be released later this week with employee responses to the initial investigation.

Legislature criminalizes the sale of counterfeit air bags

By | March 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

A bill that would criminalize the sale and installation of counterfeit airbags passed the House unanimously on Thursday.
380Senate Bill 6160 makes it a class C felony to sell, install or manufacture counterfeit air bags. The crime is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000, plus up to five years in jail. The bill also changes the definition of “airbag.”

Supporters of the bill say there is a large market in Washington for counterfeit airbags that are coming from outside the state.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, said the problem was brought to the attention of lawmakers by auto manufacturers.

“There’s a national problem of counterfeit motor vehicle airbags being snuck into this country, escaping federal law where the logos are removed so there’s no trademark violation,” Goodman said. “But inside what seemingly are airbags are all sorts of things – explosive devices. People have been killed by having shrapnel coming at them rather instead of being saved by airbags.” 

During committee hearings on the proposal, some people expressed concerned that the bill could negatively affect mechanics and salvage yards. Goodman said lawmakers worked on the language of the bill with representatives from scrapyards, the salvage industry and small mechanic shops to come to an agreement.

Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, also urged passage of the bill, saying it’s important for public safety.

“In committee we had explained to us that people could fill these things full of gunpowder and sawdust and sometimes pieces of metal,” he said.”It is an egregious act.”

The bill also passed out the Senate unanimously and now heads to the governor for his signature.

Watch TVW video of floor session here.

Voting Rights Act may be poised to pass out of Legislature for first time in years

By | March 2, 2016 | 0 Comments

Supporters of a state Voting Rights Act are looking to the Senate to take action this session, following three failed attempts to pass the bill through the Legislature in recent years.

House Bill 1745 passed out the House on a 50-47 vote in early February, and passed out of the Senate Rules Committee on Monday — the final step before the bill hits the Senate floor. Sponsors of the bill are hopeful that bipartisan support in the Senate will lead to successful passage.

The bill aims to get more minorities into local elected office by setting up a process for groups to introduce legal action to change elections from at-large elections to district elections. Entities like cities or counties must be given 180 days to remedy the situation before legal action takes place.

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee said there’s no reason to delay the bill and he’s optimistic it will pass this year.

“I’ve seen some real momentum building up around this piece of justice,” Inslee said. “We know that our democracy works best when more people feel like their voice matters.”

DSC_0762The press conference was attended by nearly 200 activists from immigrant advocacy group OneAmerica, who rallied at the Capitol earlier Tuesday in support of the bill. They chanted “power to the people for fair representation” and “united we stand, divided we fall.” Some wore tape over their mouths that an activist said represents the silencing of their voice if the act doesn’t pass.

Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and prime sponsor of the bill Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, also appeared at the event. They said they believe Republican concerns about the bill have been addressed and the legislation is ready to go.

“It feels like we are doing the same thing over and over again, but sometimes you don’t know when the wall is going to break, ” Jayapal said.

Jayapal said a set of seven compromises have been negotiated between the House and Senate. While she said she believes it makes the bill weaker, Jayapal believes the compromises are necessary to get a vote in the Senate. (more…)