Archive for Governors Office

Statewide drought emergency declared by Gov. Jay Inslee

By | May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on Friday due to “unprecedented” low snowpack in the mountains, where he said glacier lily flowers are blooming in areas where there should be more than 6 feet of snow.

“It’s really unlike anything we’ve experienced. Rain has been normal. What we’ve lacked is snow,” said the governor, who termed it a “snowpack drought.”

Of the 98 snow sites in Washington measured in May by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, 66 sites have little to no snow — with 11 sites “snow-free for the first time ever,” Inslee said.

The lack of snowpack is resulting in historic river lows, and irrigation districts are being forced to tap reservoirs earlier than normal.

Farmers are expected to bear the brunt of the drought. The Dept of Agriculture is projecting $1.2 billion in crop losses due to the drought this year, according to Inslee. To extend water supplies, irrigation districts in the Yakima Basin are turning off water for weeks at a time.

“We are already seeing severe impacts in several areas of the state and conditions are expected to worsen over time,” Inslee said. “Difficult decisions are being made today about what crops gets priority in our vital agricultural region.”

When deciding which crops will get emergency water assistance from the state Dept. of Ecology, agency director Maia Bellon said the department takes into consideration the value of the crop and expense of replanting.

Allowing an annual crop to fallow is less expensive, she said, when compared to perennial crops like pears, cherries and hops. “It is much more expensive to replant a pear orchard,” Bellon said.

Puget Sound residents are unlikely to be impacted by the drought, although officials say they should be mindful of water use. Large municipal water districts in cities like Seattle, Tacoma and Everett have adequate water storage and don’t anticipate shortages, Inslee said.

“Use what you need, no more, don’t waste,” said Ginny Stern of the Dept. of Health.

Watch the press conference below:

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Gov. Inslee signs ‘Joel’s Law’ two years after Joel Reuter’s death

By | May 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Family members of the mentally ill will be allowed to petition the courts for help getting a relative involuntarily committed, following the signing of “Joel’s Law” by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday.

The bill is named for Joel Reuter, who was having a mental health breakdown when he was killed in 2013 in a shootout with Seattle police.

Joel Reuter's parents, Doug and Nancy, speak to the media Thursday.

Joel Reuter’s parents, Doug and Nancy, speak to the media.

His father, Doug Reuter, told reporters his son was struggling with an “evil, evil” mental illness, but it was manageable with medication that would have allowed him to go back to work at his job as a software engineer.

Doug and his wife, Nancy, attempted to get their son mental health help dozens of times.

If the bill had been in effect, they say they could have gotten Joel involuntarily committed several months before he was shot. Joel would have turned 30 this month, his parents said.

“For the first time in four decades, families have standing in superior court to get their loved ones the help they need,” Doug Reuter said following the bill signing.

Inslee signed the bill using a glass pen blown by Joel’s father. His parents said they found it in Joel’s apartment in a box labeled “Keep Forever.”

Gun notification bill known as ‘Sheena Henderson Act’ signed into law by Gov. Inslee

By | April 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Sheena Henderson Act into law Tuesday, setting up a notification system for families when police return a confiscated gun back to its owner.

Sheena Henderson’s father, Gary Kennison, said Tuesday the bill was not about taking away gun rights. “It’s giving family members the ability to protect their loved ones,” he said.

Sheena Henderson’s friends say the slain woman might have been able to protect herself if she had been notified by police that her estranged husband, Chris Henderson, had gone to the Spokane Police Department to retrieve his gun. Police had previously confiscated the weapon following a suicide attempt.

The day that Sheena Henderson was shot, “she was going to call and check on the gun on the way to work,” said Kristen Otoupalik, Sheena’s friend who lobbied the Legislature to pass the bill.

But Sheena never called, and Chris Henderson used the gun to kill Sheena and himself at her workplace, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane.

If the law had been in place, “we would have been able to keep her safe longer,” Otoupalik said Tuesday following the bill signing.

Inslee signs the Sheena Henderson bill into law.

Gov. Inslee signs the Sheena Henderson bill into law.

Senate Bill 5381 allows family or household members to request to be notified when police return a firearm to its owner. The notification can be done by telephone, email, text or personal service.

Both of Sheena’s children attended the bill signing on Tuesday, along with several friends and family members.

TVW taped the bill signing ceremony, watch it online here.

Kennison and Otoupalik say they intend to return to Olympia to continue to push for House Bill 1448, which creates a process for law enforcement officers to request mental health evaluations of people who attempt suicide.

The bill passed the House and out of a Senate committee, but was not brought up for a floor vote in the Senate before the end of regular session on April 24.

Gov. Inslee directs state to withhold pay from State Auditor Troy Kelley

By | April 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

State Auditor Troy Kelley will not be paid by the state during his leave of absence to face federal charges, according to a letter delivered to the auditor by Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday.

State Auditor Troy Kelley surrounded by media as he leaves the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to 10 counts. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

State Auditor Troy Kelley surrounded by media as he leaves the U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to 10 counts. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

Kelley was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month on ten counts, including tax evasion and lying under oath.

Kelley has maintained his innocence and said he will take a leave of absence from his job starting Friday, ignoring calls from Inslee and others for him to resign.

In the letter to the auditor, Inslee wrote that he has directed the Office of Financial Management and Department of Enterprise Services to withhold pay from Kelley “as long as you are not performing the duties of the office you were elected to perform.” Kelley will also be required to maintain health benefits at his own expense, according to the letter.

Inslee also repeated his call for Kelley to resign. “You have lost the trust of the public and the agencies that your office oversees,” he wrote. “I urge you to put the interests of the people of the State of Washington above your own.”

The governor has asked for Kelley to respond in writing by April 29 to explain how the office will operate in the auditor’s absence.

Categories: Governors Office

Inslee criticizes Republican school levy swap proposal

By | April 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

With special session a certainty after the end of the 2015 regular session, Gov. Jay Inslee called on budget negotiators to compromise on revenue proposals to come to an agreement on the state’s 2015-17 biennial operating budget.

However, Inslee criticized a proposal by Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, that would increase funding for schools through a change in the school levy system.

Dammeier’s plan would increase the statewide levy for schools, and would replace local levy money being used for salaries and compensation with state money. Local school levy amounts would be reduced dollar for dollar. The concept is often called a “levy swap.”

Dammeier says the change would be revenue neutral statewide. However, critics, including Inslee and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, say that Dammeier’s proposal would raise taxes in counties with high property values — such as King County — by up to $500.

Both Inslee and Ranker have capital gains tax proposals to increase state revenue. Ranker unveiled his proposal earlier this month for a 7 percent capital gains tax that would apply to gains higher than $250,000 for single taxpayer (or $500,000 per couple) and would not apply to primary homes.

Inslee called Ranker’s plan more equitable.

“I have a hard time seeing why Republicans want to increase taxes on 50 percent of the people when we could solve this problem by taxing less than 1 percent of the people — and the less than 1 percent of the people are doing pretty well in our new economy that we have,” Inslee said.

Earlier this week at a press conference with other Republican leaders, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, addressed that criticism of Dammeier’s plan by saying reform of the school levy system will be an ongoing process.

“Sen. Dammeier’s done a great job looking at this at different levels — at the state level, at the school district level, at the teacher level — what does it do for teachers and at the taxpayer level,” he said. “In a state where you do tax reform, it takes that kind of careful analysis to get it done right. And poking at draft one or the original run of the numbers doesn’t help the process.”

However, Inslee said Thursday criticized the notion that people with high-value homes always make a lot of money.

“If we are going to ask people to contribute more for the schools, it’s not fair to put the burden on working people who are struggling to make their house payments,” Inslee said.

Lawmakers in both parties this month said the state needs to focus on levy reform as a way to address the state Supreme Court’s requirements to increase the reliance of basic school funding on the state in the McCleary decision. But Inslee told reporters on Thursday he believed that aim could be reached through raising revenue by other means.

Click through to watch Inslee’s press conference: (more…)

Reddit asks Inslee about vaping, death penalty, restaurant recommendations

By | March 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee (Photo via @GovInslee on Twitter.)

Gov. Jay Inslee fielded a variety of questions from the public on Thursday on the Internet forum Reddittransportationfunding health and science research and the death penalty, to name a few.

The forum is a popular spot for the public to ask questions of celebrities, politicians, famous people and not-so-famous people.

Reddit users also take the opportunity to comment on each other’s questions and answers, ask follow up questions, and can rate each other’s comments.

Inslee answered one question on vaping, after numerous e-cigarette and vapor product supporters submitted questions.

“You point out issues of fairness, equity and health. We’ve chosen to focus on children’s health to prevent an industry in succeeding in getting people to become addicted to nicotine,” he wrote in part. (Read the whole answer on Reddit.)

One questioner wondered what Inslee’s favorite non-franchise restaurant was in Washington.

Inslee answered: “Best milkshake = Burger Barn (Darrington, WA) Best cheeseburger = Rawhide Bar N Grill (Starbuck, WA).”

Another questioner asked what it was like to be lobbied.

He wrote: “It’s like when your kids tell you they want to go to Disneyland.”

You can relive the entire chat at Reddit.

Inslee to let Internet ask him anything at Reddit AMA forum Thursday

By | March 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee plans to let the Internet ask him anything, at an AMA  (Ask Me Anything) forum at 1 p.m. Thursday on Reddit.

It’s the first time that Inslee has participated in the online forum, though other politicians and state notables have participated in the online question and answer session. Past notables include Bill Gates, President Barack Obama, Seattle Seahawk player Earl Thomas and a guy who lives on a boat on Lake Union.

Former Gov. Daniel J. Evans honored by Senate

By | January 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Daniel J. Evans, former Washington state governor, legislator, college president and U.S. Senator, was honored by the Washington State Senate Wednesday morning, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first gubernatorial inauguration.

“There are no Republican schools and no Democratic highways. There are no liberal salmon. There are no conservative parks,” Dan Evans said to the Senate, which gave him a standing ovation.


He was with his wife, Nancy Evans, and with former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton. Other members of his family, including his grandchildren, were in the gallery.

Evans was 39 when he was elected governor in 1964. He served as governor for 12 years — a record that has been unmatched since then.

During Evan’s tenure as governor, he started a state department of ecology, and created a number of councils to address issues important to women, Native Americans, Asian Americans, energy policy, thermal power plant siting, mental health services, and the prevention of drug abuse. The Evergreen State College, which later appointed him president, was founded during his tenure.

Evans was the keynote speaker at the 1968 Republican National Convention, and he was under consideration to be Richard Nixon’s vice presidential running mate, according to reports at the time.

In 1983, he was appointed to fill the term of U.S. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, who died in office. Evans left the position in 1988.

“When the famous billboard went up during the ‘Boeing Bust’ asking the last person leaving Seattle to turn out the light, Gov. Evans remained steadfastly committed to seeing our state through a period of 14 percent unemployment,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia. “I appreciate his thoughtful, long-range approach to public policy which continues to benefit the people and natural resources of our state.”

Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, cited his accomplishments and influences throughout the state in her support.

“I can think of no one more deserving of our appreciation, and the appreciation of the people of Washington than Dan Evans,” she said.

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On ‘Legislative Review:’ Inslee’s state of the state, Republican response and revenue forecast bill

By | January 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address, as well as the Republican response. Plus, the Senate budget writing committee considers a bill that supporters say would help lawmakers finish their work on time without going into special session. The measure would move up the quarterly revenue forecast from March to Feburary during long sessions.

“Legislative Review” recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Inslee makes case for capital gains tax, carbon charges in 2015 State of State

By | January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee addresses the 2015 Washington State Legislature during the State of the State address.

Gov. Jay Inslee pledged to work on a transportation package, increased funding for pre-kindergarten and a minimum wage increase in his 2015 State of the State address, framing his policy decisions as an investment in Washington’s residents.

“One path leads to an economy that works for all Washingtonians, supports thriving communities and preserves a healthy environment. The other path leads to a slow erosion of our shared prosperity, a widening gap of inequality and a deterioration of our clean air and water,” he said.

“[T]here are no better people to invest in than Washingtonians, there is no better place to invest in than Washington and there is no better time to invest than 2015,” he said.

He also spoke on his plans for education, the environment and raising taxes through his proposed capital gains tax. His remarks on the latter two issues drew a more enthusiastic response from Legislative Democrats than from Republicans, many of whom withheld applause during those sections of the speech.

Republicans also issued a perspective on this year’s session  with a statement from Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) and a press availability from several Republicans from the House and Senate sides of the Legislature.

Members of the 2015 Washington State Legislature, and members of the State Supreme Court, listen to Gov. Jay Inslee deliver the annual State of the State address.


On transportation, Inslee said that his plan would be multimodal and include reforms and funding for “a transportation system that truly works as a system,” he said.