Tuesday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 25, 2015 | Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Tuesday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover debate over a controversial payday lending bill, as well as a measure that would change how cities regulate tent cities for the homeless. Plus, a proposal to alter Initiative 937 is heard in committee.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

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House Democrats to release budget proposal on Friday, TVW will carry live

By | March 25, 2015 | Comments

Update Thursday March 26, 5 p.m.: The Friday March 27 Appropriations meeting was canceled. The next Appropriations meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Fiscal committee leaders Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, plan to release details on the House’s proposed 2015-17 budget package at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Hunter is head of the House Appropriations Committee and Carlyle is the finance chair.

The chambers take turns taking the first shot at the state’s two-year budget. Senate Republicans will release their proposal at a later date.

TVW will be live with the press conference at 11:30 a.m. Friday at this link.

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State Auditor: ‘puzzled’ by federal investigation

By | March 23, 2015 | Comments
State Auditor Troy Kelley

State Auditor Troy Kelley

State Auditor Troy Kelley says he doesn’t know why a federal grand jury is interested in his former real estate services company, and that he “remains puzzled” by a federal investigation that resulted in a subpoena and search of his home last week.

“I have fully cooperated with their investigation and remain puzzled by their interest,” his statement says. “I do not know any specifics about their inquiry, despite repeated requests for information, and cannot comment further.”

Federal investigators are looking into financial activities related to The Post Closing Department, Kelley’s former real estate transaction business in California, according to a subpoena released by the Auditor’s office last week.

According to The News Tribune and The Olympian, the U.S. Attorney seeks information on Jason Jerue, a California man who worked with Kelley at the business, and who has worked as a contractor for the state Auditor’s office since 2013.

The subpoena of the Auditor’s office seeks information on Jerue’s recent employment by the state auditor and emails related to a 2010 lawsuit against the company and “any criminal offense,” according to The Seattle Times.

Kelley’s office is cooperating with the federal investigation, he said in his Monday morning statement.

“I can assure you that all of my actions over the years have been lawful and appropriate,” the statement read.

Statement from Auditor Troy Kelley

Kelley says The Post Closing Department, which provided real estate services, closed in 2008. The Post Closing Department was sued by another company in 2010, under allegations of misappropriation of funds and questionable business dealings, according to a 2012 Associated Press story. The lawsuit was settled in 2011.

Kelley’s Tacoma home was searched by U.S. Treasury agents on March 16, according to The News Tribune, and federal investigators have requested information about Kelley from the House of Representatives and the state Department of Revenue.

Kelly, a Democrat, served for six years in the House, representing the 28th District. In 2012, he defeated Republican James Watkins for the seat vacated by Auditor Brian Sonntag.

During the election, Watkins accused Kelley of misdeeds in an interview with both candidates on TVW’s “Inside Olympia.”

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Thursday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 20, 2015 | Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Thursday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover a bill that aims to help more foster care students graduate from high school, a bill that would allow low-income families to get state assistance for health-related improvements to their homes, and several bills related to military veterans and their families.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

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Reddit asks Inslee about vaping, death penalty, restaurant recommendations

By | March 19, 2015 | Comments
Inslee-Reddit

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.

Medal of Valor issued to communities in Oso landslide

By | March 18, 2015 | Comments

As one-year anniversary of the devastating Oso landslide that killed 43 people approaches, lawmakers honored the local communities with a Medal of Valor for rescue, recovery and relief work.

The medals were presented Wednesday to Arlington, Darrington, Oso and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe. The recognition was the first one ever issued to multiple people.

On the morning of March 22, 2014, a hillside near Oso gave way, pushing mud and debris into the Stillaguamish River and destroying more than 40 homes and other structures.

Dozens of people were injured or killed by the wall of mud, and many saw their homes destroyed and lives disrupted. Hundreds of rescuers, many of whom were from the immediate communities, arrived to help dig survivors and victims free from the mud, and help the community recover from the disaster.

Brantly Stupey, a 14-year-old accepting the award on behalf of the city of Arlington, said that despite the difficulties, many in the community showed their best sides by pitching in to help.

“The battle for healing is ongoing, but through continued unity, with time, all will heal,” said Brantly, who, with his schoolmates, helped distribute food and water after the disaster.

Quinn Nations, a logger who was one of the first ones to help after the disaster, accepted the award on behalf of the town of Darrington.

“I hope you have about 2,000 more of them, because there are a lot of people here who deserve one of them,” Nations said.

Willy Harper, Oso Fire Chief, said that there is still a long road ahead for the community of Oso, but the community was grateful for the outpouring of support.

“That day our community grew, it grew beyond Arlington, they grew beyond Darrington, beyond Sauk-Suiattle,” Harper said.

Kevin Lenon, vice chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, paid tribute to those who died.

“We can most respectfully honor the memories of the precious lost ones by working together to build a strong and inviting community for the world to come and see and share and forever implant the importance of the names and lives of those who have moved on to another world,” Lenon said.

Two others were issued the state’s Medal of Merit, which recognizes a lifetime of service in Washington. Gretchen Schodde is the founder of the Harmony Hill Retreat Center which helps individuals and families affected by cancer. The late Billy Frank, Jr., who died last year, was a Native American rights activist who participated in the Fish Wars and was the head of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. His sons, Willie and Tobin Frank, accepted the award on their father’s behalf. (more…)

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Bill would add fiscal impact to initiative ballot titles

By | March 18, 2015 | Comments

Voters would see the cost of initiatives  — and how the measure might lead to cuts in state programs and possible tax increases — on their ballots, under a bill heard Wednesday in a state House committee.

Senate Bill 5715 would require ballot titles for initiatives to include a statement of fiscal impact if the cost is $25 million or more. Ballots would include a sentence saying the initiative is “unfunded” and “other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement to the proposal.”

Right now, fiscal impact statements for initiatives are included in the voter’s pamphlet. This bill would require the statement be placed directly on ballots, just above “yes” and “no” boxes.

The push comes after voters in November approved a measure to decrease class sizes statewide without a funding source, at a cost of $2 billion. The obligation is in addition to the state Supreme Court ruling that lawmakers must fully fund education.

Supporters, including prime sponsor Auburn Republican Sen. Joe Fain, say the bill lets voters know the true cost of the measures they’re considering.

“Voters deserve the full accounting of initiatives being proposed, whether they result in cuts to state government or investments,” League of Education Voters’ Frank Ordway told the committee.

But opponents, like initiative promoter Tim Eyman, say a fiscal statement in the title will unfairly influence voters against the measure. “For 101 years, the Attorney General has been required to write a neutral ballot title,” Eyman said. “This bill really does violate that neutrality law by injecting personal prejudice with a bias, vote-suppressing warning label on certain initiatives.”

Under current law, initiative sponsors can challenge language used in a ballot title in court if they think the title is unfair. The bill doesn’t address whether the fiscal impact is subject to judicial review, but under the current version of the bill, the fiscal statement would be added after the deadline to challenge the ballot title.

The bill passed 41-8 in the state Senate. No action was taken in the House State Government during Wednesday’s hearing. It has so far not been scheduled for a vote.

Zombies invade state Capitol to lobby for film tax breaks

By | March 18, 2015 | Comments

Zombies invaded the state Capitol Tuesday to lobby for bigger film tax breaks. Photo by Ashley Stewart.

Film crews transformed Washington’s Capitol into a zombie apocalypse Tuesday to convince lawmakers to boost tax breaks for film and TV production within the state.

More than 200 cast and crew members from productions including SyFy series Z-Nation were there in support of a bill they say would keep more jobs in Washington.

Right now, Washington has $3.5 million in tax credits for in-state film and television production. Senate Bill 6027 would expand the pool to $5.25 million in 2016, $7 million in 2017, $8.5 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.

The state’s current tax break pool isn’t big enough, writer and director of Tuesday’s shoot Sue Corcoran said. She’s moved one of her own projects to Canada, she says, because was more affordable for the $6.6 million film. “That’s a lot of jobs,” she said.

Supporters say that’s nothing new. Washington can’t compete with $250 million in annual incentives in Vancouver, B.C. and $10 million in Oregon.

That’s partly why some of most famous production set in Washington, including Twilight and Grey’s Anatomy, were shot in other states. Russell Hodgkinson, a Seattle-based actor who plays “Doc” on Z-Nation, says that’s a shame. “Seattle is a beautiful place to shoot,” he said. “People love it here, we have outstanding crews and really top notch actors, but filmmakers don’t have much of an incentive to film here.”

Gov. Jay Inslee, who visited the Spokane set of Z-Nation last year, during a Tuesday press conference said it’s difficult to consider expanding tax breaks when lawmakers have an obligation under the McCleary decision to fully fund education this year. “It is a serious issue to see if we can help the movie industry,” he said. “But it’s just a matter of priorities.”

Click through to see a timelapse of a zombie getting made up: (more…)

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Republican leaders say budget talks progressing

By | March 18, 2015 | Comments

As a March 23 goal for the release of the House budget gets closer, Republican leaders expressed hope that the Washington Legislature will pass a budget by the scheduled final day of session — the last Sunday in April.

The legislative chambers take turns releasing the first version of two-year budgets; this year, it is the House’s turn and the Senate will follow. In past years, tussling over the two-year budget has resulted in special sessions and preparations for possible government shutdowns.

Gov. Jay Inslee has already released his $39 billion two-year budget, which includes a capital gains tax.

This year, lawmakers have to deal with requirements of the McCleary ruling, which requires a boost in spending for K-12 education.

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Rep. Dan Kristiansen

But Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish County, said at a press conference Tuesday that he was hopeful that lawmakers were making progress.

“I think we’re on the trajectory right now to get out on time,” Kristiansen said.

Kristiansen said his caucus will be closely watching for new spending in the House’s budget.

“My  concern is that we put out a budget that will have a lot of expenditures that is going to need a lot of tax revenue,” Kristiansen said. “We believe… that we can’t put out a budget with a bunch of new revenue, if any, and it’s going to come down to priorities.”

However, Kristiansen characterized the budget discussions, which is led by the Democrats in majority in the House, as collaborative.

“We have never seen so much dialogue, collaboration amongst the budget writers on both sides of the aisle working together, even from my perspective in the House,” he said. “I’ve got my budget writers, alongside Democrat budget writers working together several times a week, even outside of committee.”

Inslee, at a press conference earlier on Tuesday, also characterized the Legislature’s talks as productive.

“I think legislators have done well so far this year, in trying to prepare for the serious heavy lifting of the budget,” Inslee said. “So, I report that legislators are on a good track on this.”

However, at a press conference on Monday, Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, says his caucus was still considering a budget release by next week, but declined to commit to a day

“It’s when we finish our work,” he said.

Categories: Budget

Monday recap on ‘Legislative Review’

By | March 17, 2015 | Comments

Here’s our 15-minute recap of Monday’s legislative activities on “Legislative Review.” We cover debate over a proposal from Gov. Jay Inslee to tax and regulate e-cigarettes, as well as bill that would allow more tiny houses in Washington. Plus, highlights from a Friday hearing on a bill that would reduce Boeing’s tax break if the company moves jobs out of Washington.

“Legislative Review” airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

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