In this week’s show, which you can watch at 6:30 on TVW, we covered a dozen or so of the week’s biggest topics in the Legislature. If you need more information once you’ve watched the show, look no further.
Budget: Once again, the budget is our top story. The House passed its version last week and sent it to the Senate. Instead of passing that bill, a bipartisan group in the Senate drafted their own version and, by today, passed that off the floor. Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget director had previously said she needed a budget on her desk by today in order for maximum savings to go into effect.
Unemployment rate decrease: This bill would reduce employers’ unemployment insurance rate – saving businesses $300 million this year. But in order for that savings to go into effect, the bill has to make it to the governor’s desk by Tuesday. This proposal also allows the federal government to continue paying extended unemployment benefits. Though it passed the Senate, it had a snag earlier in the week.
Fraud: Lawmakers are looking at reducing fraud to boost the bottom line. One bill would go specifically after Medicaid. Another bill, which had its first hearing today, would include all government fraud and give cash awards to whistleblowers.
Heart attacks: Police officers and firefighters told lawmakers this week that the adrenaline they experience on a daily basis increases their risk for heart attack and stroke. For that reason, they’re asking for those conditions to be considered work-related illnesses – in some cases.
Capital budget: The Great Recession isn’t just affecting the operating budget – with reduced bonding capacity, the capital budget is also smaller. This week, schools, ports and others told lawmakers what will happen if they don’t get funding.
Red light cameras: Cities and towns like red light cameras because they make people think twice about breaking the law – and they bring in some money. But lawmakers in the House looked at regulating cameras via several bills this week. One would outlaw the cameras, while others would give voters more say. Here’s one bill, and another, and another. And this one.
Department of Corrections: After an officer was strangled last weekend, the Department of Corrections is reviewing its policies. We have the story about the governor’s response, and you can read more about the department’s next steps here.
Dorn reshuffle: Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to restructure the way education is administered – starting with the state schools chief position. Her proposal, which Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn opposes, got a hearing this week.
Social emotional learning: Some education advocates say if students learned more about their emotions, they’d do better in school. But in a hearing on the bill this week, some parents worried that the curriculum may not match up with their own values, or that it would take time away from more critical lesson plans.
Online university: Sen. Jim Kastama wants to establish a public online university. The proposal had a hearing this week and we’ve got the details.