Jay Inslee News Feed http://www.jayinslee.com/news/rss Jay Inslee News Feed Mon, 12 Sept 2011 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Inslee visits US House floor during gun debate sit-in http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-visits-us-house-floor-during-gun-debate-sit-in Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:40:19 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-visits-us-house-floor-during-gun-debate-sit-in Governor Inslee is on the House floor in support of the sit-in over gun violence. Twitter photo / June 22, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee was on the U.S. House floor as Democrats staged a sit-in to try and force a vote in that chamber on gun control measures.

Inslee tweeted a picture of himself standing on the House floor Wednesday, writing he was there "to thank House Democrats for standing against gun violence."

He had been in Miami and Washington, D.C. for campaign-related events. His spokeswoman said that he was heading back to Washington state in the evening.

Nearly 100 Democrats led by Georgia Rep. John Lewis demanded a vote on measures to expand background checks and block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists in the aftermath of last week's massacre in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

Inslee: Congress must act now on oil trains http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-congress-must-act-now-on-oil-trains Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:54:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-congress-must-act-now-on-oil-trains The recent derailment of a crude oil train in Oregon along the scenic Columbia River Gorge brought the sobering reality of oil train threats to our shared waterfront. While this derailment was not the worst-case scenario for which we have been preparing, it was too close for comfort.

The increase in Canadian and domestic oil production has led to a dramatic, rapid increase in oil transport by rail through Washington state. In the past few years, we have seen oil train derailments in 10 states and three Canadian provinces. Some have resulted in explosions and fires, others in evacuations of entire communities.

Our state has been taking action on oil train safety since the 2013 explosion in Lac-M?gantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people, destroyed the town’s center and spilled 1.6 million gallons of oil.

Last year, we passed legislation to increase track and hazardous-materials inspections, require oil spill-contingency plans, increase funding for prevention and cleanup of oil spills, require railroads to notify local officials when oil trains are moving through their areas, and improve safety at crossings along oil train routes.

But states are limited in what we can do. Railroads engage in interstate commerce, which means the buck stops with the federal government. While federal regulators acknowledge the risks of crude-by-rail, they have taken few steps toward increasing safety. The combination of federal pre-emption and federal inaction is unacceptable. It is time — once and for all — to address the risks posed by oil trains.

To protect the natural, cultural and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge, and all communities across Washington and our country, we must urge Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement the strongest possible measures that will ensure the safe transportation of Bakken crude:

• The USDOT and shippers must speed up the transition to safer cars. Crude oil, particularly Bakken crude, is volatile. Many current tank cars are not strong enough to protect volatile contents from the heat of a fire or the impact of a collision. Yet USDOT has allowed tank car manufacturers a decade to retire existing fleets and introduce a new tank car design. We can cut that timeline in half.

• Federal authorities must establish lower speed limits. Currently, for “high-hazard flammable trains,” that’s 50 mph. While some railroads voluntarily limit speeds to 35 mph for oil trains in large cities, no such commitments extend to rural areas or communities the size of Mosier, Ore., the site of the latest derailment.

• Federal authorities must ensure that electronic braking requirements outlined in USDOT’s recent tank car rule remain in effect despite litigation and the pending cost-benefit analysis required by Congress.

• States need assurance that the costs of these disasters are not borne by our communities. The railroads continue to seek liability caps to shield themselves from these costs.

• The federal government must restrict the use of railroad tracks for storage of volatile materials. At times, thousands of tank cars loaded with crude oil are used for storage, sitting unattended for months on unused track. Residents of Snohomish County recently told state regulators they had serious safety concerns regarding unattended oil cars sitting within 1,200 feet of an elementary school.

• USDOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration needs to finalize rules that expand and strengthen requirements for railroad oil spill response plans.

While we wait for federal regulators, Congress can take action. I applaud Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., for being an outspoken champion of increased oil train safety. She has put forth a proposal Congress could act on now that would significantly bolster oil train safety and accountability.

Our federal partners need to demonstrate they understand that while oil train commerce is interstate, the health, safety, and environmental consequences are local.

The concerns of the people who live and work near oil train routes can no longer be brushed aside, and the safety policies needed to protect them can no longer be postponed.

School-mapping program no longer on chopping block after Gov. Inslee intervenes http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/school-mapping-program-no-longer-on-chopping-block-after-gov-inslee-intervenes Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:49:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/school-mapping-program-no-longer-on-chopping-block-after-gov-inslee-intervenes State officials have found a way to save a school-mapping program designed to help first responders during emergencies such as school shootings.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee tapped $500,000 from an emergency fund to continue the Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System, a software program that contains maps and emergency plans for the state’s K-12 schools and community colleges.

The mapping program, which would have been suspended July 1 due to a lack of funding, now will continue through next year, when the state Legislature reconvenes and can find permanent funding for it, officials said.

The software program contains maps, blueprints, building photos and emergency plans for roughly 2,400 public facilities throughout the state, including all of the state’s K-12 schools and community colleges.

According to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the system has helped police and fire agencies safely evacuate a Vancouver high school during a bomb threat, initiate a lockdown when someone threatened to shoot people inside a Thurston County courthouse, and plan evacuation routes when a warehouse fire threatened chemical storage tanks.

The program was on the verge of being shut down after the Legislature didn’t provide more money this year to make up for lower-than-expected traffic ticket revenues. The mapping program, which the sheriffs group administers, has been funded through traffic ticket surcharges for the past few years.

Lawmakers said they weren’t aware that failing to add money would result in the program being cut at the start of the new fiscal year.

State Sen. Andy Hill, the chief budget writer in the state Senate, said Tuesday he was pleased Inslee stepped in to keep the program alive.

Hill, R-Redmond, said these kinds of situations are why the Legislature created a $1.7 million emergency fund for the governor’s office in the first place.

“Since we (lawmakers) only meet for a few months a year, it’s good to have a little money for discretion,” Hill said.

“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s to kind of handle these unforeseen things where we may not have seen something coming, or something comes up.”

The CEO of Prepared Response, the Tacoma-based company that runs the mapping program, issued a statement Tuesday thanking Hill and Inslee for their work to make sure the program doesn’t lapse.

“There is no ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch for emergencies so there should be no ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch for emergency preparedness,” Tobey Bryant said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Inslee’s office said last week that the governor didn’t have the power to save the program.

But officials reviewed what funds they had available and decided that they could legally offer the money if they routed it through the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission, rather giving it directly to the vendor or the association of sheriffs and police chiefs, said David Schumacher, the governor’s budget director.

Money from the governor’s $1.7 million emergency fund can only go to state agencies, Schumacher said.

Schumacher said Inslee decided to intervene to save the program at the urging of lawmakers from both political parties.

“Once we figured out it was within our ability to solve the problem, then we went forward,” Schumacher said. 

Pride Flag Raised, Then Lowered To Half-Staff At Washington Capitol http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/pride-flag-raised-then-lowered-to-half-staff-at-washington-capitol Thu, 16 Jun 2016 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/pride-flag-raised-then-lowered-to-half-staff-at-washington-capitol Members of Olympia’s LGBT community hold up letters spelling ORLANDO at a flag raising event at the Capitol. Governor Jay Inslee raised the pride flag and then lowered it to half-staff in honor of the victims of last weekend’s mass shooting.

The rainbow pride flag was raised over the Washington state Capitol  Wednesday. It was then immediately lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of last weekend’s mass shooting in Orlando. 

They gathered on the steps of the state Capitol. Members of Olympia’s LGBT community. State employees. And others. At the base of the steps a small group held up rainbow painted wooden letters that read: ORLANDO.

“Normally we use our letters to spell out OLYPRIDE, as you can see from our banner, but we felt that we wanted to send a message of solidarity to Orlando,” said Anna Schlecht.

Schlecht is the president of Capital City Pride whose annual festival begins Friday. She says this year’s gathering will be different.

“I think that we’re going to have people who are sobbing, crying, people who are laughing and dancing and everything in between,” said Schlecht.

Then it was it time to raise the flag. Governor Jay Inslee led the effort.

“So we’re raising the pride flag in the state of Washington both out of conviction and compassion,” said Inslee.

Inslee v. Bryant on raising the statewide minimum wage http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-v-bryant-on-raising-the-statewide-minimum-wage Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-v-bryant-on-raising-the-statewide-minimum-wage SEATTLE -- Should Washington raise the statewide minimum wage? It’s an initiative that looks to be headed for the November ballot, but has divided Gov. Jay Inslee and his Republican challenger Bill Bryant.

In a show of support and campaign photo-op for I-1433, the Governor helped gather signatures in downtown Seattle on Thursday afternoon.

“Our minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation or rent or the economy. We need to increase it,” Gov. Inslee told reporters.

I-1433 would raise the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years, as well as provide paid sick leave to employees currently without it. Currently, Washington’s minimum wage is $9.47, according to the State Department of Labor and Industries. 

“I like what we're trying to do, but I'm not sure this one size fits all approach by initiative is really how we should get there,” said Bill Bryant, Inslee’s Republican challenger.

Bryant, a former Port of Seattle Commissioner, voted in favor of a phased minimum wage increase at Sea-Tac in 2013. However, he says what may work for Sea-Tac or Seattle, home of $15 minimum wage, may not work for cities elsewhere across the state.

“What I'm hearing from those (small business) owners is that 'if you raise this minimum wage too quickly, too high, I'm going to have to lay off a few people, and I'll start covering their shifts, and then when my lease runs out, I'll decide whether I even want to keep in business or not.' We don't want that,” Bryant said.

“There’s a state beyond Seattle and King County,” he continued. “What works here might not work in Longview,  Pasco and Cusick."

Inslee, meanwhile, argues a boost in pay for more employees will in turn stimulate the economy.

“One thing we know about businesses, they have to have a customer if they want to sell their products. We need to give people money in their pockets so they can be customers,” he said.

“I will stand rock solid and say this… you need $13.50 an hour to live if you’re working 40 hours a week, if you’re living anywhere in the state of Washington, and I’m confident of that assertion,” the Governor continued.

Bryant, on the other hand, believes the next Governor’s administration should work with the legislature to come up with a plan that takes into account different regions and their respective economies.

“In an attempt to help some, let’s not make it worse on others,” Bryant.

Inslee said the legislature, with split chambers, hasn’t acted, so the people should.

“The Senate is in the control of a group that really has not been helpful for working people in raising their minimum wage, so the people are going to act here. I’m confident they will.”

Coding for the future: Gov. Inslee leads computer education effort http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/coding-for-the-future Mon, 22 Feb 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/coding-for-the-future Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is leading a national effort to teach tech skills to the next generation of students.

But making computer science an integral part of basic education starts with having the right teachers. Governor Inslee promised to make that one of his top priorities in the coming year, during a meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, DC.

"Not all teachers grew up in this particular age of coding," Inslee said. "We are 7,000 teachers short in my state and when we work to decrease the teacher shortage this is going to be an important part of that."

Inslee has announced that he will be leading a coalition of government and business groups, encouraging all states to create and implement a computer science curriculum.

President Barack Obama is asking congress for $4.1 billion to support computer science in all K-12 classrooms.

In addition to filling jobs and creating a highly skilled workforce, Inslee said having a generation that is proficient in new technology is imperative for our safety.

"I was at Google in Kirkland the other day, and they're rolling out their autonomous vehicles. When we're in autonomous vehicles, we want to make sure people know how to code when they develop those cars," Inslee said with a laugh.

But, Margo Day, Vice President of Education at Microsoft, said computer science is about more than just coding. It teaches children teamwork and problem-solving skills.

"Thinking about how to code, to solve problems, lights up their creativity," said Day.

Although 90 percent of parents surveyed say they want computer science taught in the classroom, only about 25 percent of public schools currently offer this type of instruction.

Megan Smith, the U.S. Chief Technology Director, noted that computer science jobs aren't only found at Microsoft and Google. They're in every state and in every industry.

"The 600,000 jobs that are open in the United States right now are in every sector," Smith said. "They're in retail. They're in agriculture. They're in manufacturing."

The governors joining the Partnership for K-12 Computer Science have three main objectives:

• Enable all high schools to offer at least one rigorous computer science course.
• Fund training for educators, who in turn can teach tech courses.
• Create a set of high-quality academic K-12 computer science standards.

Governor Inslee said it will also be important that states share information with each other and with industry experts.

"We've signed a $2 million program to scale up our computer science programs just last year and start the process of creating a real curriculum for schools across the state," Inslee said. "And, it's happened because we've had very vigorous public-private partnerships."

Code.org is also a driving force behind this effort. They will be providing the interstate partnership with resources as the states work to create computer science programs. They will also be working to facilitate collaboration among lawmakers from different states.

Inslee wants new agency with focus on children, families http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-wants-new-agency-for-vulnerable-children Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-wants-new-agency-for-vulnerable-children Gov. Jay Inslee wants to create a new state agency to deliver services to vulnerable children and families, and he signed an executive order Thursday to start the process.

Surrounded by children, Inslee signed the order creating the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families. The commission must, by Nov. 1, send the Legislature recommendations for the structure, cost estimates and outline of how a new agency could work effectively.


“Our goals are clear,” he said. “We need greater accountability, we need greater visibility of children’s issues, we need fewer barriers to improve service, and we need a direct line to me as governor on how we’re going to make our children safer, healthier, more secure and more connected to their communities.”

The services Inslee wants the new agency to handle currently fall under the responsibilities of the Department of Social and Health Services. But Inslee said it was important to have an agency that focuses directly on children services.

He cited other states like New Jersey, Tennessee and Indiana that have created departments for children.

Inslee said the idea to break off this section from DSHS is not a sign of a lack of confidence in the agency.

“When you have a department that is focused on this, you bring attention, you bring resources, you bring coordination, you bring services,” he said.

State Rep. Ruth Kagi, chairwoman of the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee, noted that the idea of a separate department has been discussed in the Legislature for many years, and that previously she had been opposed to the idea.

But she said the progress of the Department of Early Learning, which was created in 2007, changed her mind.

She said a new agency would broaden that experience “so we’re not just looking at early-learning opportunities; we’re trying to connect those children and families to the other systems they’re already involved with.”

Inslee tackles big issues in DC http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-tackles-big-issues-in-dc Mon, 22 Feb 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-tackles-big-issues-in-dc Governor Jay Inslee is wrapping up a trip to the nation’s capitol.

He joined other governors from around the country for the annual “Governor’s Association” meeting.

Governor Inslee used the meeting to point out some of our state’s accomplishments.
“I’m proud to say that there is one state that enjoyed tuition reductions for all of our college students. And community college students as well in the state of Washington.”
Inslee and the other democratic governors tackled a number of big issues, including the economy and education.

They also met with President Obama at the White House, where he urged them to take steps to protect voting rights.


- See more at: http://kgmi.com/news/007700-inslee-tackles-big-issues-in-dc/#sthash.qY8KYvOI.dpuf

Gov. Inslee announces new plan to address Alzheimer's http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-announces-new-plan-to-address-alzheimers Tue, 16 Feb 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-announces-new-plan-to-address-alzheimers Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the third Washington.

There's over 300,000 caregivers in our state alone lending a hand to those affected.

Governor Jay Inlsee has a plan that will now extend a hand out to them

Irma and Evelinda Mendez have always leaned on each other. That's why they sit together so they lean on each other now.

Their now 90-year-old mother Matiana Cantu was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about seven years ago, and her digression hits heart strings with two.

"She did not recognize me or my sisters. She did not tell me 'Oh my daughters here to see me'. She hasn't said that for a very long time," said Cantu's daughter Evelinda Mendez.

Even though the pair and their other siblings' faith for Matiana has been unwavering, it's been a bumpy ride.

"This mom that raised you and helped you with your children and was there for the grandchildren and now has no clue who you are. It's really hard," said other daughter Irma Mendez.

It's also been hard on the wallet.

"All of us want to be together but we can't. It's a big strain on the family," adds Irma Mendez.

It's this strain our governor Jay Inslee is trying to ease because it's tension more and more in our area will face.

The Alzheimer Association reports that while death by other diseases like hear disease has decreased 14 percent over the last 15 year, deaths from this disease has increased by 71 percent.

Because more are being diagnosed, more time is being taken.

In 2014, friends and family of people with Alzheimer's provided about 18 million hours of unpaid care around the nation. And while time is priceless, emotions have a tag.

"It's heavy on my heart," said Irma Mendez.

Governor Inslee's plan has specific goals and strategies to help caregivers dealing with those affected with the disease.

"The plan is to give people that need resources in the area to be able to find them and to bring to light and educate people of the resources we're going to need moving forward," said Sue Johnston of JEA Senior Living.

Moving forward, just like Irma, Evelinda and Matiana.

The Alzheimer association reports in ten years, the number of people aged 65 and older with the disease will increase to seven million- a 40-percent increase.

Inslee asks state agency to reduce income inequality http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-asks-state-agency-to-reduce-income-inequality Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-asks-state-agency-to-reduce-income-inequality Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington must reduce the gap between the pay of an average employee and the salaries of corporate executives, and he has called on the State Investment Board to help accomplish that goal.

One of the main responsibilities of the board, a state agency not often a point of contention between lawmakers, is to invest and manage the retirement money of public employers and employees such as teachers, police officers and judges. The board manages $103.4 billion in assets right now, according to its website.

As a shareholder in companies, the board can vote against the salary of an executive if it's out of line with how well the company performs financially, said State Treasurer Jim McIntire, a Democrat and one of 10 voting members of the board.

But Inslee, in his State of the State speech Tuesday, asked the board to go further and use its voting power to "reduce the widening pay gap between CEOs and their workers."

McIntire said Wednesday he believes stagnant wages of average employees are a "significant problem in the U.S. economy," but he said the board only considers voting against the salaries of corporate executives if it would negatively affect its investments. The board votes against an estimated 17 percent of "compensation proposals" for CEOs, he said.

The board probably won't review its policies and voting guidelines based on Inslee's speech, McIntire said. "It's a public comment, and we always take into consideration the public comment we get," he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, was quick to oppose Inslee's suggestion in a news conference Tuesday. He said it was the first time he had seen a governor politicize the State Investment Board.

"Now the work of the State Investment board is not exciting, but it's very critical," he said. "We have always worked hard to keep politics out of investing, so that they do the best job for the trustees."

The investment board has previously acted with politics in mind. It had policies of not making direct investments in Iran, Sudan or in companies with business in those countries, according to 2012 resolutions. The resolution regarding Iran said that if the board was already involved with a company doing business in Iran, it would urge the company to "suspend or curtail" its operations there. The resolution regarding Sudan noted the deadly conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, is one of two lawmakers who vote on the investment board. He echoed McIntire's statements about the board makings decisions based solely on financial impact to investments. But said he appreciated that Inslee is paying attention to the gap between salaries of CEOs and their employees.

In August 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission set new rules that require public companies to disclose the ratio of the salary and benefits of their CEOs to the median compensation of the rest of their employees. McIntire said the board will be using data from the rules to inform its investing.

Inslee calls for strengthening background checks of gun buyers http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-calls-for-strengthening-background-checks Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-calls-for-strengthening-background-checks Determined to lessen the toll of gun violence, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday the state will seek to strengthen background checks by improving information sharing among agencies and reduce suicides by implementing a statewide prevention plan.

“While Congress has failed for years to make progress on reducing gun violence, we are not afraid to take action in Washington state,” Inslee said at a Burien news conference, where he was joined by public-health and law-enforcement representatives.

Inslee issued an executive order that directs state and local agencies and the University of Washington to gather and review data on firearm deaths and injuries — and to recommend strategies to reduce those numbers.

To strengthen the background-check law approved by voters in 2014, Inslee directed the state Office of Financial Management to analyze how information is shared among state agencies, courts, local jurisdictions, law enforcement and other entities to make improvements to the system.

A year ago, Washington voters passed Initiative 594, which expanded gun-purchase background checks to include private sales and transfers. The initiative received nearly 60 percent of voter approval statewide. In the 2015 legislative session, most other proposals from I-594 backers went nowhere.

The governor also directed the state Attorney General’s Office to analyze enforcement practices to better hold accountable those trying to buy a gun illegally. He said 5,000 background checks were run since the new law took effect in 2015, but it’s not clear if anyone who attempted to purchase a gun illegally was prosecuted.

Inslee’s announcement comes a day after President Obama, frustrated at Congress’ refusal to pass tougher gun restrictions, came out with plans for expanded background checks and other modest measures.

Between 2012 and 2014, according to Inslee’s office, an average 665 people per year died in Washington state from firearm injuries, compared with 497 from automobile accidents. About 80 percent of the firearms deaths were suicides, the governor said, adding that the statewide plan would focus on those at highest risk.

Inslee said government has taken a public-health approach in the effort to reduce motor-vehicle deaths and injuries, including seat-belt and tougher DUI laws as well as safer vehicle designs.

He said his initiatives on gun violence and suicide take that same approach.

Those strategies also draw on a similar initiative under way in King County for a number of years. For example, local hospitals, law enforcement, medical examiners and researchers share data on gun-related injuries and fatalities to better identify the risks and needs in the community.

The county also has run a firearm safe-storage program for several years with the support of local gun retailers and law enforcement. Led by Public Health — Seattle & King County, the program received a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for billboard and bus advertisements urging gun owners to lock up their weapons.

But with suicides accounting for the majority of gun deaths in Washington, some criticized Inslee for linking the national gun-control debate with suicide prevention.

Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation based in Bellevue, said he and the gun industry have been working for the past year with suicide-prevention advocates on strategies including safe storage and keeping guns away from criminals and people with mental illness.

“When he (Inslee) starts mandating through executive action gun-control measures, he’s going to sabotage all the efforts of the past year to lower suicide rates,” Gottlieb said.

Joining Inslee at the news conference was Jennifer Stuber, an associate professor at the UW School of Social Work whose husband killed himself with a gun in 2011. She said focusing on suicide prevention avoids the divisive debate over gun control.

“Nobody wants guns to be misused in suicide, homicide or mass murder. We need to work harder to find the common ground and not do things that are destructive to collaboration,” she said.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart called Inslee’s approach “measured and comprehensive.”

He said the issue of gun violence is too often reduced to bumper-sticker slogans and bullies on either side of the debate yelling at each other.

“Both sides believe in the Constitution. Both believe gun violence has to be reduced in this country because it is too high. We need to shame both sides into sitting down and talking or we’ll continue as we have for years and years,” Urquhart said. “That is unacceptable to me as a police officer and as a citizen of King County and the United States.”

As the federal government and many states have declined to enact gun-violence-prevention measures, some cities have taken action on their own. In August, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a tax on firearms and ammunition, with the funds to be used for research and prevention.

The Seattle tax of $25 per gun and 2 or 5 cents per round of ammunition took effect Jan. 1. A King County Superior Court judge last month dismissed an NRA lawsuit that sought to block the tax.

Inslee signs $5.1B transportation bill, touts Cheney rail project http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-signs-transportation-bill-touts-cheney-rail-project Fri, 12 Jun 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-signs-transportation-bill-touts-cheney-rail-project Washington Gov. Jay Inslee visited an old cow pasture near Four Lakes on Thursday to sign the state’s $5.1 billion transportation budget for the next two years.

The budget calls for spending $2.3 million to upgrade a section of aging rail between Cheney and Geiger Junction to serve a new $30 million grain loading facility under construction along Craig Road.

Inslee said the project is creating jobs and ensuring that grain shipments from the Upper Columbia Basin can continue to move by rail rather than on state highways.

Like other elements of the transportation budget, the grain facility is part of the state’s effort to build the economy, he said.

“It reminds me of how integral rail transit is,” Inslee told a gathering at the construction site.

HighLine Grain LLC, a consortium of five grain cooperatives across the Upper Columbia Basin, is building the facility to assemble 110-car trains for shipment on BNSF Railway main lines.

The cooperatives are making the investment to preserve their favorable bulk rates at a time when the BNSF line is increasingly relying on trains for grain, oil and coal.

Shipping by rail uses less energy and reduces wear and tear on state highways. In addition, it leaves highways less congested, Inslee said.

He said a single train ships the equivalent of 280 truck loads.

“They are green machines,” Inslee said of the grain trains.

In addition to the $2.3 million in track repair approved for the coming biennium, the budget calls for the state to spend a total of $7.4 million over the coming decade to bring the spur line up to Class 2 rail standards.

Elsewhere, the state budget provides $8.7 million for a West Plains Transit Center and $2.2 million for a Central City Line for public transit. Both of those projects were part of a failed ballot measure in April. Spokane Transit Authority is revising the plan and may send it back to voters for another try.

On the state highway side, the budget calls for spending $4.4 million to repave Division and Ruby streets from Interstate 90 to Euclid Avenue, among other regional highway maintenance projects.

During Thursday’s budget signing, Kevin Whitehall, the CEO of HighLine, gave Inslee a gift – a small section of original rail with a date stamp of 1889, the year the track was laid and Washington became a state.

In 2004, the state purchased 108 miles of historic rail serving Medical Lake, Reardan, Davenport, Creston, Wilbur, Almira, Hartline and Coulee City to preserve rail connections on the Palouse River & Coulee City Railroad. Companion lines run south of Cheney.

In January, a slow-moving freight train derailed at a curve just north of Cheney-Spokane Road in Cheney, sending cars off the rails and blocking the crossing.

Inslee uses Puyallup bridge visit to highlight state infrastructure needs http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-uses-puyallup-bridge-visit-to-highlight-state-infrastructure-needs Wed, 27 May 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-uses-puyallup-bridge-visit-to-highlight-state-infrastructure-needs Gov. Jay Inslee got a glimpse of the state Route 167 Puyallup River Bridge replacement project Wednesday and delivered a clear, familiar message: It’s time to fix the state’s aging infrastructure.

Following a tour of the construction site for the state Department of Transportation project, Inslee said the Legislature needs to pass a transportation-improvement package to fund repairs of severely outdated bridges like the historic structure in Pierce County’s third-largest city.

“We’ve got a lot of old bridges to be put out to pasture,” he said.

The governor and other state and local officials also used Wednesday’s tour to highlight the need for extending SR 167, a long-awaited effort to finish the highway through the Port of Tacoma.

“The Washington economy struggles when there are roads to nowhere and people stuck in congestion,” said Puyallup City Manager Kevin Yamamoto. “We need that done, and we need that done this go-around.”

Ahead of Inslee’s appearance, lawmakers approved a compromise $7.6 billion transportation budget that will keep state ferries moving, the State Patrol on the road and continue road- and bridge-repair projects into the next fiscal year.

But a transportation package for new projects won’t be voted on before the special session ends Thursday, despite proposals by both the House and the Senate.

The $31.2 million replacement project in Puyallup is scheduled for completion this fall.

The bridge carries an average of about 18,000 vehicles daily, 10 percent of which are trucks, said DOT spokeswoman Claudia Bingham Baker. It is the main link between North Meridian, River Road and SR 167.

The old steel-truss bridge was built in 1925 and is classified as functionally obsolete and structurally deficient, meaning its design is outdated and it is below the state's desired rating for replacement of some or all of the structure. It is also deemed fracture-critical, meaning a major structural failure could cause the entire span to collapse.

The bridge, which carries a sufficiency rating of 2 out of 100, will be replaced with steel-plate girder structure with a concrete deck. No new lanes are planned, but future expansion is possible if funds become available.

The bridge will have wider lanes and shoulders, as well as an 8-foot sidewalk for safer bicycle and pedestrian access.

At the project’s completion, northbound traffic will be permanently rerouted to the new structure, and southbound traffic will use the existing concrete bridge, which runs parallel and currently carries vehicles south.

During construction, road closures mostly have been avoided. One weekend closure is planned for August, once the new structure opens to traffic in early July, so crews can move the old span off the job site.

The old bridge will be temporarily stored in nearby forest area. Bingham Baker said the hope is to repurpose it, but an agency has yet to step forward to coordinate and pay for that.

“It’s going to be expensive to rehabilitate and reuse,” she said.

Project planning started in spring 2013, well before the collapse of the Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge near Mount Vernon heightened awareness of low-rated bridges statewide.

The state secured federal funding for the Puyallup project after a 2011 inspection revealed diminished conditions on the already low-rated structure. The state threshold for priority replacement is a rating of 50 or lower.

Prior to that, heavy truck traffic was already limited.

Those restrictions will be lifted upon completion of the new bridge, Bingham Baker said.

Inslee said he admires the creativity of Atkinson Construction and others on the Puyallup project, and even quipped about workers’ expertise at moving the old span.

“They’re so good at moving that bridge I might hire them to move the Legislature,” he said, laughing. 

Gov. Inslee donating raise to school fundraising site http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-inslee-donating-raise-to-school-fundraising-site Tue, 19 May 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-inslee-donating-raise-to-school-fundraising-site OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee says that he’s donating his pay raise to a fundraising site that helps with school expenses.

Inslee said Friday that he’s already given money to programs at three Washington schools through DonorsChoose.org, a website that lets donors give money directly to classroom projects at specific schools.

Last week, a state salary-setting board voted Wednesday to give Washington lawmakers a raise along with the governor and several other state officials...

Inslee signs tougher oil-train law, calls on feds to act http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-signs-tougher-oil-train-law-calls-on-feds-to-act Thu, 14 May 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-signs-tougher-oil-train-law-calls-on-feds-to-act OLYMPIA — Washington will hire more rail inspectors and let fire departments know ahead of time when train shipments of crude oil are coming though town under a new law signed Thursday.

It also calls for more training of emergency responders, new analyses of risks posed by shipping oil on the Columbia River and additional contingency plans from railroads in the event of a spill.

But while those changes mark progress in making the transport of oil safer in Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee said the federal government must do more to prevent catastrophic accidents involving oil trains, like those seen in the past few years.

Federal authorities must require immediate replacement of older-model tank cars used to transport crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota, the governor said. And it must act to lower the speeds trains can travel through Washington.

“I have to be honest with people that while this (new law) is a step forward, we still have an unsafe situation in our state. It demands federal action,” Inslee said after signing House Bill 1449. “These trains are a mile long, with very volatile material, they’re rolling though our neighborhood and they are not safe today.”

The impetus for the new law is an explosive increase in oil shipments by train.

As recently as 2011, no oil trains traveled through Snohomish County or the rest of the state. Oil arrived only in pipelines and by marine tanker. In 2013, 700 million gallons moved on rails through the state, Inslee said.

That’s a result of the shale-oil boom in North Dakota. Washington attracts so many shipments because it is the fifth-largest refining state in the U.S.

In a typical week, a dozen trains each carrying at least 1 million gallons of Bakken crude travel through Snohomish County to refineries in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

spate of fiery and deadly oil train accidents the past two years has fueled lawmaker concerns about the ability of railroads to safely transport the material and the capability of communities to respond to an incident.

State lawmakers couldn’t pass a bill in 2014 but did pay for an exhaustive review of the safety of oil transportation in Washington.

That study, completed in March, concluded that the state isn’t prepared for a major accident. It made 43 recommendations, and several are embodied in the new law.

One is a requirement for refineries to give the state Department of Ecology seven-day advance notice of planned oil deliveries by rail. Those notices must include the day as well as the amount and type of oil to be shipped.

The state intends to pass the information to fire departments and other emergency responders so they can be prepared for a derailment, spill or other type of accident.

The notice requirement is separate from a federal one for BNSF Railway and other firms to disclose the number of trains carrying Bakken crude that will travel through the state each week.

The new state law enables the Utilities and Transportation Commission to hire eight additional inspectors and empowers them to conduct hazardous materials inspections on private property.

Another change is that railroads will now have to submit documents showing they can pay to clean up a bad oil spill. And the state will begin collecting a barrel tax on shipments of oil by train in addition to marine tankers.

“While there is more work to be done, we have made progress today,” Inslee said.

The issue is getting attention in Washington, D.C.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation ordered a phase-out of older model tankers known as DOT-111, which have been shown to be at high risk of puncture and fire in derailments. Other changes would force oil shippers to slow down trains in urban areas and use better braking systems.

Federal lawmakers are pushing for faster action.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced a bill in March to immediately stop the use of DOT-111 tank cars and replace them with newer models built with thicker shells, thermal protection, pressure-relief valves and other measures to lessen the chances of an explosion.

Gov. Inslee signs health care information sharing measure http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-inslee-signs-health-care-information-sharing-measure Thu, 14 May 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-inslee-signs-health-care-information-sharing-measure OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill that will give consumers, employers, doctors and others more information about the cost and quality of health care providers and services.

The governor has been working on this idea for a health care claims database for two years.

The measure, House Bill 5084, will allow consumers to compare the costs of procedures and medical providers. Twenty other states have similar databases.

Inslee says better information will lead to better health care.

The Legislature passed a related bill in 2014 to create a more limited database that did not require every insurance company to submit their claims information.

The governor’s office worked with insurance companies, doctors and policy makers to address their privacy concerns and come up with the idea behind this new measure.

Gov. Jay Inslee, thousands of teachers rally at Capitol http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-jay-inslee-thousands-of-teachers-rally-at-capitol Sat, 25 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/gov-jay-inslee-thousands-of-teachers-rally-at-capitol OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Thousands of teachers and their supporters crowded the steps of the Washington state Capitol’s legislative building for a rally Saturday morning to call for teacher pay raises, smaller class sizes and less standardized testing.

More than 4,000 people attended the hour-long rally. Gov. Jay Inslee, House Speaker Frank Chopp and other politicians spoke about their efforts to improve Washington’s public education system, which Inslee called “the paramount duty of the state of Washington” in a speech that invoked his father’s career as a teacher. He decried the six-year period since teachers received a cost of living adjustment, or COLA, to raise their pay, and he cited a 12:30 a.m. email from his grandson’s kindergarten teacher as evidence of how hard teachers work...

Governor signs bill to boost mapping of geologic hazards http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/governor-signs-bill-to-boost-mapping-of-geologic-hazards Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/governor-signs-bill-to-boost-mapping-of-geologic-hazards OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a bill that will allow Washington to have more information than ever about geologic hazards that threaten communities and citizens.

Senate Bill 5088 requires an expansion of LiDAR mapping of geologic hazards and a thorough dissemination of that information. It’s the first major public policy initiative created in response to the Oso landslide.

The bill, requested by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, passed on a 97-0 vote in the House earlier this month. The Senate approved the measure 48-0 in February.

Inslee said the Oso tragedy highlighted the need for the bill.

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said the bill will help save lives and property from disasters similar to what happened in Oso.

“We live in an age in which we have unprecedented access to technologies that can tell us more than we ever imagined about the natural forces that shape our world,” Goldmark said. “Using the best technology available to identify these dangers before they cause major harm and destruction is smart government and the right thing to do for the people of Washington.”

DNR, home of the Washington Geological Survey, is responsible for surveying and mapping the state’s geologic hazards. Expanding the database of LiDAR maps of hazards was one of the agency’s top priorities during the legislative session.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) uses lasers mounted on aircraft to scope topography by measuring reflected light. Those light beams penetrate forest canopy, ground cover and human development to allow mappers and scientists to see the topography of landforms below with pinpoint accuracy.

Lawmakers must make a budget appropriation in order for DNR to implement the program in a meaningful way, Goldmark said.

The program is estimated to cost $6.6 million. DNR would use that funding to hire 10 geologists and four employees to provide technical support.

Governor, Tri-Citians celebrate Port of Kennewick’s 100 years http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/governor-tri-citians-celebrate-port-of-kennewicks-100-years Tue, 14 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/governor-tri-citians-celebrate-port-of-kennewicks-100-years About 200 Tri-Citians and Gov. Jay Inslee raised glasses of champagne and cider Tuesday to celebrate the Port of Kennewick’s 100th birthday.

While Tri-City leaders highlighted parts of the port’s past, they also emphasized the importance of current port projects to the region’s future.

“It is my hope that the work we are doing now will leave a solid foundation for prosperity to come,” said port Commission President Don Barnes.

So many people packed into the Tri-Cities Business & Visitor Center that some had to stand in the entryway and couldn’t make it into the conference room for the event.

The Port of Kennewick was created March 6, 1915, when 282 out of 379 voters cast their ballots in favor of creating a 5-square-mile port district that included all of the city and a mile in each direction. The port is the state’s fifth-oldest and the first in Eastern Washington.

In 1915, Seattle had about 240,000 residents, near today’s population of the Tri-Cities, Barnes said. Kennewick had about 500.

The early mission focused on river-based transportation, but that has evolved into a multifaceted economic development mission, he said.

Like the mission, the port’s boundaries also expanded to cover 485 square miles in eastern Benton County including Kennewick, Finley, West Richland, south Richland and Benton City.

Numerous port projects and partnerships during the last 100 years have contributed to the economic success of the Tri-Cities, said Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. Most recently, the port and city have seen the commercial and residential development of Southridge take off.

“Our success continues to attract attention from around the state,” Young said.

The port helped bring Pacific Rim Winemakers to West Richland’s Red Mountain Center, said West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry. And the redevelopment of the former Tri-City Raceway into a wine-related development will help West Richland draw in more needed commercial development to better diversify the bedroom community.

Other past successes include bringing fertilizer companies to what became known as Chemical Row in Finley and providing incubator space for businesses in the port’s Oak Street Industrial Park.

Clover Island, Southridge and Richland’s Spaulding Business Park likely would look much different if the port had not bought property and reserved it for development, said Carl Adrian, Tri-City Development Council president and CEO.

Gary Burke, chairman of Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation board, congratulated the port on 100 years of community service with particular pride, because the lands included in the port’s boundaries are part of the historic homeland of the tribes.

The port and tribes have worked during the last decade to build a working relationship to benefit the interests of both parties, Burke said. The port and the tribes also have a formal agreement.

Gov. Jay Inslee said the work the port is doing with Clover Island, Spaulding Business Park and Vista Field shows what local communities can do through port districts.

Inslee optimistically spoke about the possibility of a funded transportation package during this legislative session. He emphasized how important it is for continued economic development to see money for projects such as a Highway 395 intersection at Ridgeline Drive, the proposed Duportail Street bridge, the Lewis Street overpass and a Red Mountain interchange on Interstate 82.

Also in town from Olympia for the anniversary celebration was Hank Thietje, the port’s second manager, who started out assisting John Neuman, the port’s first manager, before filling his position when Neuman retired.

When Thietje came from Olympia to work for the port in December 1972, Benton County as a whole was trying to figure out what to do with the state’s newly approved Shoreline Management Act. The port, county and other local agencies worked together to come up with a comprehensive plan for shoreline management. It was the first approved by the state and was one that other counties used as a model, Thietje said.

The shoreline is something the port continues to focus on now, working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a plan to improve Clover Island’s shoreline for fish habitat and recreation.

Adrian said the port is in the early stages of a number of projects that could have a profound impact on the Tri-Cities, including the redevelopment of the former Tri-City Raceway, creating a boutique wine village on Columbia Drive and redeveloping the former Vista Field Airport.

“I believe this celebration is really about the next 100 years at the port,” he said.

As for the vibrant, mixed-use town center envisioned for Vista Field, Adrian said, “I think the entire Tri-City community believes the port's vision can’t happen quickly enough.”

Washington Governor Puts Focus on Climate Goals, and Less on Debate http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/washington-governor-puts-focus-on-climate-goals-and-less-on-debate Sat, 04 Apr 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/washington-governor-puts-focus-on-climate-goals-and-less-on-debate OLYMPIA, Wash. — In his office, Gov. Jay Inslee keeps a framed image of a stand of magenta paintbrush, an alpine meadow flower and a signature species in Washington, that he photographed while hiking with his wife in Olympic National Park. The magenta paintbrush is threatened by global warming, and the photograph is a reminder, Mr. Inslee said, of all the things that are at risk.

But then he paused and said, no, a beautiful blossom was not the point: The deeper reason he is pushing for tough new air-quality policies is to combat worsening health problems, like asthma in children, that are caused by pollution.

"It's not the flowers," he said. "It's kids' lungs."

The line encapsulates Mr. Inslee's practical approach to advancing one of the most ambitious environmental programs in the country. He has proposed collecting a new charge on emissions from oil refineries, power plants and other industries that would reap an estimated $1.3 billion in the first year. But in contrast to similar systems in California and the Northeast, energy experts said, Mr. Inslee's plan would use most of the new revenue for education and transportation rather than on climate or energy projects.

By linking the money to broadly popular bread-and-butter programs, he hopes to build support for an antipollution policy that faces stiff opposition from Republicans and some industry groups. He is also trying to solve two problems with one policy. Washington has been cited for contempt by the state's highest court, which said the government violated the State Constitution by underfunding schools by billions of dollars.

"You don't even have to allude to climate change," Mr. Inslee, a first-term Democrat, said in an interview. "One can support this simply on the fact that you want to support the education of your children."

Though the fate of the plan is unclear — the Republicans who control the State Senate have vowed to fight it, and Democrats, a majority in the House, have not pledged an all-out defense — it underscores how Mr. Inslee operates. He is less interested in winning the debate over climate change than in achieving his goals.

"It's really unfortunate that it came to be seen, by some people at least, through a partisan political lens," Mr. Inslee said of the climate debate. "But I do think the ice is breaking."

Critics are not so sure. "Governor Inslee wants to try to drive this global warming agenda in a state where you can really say we are already leading the way," said State Senator Doug Ericksen, a Republican and chairman of the chamber's Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. Adding carbon charges now, he said, would hurt the economy and kill jobs.

But to environmentalists — who have occasionally complained that Mr. Inslee is too cautious — the carbon plan is groundbreaking, making him a national leader of what they say is a quiet movement to find practical solutions to daunting environmental problems without regard to politics.

For instance, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican, backed a big wind-power transmission project in his state, even while saying climate science was unsettled. Georgia reduced carbon emissions from electricity production by 35 percent from 2005 to 2012, more than twice the national average, and its Republican-controlled legislature recently passed a bill expanding incentives for homeowners to install rooftop solar panels.

"There are just more concrete steps being taken," said Keya Chatterjee, the executive director of the U.S. Climate Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group. "We're affected — what are we going to do about it," she said of the new efforts.

Shooting for results, even if sometimes incremental, was a hallmark of Mr. Inslee's 15 years in Congress. He favored greater wilderness protections on federal land, but when that was not politically feasible, he shifted to the middle ground, defending rules that discouraged development of roads in forests and on other lands. Those rules were ultimately left intact by the Supreme Court in a 2012 ruling.

In a debate over water quality as governor, he supported what he called a balanced plan — tightening some pollution rules while leaving others alone.

"Jay has always had a clear eye on the bull's-eye, the goal he's trying to achieve, and also an understanding of what he has to do to get there," said Bill Arthur, who has watched Mr. Inslee for 30 years at the Sierra Club, where he is the deputy Western campaign director for the Beyond Coal campaign. "He's smart and savvy enough to know, 'I've also got to speak in a language and speak in terms that can resonate with a larger contingent of people.' "

Mr. Inslee, 64, a fifth-generation Washingtonian who grew up in the Seattle area, said he owed part of his appreciation of the natural world to his father, Frank. Frank Inslee, a high school science teacher, often led the family on volunteer expeditions to replant alpine meadows on the slopes of Mount Rainier, the glacier-clad volcano south of Seattle.

But money for education, a key to Mr. Inslee's carbon plan, was also the starting place for his political career in the 1980s, when he was working as a lawyer in a small town in central Washington that needed to build a new high school. The fight over the school's funding led him to run for his first public office, in the legislature. He jokes that now, in trying to link emissions to education, he is back where he started.

His plan is also a kind of throwback, environmental researchers said, to familiar — and politically popular — taxes long applied to alcohol or tobacco.

"We're starting as a society to see carbon emissions as a bad, and by framing it the way he has, he brings it into the sin-tax way of seeing things," said Mark Stephan, an associate professor of political science at Washington State University who studies environmental politics. "Inslee is packaging the policy in a way that makes it more politically palatable."

Mr. Inslee's opponents, especially in the State Senate, remain unconvinced. Washington, they said, already is an environmental leader; the percentage of its power that comes from renewable energy is among the highest in the nation. Hydroelectricity generated by dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries dominates the power grid of Washington and the Northwest.

And long before Mr. Inslee was elected in 2012, they said, the state was reducing its dependence on carbon-based energy. Washington had the biggest percentage reduction in carbon dioxide emission from power generation of any state between 2005 and 2012, according to the Georgetown Climate Center, a research arm of Georgetown University Law School.

In March, the Senate passed a transportation-funding bill of its own, with a phased-in, 11-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax. The House passed its own plan — different from the Senate's vision but similar in leaving out any mention of Mr. Inslee's carbon proposal as a funding mechanism.

A spokesman for the governor, David Postman, said that the means to pay for the Legislature's commitments had not been determined, and that Mr. Inslee would continue to promote the carbon bill as an answer. "There are apparently a handful of members who need to be convinced, and the governor will certainly be talking with those folks," Mr. Postman said in an email.

Under Mr. Inslee's program, the state would set an overall cap on carbon emissions and require the state's biggest polluters to pay for each metric ton of pollution emitted. The price would be set at an auction, and buyers of emission allowances could sell the amounts they did not need.

The governor's allies on environmental issues are already talking about taking his ideas directly to voters in a referendum, perhaps in 2016, if the Legislature does not pass them. Mr. Inslee, in the interview, declined to say what his next steps might be — or his strategy in the final weeks of the legislative session, which ends in late April. He said only that he remained deeply optimistic.

As a case in point, he cited a recent discussion in Seattle with several dozen college students from schools around the state. The group was chatting about everything from tuition to the arts, when Mr. Inslee lobbed a question from left field: How many of them believed that humans were significantly contributing to global climate change?

Everyone raised a hand.

"Unanimity is pretty amazing," he said, shaking his head.

Inslee to protest Indiana law with travel ban http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-to-protest-indiana-law-with-travel-ban Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-to-protest-indiana-law-with-travel-ban Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to issue an executive order banning state-paid travel to Indiana, joining a growing wave of protest against that state’s new law allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.

“We in Washington stand for equality,” Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday evening. The governor’s counsel was still reviewing the language of the executive order, which is expected to be signed later this week.

Inslee’s move may be largely symbolic. David Postman, the governor’s communications director, said he was not aware of any state-agency travel plans that would be affected.

“I don’t suspect that there would be a large number of state employees with plans to go to Indiana,” Postman said.

But Postman said Inslee believes it was important to “speak out” against the law, which has stirred criticism across the country since Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed it last week.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibits state and governments there from imposing a “substantially burden” on businesses, persons, religious institutions or associations for following their religious beliefs.

Pence has denied the law’s purpose is to enable discrimination, arguing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that it has been “grossly misconstrued.”

The law has prompted nationwide protests and calls for boycotts against Indiana. Angie’s List, the popular business-review site, announced it would halt a planned $40 million headquarters expansion in the state.

Earlier Monday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy made his state the first to announce a ban on state-worker travel to Indiana. Seattle Mayor Ed Murrayannounced a similar travel ban for city employees over the weekend.

Nineteen other states, including Idaho, have similar laws protecting religious freedoms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, some critics of Indiana’s law say it stands out by enabling businesses to legally shun customers in private transactions.

In his statement, Inslee said Indiana’s law “appears to legalize private discrimination.”

He noted Washington has taken the opposite approach — fighting to enforce its nondiscrimination law with recent action by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against a Richland florist who refused to sell wedding flowers to a gay couple. On Friday, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts was fined $1,000 and levied $1 for court costs and fees in that case.

Inslee on Monday also invited organizations shunning Indiana to consider moving to Washington.

Inslee in Yakima calls for investment in early learning http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-in-yakima-calls-for-investment-in-early-learning Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-in-yakima-calls-for-investment-in-early-learning Greater investments in early childhood programs now would have across-the-board benefits in the future, Gov. Jay Inslee told local officials at a Yakima early education roundtable Wednesday.

The Democratic governor - and a former Yakima Valley legislator - urged attendees to lobby lawmakers, who are pondering how to expand funding in education in light of Inslee's proposals and a key decision by the state Supreme Court.

That ruling, known as McCleary decision, mandates that the Legislature fully fund basic education. The court also ordered lawmakers to make significant progress toward that goal this session.

Yakima was the first stop on Inslee's daylong trip to Central Washington. He toured a licensed family home child care provider, spoke at the OIC of Washington's Excel High School and attended a brown-bag luncheon at the nonprofit social service agency's facility.

He concluded the trip at Central Washington University to attend another roundtable exclusively with CWU students.

At the Yakima roundtable, he reiterated his intentions to bump up the budget for early childhood education. Late last year, Inslee proposed $156 million for early learning programs, an amount he has repeatedly called the largest investment ever for education at these grade levels.

He told local officials including Yakima police Chief Dominic Rizzi, Sheriff Brian Winter and Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic that the transition from preschool and early childhood programs to kindergarten is as momentous as other grade school milestones.

The "first rung" in a child's schooling can have long-lasting effects down the road, Inslee said.

"When I ask (lower-grade) teachers where the first investments ought to be, they usually say in early childhood - not even in their classrooms," he said. "That's pretty amazing."

Winter agreed with the governor. By targeting children early with necessary resources, society lessens the risk that youngsters will succumb to gang violence, drop out of school and so forth, he said.

"The earlier and the more often we as a community can engage with those kids," the less likely he, Rizzi or Brusic is to interact with them in the future as a result of criminal activity, Winter said.

After the meeting, Inslee spoke with reporters about how close the state is to meeting the obligations imposed by the McCleary decision. Although he didn't go into specifics, he said both chambers have progressed.

"I'm hearing good things from leadership from both parties," he said. "The good news is I think both parties are coming to understand why this is a great investment."

However, Inslee restated that lawmakers will have to find new revenue sources to make his or anyone else's proposals a reality. He's been saying that since his budget proposal first made waves last year.

"There is no free lunch, no pot of gold in Olympia," he said.

Inslee condemns vandalism against Hindu temples http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-condemns-vandalism-against-hindu-temples Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-condemns-vandalism-against-hindu-temples OLYMPIA -- Recent vandalism against Hindu temples in the metropolitan Puget Sound  was condemned today by Gov. Jay Inslee as "acts of intolerance, intimidation and violence." 

Inslee, who was joined by Hindu and Muslim community leaders at his weekly press conference, said the vandalism against the temples in Bothell and Kent, plus some anti-Muslim graffiti sprayed on a Bothell junior high, was disturbing.

"Who you pray to, and whether you pray, doesn't determine whether you're an American," Inslee said. "Hindus and Muslims are clearly part and parcel of the state of Washington."

A swastika and the words "Get Out" were sprayed on a Hindu temple in Bothell last month, and "Muslims get out" was sprayed on a nearby junior high school. Broken windows and graffiti was found at a Hindu temple in Kent last weekend.

Inslee visits Hopelink in Kirkland to discuss unemployment http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-visits-hopelink-in-kirkland-to-discuss-unemployment Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-visits-hopelink-in-kirkland-to-discuss-unemployment During a roundtable discussion at Hopelink in Kirkland, Gov. Jay Inslee met with job seekers and various organizations to determine ways to reduce long-term unemployment in King County. Among the main points raised were hiring practices by employers and the negative effects of I-1163 that one employer said has created a shortage of home care providers.

While Inslee and others expressed their belief the economy had improved, among whom included Kirkland Deputy Mayor Penny Sweet, they admitted layoffs were still occurring and a significant percentage of people were having trouble finding work.

According to Marlena Session, CEO of Workforce Development Council of Seattle King County, there are approximately 30,000 people in the county who have been unemployed for more than six months and no longer show up in unemployment figures.

One problem is that King County is known for its affluent communities, particularly on the Eastside where poverty isn’t considered an issue, according to Lauren Thomas, chief executive officer for Hopelink, who said there are 36,000 people living in poverty and 17,000 kids who qualify for free and reduced cost lunches at school.

King County is the most populous in the state and 86th highest-income county in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2009-2013 11.5 percent of people in the county were living under the poverty line, compared to 13.4 percent overall for the state.

The consequences of prolonged unemployment can self-perpetuate, Thomas said, as workers lose their jobs, they find “survivor” jobs to pay the bills, and then get laid off. She also said it is creating a generation of workers who have never had a successful job.

Inslee expressed his support for retraining programs, saying the state had allocated $10 million in the last budget to fund such programs. These programs, he said, would allow unemployed workers to gain the skills necessary to get jobs in an increasingly tech-focused economy.

“It’s just not acceptable,” he said of the unemployment figures. “You can look at this as a fairness issue and helping people, but it’s also an economic issue.”

When Inslee asked for feedback on what can be done to improve the situation, Esther Cooper, a director at CareForce Inc., said Initiative 1163, passed in 2011, has created a shortage of home care providers by adding onerous regulations.

I-1163 requires 75 hours of paid training for long-term care workers, more than twice as many as the previous 35 hours.

She said that the regulations put in place have made it difficult to attract new workers, as they often do not have the money to afford the training in places like Shoreline, all of which are private institutions.

“The problem is the talent is not out there for home care,” she said. “There are no caregivers out there…1163 stopped that. It’s not as easy to join… There’s not the facility to get talent in or more to step into it. The training is costing the state a lot of money.”

The roundtable later included testimonies from job seekers who had suffered from prolonged unemployment. One of them, Brent Bartlett, said he discovered the state’s Commissioner Approved Training/Training Benefits (CAT/TB), which allows unemployed workers to put off their job search while they get an education without losing their unemployment benefits. However, he said he didn’t learn about it until four months after he had lost his job. According to the website, there is a 90 day window to apply for the training benefits and a 120 day window to enroll in the approved training program.

Organizations like Hopelink helped him out while he was unemployed by making their food bank available, as he received too much money in unemployment benefits to qualify for government food stamps.

Another job seeker, who was unemployed for a year, discussed his inability to get a job interview, which finally led him to go to Worksource in Redmond. He eventually got a job as a customer service representative while taking retraining programs. Right now, he is taking computer classes at the Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

Job seekers and county officials said they wish to see a change in the hiring practices by employers. One of the job seekers told the panel that the biggest problems he’s faced is being considered too old or overqualified for a job, even after landing an interview.

Sessions said employers can either unwittingly or knowingly rule out older applicants during the initial screening process for resumes, which can often lead them to remove high school and college graduation dates.

At the same time, she said when they’ve met with the business community and discussed it with them they are eager to change their methods, as they often have worker shortages.

At the end of the discussion Inslee noted that prolonged unemployment is a problem everywhere else in the state.

“This is universal,” he said. “People don’t understand that. You have good people with good backgrounds relying on food stamps.”

“The most demanding job is getting a job,” he also said.

Inslee says fund education, transportation, clean energy http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-says-fund-education-transportation-clean-energy Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.jayinslee.com/news/articles/inslee-says-fund-education-transportation-clean-energy OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state has a moral obligation to address carbon pollution and used his State of the State address Tuesday to tout his recent proposal for a cap-and-trade program that requires the largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release.

“We face many challenges, but it is the growing threat of carbon pollution that can permanently change the nature of Washington as we know,” Inslee said in prepared remarks.

Inslee said the state must meet a 2008 legislative mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. The requirement sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago.

Inslee, who has made tackling climate change a key issue since taking office two years ago, has said the plan would raise nearly $1 billion in its first year to help pay for transportation projects and for education-funding requirements imposed by the state Supreme Court.

“For all we do here together in the next few months, for all our fiscal woes, for all our short-term demands, we know that the most enduring legacy we can leave is a healthy, clean, beautiful Evergreen State,” he said.

Other issues Inslee mentioned in his address included:

TAXES: Inslee touted his proposals to eliminate a handful of tax exemptions and to raise some taxes for the upcoming two-year budget. He said he looked for revenue proposals that would address what he said was the “nation’s most unfair tax system.”

Inslee presented his budget plan last month that proposed a 7 percent capital gains tax on earnings from the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets above $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers. He also has proposed a cap-and-trade levy on carbon polluters, a 50-cent per pack cigarette tax and a tax on e-cigarettes and vapor products.

He also has proposed eliminating several tax exemptions, including tax breaks on royalties, another for oil refineries and one on sales tax on bottled water.

TRANSPORTATION: Inslee says lawmakers must take action on a transportation revenue package.

Inslee warned that if no action is taken, dozens of bridges “will become structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.”

“The tragic and catastrophic landslide in Snohomish County last year reminds us that entire communities are cut off from the rest of the state when we lose transportation infrastructure,” he said in his prepared remarks.

Lawmakers have struggled the past few years to reach agreement, with negotiations between House Democrats and Senate Republicans stalling. This year, lawmakers from both parties have said a gas tax is needed, but Republicans are also pushing for overhauls within the transportation system.

In his speech, Inslee said that he welcomed suggestions for improvement but that “the state cannot accept a continued failure to move on transportation.”
Without action, he says, commute times will continue to rise and the state’s ability to move goods will be affected.

EDUCATION: Inslee said that early learning opportunities for children are an important investment. He said his recent education proposals translate to thousands more low-income children attending high-quality preschools.

Citing his proposals made last month, Inslee notes that he’s seeking to fully fund class-size reductions from kindergarten through third grade and also pay for all-day kindergarten across the state.

He also said that the hours spent by children outside of the classroom are just as important as those spent in it — and said nutritious food at home, safe transportation to school and a place to sleep each night are essential.

“The budget we agree on should nurture all our students, in and out of the classroom, because we know how hard it is to educate a homeless, hungry, sick child,” he said.

The state Supreme Court has held the Legislature in contempt for its lack of progress to fix the way it pays for education funding in the state, and has given lawmakers until the end of session to comply or else face sanctions.