Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Olympia Insider March 31, 2010

Not done yet?

March 11th was supposed to be the final day of legislative session. If you walk around the capitol campus it seems like session is over and everyone has gone home, but looks are deceiving. Because the House and Senate had not reached an agreement on the final budget and the revenue package to pay for it, the Governor called for a special session and asked legislators to finish their work within seven days. However, once a special session is called, the legislature can stay in session up to thirty days, despite the Governor’s request.

We are now in week three of the special session. Most legislators have been sent home except for occasional floor activity to vote on bills Necessary To Implement the Budget (NTIB). During a very difficult time for our state financially, the public is questioning why there has been no agreement, especially with a one-sided supermajority, but it is difficult to get agreement on issues such as raising taxes during an election year. The cost of holding a special session runs about $18,000 a day, though some legislators have declined to be paid, so it is running about $14,000 a day.

There is not much advocacy that can be done right now. Most lobbyists have packed up and gone home and are just waiting for some final word. The sticking point is in the revenue package. The Senate wants to include a .2% sales tax and the House will not agree. The Governor is now warning legislators that if they do not come to an agreement by the end of the special session, she will be forced to make a 20% cut across the board. Keep in mind that about 70% of the budget is protected by our state constitution or by federal rules attached to matching funds. This leaves Human Services programs as an area most likely to take the cuts.

There have been some amendments made to the proposed budgets such as $25,000 for DSHS and the Department of Health to do a review of all aspects of a fiscal note for the autism insurance issue. You can find the Governor/House/Senate proposed budget side-by-side with the amendments on our web site at

Some good ideas have been signed into law.

Many of the bills that affect individuals with developmental disabilities did not make it through the legislative process. We are down to one page of legislation that did make it through, most of these bills have been signed by the Governor now. You can check out our Bills of Interest and the status of bills at:

What can you do to help?

These are long, difficult days for legislators who must make hard decisions and will never make everyone happy. Let your legislators know you appreciate their dedication and ask them to come to agreement on the revenue package so our programs don’t have to be slashed.

If you are not already signed up on The Arc’s Action Alert system, get connected. Once a final budget is approved we will share the information via an Action Alert and on our blog at You can also receive quick updates via a “tweet” from our Twitter account ArcofWA. Did you miss something during the regular session? Check out the Olympia Insider website ( for the podcasts of the session activities. Remember you can download these to your video-enabled handheld devices!

Change is made by those who show up, sometimes showing up means waiting, but it makes a difference!

Diana Stadden
Arc of Washington State
Advocacy Partnership Project

Monday, March 8, 2010

Olympia Insider March 1, 2010

House and Senate amended budget proposals good to people with developmental disabilities.

Both Senate and House budget proposals were released last Tuesday. Public hearings were held with lots of input provided to legislators. For individuals with developmental disabilities, the House cut very little in community services for people with DD, but we had work to do in the Senate, as there were some significant cuts in their budget proposal. The budget bills were scheduled for “executive session” where Ways and Means committee members can propose amendments to the budget before it is passed to the chamber floor for a vote of all members. Senators proposed several amendments which not only restored some of the cuts in the original budget bill, but also restored funding for the self-advocacy programs and Parent to Parent programs that were eliminated last year. You can find the chart at

The Senate budget proposal calls for the close of Frances Haddon Morgan Center. One of the proposed amendments which had bipartisan support in the Senate was to direct DSHS to report to the legislature by the end of this year on the closure of additional Residential Habilitation Center (RHC). The House budget proposal calls for the closure of one cottage at Rainier and the assessment of all RHC residents to determine alternative placements.

Now we must watch and make sure legislators hold fast to the DD funding proposed as they merge their final budgets.

Bills are nearing the end of their journey.

Friday was the final cut-off for bills to be voted out of the second phase of their journey. If any amendments were added to a bill in the chamber that just passed them, they now need to return to their “house of origin” to see if those legislators will agree with the amendments added. Once both chambers agree on the language of the bill it moves to the Governor’s office for her signature. To see the status of the bills currently, check out our Bills of Interest at:

What a great Advocacy Day Rally!

Despite the wind and rain, the Independent Living Day Rally had a great turnout. Huddled together, sharing umbrellas, more than 400 people showed up to voice their support of providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities in their local communities.

Community advocates also made sure legislators know that they support the legislature in restructuring the Residential Habilitation Centers in our state with the closure of Frances Haddon Morgan Center and particularly are grateful to Senator Hobbs, who added an amendment to the Senate budget that directs DSHS to close an additional RHC.

For our last Advocacy Day of the session, Ed Holen provided information about the revenue packages being proposed so that advocates would have a better understanding of what legislators are looking at as they attempt to keep from having to make cuts to programs for those with developmental disabilities in the community. Advocates who attended the last Advocacy Day also received a 2010 Advocacy Day pin as a thank you for all their hard work this session as well as pizza and cookies. “Great Job!” to everyone who has participated in Advocacy Day this legislative session. We’ll be back again next year, ready to make our voices heard again.

What can you do to help?

Thank you cards are really appreciated by legislators. Please remember to thank them for the work they are doing. These are long, difficult days for legislators who must make hard decisions and will never make everyone happy. Let your legislators know you appreciate their dedication.

Don't forget to check the Olympia Insider website ( for the new podcasts and to subscribe using iTunes or another RSS tool in order to be notified automatically when something new is posted. Remember you can download these to your video-enabled handheld devices!

Episode 9: Coming Home to the Community
Parents, care providers, and people with disabilities from around the state gathered on the capitol steps to celebrate independent living and advocate for the community services that make true inclusion possible.

Episode 10: The Final Stretch
In the final days of the 2010 session, advocates gather for one last Advocacy Day briefing before heading to the capitol with thank you notes and powerful messages for legislators still debating budget details.

Change is made by those who show up, thanks for being here this year, your voice was heard!

Diana Stadden
The Arc of washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator

Olympia Insider February 21, 2010

House and Senate budget proposals will be released this week.

The House budget proposal will be released Tuesday morning with the public hearing for it at 6 pm that same day. The Senate budget proposal may also be released on Tuesday, but a hearing for it has not yet been scheduled. If you want a voice in how the state spends its funding and which taxes are raised for what, now is the time to make your voice heard. As each chamber releases its budget we will update our budget side-by-side with the issues affecting those with developmental disabilities. You can find the chart at

SSB 6130, which temporarily suspends the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases in Initiative Measure No. 960 through July 30, 2011, passed both houses, allowing the legislature to save some programs through increased revenue instead of just eliminating programs. Sources of revenue suggested by the Governor in a tax plan she released last week include “sin” taxes on things such as cigarettes, candy, bottled water, things people choose to buy but are not necessities. Read the Governor’s letter and see the proposed tax changes at:

Other revenue suggestions have included raising sales tax across the board and eliminating tax loop-holes. We will watch to see which suggestions the House and Senate propose.

Halfway through session, only a third of bills we are tracking are still alive.

Last week we passed the deadline for bills to make it through their first round of committees in the chamber they originated in. Those that made it through their “House of Origin” now go through the process again in the other chamber. Most will start in the policy committee, then go to the fiscal one if there is money attached to it. The House cut-off is February 23rd for policy committees and February 25th for fiscal ones. The Senate policy committee deadline is February 26th and their fiscal committee deadline is March 1st. March 5th is the last day for bills to get passed in either chamber. The chart of bills we have been monitoring now has one page of bills that are still alive and two pages of bills that died. To see the status of the bills currently, check out our Bills of Interest at:

This Wednesday is the big Advocacy Day rally!

This Wednesday, February 24th, is the Independent Living Day Rally. Last year we had over 700 people attend the rally. Our goal this year is to get at least 1,000 people there. If you still have your scarf, don't forget to wear it this week. A limited supply of scarves will be handed out to advocates at the rally so plan to attend this Wednesday. Help legislators recognize our blue scarves signifying the need to fund community services as our choice (currently the only state funded choice is a Residential Habilitation Center or RHC). To learn more about Advocacy Day go to

What can you do to help?

Please remember to thank legislators for the work they are doing. They are getting a lot of negativity from people who don’t want to have taxes raised. The reality is that 70% of the state budget protected by our constitution or by federal rules, the only real place to cut is in human services. These are long, difficult days for legislators who must make hard decisions and will never make everyone happy. Let your legislators know you appreciate their dedication.

Announcements for the Olympia Insider issues, the Olympia Insider Podcasts and Action Alerts are sent via The Arc of Washington State Action E-list at You can sign up there and the e-list makes it very easy for you to let your legislators know what is most important to you. When bills or budget items need emails or phone calls targeted to your legislator you will receive an email with basic information about the issues and a suggested email you can revise or just send that will go directly to your legislator from you with just the click of a button.

Watch for Action Alerts on the budget this week. Your voice will be important as legislators come down to these final weeks. Legislative session ends on March 11th. You can also use letters, phone calls, email and personal visits to make sure your opinions on the bills or budget items you are most concerned about are heard. This week’s budget proposals and their public hearings will be critical to what services will continue and what programs will be eliminated, your legislators need to hear from you.

Don't forget to check the Olympia Insider website ( every week for new podcasts, and to subscribe using iTunes or another RSS tool in order to be notified automatically when something new is posted. Remember you can download these to your video-enabled handheld devices!

Episode 8: Budget Priorities - Director of Financial Management, Victor Moore sits down with the Olympia Insider to discuss budget priorities and the good financial sense of bringing people with developmental disabilities home to their communities, neighborhoods and schools.

Change is made by those who show up, in person, by phone or by email.

Diana Stadden
The Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator