May 19, 2011

Consolidation, RHC, Corrections, Mental Hospital bills moving at warp speed - we need to mobilize to oppose or raise concerns

It seems improbable, but some in the Legislature think they can finish business by the scheduled end of the 30-day special session that ends next Wednesday, May 25.

To that end, many bad or troubling bills are coming up for quickly called hearings with little time for review or notice to give testimony.

That’s the case with four important bills affecting thousands of Federation members and the citizens they serve.

Because things are moving quickly, here is a quick run down with calls to action:


The bad bill consolidating “back office” functions and information technology services, ESSB 5931, is set for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee, tomorrow, Friday, May 20, at 9 a.m., in Senate Hearing Room 4 in the John A. Cherberg Building. A final committee vote is also possible.
  • CALL TO ACTION:  Call your two House members at 1-800-562-6000. Tell them to oppose ESSB 5931. Honor the collective bargaining rights of workers moving into the new Consolidated Technology Services (CTS) agencyAnd tell them to honor the law on contracting out/competitive contracting in the proposed new Department of Enterprise Services (DES) and CTS. The laws on bargaining and competitive contracting work. Oppose these Wisconsin-style attacks that erode basic worker rights in this state.

The troubling Corrections bill (SB 5891) passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday on a vote of 12-8. It’s poised for action by the full Senate today. It is tentatively scheduled for a hearing tomorrow in the same 9 a.m. House Ways and Means Committee hearing with a final committee vote possible.

The bad provisions in SB 5891 include risky early release provisions.
  • CALL TO ACTION:  Call your legislators to oppose SB 5891. Tell them to put safety before savings and oppose the provisions on early release of offenders. With the massive cuts taken by Corrections in recent years, we don’t need this.

The residential habilitation centers (RHC) transition bill, ESSB 5459, got a quick hearing and was voted out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday.

As it stands, ESSB 5459 would:
  • Close Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton by Dec. 31, 2011.
  • Remove the statutory authority for the remaining RHCs (Yakima Valley School, Rainier School, Fircrest School and Lakeland Village) and say that they “may” (not shall) be operated by the state. But the bill would seemingly block DSHS from any further consolidations other than closing the Morgan Center, except what might be recommended by a task force set up under the bill. That task force of legislators, the administration, the Federation and SEIU would start Sept. 1, 2011, and make yearly reports on the long-term capacity of the RHCs.
  • Halt admissions to Yakima Valley School unless it’s a crisis situation.
  • Stop admissions of anyone under age 16 by July 1, 2012.
With the lack of details, the Federation raised strong concerns – mainly because of errors in versions presented to the committee that no one was really sure what was in the proposal they voted on.
“It seems like we’re only discriminating against DD (developmentally disabled) people,” said Julianne Moore (above), president of Local 1326 and worker at Yakima Valley School in Selah.
Federation Lobbyist Matt Zuvich said something so massive shouldn’t be rushed through. “Moving forward without a clear plan is not looking out for the folks we need to be looking out for,” Zuvich told the committee.
  • CALL TO ACTION:  Call your legislators members at 1-800-562-6000 and tell them SB 5459 has improved but the changes are too massive to try wrap up with so little time left in this session. Too many lives are at stake – let’s take the time to get it right.

Also on the agenda for Friday’s 9 a.m. House Ways and Means Committee meeting is a hearing on SSB 5114, the bill that would close a forensics intake unit at Western State Hospital in Lakewood and farm the work out to Pierce County.
  • CALL TO ACTION: Call your two House members at 1-800-562-6000 and urge them to oppose SSB 5114. Closing this intake unit at Western State Hospital endangers the community and unfairly shifts the burden to county government.

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