May 19, 2011

Sea of AFSCME GREEN needed at Capitol starting Friday morning

The word is legislators will race to finish business by the end of their 30-day special session next Wednesday, so key decisions on bills and the budget will be made between now and then.

So it’s critical that with everything at stake that lawmakers see Federation members in AFSCME Green up until the final bell.
We encourage you to turn out for the House Ways and Means Committee hearing, 9 a.m., Friday morning, in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the John A. Cherberg Building. The committee is set to take up three bills of concern to us: SSB 5114 – Closing a forensics intake ward at Western State Hospital; SB 5891 – The Corrections bill that may put savings before community safety; and ESSB 5931 – the bill to contract out jobs and trample collective bargaining rights in the consolidation of “back office” duties and information technology.

And it’s likely lawmakers will be meeting over the weekend - just show up at the Capitol. We will try to post online if the House and/or Senate are meeting over the weekend.

Monday and Tuesday. If you can make it on any of those days – particularly starting Monday -- please register now:

It looks like we’re in the home stretch. Let’s continue to put people first and fight for quality services and against throwing you and your rights under the bus.

We gave you calls to action in our last message. But since then, the Senate has passed three key bills of concern to you:

RESIDENTIAL HABILITATION CENTERS - The Senate on Thursday voted 35-11 to pass and send to the House the residential habilitation center transition bill (2SSB 5459). This is the bill that still closes Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton.
“We have unfairly settled on the smallest (facility) but not the most expensive,” said Sen. Phil Rockefeller of the 23rd District, who opposed 5459.

Supporters claim parents and guardians can still choose to keep their children or dependents in an RHC. Senators rejected two proposed amendments authored by Sen. Maralyn Chase of the 32nd District, including one keeping all RHCs open until “sufficient community options” are available.

Chase called the bill an “expensive social experiment.”
“It is not in the best interests of the residents of the RHCs,” she said.

CORRECTIONS - The Senate passed ESSB 5891, the Corrections bill that Federation members have pressed legislators on because of its early release provisions. It also eliminates tolling in community supervision and eliminates 83 Community Corrections officers. The bill passed 29-17.

NATURAL RESOURCES - The Senate on Thursday also passed E2SSB 5669 to consolidate some back office functions in natural resource agencies. Senators OK’d an amendment loosening up the requirement that Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources consolidate into no more than four regions; they’ll only have to that if the Legislature next year directs them to. The bill also calls for co-location of agencies. The bill passed 27-19. To be clear, this bill does not merge the agencies; that plan from the governor died long ago.

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