Dear Friends and neighbors:
This is the end of the 6th week of a 105 day session and the first deadline, commonly referred to as a 'cutoff,' is today. Bills that did not have enough votes to get out of committee will not see any further action. The next two weeks begin another important phase of the legislative process. The next cut off is March 7th - the last day for the House and Senate to vote on their own bills. The committee process will begin again with the Senate hearing House bills until another cut off on March 25th.
It’s exciting that constituent participation is at an all time high as evidenced by the number of e-mails, hotlines and on campus visitors. It’s great to have this much interest and a serious reminder for legislators that the public is very aware of what’s going on here in Olympia. Be sure to contact me with questions, ideas and suggestions so you can be provided accurate, up-to-date information.
Sen. Margarita Prentice
More budget discussions
Against a backdrop of cuts made the past two years, and with tax revenues lagging behind, we continue to try to recover from the recession. But the threat of severe reductions and even eliminations loom over every public service the state provides. The task of balancing the budget is being done in careful, measured steps worked out by Democrats and Republicans in unison in both the Senate and the House. The first agreement came Tuesday in the form of early legislative action that shrinks the $550 million shortfall by $367 million for the rest of the 2011 budget that runs through June 30.
House Bill 1086 reduces public service expenditures by $242 million and transferred $125 million from other accounts. The remaining $5 billion shortfall will be an even larger challenge for the 2011-13 budget. Hopefully we can continue the bipartisan and bicameral cooperation we’ve achieved so far.
Good to Go! Passes, 520 Tolls and AWV
Do you drive SR 520? This Spring, DOT will begin pontoon construction for the new 520 bridge. About the same time, electronic tolling on the existing 520 will begin via Good to Go! passes or photo cameras. Pass users will pay a lower toll rate than those who pay by mail. If you activate a new Good to Go! Pass and pre-load it with the $30 minimum before April 15th, you’ll receive a $10 credit. February 18th, the Good to Go! Passes became available at area Safeway stores. Questions? Call 1-866-936-8246 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, don’t forget about the Alaskan Way Viaduct First Ave. Ramp demolition started Friday. Give yourself extra time and another route if heading into the Pioneer Square area.
First Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition takes place through this holiday weekend.
Contacts: Travis Phelps, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, 206-462-0554 (cell)
Greg Phipps, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program, 206-437-6314 (cell)
Demolition crews make quick work of SR 99 ramp - focus now on cleanup and relocating utilities on First Avenue S.
SEATTLE – The first piece of the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct has been demolished in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood, marking a milestone toward replacing the seismically vulnerable structure.
Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) fired up the demolition equipment at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, and spent the night crunching and breaking the nearly 60-year-old First Avenue S. northbound on-ramp into bits.
The remains of the former on-ramp are now in trucks bound for the recycling plants.
Although the majority of the demolition work is complete, there’s still much work to be done before Tuesday, Feb. 22, when crews plan to reopen First Avenue S. Crews will spend the next two days removing demolition debris from the roadway, removing the underground foundation of the old on-ramp and relocating utilities.
“The Legislature and our federal partners have worked long and hard to ensure funding was allocated to the viaduct replacement,” said Ron Paananen, WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Administrator. “This demolition shows that their efforts are paying off.”
Updated ramp and road closures on or near First Avenue S.
Crews reopened the southbound SR 99 off-ramp to S. Royal Brougham Way at 2:43 p.m. The remaining ramp work requires closures on two city streets.
- Through April 1 the northbound SR 99 on-ramp from First Avenue S. will be closed.
- Through 5 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22 First Avenue S. will be closed between S. Royal Brougham Way and S. King Street.
- Railroad Way S. will be closed between Occidental Avenue S. and S. King Street.
We will maintain access to local businesses while these streets are closed to through traffic. This work must be completed by April 1 to avoid substantial disruptions to traffic heading to the stadiums. Drivers can find out about regularly updated traffic information for downtown Seattle and SODO through the construction traffic update. The project’s website has more details about why we’re changing the ramp access and building an SR 99 detour and has maps that will help drivers navigate the changes. For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement program, visit www.alaskanwayviaduct.org. Real time traffic information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic or by dialing 5-1-1.
Job Fair for Youth
Youth ages 14-21 who live and/or go to school in Seattle are invited to attend a job fair sponsored by the Seattle Human Services Department. The fair will be held on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rainier Community Center in Seattle. Youth will have a chance to meet with potential employers and learn about post-secondary school opportunities.
The fair is a great opportunity for youth to network with potential employers, talk to representatives from colleges and universities, and to learn about a host of other community resources. Also offered are workshops on: Finding and Keeping a Job, What to do After Graduation, Career Interests/Resume Writing, Green Jobs, and Making a Career out of Helping in the Community. For more information, call the Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) at 206-386-1375.
Still looking for free tax help?
United Way of King County is offering free preparation and electronic filing for those earning $50,000 or less. IRS-trained and certified preparers are available at 18 Puget Sound locations. Call 1-800-621-4636 or check out unitedwayofkingcounty.org/taxhelp for details.
WIN - Washington Information Network
Confused about where to get community resource information? Call 211! The Washington Information Network (WIN), is a state-wide information system providing referrals to legal, housing, utility help, etc. Speak confidentially with a specialist by dialing 2-1-1 or via the web, www.211.org. Monday through Friday 8 AM -5PM. Get Connected, Get Answers – 211.
Please note: The majority of state agencies will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 22nd as part of the ongoing schedule of unpaid furloughs to reduce state operating costs, help close the revenue shortfall and balance the state budget.
It is always a pleasure to sponsor hometown students as Senate pages during the legislative session. If you know of a young person between 14 – 16 years old and interested in the program, please contact my office or visit: http://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Administration/PageProgram/senpageapplication.htm.