Dear Friends and neighbors:
Eight weeks of session and two major deadlines in this year’s legislative calendar have passed. Bills not voted on by March 7th are no longer active but can be considered again next year. Now the bills have to make it out of the committees by Friday, the 25th and then the full Senate by Tuesday, April 12th before the governor can sign any of them into law. You can follow the progress of all bills here.
Constituent participation is still high and it’s great to have so much information from the district. Be sure to contact me with questions, ideas or suggestions so you can be provided accurate, up-to-date information.
Sen. Margarita Prentice
Monitoring Events in Japan
Mary Selecky, our Secretary of the Department of Health sent the following message to Legislators:
The people of Japan continue to struggle in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami last week, rocked by aftershocks and fighting to control damage to the nuclear plants at Fukushima. It’s clearly unsettling to see pictures and video, and read news accounts of what’s happening there.
The Washington Department of Health projects that these events pose no health risk to people in Washington. Public health radiation protection staff will continue monitoring air as a precaution.
There have been media reports of radiation releases near the plants in Japan, yet no radioactive material has reached the upper atmosphere where it could be blown around the world, and here. Even if that eventually happens, the material would have to travel nearly 5,000 miles before reaching our state, and would be diluted by air, wind, gravity, rain, and distance. We might be able to detect small amounts of radiation above normal levels, but well below any health risk.
The biggest challenge we’re managing right now is a public demand for potassium iodide, also known by its chemical name, KI. We absolutely do not recommend KI for anyone as a result of the situation in Japan. We’ve got lots of information on our website on this, and it’s updated daily. We urge you to read and share it with friends and family who ask what state health officials say about potassium iodide and other issues around the disaster in Japan.
Health related questions on this situation may be referred to our emergency preparedness mail box, firstname.lastname@example.org. We urge you to check the Department of Health’s Newsroom website (www.doh.wa.gov/Topics/japan2011.htm) for updated information.
DSHS Pilot project to evaluate Service Delivery
Beginning this Monday, March 14, the Department of Social and Health Services will begin a two-week pilot project to evaluate Customer Service. Service hours will be limited at local Community Services Offices and the statewide customer call center. The intent is to give frontline workers time to follow through with paperwork, phone calls, etc. in order to successfully process casework. Allowing more time during the work day should reduce errors, fraud, and potential federal sanctions. Recently, the rise in caseloads and casework, combined with staff reductions has had a major negative impact on workloads.
Changes affecting clients:
Beginning March 14th, walk-in services and appointments for most client interactions in local offices will be available until 2:00 pm. Clients who have checked-in by 2:00 pm will be served. Clients can still speak with a case worker during normal business hours (8 am to 5 pm) to ensure that emergent situations can be addressed.
Phone services will be available until 2:00 pm, and calls that are in the queue will be answered.
Services that continue to be available:
Lobbies will remain open until 5:00 pm with limited services, such as lobby “navigators” who can answer questions about services. Clients can also drop off or pick up paperwork or go to a lobby kiosk to submit an on-line application. Administrative hearings, co-located partners, and certain specialized staff functions will continue business as usual.
For more information contact the Community Services Division at 1-800-865-7801
Duwamish River Cleanup Continues
You may have noticed that some of the old Boeing Plant 2 building has been demolished. This is a huge step forward in the Duwamish River Cleanup and restoration of the site. The Boeing Company will pay to remove the contaminated mud from the river in the upland areas below the old facility.
Skyway/West Hill Development
I have submitted my official funding request for the West Hill/Skyway project in the City of Renton. City officials have done a remarkable job of developing a plan for an area that is struggling right now because of poor and/or lack of infrastructure, etc. The City has also formed numerous partnerships that will make it a better place to live and do business.
Seattle International Film Festival in Renton
The City of Renton will host the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival! SIFF, the most highly-attended film festival in the U.S., is scheduled for May 19-June 12th. Locations and programming will be announced later this spring. In 2010, the festival had a record-breaking year, presenting 408 U.S. and international films in 25 days, with 73 world premieres and more than 600 screenings and special events. Many movies shown during the festival are first-run movies, which are purchased by distribution companies and later shown at larger theaters throughout the U.S. Some, however, can only be seen during the festival. Find out more and see this year’s line of films, at www.siff.net
Alaskan Way Viaduct to close for semiannual inspection
Crews will close the Alaskan Way Viaduct this weekend, March 19th and 20th for its semiannual inspection. The viaduct conditions are reviewed every three months and full inspections are every six months to measure any new damage or movement. Routine maintenance is also performed including cleaning the Battery Street Tunnel, repairing damaged concrete and striping lanes.
Both directions of SR 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and S. Spokane Street will be closed from:
- 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 19th
- 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 20th
Drivers should expect increased congestion on all major north-south routes and plan accordingly. You can check traffic conditions at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic before leaving home.