Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back from the dead: SHB 1997 lives again!

Legislation that can save 4Culture and its support of arts and heritage in King County is still being considered in Olympia, during the 2011 Special Session.

On April 26th SHB 1997, "by resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status" in the House of Representatives.

There will not be any public hearings, but as we've mentioned before, we may well need advocates to speak up once again to their legislators and fellow advocates to let them know that this is it - our last chance to save our most valuable funding resource for culture in King County. Get ready - it's comin'!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Its beginning to look a lot like special session

We know many advocates have been wondering What is happening to the legislation that supports funding for 4Culture? Don't lose hope, there is still an opportunity for 4Culture to be saved. 

The 2011 legislative session is set to end this Sunday, April 24th, but most folks, including Governor Gregoire, think they won't finish by that date and will have to go into special session

It seems likely that legislators will opt to wrap up a bit of business this Friday and take a break this weekend. Hopefully, they will come back refreshed and ready to revisit SHB 1997 and SSB 5834. This will be their last chance to save funding for arts and heritage in King County. 

For those interested in how the special session works, check out one of our favorite blogs, Many Words for Rain

Stay tuned, stay positive and be ready to advocate in the next 30 days!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fight back!

Legislators in Olympia are working hard to keep working on bills that would save 4Culture. We will keep you posted as we know more, but it looks like one or both of our bills are being revived through the current budget! Yay! But meanwhile, uninformed folks are flooding the media streams and comment threads with anti-art, anti-job, anti-King County messages that could threaten to turn political will against us.

Please take action in the next day or so to turn the comment threads around. Here are four articles [The Seattle TimesThe News TribuneThe Seattle PI and Crosscut], please craft a super short, cogent, pro-art, pro-legislation, pro-job creation, pro-economic stimulus message and post it. Some suggestions are below... but make them personal and to the point. you don't have to say everything. Just say something true and from the heart.

Some examples:

"saying these are "stadium taxes" is misleading,these taxes are primarily on visitors, and were formerly used to pay for stadiums, but the new use would be job creation and tourism promotion, not stadiums. A worthy investment in these tough times."

"This article is inaccurate... not all the taxes outlined in 1997 are set to expire. For example, lodging taxes don't expire - they're ongoing, it's just their current project (the stadiums) are about to be paid off and the legislature gets to decide what to do with them next.  I think this is a smart plan -- allow them to continue to fund art, heritage, tourism activities and the like."

"These are tourist taxes collected in King County and should be used for things that bring in more tourism and grow this industry in the County and the State. Arts, heritage, and tourism promotion and a convention center expansion have a strong nexus."

"This legislation deserves to be heard. These taxes, collected in King County, will be invested in programs that will impact a wide and diverse array of people throughout King County. We need the jobs in this state that would come from this legislation..."

"I think the activities supported in HB 1997 are a great idea. Smart thinking! We need these tax investments to get our economy growing again."

"Blah blah blah - "locals pay for restaurants too"... yeah... I'm sure that extra nickle on your $10 lunch really hurts."

"I am proud to be part of the cultural community that would create jobs and tourism/arts activities because of the programs outlined in HB 1997. Arguments that you don't use these services don't hold up.  I don't have kids but I pay for your kid's schools. This is how a civilized society works. We help each other out. We do things that support the greater good. We're raising the quality of life here for all. We're drawing tourists to spend their money here, that will fill the tax coffers for the whole state."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Washington State Legislature civics lesson continues

Yesterday was the cutoff date for the House and Senate to agree to move bills out of committee.

The House Ways & Means Committee did not act yesterday on Substitute Senate Bill 5834 (SSB 5834) that would have permitted King County to continue directing an existing portion of local lodging taxes to programs for arts and heritage via 4Culture.  So SSB 5834 died yesterday in committee.

The Senate Ways & Means Committee voted by roll call yesterday on Substitute House Bill 1997 (SHB 1997) that would have provided economic development in King County by funding tourism promotion, workforce housing, art and heritage programs (via 4Culture) and community development. With 22 committee members, a bill must receive 12 yes signatures to pass the committee. SHB 1997 received 11 yes signatures and 9 no signatures yesterday. Two committee members, Senators Hatfield and Tom, were absent. Without the necessary 12 signatures, SHB 1997 died yesterday in committee.

SSB 5834 and SHB 1997 are not the only avenues for working with the Legislature to secure the future of 4Culture funding. State and County elected officials are already working with 4Culture staff, board and champions to determine the next best steps. While these bills may have "died" in committee yesterday, there are scenarios where they could be resurrected, and their provisions are still very much alive, including future funding for 4Culture.

While it is frustrating to have come so close to getting SHB 1997 out of committee, the advocacy actions by King County's cultural community have not been in vain. It is unlikely the bill would have even had a chance to pass the committee without our advocacy. Legislators and their staffs have stated on multiple occasions that the timely, strategic and high-volume actions of the arts and heritage community. No one in Olympia is questioning the commitment and political will of our community to ensure 4Culture's future.

Thank you for everything you have done to act on that commitment, and for being ready and willing to do it again as soon as next steps are clear.

Friday, April 1, 2011

update - it ain't over - stay tuned

After an "avalanche" of calls and emails from advocates, the Ways and Means Committee vote is too close to call at 11 to 9, with 2 absentees outstanding. It all comes down to Senators Brian Hatfield (D) and Rodney Tom (D), one of whom must sign the bill before the end of the day to keep 4Culture alive. We'll let you know as soon as we do, so stay tuned...

URGENT - calls and emails needed before 1pm today

Here at the Advocate4Culture HQ, we received word a few hours ago that we need to contact ALL the members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee immediately. All of them. Whether you are specifically their constituent or not. 

This is urgent - votes are too close for comfort. The committee will be voting on SHB 1997 TODAY in their 1:30 meeting in executive session. So we only have a few hours to let them hear from us. The bill must pass out of this committee to survive.

Please make phone calls now. Or email the legislators. The messages don't need to be long, they need to be numerous. 

Just say: "Please support SHB 1997.  Arts and heritage are important economic drivers in King County."

Here are names and numbers. Calling all of them and leaving quick messages takes 20 minutes, emailing only takes 5. If you have to prioritize, start with the Democrats (D).

Do it! It’s worth it:

Pridemore, Craig (D)
(360) 786-7696

Regala, Debbie
(360) 786-7652
Rockefeller, Phil (D)
(360) 786-7644
(360) 786-7694 
Murray, Ed (D) Chair
(360) 786-7628
Kilmer, Derek (D) Vice Chair, Capital Budget Chair
(360) 786-7650
Brown, Lisa (D)  
(360) 786-7604
Conway, Steve (D)  

  (360) 786-7656
(360) 786-7642 (360) 786-7636 (360) 786-7648 (360) 786-7664 (360) 786-7670 (360) 786-7634
Parlette, Linda Evans (R) Ranking Minority Member Capital
(360) 786-7622 (360) 786-7610 (360) 786-7606 (360) 786-7630 (360) 786-7624 (360) 786-7684 (360) 786-7608 (360) 786-7620

If you'd prefer to email, here are the emails for each of the members.

Then copy and paste the following message….

I support passage of SHB 1997, and I want you to vote for it today in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Arts and heritage are important economic drivers in King County.

And then press Send. That’s really easy, no? Phone calls are better, but emails are good.

OR DO BOTH. Overkill is totally okay here…

Thank you, let’s get this done.

Advocate4Culture Coalition