OLYMPIA — On Thursday, following the bipartisan Senate coalition’s presentation of a new budget proposal, Gov. Christine Gregoire abruptly canceled more than 50 scheduled bill-signing ceremonies and threatened to veto bills if legislators fail to negotiate a supplemental state operating budget on her terms.
Today Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, cautioned Gregoire about playing politics with several bipartisan bills, including those related to preventing the sexual exploitation of children and others of high importance to the developmental-disabilities community.
“Some issues should be above politics,” said Delvin. “We may not agree on how best to address the budget, but DD advocates worked hard during the session for the passage of bills that address their community’s specific needs. They don’t deserve to have those bills held hostage just because the governor hasn’t gotten her way on the budget.”
Delvin is a sponsor of Senate Bill 6157, one of the DD-related measures that was scheduled for signing on Thursday, then inexplicably pulled from the schedule. SB 6157, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, would require counties to develop an intake and risk-assessment standard to determine whether a juvenile admitted to a county juvenile-detention facility is developmentally disabled.
Delvin is also concerned about SB 6384, scheduled for signing Monday, which would give individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to transition to a community-access program after enrolling in an employment program.
“This is a huge bill for the DD community,” said Delvin. “They are rightfully outraged by the thought that this bill-signing may be canceled. The governor’s office still has it on the schedule, but we were reminded yesterday how quickly that can change.
“Numerous members of the DD community are planning to make the trip across the state to attend the ceremony Monday, but I’d suggest they continue to check the governor’s website. If there’s some new development about the budget that morning that she disagrees with again, who knows what the reaction will be?”
Delvin’s comments came in response to a letter (see attached) from Sharon Adolphsen, coordinator for the Benton Franklin Parent Coalition – an organization that helps parents, family members, and guardians become effective advocates for their family members and others who have developmental disabilities.
Delvin also expressed concern about whether the governor will sign a series of bills passed by the Legislature this session to address the issue of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry that often takes advantage of the most vulnerable members of our society – our children, and even those with mental or developmental disabilities,” said Delvin.
“Fighting this horrific crime is a nonpartisan issue, and the package of bills to address this issue was introduced and supported by a bipartisan coalition of legislators; most if not all of the bills were passed unanimously.”
Delvin encouraged the public to contact the governor to voice their opinions. “The message is simple: The governor should commit to signing all of the anti- trafficking and anti-child exploitation bills that passed the Legislature this year and resist playing politics with the lives and safety of our children.”