Posted by: wadahp | January 5, 2011

HERITAGE CAUCUS BEGINS BRIGHT & EARLY ON JANUARY 12

With the 2011 Legislative Session opening on Tuesday January 11, the first meeting of the Heritage Caucus is set for 7:00 am on Wednesday, January 12 and on each Wednesday thereafter throughout the session. Many of you are already familiar with the Heritage Caucus and are regular participants at the 7 am meetings. For others, the Caucus meetings present an excellent opportunity to be introduced to the legislative process, meet participating Legislators involved in heritage and the arts; and get informed on bills as they work their way through the legislative process.

While always an interesting and important forum for learning about heritage and arts issues, in 2011 the Caucus meetings will take on added emphasis given the need to resolve the State’s budget crisis, now at $4.6 billion over projected revenue. Already, Governor Gregoire’s proposed budget for the coming 2011-13 biennium affects the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation as well as the State Historical Societies, Washington State Parks, and practically all other State supported agencies and programs. Resolving the budget crunch will be decided by the Governor and legislators during the session.

This year is a 105-day session, which means the development and passage of the biennial budget. The budget will be the main focus of the Legislature this session, with a projected shortfall of around $5 billion. We will be reserving significant Caucus time for discussions related to the budget and implementation policies.

This year, Senator Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside returns as Caucus Co-Chair who will be joined by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim. Caucus meetings are open to the public and are held in meeting rooms ABC in the John Cherberg Building on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

Following is more information about the Heritage Caucus courtesy of Mark Vessey of the Washington State Historical Society and shares Caucus staffing duties with Mark Gerth of the State Arts Commission. Contact Mark at Mvessey@wshs.wa.gov if you would like to be added to his email list for Caucus meeting agendas and related information.

Legislative Session:

Agenda: Each meeting begins with a co-chair gaveling us to order; then all attendees introduce themselves. A short bill report includes updates on bills of interest to the Caucus, and other attendees contribute information as needed. Following the bill report and any discussion, the Caucus usually hears one or two presentations, each 10-15 minutes long.

Bill Tracking: Mark Gerth will continue to try to identify bills of interest to the Caucus and maintain a bill status list to be distributed each week. If a bill impacts your organization or program directly, we encourage you to track it and briefly report at the Caucus. We cannot provide detailed information on every bill.

Presentations: Send presentation proposals to Mark Vessey. As a reminder, presentations need to be 10 minutes or less, and must fit into one of the following prioritized categories:

  • · Immediate policy issues; pending legislation; current initiatives
  • · Relevant or upcoming policy issues; proposed future legislation or initiatives
  • · Overviews of agency and heritage organization activity (current exhibits, programs, etc.)
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