CFD donors pledge $5 million for 14th straight year ?>

CFD donors pledge $5 million for 14th straight year

Talk about an impressive streak.

For the 14th straight year, state and higher education employees and retirees have given more than $5 million annually through the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.

In 2016, nearly 16,400 Combined Fund Drive donors pledged $5.3 million to local, national and global charities. The CFD disbursed funds to more than 1,700 charities last year, including 71 that received at least $10,000.

The Combined Fund Drive is Washington’s workplace giving program for active and retired public employees. Since the CFD was established in 1984, its donors have given more than $135 million to local, national and global charities through payroll contributions and fundraising events. Employees and retirees can give through monthly contributions, one-time contributions or limited-time contributions.

The Combined Fund Drive joined the Office of Secretary of State in 2010.

“I continue to be amazed by the amount of money pledged by the thousands of donors in the Combined Fund Drive,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “It shows a strong, ongoing willingness by many state and higher education employees in Washington to give and help others. This makes a difference locally and throughout the world.

“Nonprofit organizations around the state are working every day for those in need, and it gives me great pride to be part of a program that helps bring them much-needed financial relief,” Wyman added.

Once again, the University of Washington topped all higher education institutions, bringing in nearly $2.3 million in pledges last year. Washington State University employees pledged more than $91,000, followed by Western Washington University (over $62,000). The top community or technical college in pledges was Seattle Community College – District 6 (nearly $34,000), followed by Bellingham Technical College (more than $21,000).

The Department of Social and Health Services again topped the list of state agencies, offering more than $545,000 in total pledged dollars. The Department of Transportation ranked second with more than $275,000 pledged, followed by the Department of Corrections (more than $193,000).

Making financial donations isn’t the only way the CFD enables state and high education employees to contribute. The CFD is the only public giving program that tracks volunteer hours. The estimated average dollar value for volunteer time in Washington state is more than $28 per hour. This means that state and higher ed employees saved charities in their communities more than $300,000 in paid staff time during 2016.

Go here to view CFD’s 2016 Annual Report.

Presidential Primary bill will encourage more voter participation, says Wyman ?>

Presidential Primary bill will encourage more voter participation, says Wyman

Secretary of State Wyman testifies before a House committee on her bill to move Washington’s Presidential Primary from May to March. 

It’s time for Washington to move its Presidential Primary earlier in the year so the state has a more relevant role in choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees, Secretary of State Kim Wyman told a House panel.

Wyman testified Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government, Elections and Information Technology Committee on Senate Bill 5333, a bipartisan proposal prime-sponsored by Sen. Mark Miloscia, chair of the Senate State Government Committee. The Senate passed the measure 34-15 earlier this session.

The bill would modify the state’s Presidential Primary, including moving its date from the fourth Tuesday in May to the second Tuesday in March.

“The proposed changes in SB 5333 address three key barriers to participation we see in the current law and provides some flexibility for regional primaries with other western states,” Wyman told legislators.

“First, an earlier Presidential Primary date in March will improve the relevance of the event in the national nominating process by allowing Washington voters to vote earlier in the process.

“Second, restoring the ability for voters to cast an unaffiliated ballot in addition to the Democrat and Republican declarations will provide the opportunity for many more voters to have their voices heard, while still preserving the political parties’ confidence that those casting a party ballot are members of their respective parties.

“Third, we want to improve our ability to remove candidates that have left or suspended their campaigns and remove their names from the ballots before they are printed. This will help instill more voter confidence that the primary is meaningful.”

Wyman told the committee that Washington has the third-highest number of electoral votes west of the Mississippi River, “yet our state rarely gets presidential candidates to come here and campaign. Candidates visit our state to raise money, not hear what is important to our state’s voters.”

Under the measure, the votes of unaffiliated voters would be tallied separately from party votes. Washington’s Presidential Primary allowed unaffiliated votes until the 2008 primary.

“A key reason why we saw a drop in turnout for our Presidential Primary last year is because voters have to request either a Democratic or Republican ballot, and many voters don’t want to be affiliated with any party. Restoring the unaffiliated option will boost voter turnout,” Wyman said.

The bill would also allow removal of candidates from the ballot if they die, withdraw or suspend their campaign prior to the election. Last year, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson dropped out of the race nearly three months before Washington’s Presidential Primary, but the state Elections Division could not remove Carson’s name from the ballot because Carson did not submit a Withdrawal of Candidacy.

Historic Washington women: Jennifer Dunn and Jolene Unsoeld ?>

Historic Washington women: Jennifer Dunn and Jolene Unsoeld

Harley Soltes / The Seattle Times

But Jennifer Dunn and Jolene Unsoeld shared something in common. Each one, in her own way, influenced Washington’s political landscape before even taking office in Congress.

In 1981, Dunn became the first female chair of the Washington State Republican Party, a position she held for 11 years before being elected to the 8th Congressional District seat in 1992. During her time in D.C., Dunn became the highest-ranking woman in Congress as vice chair of the House Republican Conference. She and Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent (yes, the former Seahawks great) joined forces to give the Republican response to President Clinton’s State of the Union Address in 1999. Dunn retired from Congress in 2004 and died in 2007 at age 66.

Dunn is the subject of a biography, “A Woman First: The Impact of Jennifer Dunn,” written by Legacy Washington Director Trova Heffernan. You can read other Legacy Washington biographies and profiles by going here.

U.S. Rep. Jolene Unsoeld chats with a girl in 1990.

Unsoeld made her name in Olympia as an unpaid lobbyist who championed open government. In the early 1970s, she helped lead the successful campaign for Initiative 276, which created Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission. Unsoeld also wrote a book, “Who Gave? Who Got? How Much?” that analyzed campaign contributions. After serving four years in the state House of Representatives, Unsoeld in 1988 became only the third woman ever elected to Congress from Washington state. Unsoeld, a Democrat, represented the 3rd Congressional District for six years before being defeated in 1994 by Linda Smith. Unsoeld lives in the Olympia area.

Unsoeld was featured last year in Legacy Washington’s Who Are We? profile series and exhibit about extraordinary Washingtonians. The Unsoeld biography was penned by John C. Hughes, chief historian for Legacy Washington.

We’re remembering Dunn and Unsoeld and their contributions to Washington as part of Women’s History Month.

From the WA State Digital Archives: 1939 bill-signing photo ?>

From the WA State Digital Archives: 1939 bill-signing photo

Gov. Clarence Martin signs a bill into law in 1939 as Secretary of State Belle Reeves (seated on left) and female legislators watch. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives)

We’ve reached that point of the legislative session when Gov. Jay Inslee starts signing bills into law.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re sharing a Washington State Digital Archives photograph from 1939 that depicts a bill-signing ceremony. This shot shows Gov. Clarence Martin signing into law House Bill 300, accompanied by a female legislative delegation. Signed into law on March 9, 1939, the “50/50 Law” was an opportunity for women to have a larger share in political party leadership. The law guaranteed that the chairman and vice chairman of each political party’s county and state committees are of the opposite sexes. Many saw this as way to level the playing field and have a higher degree of political representation throughout our state’s local precincts and legislative districts.

The women in the photo were notable for a variety of reasons. Ella Wintler, standing on the far right, is the only Republican in the picture. Julia Butler Hansen was the leader of the centrist Democrats in 1939, the party responsible for the defeat of the construction of a labor camp memorial in Yakima County. Belle Reeves, sitting on the left, was the first woman to serve as Washington’s Secretary of State and the second woman to hold a statewide office in any state.

Here in Washington, we are proud of our diverse participation in politics; altogether, this delegation made up the nation’s largest number of female legislators at the time. For more information on Reeves or members of the 1939 female legislative delegation, visit the Washington State Archives.

Be sure to tune in for potential Bill Action as bills begin to finalize status and are sent to Gov. Inslee. Please visit the Legislative Information Center for more information on vetoes, the legislative process, and the organization of Washington state government.

This photo was found on the Washington State Digital Archives website in the Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990. This collection consists of 9,103 images taken by or incorporated into the collections of Jeffers Studios, Merle Junk, and Ron Allen, from 1889 to 1990. When combined, these prominent Olympia photographers’ careers spanned from early 1903 into the 1990s, and all contracted with the State of Washington to take government-related photographs that include state government officials, legislators, construction of state government buildings in Olympia, and other significant events.

Historic Washington women: Lillian Walker and Bonnie Dunbar ?>

Historic Washington women: Lillian Walker and Bonnie Dunbar

Civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker (Photos courtesy of Legacy Washington)

March is Women’s History Month, and you don’t have to look far to find amazing and in-depth stories about notable Washington women who have left their mark.

We’re proud that our Legacy Washington team has produced several outstanding biographies and oral histories on women who were trailblazers in one way or another.

We’re remembering two pioneering women, one in civil rights, the other in space exploration.

Long before Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks gained fame, Lillian Walker and her husband, James, were organizing and “educating” Bremerton residents about racial equality. They staged sit-ins and pickets, and eventually integrated lunch counters and other business establishments, worked with schools and promoted equality through their YWCA, NAACP, their church, and other organizations. Lillian passed away in 2012 at age 98.

To learn more about the civil rights leader, read the biography and oral history about her, “Lillian Walker: Civil rights pioneer,” written, by John C. Hughes, chief historian for Legacy Washington.

Bonnie Dunbar, the first female astronaut from Washington.

Bonnie Dunbar grew up in the Yakima Valley and graduated from Sunnyside High School before becoming the first female astronaut from Washington and only the seventh American woman ever to fly in space when she was part of a space shuttle mission in 1985. Dunbar flew in five space flights, logging more than 1,200 hours in space.

Go here to read the profile on the space scientist, entitled “Bonnie J. Dunbar, PhD: An adventurous mind.” It’s written by Legacy Washington Director Trova Heffernan.

You can find other biographies and profiles by Legacy Washington on noteworthy Washington women (and men) by going here.

See how the State Library helps Washington communities ?>

See how the State Library helps Washington communities

You might think the Washington State Library primarily serves as a great place to access rare books or collections about our state or the Northwest that usually are unavailable elsewhere.

But the State Library, located in Tumwater, also benefits many communities throughout Washington. It’s the only agency in Washington that is specifically designated by law to assist libraries and to ensure that Washington residents have access to library and information services. The State Library achieves these goals by using federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, and offering projects, consulting services, grants, subsidies and training to improve libraries throughout Washington.

“Our State Library plays a key role in assisting local libraries throughout Washington, from providing grants to helping make free Imagine Academy training available to patrons, to providing educational materials that libraries use for youth programs,” said State Librarian Cindy Aden. “We enjoy our partnership with local libraries and helping them, so they can better serve their communities throughout Washington.”

From Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, local libraries in Washington received more than $1.1 million in LSTA grants and subsidies, and more than 2,300 individuals received training such as the Microsoft Imagine Academy and LEGO Mindstorms.

To get a better idea of how the State Library helps our communities, it recently compiled fact sheets to illustrate funding and other support from WSL to libraries across the state. They include Legislative District Fact Sheets and Congressional District Fact Sheets, as well as a Statewide Impact Fact Sheet.

You can learn more about how the State Library helps Washington communities by going here.

If you have a question that’s tough to answer, try the State Library’s Ask a Librarian feature. You can ask your question via e-mail or chat from 8 to 5 weekdays.

State Archives receives political icon Dan Evans’ scrapbooks ?>

State Archives receives political icon Dan Evans’ scrapbooks

One of Dan Evans’ scrapbooks includes this 1972 photo of Evans, then Washington’s governor, meeting with President Nixon (middle) and California Gov. Ronald Reagan (left) prior to a news conference at the White House.  

As the official repository for state government records, the Washington State Archives is quite accustomed to receiving valuable documents.

But once in awhile, the State Archives acquires something so rare, so remarkable that even the most grizzled, seen-it-all archivist can’t help but be wowed by its contents.

That was the case last week when the State Archives hit the historic jackpot: 37 scrapbooks belonging to legendary Washington political icon Dan Evans.

The scrapbooks cover Evans’ political career, from his years as a state legislator in the 1950s and early ‘60s to his 12 years as governor from 1965 to 1977, to his five-plus years as a U.S. senator in the 1980s.

A scrapbook includes a late 1960s Tacoma News Tribune story about Evans visiting African-American leaders in Tacoma.  (more…)

Hey, put me down! ?>

Hey, put me down!

Two skiers at Mount Rainier in 1940s. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives)

If you’re looking to go somewhere for winter recreation that has jaw-dropping views and can take your breath away (or at least make you pant a little bit due to the altitude), try Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park.

Located on the south side of Rainier, Paradise offers a snow play area for tubers and plastic disc riders. Paradise also is a popular place for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and even snow camping.

You can learn about Mount Rainier’s winter ecology by taking a ranger-led snowshoe walk and viewing the Jackson Visitor Center exhibits and film. The ranger-led snowshoe walks take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. through March 23. You can sign up one hour beforehand inside the Jackson Visitor Center. Limit is 25 people.

If you choose to drive up to Paradise, bring tire chains and dress warmly.

As the State Digital Archives photo above shows, Paradise has been a popular winter recreational destination for many years.  This photo, taken in the early 1940s, shows a boy putting a female skier on his shoulder.

The shot is part of the Progress Commission Photographs collection, which (more…)

WA state politics forum draws crowd ?>

WA state politics forum draws crowd

Secretary Wyman (left) with Cornell Clayton, Todd Donovan, Sen. Hans Zeiger, Maria Chavez and Nicholas Lovrich after the forum ended. 

A panel discussion on the state of politics in our Washington attracted a standing-room-only crowd at a public forum Friday on the Capitol Campus.

The public forum was co-hosted by the Office of Secretary of State and Washington State University’s Foley Institute.

The symposium included a panel discussion on the latest developments in Washington state politics, including the state’s political culture, elections, the Legislature, and demographics and immigration.

Panelists included Washington State University professor emeritus Nicholas Lovrich, Pacific Lutheran University political science professor Maria Chavez, Western Washington University political science professor Todd Donovan and 25th Legislative District Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup. Foley Institute Director Cornell Clayton was panel moderator.

Lovrich told attendees that Washington has a unique tradition in that many progressive and populist movements come to the state.

Donovan pointed out a paradox in Washington politics, in which the state is considered to be a safely “blue” nationally and typically elects Democrats for most statewide offices, yet has produced a Legislature that is virtually 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans, with divided control in the House and Senate.

Maria Chavez answers a question as Todd Donovan listens.

Chavez said current efforts by the state to push back against some of the federal government’s recent decisions is turning traditional states’ rights arguments on their head.

“Instead of thinking of states’ rights as ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,’ as the old George Wallace states’ rights, we can now think of states’ rights as promoters of civil rights progress,” Chavez said.

Zeiger, who was elected to the Senate last fall after serving six years in the House, shared how the two chambers differ, noting that the House is geared toward passing more bills (which helps explain why it uses an electronic voting machine for floor votes), while the Senate is more deliberative, using voice votes.

“The House is the gas pedal, and the Senate is the brake,” Zeiger quipped.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman kicked off the noon-hour event by telling the audience, which included many legislative interns, the importance of legislators to find common ground.

The four panelists are contributors to the forthcoming updated book from WSU Press on politics in Washington: “Governing the Evergreen State: Political Life in Washington.” The updated book is expected to be released in early 2018.

TVW covered the event and has it available here for viewing.


WTBBL hosts Regional Braille Challenge event ?>

WTBBL hosts Regional Braille Challenge event

Students meet Oskar the cat at Regional Braille Challenge. (Photos courtesy of WTBBL)

Several Washington kids came to the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library in Seattle last Saturday to compete in an academic competition that promotes braille literacy.

The Braille Challenge tests braille skills in five categories: reading comprehension, spelling, tactile charts and graphs, proofreading, and speed and accuracy. Any grade school student who is blind or visually impaired and reads braille is eligible to participate.

Appearing at the WTBBL Regional Braille Challenge was Oskar of Oskar & Klaus, a blind cat that is an Internet sensation and a book character.

“Fewer students are learning braille than before, and this contest helps raise awareness about the importance of being able to read braille,” said WTBBL Manager Danielle Miller, who attended the event last Saturday. “And the kids who took part at The Braille Challenge had a blast!”

The overall winner was Issaquah’s Elijah McCalmont, who received a HumanWare VictorReader Stream as his prize. Seattle’s Erfan Jazizadeh Karimi finished second and received a $15 certificate to Seedlings Braille Bookstore. Janhavi Balasubramanian of Sammamish took third, earning a $10 braille book certificate to the National Braille Press.

A contestant reads braille created on a Perkins brailler.

All participants received a recognition certificate, a Braille Challenge T-shirt, an Oskar & Klaus patch, and a new braille book of their choice.

“The students who participated in The Braille Challenge had a great time,” said WTBBL Youth Services Librarian Marian Mays. “My favorite part of the event was witnessing the students interact with Oskar and reading one of Oskar’s books in braille. I’d like to extend a thank you to all the students, parents, volunteers and sponsors who helped make our regional challenge a success.”

In addition to the prize donations from HumanWare, Seedlings Braille Bookstore and the National Braille Press, WTBBL received food and T-shirt donations from the Washington Council of the Blind and patches from Mick Szydlowski, Oskar’s owner.

Now in its 17th year nationally, The Braille Challenge, created by the Braille Institute of America, is the only academic contest in braille for school age students who are blind or visually impaired. More than 1,100 students take part in the competition across North America.