Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s been months since the end of the 2021 legislative session, but little has changed since then in terms of our major needs and priorities.
When the Legislature convened back in January, we faced potential economic catastrophe, spiking COVID-19 cases, political violence in D.C. and at home, and the uncertainty of a mostly remote session. At the same time, the pandemic brought longstanding needs into even clearer focus and urgency — and we responded with bold investments to make our communities stronger now and to provide long-term financial stability and resilience for generations to come.
In a previous email update, I focused on our state’s most urgent need: the pandemic. Today I’d like to provide a roundup of other major legislative actions:
- Assistance to stabilize and strengthen childcare facilities statewide while also expanding families’ eligibility for childcare benefits.
- A Working Families Tax Credit to help approximately 420,000 households struggling to make ends meet.
- The Fair Start for Kids Act, a historic investment in childcare and early learning to address the lack of affordability and accessibility to these programs for families across Washington.
- A landmark clean fuels standard and a statewide cap-and-invest system that will reduce carbon emissions from state’s biggest polluters to net 0 by 2050. And to ensure equity in our environmental policies, we passed the HEAL Act to bring environmental justice to the many communities of color in neighborhoods where health is disproportionately undermined by pollution.
- Policies to improve police training and interactions with the public. Among other things, the bills ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, mandate independent investigations of deadly force incidents, and require intervention by other officers who witness unjust use of force.
- Numerous bills (SB 5044, SB 5227, SB 5228, SB 5229) to address systemic inequity by providing anti-racism training in K-12 schools and in higher education, in medical schools, and in continuing education for health professionals.
- Several bills (SB 5160, HB 1236 , HB 1277) to alleviate a tenuous housing situation made even worse by the pandemic, to help tenants avoid unfair evictions and remain in their homes while also protecting landlords from loss of rental payments.
- A $59.2 billion operating budget that will keep money flowing through our communities so we can all get back on our feet and build back stronger from the pandemic. Highlights include funding to help schools reopen safely, investments in health care affordability and foundational public health, rural broadband access, support for workers and businesses hurt by the pandemic, and money for housing and efforts to reduce homelessness.
I’ve spent the subsequent months of interim between legislative sessions working on numerous ways to further improve life in our community. I’ve heard many concerns and promising ideas. I will continue to work in the weeks ahead to address these concerns, and develop policy around some of the ideas I’ve gathered. I will share more with you in the coming weeks as this work progresses. Until then, I hope you are staying safe and enjoying these last few weeks of summer.