Friends and neighbors,
With just three weeks of the 2021 legislative session to go, we are working hard up until the finish line to pass bills and budgets that put the people of Washington first. This week, I wanted to go over some of those bills, and the highlights of our budgets.
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Progressive Policy Corner – Banning Private Prisons
Earlier this week, the Senate passed House Bill 1090 off the floor, which means it’s now headed to the Governor for approval. Prime sponsored by Representative Ortiz-Self, this bill would ban private for-profit contractors from operating detention facilities in Washington state.
This win comes on the heels of years of advocacy and work from activists across Washington. It’s a vital step to reforming our criminal justice system and creating a more equitable state for every resident.[/vc_column_text]
Capital and Operating Budgets
We also passed the capital, operating, and transportation budgets for the next two years off the Senate floor and sent them over to the House for their consideration.
Included in the operating budget was funding for a few different bill ideas I had previously worked on. That includes hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years to make a creative economy work group and encourage interaction between our state’s strong tech industry and creative industries. There is also funding to establish guidelines for the government use of artificial intelligence services – a first in the nation work group to better understand the discriminatory impacts of the technology.
The capital budget that we passed includes some exciting investments in the 11th District, including:
- $1,339,000 for Wadajir Residences & Souq in Tukwila
- $200,000 for the Mini Mark City Park
- $309,000 for dental care at Family First Community Center in Renton
- $3,029,000 for HealthPoint
That budget may go through some changes over in the House, but I’m excited by the investments in our communities.
The transportation budget isn’t quite as exciting as the other two, but it does keep the lights on for the next few years and in anticipation of federal funding.
House Bill 1028
Eliminating the edTPA is a bill that I’ve been working on for a while, and my seatmate Rep. Bergquist brought to the House this year. House Bill 1028 would remove barriers towards teaching and get qualified educators in the classroom assisting students. Current requirements for teaching include an exam called the edTPA which has shown to disadvantage educators of color, but this bill would remove that superfluous requirement.
I’ve been hearing from a lot of people in the district about their passion on this issue, so I pulled the bill from the Rules Committee today. That means it can now get moved to the Senate floor calendar for a vote.
Working Washington Small Business Grants
Another issue we hear about from a lot of folks is assistance for small businesses during these difficult times. I’m happy to share that the next round of Working Washington Small Business Grants is now open. This program, which was funded by the legislature’s early action COVID-19 relief package passed in February, is intended to provide financial relief to small businesses most impacted by the pandemic.
Head to this page to learn more and apply by April 9!
Expanded vaccine eligibility
More essential workers are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as of March 31, and Governor Inslee announced this week that all adults 16 and older will become eligible for the vaccine on April 15.
Head to VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov to find appointments near you! In the meantime, remember to continue masking up and practicing physical distancing to slow the spread.
Stay in touch!
Senator Bob Hasegawa