Dear friends and neighbors,
We are officially in the final month of the 2023 session! This means we have about two weeks to finish our business in Olympia. As we conclude week 13, I’m eager to share details my recent resolution, progress on our bills and what’s still to come.
Honoring our Special Olympians
I had the privilege of sponsoring a resolution in honor of the Special Olympics and the many Washingtonians who have competed and participated.
As a parent of a child with developmental disabilities, I’m immensely passionate about creating a more equitable Washington, where all our neighbors with disabilities can thrive and lead full, independent lives — the very goal of the Special Olympics, which emphasizes inclusivity, health and fitness, empowerment, community building, and awareness and advocacy.
It started as a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual and physical disabilities and is now a global movement, which provides year-round training and activities to more than 3.7 million participants worldwide.
In 2022, 98 Washingtonians participated and competed in the Special Olympic Games, 65 of whom were athletes, earning medals in various competitions, from competitive cheer and volleyball to flag football and many more.
Many of these remarkable individuals were in the Senate gallery when we unanimously adopted the resolution, making the moment even more incredible!
On Wednesday, we passed our 2023-25 transportation budget — a $12.9 billion proposal focused on traffic safety, workforce expansion in the state patrol and ferry system, electrification, transit and other green investments, and keeps work on schedule for transportation projects big and small throughout Washington.
A few highlights I’m excited to share for our district and state include:
- $56,898,000 – SR 18, Auburn to I-90 corridor widening (Auburn)
- $7,000,000 – Meet Me on Meeker multimodal improvements (Kent)
- $800,000 – SR 516 pedestrian bridge (Covington)
- $5 million – ADA accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists
- $25 million – Connecting Communities Grants
- $1.1 million – Fund driver’s license and ID cards for foster youth
- $188 million – Kids Ride Free program
I also helped ensure existing grant programs were codified in the transportation budget, including the Special Needs grant program, which is slated to receive $78 million. It assists transit agencies around the state in sustaining and expanding services to people with disabilities, helping ensure equitable access for all our neighbors.
I’m so happy to share one of my bills was signed into law Thursday!
- SB 5342 — concerning transit agencies’ ability to enter interlocal agreements for procurement. It provides clarity to reflect that public transportation agencies are not required to execute interlocal agreements when purchasing buses from another state’s cooperative schedule contract.
And my other bill passed the House in a unanimous vote Friday!
- SB 5683 — concerning child-specific foster care licenses for placement of Indian children. This will increase licensing accessibility for Tribal communities to further protect Indian Child Welfare in Washington — a cause near to my heart.
In April, we celebrate World Autism Month, which allows us to promote a greater understanding and acceptance of people with autism and their families. As a lawmaker and strong advocate for people with developmental disabilities, I am proud to represent the 1 in 36 children and 1 in 45 adults with autism in the United States and will continue to work to create a world where every person with autism can reach their full potential. You can learn more here.
A look ahead
Both the House and Senate have presented their three budget proposals — transportation, capital and operating — all of which have passed their respective chambers. This means we will soon start negotiating our final budget before the Legislature adjourns April 23. Gov. Jay Inslee will then review the budget, decide on any vetoes and sign it into law. The new budgets take effect on July 1 and will guide the state’s spending through 2025.
Stay in touch
Our office continues to be as available to you as ever. Send me an email at Claudia.Kauffman@leg.wa.gov, or call 360-786-7692. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@SenClaudiaKauffman) for regular updates throughout the final weeks.