Perhaps the most joyous part of the work we do here at the Legislature is learning about and honoring the achievements of the many brilliant, selfless, and accomplished people of Washington.
Every year, we hear dozens of resolutions on the floor of the Senate recognizing individuals and groups who have achieved extraordinary things. Today we heard a resolution, which I co-sponsored, that was even more inspiring than most: Senate Resolution 8625 honoring the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, with more than 3.7 million participants.
Last year, at the 2022 Special Olympics in Orlando, FL, 98 Washingtonians competed, and 65 of them received gold, silver, or bronze medals. It was a great pleasure to have many of the participants join us in the Senate today.
Read on below for highlights from action on my bills this week.
Protecting access to safe, effective abortion medication
While extremist judges in other parts of the country are trying to take away the right to reproductive freedom, Washington state is protecting access by ensuring a safe, low-cost supply of mifepristone, the medication used in abortions, with my bill SB 5768. You can read more about the bill here. By authorizing our state Department of Corrections, which has a pharmacy license, to negotiate a bulk purchase price for the prescription drug, we are able to save nearly 25% of the cost for people in our state who need it.
The public hearing, where you can make your voice heard, will be in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Monday. More information about the hearing can be found here by clicking on the meeting’s agenda.
The last year has made it clear that we cannot be complacent when it comes to reproductive health. Rights are meaningless without access to care.
Banning female genital mutilation
I have written to you before about the urgent issue of female genital mutilation (FGM). Washington state has been becoming a destination for the practice because so many other states had already banned it.
I’m proud to say that my bill SB 5453, which will ban this horrific practice in Washington state, passed the House this week nearly unanimously. Forty U.S. states have already banned FGM, and now Washington will be the 41st.
Thank you to graduate student Absa Samsa, who brought this bill idea to me, and the many community members who testified about their experiences — their bravery will make a difference for many young girls and women in our state.
Highlight of the week: Housing assistance
Each week this session, I have been highlighting a state-funded resource that may be of use to you, your family, or your neighbors. I hope you’ll pass the information along to anyone who may be able to take advantage of it. This week, I want to let you know about the state’s housing assistance programs.
With the recent inflation, many people are reaching out who are having trouble keeping up with home mortgage payments. The Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund can connect you with a housing counselor who provides free and confidential support and can assist with many options to prevent foreclosure. You can find information or call the Hotline at 1-877‐894‐4663 for a no-cost assessment and referral to a housing counselor in your area.
If you or someone you know is having trouble keeping up with rent, resources to help are listed on the Washington Department of Commerce’s Housing and Rent Assistance website. You will find links to local organizations that help with rental assistance applications, as well as resources for younger renters and legal resources to help prevent evictions.
Previous highlights of the week: Dementia Road Map for Caregivers, Paid Family and Medical Leave, Healthy Starts Act pregnancy accommodations, Working Families Tax Credit, Washington State Quitline, my resource guide, WorkSource WA, ArrayRx Discount Card, Building for the Arts, Child Care Check.
Please Stay in Touch and don’t hesitate to contact me.
If you’d like to follow what I’m working on, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here. Stay safe and take care.
Sen. Karen Keiser
Senate President Pro Tempore
Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee