Gearing up for 2022 Session and how to be involved
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays season has been full of joy. In just a few days (Jan. 10th to be exact), the 2022 legislative session will convene and I’m gearing up for another year of advocating alongside you for our community. Due to the continued rise in COVID-19 infections and the spread of the Omicron variant, the 2022 legislative session will be conducted largely like the 2021 session. That means bills will again be heard remotely in committee hearings over Zoom to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Lawmakers will be in Olympia to vote in person on the Senate and House floor, however, where there is more space to practice safe distancing and follow other public health guidelines.
The good news is that remote hearings in 2021 actually made it easier for people to testify on the issues they cared about. Just in our state Senate alone, 5,912 members of the public testified in committees and 11,893 people submitted written testimony (for a total of 17,805). That was more than double the 7,120 who testified in the previous 105-day session in 2019. The House saw similar levels of participation.
You can catch all the committee meetings and floor sessions on tvw.org, where they will be streamed live. And if you’d like to participate in the lawmaking process, remote testimony is a great option. As always, I am eager to hear ideas, questions, and stories about the issues that matter most to you and your family, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.
I’m pleased to share I have a new legislative assistant! Daniel is one of the first faces you’ll see or voices you’ll hear when you reach out to my office. He is ecstatic to be back at the legislature working for a district that he has called home since 2012.
Daniel served in the United States Army for a total of 8 years of active duty where Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) was his last duty station. He conducted three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan working in Infantry Platoon and Squad Operations. After the military, he attended Tacoma Community College before transferring to Central Washington University (CWU) where he studied Geography and Political Science. Having grown up in Decatur, Ga., and, having lived in Eastern Washington for four years, he experienced how public transportation is vital to both rural and urban communities. Please help me welcome Daniel!
New Fellowship Opportunities
With the new year right around the corner, I’m looking forward to exploring one of my new year’s resolutions: continued learning! I’ll be learning through two fellowship programs in 2022.
- The Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows program supports political leaders’ work on a vision for educational improvement around the country.
- The NCSL Maternal and Child Health Fellow program is designed to support legislators maternal and child health policy.
With both programs, I’ll be meeting with leaders around the country and bringing my learning back to improve Washington State policy. As a mother and an educator, both of these issues are near and dear to my heart.
Maternal Health Day of Action—with the White House!
I joined the White House this month for the Maternal Health Day of Action. Hosted by VP Kamala Harris herself (yes, the VP!), I joined our own Senator Patty Murray, Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12), and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) on an incredible panel to discuss measures to improve maternal health in the Build Back Better package.
I was ecstatic to be joining this call not just for the federal measures, but because I do believe maternal health must be supported at all levels of government. In Washington state, we’ve already taken action in the time I’ve been in office to support maternal health. We’ve passed legislation like:
- Empowering providers to provide proper care without fearing retaliation (SB 5140)
- Requiring student health plans to cover voluntary abortion of a pregnancy (HB 1009)
- Allowing a person who gave birth resulting in a stillbirth to receive a certificate of birth (HB 1031)
- Extending Medicaid coverage of postpartum persons from 60 days after the end of a pregnancy to one year after the end of a pregnancy (SB 5068)
And I’m looking forward to building on this work because maternal care is fundamental to the wellbeing of our communities. Check out this press release from Sen. Murray’s office for more info about the Maternal Health Day of Action.
Regardless of what happens next in Washington, DC, servicemembers and their families deserve more focus here at home. At an absolute minimum, we should ensure they have the resources required to flourish wherever they live. I share my thoughts on this issue in my newest op-ed, linked here.
On November 4, 2021, I hosted a telephone townhall focusing on long-term care and how credit scoring affected insurance rates. I was joined by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and WA Cares Director Ben Veghte to answer frequently asked constituent questions on both issues. Click the image above to check out how it turned out, and for the full audio recording, click here.