Dear friends and neighbors,
One month down and about three more to go! We are well underway in the 2023 legislative session and I have 16 bills sponsored this session! After two years of calling in, voting, and legislating from our homes, we’ve been meeting in person in committees and will prepare soon to pass bills on the floor.
These are carefully crafted pieces of legislation I care about so dearly, and I think you will too! Now it’s just a matter of keeping them alive through the process. Here’s a snapshot of some of the bills I’ve sponsored:
Students can’t learn when they are hungry—I know this as a mom and having been an educator. That’s why I sponsored School Meals for All, SB 5339, which would ensure that all of Washington’s more than 1 million students can receive a healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no out-of-pocket cost each day. That includes the 370,000 students who currently, after two years of free school meals, have to start paying again for breakfast or lunch at their school.
Teachers or parents are able to refer students to a program for highly capable students, however the program is only open to referrals. I’m sponsoring SB 5072 to break down the systemic barriers to an education with appropriate pacing, depth, and complexity for children of high intelligence, who are present in every demographic group and in every zip code. The bill requires districts to universally screen all students in both the early and late elementary years for highly capable services during the regular school day in their regular school.
Our Legislature has been making strides in the past few years to prioritize apprenticeship programs that let people earn while they learn. But for many Washingtonians, participating in an apprenticeship can eliminate their eligibility for program like TANF, SNAP, and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC). This, combined with their unpredictable schedule, can make it difficult to both find and afford childcare. To eliminate these massive hurdles for working parents, I’m sponsoring SB 5423 to extend WCCC to those who qualified for the program prior to their apprenticeship. We value a robust, diverse workforce, so let’s remove barriers for Washingtonians and support their access to apprenticeship programs.
We know that play is critical for children’s development, but did you know it also supports their academic performance? Unfortunately, not all students are getting adequate time to play. Some might even have recess withheld as a punishment. The Recess Act, SB 5257, would ensure adequate recess for all students – as recommended by scientists, parents, and kids.
Over the course of the pandemic, we saw a heartbreaking rise in domestic violence cases. People from those cases are still healing from an immense amount of trauma, but that healing is incredibly challenging when they are concerned for their safety. Right now, when an incarcerated individual is released from prison, survivors and witnesses can request to be notified of that release. However, that notification is not exempt under the Public Records Act (PRA), so formerly incarcerated individual can make a public disclosure request for the names of individuals who asked to be notified. SB 5081 would exempt from the PRA information about victims and witnesses who requested to be notified. This legislation was requested by the Department of Corrections, and its sole purpose is to use good governance to protect survivors and witnesses.
The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention reports that 60 percent of women who report domestic violence suffered near-fatal strangulation. For these women, the Crime Victims Compensation Program has been instrumental in making sure that they get the treatment they deserve and that abusers are held accountable. That’s why I’m sponsoring SB 5070 to make sure that these women continue to have access to the resources they need.
In 2021, I sponsored legislation that established the Mental Health Sentencing Alternative (MHSA) and did so as a critical step toward advancing public health and public safety. I deeply believe in the goal of this bill, and now that we’ve had a chance to explore it in practice, we want to make sure it can be implemented. That’s why I’m sponsoring SB 5588, so we can make the necessary updates and accomplish our goal of improving the long-term health of individuals convicted of crimes where mental health, cognitive issues, or brain injuries are a factor.
When a person receiving long-term care passes away, the state collects expenses from their estate. The burden of estate recovery falls primarily on our working families and our low-income communities, which is why I’m sponsoring SB 5318 to help our working families build their wealth.
The climate crisis impacts every field across our state, and we need innovative solutions that will empower our residents to build climate-ready communities. That’s why I sponsored Climate Ready Communities, SB 5427, to create the WA Climate Corps. This corps will provide opportunities to our youths and our veterans to fix many of the gaps in our infrastructure.
Washington is a special place, and our state’s natural beauty is unparalleled. But there are many communities, particularly communities of color, that do not have access to the outdoor opportunities that our state has to offer. We know this has negative consequences for both physical and mental health, and that’s why I’m sponsoring Parks Rx, SB 5095. This bill will direct our Department of Health to create programs to help disadvantaged communities experience the outdoors and ensure that all our residents get to enjoy all that Washington’s landscape has to offer.
When families move often, as military families frequently do, that presents a challenge for them to develop a comfortable learning environment. In fact, the average child in military families will attend six to nine schools during their K–12 education experience. SB 5071 creates the Purple Star program, to address the needs of military children. This designation will help schools to promote smoother transitions for students who change schools.
During the pandemic, we got to see the importance and capability of the National Guard’s response firsthand. They supported food banks and delivered ventilators and beds. They were on the front lines in our state’s initial response providing lifesaving vaccines. Whether it is providing support abroad, or empowering youth through the Washington Youth Academy, we’ve seen the Guard show up for our state when we are most in need. I was honored to bring forward a resolution on the Senate floor to honor them and their service.
On Jan. 16, I had the honor of introducing Resolution 8604 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I spoke on the floor of the Senate about the importance of coming together despite differences. Creating a federal holiday to recognize Dr. King took 15 years, but the first proposal was sponsored in one chamber of Congress by a Democrat, and in the other by a Republican. So much more can happen when we come together.
Ways to stay connected
I appreciate your thoughts and advocacy and I hope you’ll keep in touch.
Get involved in the process
- Learn—How a bill becomes a law, from start to finish, is explained here.
- Find—Look up legislation on the issues important to you here.
- Watch—Visit TVW.org for broadcasts and archived videos of your democracy in action.
- Reach out—If you do not live in the 22nd Legislative District, you can find and contact your legislators here.