Friends, neighbors –

As we said goodbye to 2021 and welcomed home the new year, I’ve been reflecting on everything our community has overcome – getting stronger and healthier after a difficult pandemic and economic slump, taking care of one another, and dreaming boldly of a better future.

Now that 2022 is here and the legislative session is underway, the work to build that future continues. Read on for a detailed look at some of the things we did together last year, and some of the things – exciting and challenging – that 2022 may bring.

A just economy for all

We know that the pandemic put the brakes on our economy, worsening disparities and systemic inequities. While our economy is speeding back up, many of our neighbors are still left behind, still struggling. Strong, targeted investments and reforms will help our working families and businesses recover more quickly and equitably.

What we did in 2021:

  • We passed an unemployment insurance tax fix and invested in grants and other resources to help small businesses survive.
  • We also expanded access to affordable childcare and invested in K-12 schools’ students and educators so that working parents could get back to the jobs they love and support their families.
  • We took strides to meaningfully reform our tax system so that the richest among us pay more of their fair share – in roads, schools, health care – to ensure we all rebuild the kind of state we want to live in.

What my team and I are doing in 2022:

  • SB 5488 puts money in the pockets of commuters by buying down the tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. As we all know, the financing on the bridge was broken from the start. But commuters in our community shouldn’t be on the hook for that bad decision forever. It’s time to fix it! You can help make this happen by signing up to testify in support during our first public hearing next week: Transportation Committee, Jan. 17, 4:00pm.
  • SB 5704 requires health carriers to reimburse advanced registered nurse practitioners at the same rate as physicians when they’re delivering the same services. This is an important step toward true equal pay for equal work, and both strengthens our economy and our network of primary care providers in our state. Want to support this policy? Sign up to testify in support during our first public hearing: Health & Long Term Care Committee, Jan. 17, 1:30pm.
  • SB 5763 builds on last year’s groundbreaking work to eliminate subminimum wage for workers with disabilities, eliminating a long unused loophole to prevailing wage law. A just economy for all isn’t possible until all workers are compensated fairly. Help us get it to the finish line by testifying in support during our public hearing: Labor, Commerce, & Tribal Affairs Committee, Jan. 17, 9:30am.

Healthy families and communities

We’ve made incredible investments to strengthen our healthcare system, from the expansion of paid family and medical leave, to extending postpartum coverage for new parents. Looking forward, continued support of every aspect of our healthcare system will mean more of us and our loved ones get the prompt, affordable, quality care we deserve.

What we did in 2021:

  • We allocated billions to expand COVID-19 vaccine testing and vaccine distribution, and better equipped our public health system for current and future public health crises.
  • We improved upon Cascade Care, the nation’s first public option, to ensure that this resource is available statewide by requiring major hospitals to participate under certain conditions.
  • We created the Universal Health Care Commission (a policy you might have heard of – I sponsored it!) to examine immediate improvements to our health care system.

What we’re doing in 2022:

  • SB 5688 is the Keep Our Care Act, supported by a huge statewide coalition to ensure health system mergers improve – rather than harm – access to affordable, quality care within our community. As Kitsap County and Bremertonians know first hand, hospital mergers change the health care landscape. 5688 would protect access to the reproductive care, end of life care, and gender affirming treatment that is so often eroded by these mergers. Testify on this bill during its public hearing in the Law & Justice Committee, Jan. 18, 10:30am!
  • SB 5730 is a small fix in support of Graduate Strong’s Handle With Care initiative, a trauma-informed partnership between Kitsap County’s schools and first responders. Brought to me by a constituent, this bill allows LEOs and first responders to continue to partner with schools in providing trauma-responsive support to students who were present on the scene of an incident.
  • SB 5766 responds to the attacks on reproductive rights sweeping the nation. While Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Texas, and even some Republicans in Washington work to roll back reproductive rights – I’m fighting alongside my Democratic colleagues and neighbors of all political stripes to ensure that Washington is a beacon for reproductive justice. This bill updates and modernizes gendered language, protects abortion providers and those who would assist someone in seeking abortion care. Because abortion is health care.

Education and opportunity for all

Leading the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development committee is an incredible honor, and my top focus as committee chair is to ensure that we ensure well-supported pathways to college and career training for everyone.

What we did in 2021:

  • We made meaningful investments in our Community and Technical College system to make them more open and accessible.
  • We expanded supports for students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, and former foster youth at our 4-year and community & technical colleges.
  • We strengthened the College Bound Scholarship so more students get the financial support they need to pursue – and stick with — their higher education goals.

What we’re doing in 2022:

  • This year is about access and pathways. What do I mean by that? I mean that too many students don’t think college is for them – because no one in their family has gone, because they don’t think their family can afford it, or because there are other career pathways that excite them more. What I want families to know – and what the House & Senate Higher Education committees are focused on this year – is that if it’s about money or being unfamiliar with the system, we can help! We’ll explore innovative ways to partner with community organizations (like the Kitsap Regional Library that is already leading the way in helping students fill out their FAFSA), invest in navigators, and ensure students and families have all the information they need to access to education that is right for them.
  • As the daughter of a Puget Sound Naval Shipyard apprentice, I know that there are a lot of pathways to family wage jobs. And in Washington State, many of those pathways are through registered apprenticeship programs. But accessing financial aid, or receiving college credit when you want to grow or pivot later in your career is still not as accessible as it should be. SB 5764 builds a better structure for awarding apprenticeship grads with transferrable associate degrees and streamlines financial aid access, recognizing our state’s nation-leading apprenticeship programs that already launch so many workers into their chosen careers.

We’ve accomplished a lot together in a year, but one thing will never change: I need you and your voice to do this work, and am always here to listen to you, partner with you, and take your lead. Easy ways to reach me include FacebookInstagram, and Twitter – where you can shoot me a message and follow along to see what we’re up to. You can also reach out anytime at 360-786-7650 or