Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s a privilege and an honor to connect with you through my first e-newsletter update as a member of the Washington State Senate. I’m incredibly grateful that I get to keep championing the needs and priorities of our neighbors, this time from the other chamber.
Today marks one full week after the start of session, which began on Jan. 11. Though last Monday was a first-day-of-session unlike any other – with facemasks on to protect us from the coronavirus and National Guard members present to protect us from credible threats of violence – I am thrilled to embark on this legislative session, to get immediate relief into the hands of our community members and to figure out solutions to problems that existed even before the pandemic.
After ongoing conversations with constituents and community leaders, the priorities you’ve sent me to Olympia (remotely) include: expanding health care access, promoting housing affordability, and building an equitable budget. Keep reading for an overview of how I’m advancing our values this year and how you can get involved during this remote session.
My first bill hearing
Last week, my first bill of 2021 was up for a public hearing: SB 5008, offering a Business and Operating (B&O) tax exemption for credits and funding from the Bonneville Power Administration, if the tax savings are used for low-income ratepayer assistance and weatherization. This bill will offer support to families in our region who are burdened by bills during a time that is so financially challenging for so many. You can watch the hearing here. Stay tuned for more updates on this bill’s progress.
My first committee meetings of the 2021 session
One of the committees I serve on, Health and Long Term Care, met for the first time last week. First up on the agenda was a work session – when experts and community members present information that helps the committee understand and develop an approach to an issue facing our state. The work session was on pandemics, and it included information on how they have impacted communities across the ages and how we can best respond to them. Interested in hearing from the experts? Click here to watch.
Another committee I’m on – called Labor, Commerce, and Tribal Affairs – met last week for a public hearing on an unemployment insurance expansion bill (SB 5061). The bill would help prepare the state to deal with public health crises and expand both support for employers and aid for Washingtonians who find themselves out of work. There are four goals for the bill: economic stabilization and stimulus; premium reductions aimed at businesses hardest hit, while staying in federal conformity; improvement of equity for small employers and lowest paid workers; and restoration of the trust fund, which can take five to six years. Click here to read more about the bill, and head here to watch the committee hearing.
Tips for diving into the 2021 remote session
Though every single one of us misses getting to safely interact with community members, staff, and colleagues face-to-face, remote session has created a more accessible and safer alternative for this year. With universal remote public testimony, you can click a single link to sign up to share your story on any bill in any committee. Just head to this page where you can find instructions about signing up and calling in to lend your voice to the hearing process over Zoom. If video capacity or broadband connectivity is limited for you, you can also call in to participate by phone.
If you’re unable to Zoom or call in to a committee, you can also provide written public testimony at this link. By sharing your thoughts on legislation with us, you can make policy better and guide lawmakers in our service of all our communities. This work can’t and shouldn’t happen without you.
And my office is as available to you as ever. Send me an email at June.Robinson@leg.wa.gov, or give me a call at (360) 786-7674. Let’s set up a Zoom meeting or connect in writing. I’d love to hear from you, I and look forward to learning more about your priorities in this upcoming year. You can also follow me on Facebook for regular updates.
My work in Olympia is always informed by the voices of my neighbors, and I’m eager to hear yours.