In the Senate we are making significant progress in advancing progressive legislation to improve the quality of life in Washington. Today I’m happy to talk about some bills that I sponsored this year that have passed both chambers and continue to advance through the legislative process as the session comes to a close.
Prioritizing Worker Protections
I introduced SB 5035 to combat wage theft or delay by contractors fulfilling public works contracts, all of whom are required to pay workers prevailing wages. This legislation will increase penalties for failing to pay prevailing wages, and extend the time period for filing complaints. It will also close a loophole that previously allowed an employer to avoid penalties by returning wages before the state could take action. This will protect workers, support the businesses who pay quality wages to workers on time, and hold accountable the bad actors who fail to do so.
Two House bills whose companion bills I introduced in the Senate are also making progress in the name of protecting workers. HB 1568 expands opportunities for port district worker development and occupational programs. HB 1756 protects adult entertainers by requiring education about worker rights and safety, reporting and record-keeping of harassment and abuse, and the installation of panic buttons in key areas of clubs to prevent assaults on workers.
Finding Solutions to Provide Accessible and Affordable Housing
Access to affordable housing is an ongoing challenge for us here in Washington. For families who have had a child removed from their homes, this challenge can result in children staying in foster care for months longer than necessary, and often the primary barrier to family reunification is the lack of appropriate housing. SB 5718 creates a pilot program to provide housing assistance to parents in this situation to reduce the adverse impacts of separation on kids’ health.
Another House bill whose Senate companion I sponsored, HB 1377, would empower faith communities to increase the supply of affordable housing by adjusting zoning to allow increased density on property owned by religious organizations.
Safeguarding Health and Wellness
To address health disparities, the shortage of physicians, and the lack of access to culturally competent medical care, I sponsored SB 5846. This legislation establishes a work group to develop strategies to reduce professional barriers for qualified medical providers from other countries living in Washington, many of whom are unable to access the residency programs necessary to meet licensing requirements.
With the goal of protecting community and worker health and safety, SB 5550 will establish a Pesticide Application Safety Committee to improve the collection and tracking of pesticide application information among state agencies, and to make policy recommendations for improving safety and communication to the agricultural community about pesticide application.
SB 5558 fixes an unintended consequence of legislation passed last year, and restores the authority of the state Department of Social and Health Services and the state Health Care Authority to contract interpreter services for individuals with sensory impairments.
Celebrating and Protecting Diversity in Our Government
This session, I sponsored SB 5266 to help implement the Washington Voting Rights Act by requiring timely elections for governing body positions after districting plans are modified.
I also sponsored the Senate companion legislation to HB 1906, which designates April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day. This bill recognizes the work of the civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 and was instrumental in California’s adoption of a law granting collective bargaining rights to farm workers. We were blessed to have Ms. Huerta join us at the Capitol on the day the Senate passed this bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Inslee on March 21.
We have now entered the concurrence phase of session, where bills that were amended and passed by the opposite chamber return to their chamber of origin for a concurrence vote before they can be sent to the Governor’s Office to be signed into law.
Remember, we rely on your continued support to move these bills to the finish line!
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