This week the 2021 legislative session started off under very unusual circumstances. Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to pose a very real threat to public health, so an entirely in-person session is not an option this year. We worked hard over the interim to develop processes to carry out a mostly remote legislative session, and those efforts have paid off.
Things are running smoothly, and more importantly, the legislative process is more accessible than ever. Universal remote testimony is allowing people to testify on bills who otherwise could not travel to Olympia to testify. In fact, there are several ways you can engage with your legislators this session!
Ways to participate in the Legislature this session
Testify remotely in hearings on bills you care about.
- For instructions to testify remotely in the Senate: https://app.leg.wa.gov/CSIRemote/Senate
- For instructions to testify remotely in the House: https://app.leg.wa.gov/CSIRemote/House
Submit written testimony on bills you care about. You can submit written testimony on any bill scheduled for a public hearing. This system was improved this year, and written testimony is now directed to committee members and staff, rather than just to your district’s legislators, which was how it was directed in the past.
- For instructions to submit written testimony in the Senate: https://app.leg.wa.gov/CSIRemote/Senate.
- For instructions to submit written testimony in the House: https://app.leg.wa.gov/CSIRemote/House
Set up a Zoom meeting with your legislator. Due to Covid-19 protocols, legislators won’t be meeting in person with constituents, but you’re encouraged to schedule Zoom meetings with your legislators. You can reach my office at Rebecca.Saldana@leg.wa.gov.
If you don’t live in my district, or you’re not sure, visit the link below to find out who your legislators are, and click on their names to find their contact information. https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/
Watch it all on TVW. As always, every committee meeting, floor session, press conference and special event will be broadcast at TVW.org.
My legislation this session
Here’s a look at some of the legislation I’ve introduced so far. There is more to come, so keep an eye out for my e-mail updates!
Leading change with environmental justice
SB 5141, also known as the HEAL Act, would implement the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force, meaning state agencies would be required to use an intersectional lens to address disproportionate environmental and health impacts in all laws, regulations and policies with environmental impacts. This would involve prioritizing vulnerable populations and overburdened communities, equitably distributing resources, and eliminating harm.
Unemployment benefits for family caregivers
SB 5064 would fix the broken safety net that excludes from unemployment benefits people who have caregiving duties for either children or vulnerable adults, or those who have to move away to be with their children. For example, if someone receiving unemployment benefits is offered a job on a night shift but has small kids who then would not have childcare, the person would retain their unemployment benefits even if they don’t accept this specific job offer.
Changing tobacco laws to treat minors fairly
SB 5129 shifts the focus of tobacco laws away from youth who buy or possess tobacco products, and instead concentrates on the retailers who sell these products to people under 18. Civil infractions for youth under 18 who buy or possess tobacco would be repealed, and Liquor Control Board enforcement officers would no longer be allowed to detain people in order to determine their age. This aligns the law’s treatment of people under 18 with how people between 18 and 21 are already treated in the same circumstances.
My office welcomes your thoughts and concerns, so please reach out and let us know what issues are important to you and your community.
Sen. Rebecca Saldaña
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