August 31, 2021

Dear neighbors, In the last issue of my session recap e-newsletter series, we looked at some legislation we passed in the 2021 session in support of equity and racial justice.  Today I’d like to touch on our incredible progress advancing legislation to protect our environment and address the root causes of climate change, the impacts of which have been on full display this year.

Clean and Just Transportation

The transportation sector makes up 45 percent of carbon emissions in Washington state. In order to truly take action on climate change, we need emissions standards for transportation fuel. This is why the Legislature passed a low carbon fuel standard law this year. With the passage of HB 1091, we join our neighbors in Oregon, California and British Columbia in reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a low-carbon fuel standard that will protect our climate, give us cleaner air, and grow jobs in the green energy sector. Photo of gas pouring environmentally friendly fuel. I received messages from Washingtonians who are concerned about dire predictions about spiking gas prices in the wake of this law; however, such predictions have not come to fruition in other states with similar low carbon fuel programs, and I am confident they will not here in Washington, either. As vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I’m committed to a transition to clean and just transportation in our state. Although this year’s transportation budget was very difficult to craft due to shortfalls in revenue caused by the pandemic, we made progress with key investments, such as:

  • $36.7 million for the Safe Routes to Schools program
  • $32.6 million for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety program
  • $30 million for a hybrid electric ferry
  • $8.9 million for alternative fuel infrastructure
  • $1.9 million to design and build new electric vehicle and alternative fuel infrastructure
  • An additional $5 million for special needs public transportation
  • $5 million in green transportation expansion
  • $6 million to recruit and retain members from underrepresented communities in construction trades
  • $2 million to increase the number of certified women- and minority-owned contractors in the transportation sector.

Photo of Earth's atmosphere taken from above

Climate Commitment Act

Our science-based statutes require our state to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but we have been on a trajectory that would only reduce them to 60 million metric tons by 2050. Fortunately, we passed the Climate Commitment Act (SB 5126) this year, which will establish a multi-sector greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-invest program designed to achieve the statutory statewide emissions limits established for 2030, 2040 and 2050. As cosponsor of this legislation, I secured my place at the negotiation table to ensure the Climate Commitment Act puts environmental justice front and center, helping communities on the front line of the climate crisis.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. View of Seattle showing several highways. I sponsored the HEAL Act (SB 5141) legislation, which was developed to address the disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards suffered by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, along with low-income communities, putting them at higher risk of adverse health outcomes. The Act implements recommendations from an Environmental Justice Task Force established by the Legislature last year and directs state agencies to incorporate environmental justice principles to reduce health disparities when implementing policies and programs. The Act was signed on May 17, and agencies are beginning to put work plans together for the implementation of the HEAL Act.

8 Reasons to get the COVID-19 Vaccine NOW (if you haven’t already)

CDC graphic about increased risk of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization for the unvaccinated.

  1. The Delta variant is much more contagious than other strains of the virus and is accelerating the pandemic.
  2. Delta is impacting younger age groups more than previous variants.
  3. Unvaccinated people are about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated according to a recent study.
  4. If you need to be hospitalized, you may not find a hospital that can help. The COVID-19 outbreak in our state is now so bad that hospitals are running out of intensive care beds as case numbers near record highs.
  5. The COVID-19 vaccine has been carefully tested for safety. The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should soon follow.
  6. It will help protect our unvaccinated kids from getting sick and dying. Child COVID-19 cases have seen a fourfold increase over the past month.
  7. Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do to protect yourself, your family, and your community from serious illness or death.
  8. More vaccinations for COVID-19 mean a faster return to normal so you can fully enjoy the freedom to carry on with your daily life.

Don’t wait another second, get vaccinated NOW! Waiting too long allows the virus to continue spreading in the community and allows new variants to emerge. The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner you are protected and the sooner we can contain the pandemic. If you have questions or doubts, I encourage you to reach out to your personal medical provider for information and guidance about what’s right for you. Click here for information on how to get vaccinated in King County.   That’s all for today, but keep an eye out for the next issue of my legislative session recap series, where I’ll share even more about the Legislature’s accomplishments this year!  

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