Dear friends and neighbors,
This was a whirlwind short legislative session! We worked hard and have many things to celebrate, and I look forward to continuing to work on our priorities as we get ready for next year. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
The fight to keep reproductive rights
Before we talk about what happened during the 2022 legislative session, I think it’s important to recognize the alarming news regarding reproductive rights in our country. First, I want to say that in our state, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that all people have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare and that we believe that access is a fundamental right. The vast majority of Americans believe the same.
Unfortunately, it is not surprising that this far right version of the Supreme Court would come for abortion and likely other aspects of reproductive rights such as birth control. Because of the work we’ve done here in Washington, however, people in our state will continue to make their own healthcare decisions, without government interference, or extremist influence. But injustice for one, is injustice for all, so we will continue to support and fight for the reproductive rights of all people.
I was honored to be asked to speak at an event at Kerry Park in Seattle voicing my support for these basic human rights. You can watch the full event here. My remarks begin at the 33:18 mark.
Move Ahead Washington invests heavily in green modes of transportation such as rail, ferries, bike and pedestrian paths and buses.
Move Ahead Washington
We passed a transformative transportation investment plan, Move Ahead Washington, that takes bold action to combat the climate crisis, prioritizes an active transportation system, and invests in the needs of our community by creating thousands of family wage jobs without placing additional costs on Washington families.
Much of the funding comes from the Climate Commitment Act. This carbon pricing plan, which is accountable to the environmental justice rules established by the HEAL Act, allows us to invest in active transportation models like Safe Routes to Schools, Complete Streets, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The package prioritizes investments in carbon emission reduction across Washington by:
- Expanding the availability of zero emissions technology and infrastructure across modes of transportation (ferries, cars, and trains).
- Supporting the transition to alternative fuels in ports and freight zones – which are often adjacent to communities overburdened by environmental health disparities.
- Establishing a 2030 EV goal for all new car and light duty vehicles.
We also make additional unprecedented investments in:
- Building a high-speed-rail corridor to modernize our transit sector.
- Expanding our multimodal transit system.
In addition, we are implementing a new policy to allow kids 18 and under to ride free on ALL public transportation (buses, ferries, trains)!
Move Ahead WA also responds to the disproportionate harm caused by past planning decisions, pollution, and a lack of diverse, accessible options to get around in low-income communities, communities of color, and rural communities by:
- Establishing tribal transit mobility grant funding. Tribal transit agencies are typically small and are often not able to be competitive, so it was important to create a separate pot of funding.
- Investing $50 million toward Connecting Communities to fund projects in communities that have had historic underinvestment in walking and biking infrastructure.
So much of this important package was only made possible by the work we have done in recent years with community advocates around environmental justice and equity in our transit and transportation systems. Thank you for your commitment to this cause!
I’m so proud of the investments we made to support our students and teachers who have been through so much these past two years.
The 2022 budget: Investing in WA families and equitable healthy communities
In this year’s operating budget, we’re making record investments in communities across Washington, ensuring that housing is more affordable and that those living on the margins are able to climb out of poverty.
Strengthening K-12 and higher education by adding more school counselors and nurses across the state.
Supporting small businesses with $71 million for programs to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, more than 125,000 businesses across WA will no longer pay the state business tax, saving them approximately $50 million each year (SB 5980).
Strengthening benefit programs to target poverty reduction and give people a better chance at gaining financial stability. That means supporting:
- Rental assistance
- Behavioral health services
- Farmers-to-Families Food Box Program and Basic Food program expansions
- Legal advice and assistance to tenants
- Expanded access to no-barrier, low-barrier, and transitional housing, as well as emergency adolescent housing
Supporting foundational public health so we can successfully emerge from the pandemic while building a stronger response system for the next crisis. The budget includes $144 million for COVID-19 response in the public health system for things like diagnostic testing, case investigation, outbreak response and care coordination.
Making capital Investments in BIPOC anti-displacement and healthy community initiatives were possible because of the strong collaboration among our 37th Legislative District delegation – Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Kirsten Harris-Talley – and our visionary community partners. Investments include:
- Red Road Clean and Sober Housing (Renton) $773K
- Seattle Clinic at Evergreen Treatment (Seattle) $2M
- SIHB Thunderbird Treatment Center (Seattle) $3M
- FAME/Equity Alliance Washington, FAME Plaza (Seattle) $50M
- Skyway Affordable Housing and Early Learning (Skyway) $500K
- Squire Park Plaza affordable housing preservation (Seattle) $3M
- McKinney Center (Seattle) $1.2M
- Tubman Health Clinic (Seattle) $9M
- Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle Building (Seattle) $1M
- Wa Na Wari capital improvements (Seattle) $516K
- Weld Collaborative Reintegration Resource (Seattle) $1.55M
- Youth Achievement Center (Seattle) $1M
- Transitional Youth Housing and Services (Seattle) $750K
I was proud of the work we did in support of public safety, equity and vulnerable people.
Key bills passed this session
In addition to the transformative Move Ahead WA transportation package and the operating budget, a number of great bills came out of the legislature this session:
- Increasing transparency and equity in cannabis revenue appropriations (SB 5796).
- Establishing a Missing Indigenous Person alert system to prevent the crises of missing and murdered indigenous people in our state from getting worse (HB 1725).
- Banning high-capacity magazines (SB 5078) and ghost guns (HB 1705) and the open carry of weapons at local government and school board meetings, as well as banning weapons at election offices and voting centers (HB 1630).
- Making doulas more accessible to birthing individuals through the Doulas For All Act (HB 1881).
While not all my priority bills were passed this legislative session, every single one I was able to introduce represents hard work from community members, constituents, my staff, and others who are working to make our state better. I look forward to continuing these conversations and carrying these priorities into the next legislative session – such as strengthening the Washington Voting Rights Act and securing unemployment benefits for immigrant workers, to name a few.
Ways to reach out in the interim
Now that the legislative session is over and interim has begun, I will not be able to send out any more e-newsletters or post on my official state senate social media channels after May 16th. Even though I can’t communicate through these channels until after the election, I will continue to do the work of representing you and advocating for you, so please do not hesitate to contact me or my office if you have a problem or issue that we can help you solve.
You can send me an e-mail at Rebecca.Saldana@leg.wa.gov or call my office at 360-786-7688 with questions, for assistance, or to tell me about your position on issues that are important to you and your community.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Sen. Rebecca Saldaña