Dear friends and neighbors,

Time has flown by! The finish line is in sight, and we are busier than ever trying to accomplish as much as we can for our communities. Last week marked another pivotal cutoff, where bills had to pass the opposite chamber to still have the chance of becoming law. This week, we’re working out any differences between bills passed by the House and Senate and voting on a final state budget. As we wrap up our last week of the 2023 legislative session, I’m excited to provide an update on some of the work we’ve done since my last newsletter.


Raising awareness

March and April are a time of great significance for many communities of faith around the world—from Norouz, to Ramadan, to Passover and Easter. It has also been a time to honor the legacies of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, two important leaders in the American labor and civil rights movements. Each of these events serves as a reminder of the enduring strength and resilience of diverse communities, and the power of faith, hope, and unity to overcome even the greatest challenges.

Putting people first

Putting people first continues to be the guiding principle of the Washington State Senate Democrats. Despite the challenges we face in bending the arc toward justice, I am encouraged by the progress that will be made through the legislation that has made it through the policy cut off deadline last week. While change may be slow, the steady hope that we see in these policies gives us reason to continue pushing forward. By prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society, we can create a more just and equitable world for all.

Here are some of the bills I championed that align with our values and priorities:

  • SB 5304 — testing individuals who provide language access to state services. This bill will help ensure that Washingtonians have high quality language access services by preventing financially interested entities from performing certifications and ensuring that interpreters are high-quality, competent, and professional. This bill has been signed into law by Gov. Inslee and goes into effect July 23.
  • SB 5320 — relating to journey level electrician certifications of competency. This bill modifies the eligibility requirements for obtaining journey level electrician certification and restores pathways for certification for people who are coming from out of state or who have military experience. It supports Washington state’s bold efforts to move away from greenhouse gases and toward electrification by building a workforce that helps us better meet modern demands. It has been signed into law by the governor and goes into effect July 1.
  • SB 5238 — expanding collective bargaining for employees enrolled in academic programs at public institutions of higher education. This bill allows these workers to negotiate for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions so we can benefit from the talent of the best and brightest while they pursue their academic pursuits. This bill has also been signed into law by the governor.
  • SB 5046 — relating to postconviction access to counsel. This bill provides additional state-funded services for appellate and postconviction defense opportunities for people who can’t afford a lawyer. It has passed both chambers and is on the governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law.
  • SB 5080 — expanding and improving the social equity in cannabis program. This bill makes significant amendments to the existing statutes of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board’s (WSLCB) social equity in cannabis program to award retail cannabis licenses to people from the communities most affected by the war on drugs. It has passed both chambers and is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature.
  • SB 5101 — concerning extraordinary medical placement for incarcerated individuals. This bill sets criteria for an extraordinary medical placement that is more nuanced than the current criteria so that people who are at the end of their lives and low risk to the community will receive compassionate release, and this in turn will save the state money. It has passed in the House and Senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
  • SB 5256 — expanding the child welfare housing assistance program. This bill will save the state money in costly out-of-home care and, most importantly, will keep families together and ensure stable housing for children by expanding the child welfare program and making it permanent. It has passed both chambers and is on the way to the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 5365 — preventing use of vapor and tobacco products by minors. This bill would increase fines for retailers who sell vapor and tobacco products to people under age 18, offer community-based interventions to help youths quit tobacco, and increase enforcement to ensure retailer compliance with tobacco and vapor product laws. This bill has passed both chambers and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
  • SB 5504 — addressing open motor vehicle safety recalls. This bill provides better notification and raises awareness of open safety recalls at the time of vehicle registration. This will encourage people to get the needed repairs and improve traffic safety. It has passed both the Senate and the House and awaits the governor’s signature.

Farmworker Awareness

March 25-31 was Farmworker Awareness Week — a week of action to bring attention to farmworkers and honor them for the contributions they make to our daily lives. For generations, agricultural workers across the country have been denied some of the most fundamental rights that other workers take for granted. Today, we continue the fight for fair treatment and equal rights for farmworkers in Washington state and across America. Farmworkers help keep us healthy and well nourished by providing the food on our tables. Let’s honor and thank all our farmworkers for everything they do!

On Cesar Chavez Day – March 31 – the Yakima Herald-Republic published an op-ed I wrote on this subject. It explains that agricultural workers deserve fundamental workplace protections just like every other worker. You can read the full article HERE.

As we near the final stages of crafting our state’s budgets and policies, I want to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to all my constituents in the 37th who have shared their invaluable insights and expertise with me. It is only through the collective efforts of our diverse and dedicated community that we can create meaningful change and build a more just and equitable future for all. Our democracy is a team sport, and each and every one of us has an important role to play in this ongoing experiment. Together, we have addressed some of the most pressing issues facing our state, from housing affordability, special education, and community-led development to safety, higher education, and environmental justice, and I am proud of the progress we have made so far. As we move forward, let us continue to work together with compassion, resilience, and a deep commitment to justice, so that we can build a brighter future for ourselves, our communities, and generations to come.

Stay in touch

Although session is almost over, I encourage you to continue to stay engaged and involved in the legislative process. Your input and feedback are vital to ensuring that we are creating policies that truly serve the needs of our community. Send me an email at or give me a call at 360-786-7688. Also, make sure to follow me on my social media pages for regular updates.

 Instagram – senatorsaldana   Facebook – State Senator Rebecca Saldaña  Twitter – @sen_saldana

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca Saldaña