We’re about one-third of the way through the 2021 legislative session. We have now passed the deadline for bills to be voted out of committees in order for them to be still considered “alive” for the rest of the session.
As I shared in my last update, the Legislature has already approved nearly $4 billion in economic relief for small businesses and families. The second of two relief bills was signed by Gov. Inslee last week. This bill will make a $2.2 billion investment in schools, vaccines, housing, small business grants, food assistance, and childcare for people, small businesses, and organizations struggling from the pandemic.
These are what we call “early action” bills – ones that we drafted and approved quickly to get money and resources out to communities as soon as possible. Additional relief measures are also being worked on. I expect we’ll have more relief bills to approve before the session ends in April.
Update on Bills
I’m excited to report my first bill of the year passed off the Senate floor. As a state, we’ve done a good job over the last few years to protect our struggling Orca population. We’ve added new whale watching regulations, invested in fish habitats and hatcheries, and improved culvert passages.
But we still have challenges stemming from climate change, dirty water, and other issues that negatively affect marine habitat. Shoreline seawalls can also have a negative impact on critical nearshore habitat, which results in many environmental problems including a lack of adequate food for the Orcas.
The state has restrictions in place relating to the building of new seawalls, but private property owners of existing seawalls currently can replace aging seawalls with the same harmful structure that was originally installed.
My bill that passed the Senate, SB 5273, requires private property owners, when it comes time to repair or replace a seawall, to analyze the site to see if they can prevent erosion by less environmentally destructive means and to use those alternatives if so. You can see a list of those alternatives here.
Click here to watch my floor speech in support of this important measure. The bill is now over in the House where I’ll be working with members over there to get it passed.
Also approved by the Senate last week as my bill (SB 5026) to help preserve family-wage jobs at our ports in the face of increasing automation. Another bill ready for a floor vote is SB 5042 to close a critical loophole in the state Growth Management Act that could in the future prevent development from being permitted for projects such as the one proposed at Point Wells.
One of the many reasons I ran for this position in the Senate was to improve our health care system. The Senate recently passed to two big health care bills.
The first was SB 5140, which would protect pregnant patients’ access to health care during urgent medical situations. Some hospitals have prohibitions against their doctors and nurses from administering care to women experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This bill will protect doctors and nurses in these hospitals who administer urgent health care to patients experiencing complications during pregnancy.
Another bill that passed was SB 5229, which will require regular equity training in health care.
My Bills in The News
No one would dispute that monetary fines — from a $136 speeding ticket on up to $2.6 million for violating state campaign financing laws — can be effective in keeping everyone in line. We can easily think of plenty we’d rather do with that $136 than send it to the court.
Yet, for many, those fines — if they go unpaid and lead to a suspended driver’s license — become more than an annoyance, more than incentive to obey speed limits and other traffic laws. They can force an onerous choice for some between forgoing a paying job or performing other daily tasks and breaking the law to an ever more serious degree by driving with a suspended license, risking further fines, more debt and even jail time.
The piece concluded by saying:
Nobody likes to pay speeding tickets, but when choosing between that month’s rent and a fine, that choice shouldn’t cost someone a driver’s license, and then a job.
SB 5226 is currently on the Senate floor ready for a floor debate.
The Seattle Times Editorial Board came out in favor of my bill to limit discipline and accountability provisions in police union contracts. Writing about SB 5134, the Seattle Times Editorial Board said:
Police disciplinary actions are matters of public interest, fundamentally different from working conditions like benefits and wages. Removing discipline from collective bargaining is not an erosion of workers’ rights — it is an essential support to other police reforms.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, says he will try again next year. In an interview, he was quick to point out the groundbreaking legislation still under consideration: Bills originating in both the House and Senate that will raise standards, and strengthen oversight and accountability for officers who misuse their authority and violate the public trust.
Unfortunately, this bill will not be considered further this session, but I will continue working on this important issue and will revisit it again next year.
Virtual Town Hall
Save the date! Monday, March 15, 2021 from 7 – 8 p.m., Rep. Ryu, Rep. Davis, and I will answer your questions in a live virtual town hall. I’ll send additional details about how you can participate in my next update.
In the meantime, submit questions in advance with this SurveyMonkey link or send me any questions you want us to answer to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to reach me in 2021
The Legislature has gone mostly remote for the year while the public health crisis remains, so I will not be taking in-person meetings with constituents. I promise however to remain accessible. All of my meetings are being done over the phone or through video conference.
You can click here to contact my office to set up a phone or remote meeting.
32nd Legislative District