Hello friends and neighbors,
Today marks the 57th day of the 2023 legislative session, which means we are officially halfway through. Time flies, but I’m proud of what’s been accomplished so far for our community and for Washingtonians across the state. Last week we spent a lot of our time on the Senate floor voting on bills that will have a positive impact on our communities, and I am eager to share with you the progress we are making. I also want to remind you that your voice is integral in the lawmaking process and helps guide us to shape better policy. I encourage you to make your voice heard!
46th District Virtual Townhall
It is so important that you have a say in the decisions that affect you and our community. Please join us for a virtual town hall on Thursday, March 16th from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Together with Representatives Gerry Pollet and Darya Farivar, we will share our legislative priorities, provide an update on where things are at halfway through the 2023 Legislative session, and answer your questions on the issues that matter to you, your family, and your community. Below are all the different ways you can participate. We look forward to seeing you there!
How to watch:
Facebook The live video link will be posted in the discussion tab of the Facebook event.
The event will also be broadcast from my official Facebook page.
YouTube: The live video will start streaming on YouTube as soon as the event begins at 6:30 p.m. on March 16. Click here to watch the town hall on YouTube.
Twitter: The live video will also appear on the House Democrats Twitter page as soon as the event begins at 6:30 p.m. on March 16.
How to participate You can submit questions ahead of time by scanning the QR code in the flyer above or you can click here to access the questions online. You can also submit questions during the live event by commenting on the live broadcast on Facebook or YouTube.
This session, our Senate Democratic Caucus is committed to improving lives in Washington by acting on thoughtful legislation that puts people first. Our top priorities include building healthier communities, creating a healthy planet and a stronger economy, safety for all, a home for everyone and success for all our kids. Several bills that reflect these priorities have already passed in the Senate and are now under consideration in the House.
- Maintaining our planet and wildlife healthy is also at the top of our list this session. Senate Bill 5371, sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes), requires whale-watching boats and other marine vessels to refrain from approaching within 1,000 yards of a southern resident killer whale. Orcas are an emblematic symbol of our state’s ecosystem. It’s crucial that we step in and provide as much support as possible to these iconic animals. Latest reports estimate that only 73 southern resident orcas remain in existence, with at least 12 designated as vulnerable. This legislation would put in place the strictest vessel distancing requirements for orcas in the west coast, aiming to protect the critically endangered species from further decline.
- Like many Washingtonians, when we hear about gun violence in our community, we want to take action to prevent similar tragedies. The crisis of gun violence continues to affect our communities nationwide, including those in our state. Senate Bill 5078, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) will ensure that gun manufacturers and dealers must take reasonable steps to prevent their products from getting into the hands of dangerous individuals. I was happy to co-sponsor this bill which will ensure that firearms manufacturers and sellers will face liability if they fail to implement and enforce reasonable controls in the manufacture, sale, distribution, and marketing of firearms to keep them out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
- A bill sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett) will bring us closer to building healthier communities and providing accessible housing for all Washingtonians by building more homes near transit centers like light rail and rapid transit stations. By doing this we can shorten commutes, decrease carbon, and increase affordable housing. I was proud to support this bill and look forward to seeing it passed in the House.
- We know that our children are the future of our state. Success and safety for our children is a high priority guiding our decisions this session. Senate Bill 5365, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) is a great approach to ensure our kids stay safe. It addresses the concerning use of tobacco and vapor products among minors. This bill would increase penalties for retailers who sell tobacco products to minors and focus on offering community-based interventions to help them quit tobacco use. It’s so important that our kids never start this unhealthy habit. This will help.
- We are also supporting bills that will build healthier communities by providing more behavioral health options. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), would direct the Department of Health to license or certify crisis relief centers, a new type of crisis diversion facility that can provide short-term help to patients. It’s so crucial that we do our part to help our friends and neighbors in crisis and this policy is a great way to do that which is why this bill received unanimous support.
Hate Crimes Hotline Bill Not Advancing This Year
This session I also introduced legislation that would create a support system for victims of hate crimes and bias incidents. Hate crimes in the U.S. are on the rise and our state is no exception. Alarming data shows that hate crimes in Washington State have reached the highest level in over two decades. Even then, the true number of these incidents is likely significantly underreported due to distrust in law enforcement, fear of retaliation, inaccurate reporting, and language barriers. SB 5427 would establish a hotline administered by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for reporting these incidents. The hotline would accept reports of hate crimes and bias incidents and provide appropriate crisis intervention and information that is victim-centered, culturally competent, and trauma-informed.
Unfortunately, this bill did not make it out of committee and on to the Senate floor for a vote. However, I am committed to continue the fight against hate crimes and I stand in firm support of the victims and survivors of these acts of violence. We will work to bring this bill back in the next legislative session.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out! Keep those comments coming! It is always great to hear from you and about your interests and concerns for the session. Send me an email at Javier.Valdez@leg.wa.gov or give me a call at 360-786-7690. You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates throughout the coming months and we hope you can join me and my colleagues on March 16 for the virtual town hall!