Greetings from Olympia!

As 2018 begins, I’m happy to report some exciting changes in the Legislature. After five years of Republican control, Democrats gained a one-seat majority after winning a special election last November in the 45th Legislative District. With Senate Democrats back in the majority, our caucus now has the power to set the agendas of committees and floor action, determining which bills will be heard and brought up for vote. This change in power gives us opportunities to pass important legislation that puts people first!

I recently visited Enetai Elementary to learn more about ECEAP.

New year, new responsibilities

The Legislature convenes today in Olympia and I will have the honor of chairing the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. As a former educator, I am thrilled to have the chance to focus on improving outcomes for the more than one million children in our public schools. As you know, the Legislature passed a broad package of legislation in 2017 related to the McCleary school funding case. When this passed after lengthy special sessions, there was uncertainty as to exactly how these policy changes would play out in each school district. In our first public hearing in the education committee on Jan. 9 we’ll hear from school districts about ways we can improve and refine that legislation so that we move closer to our overarching goal – ensuring every student receives a world-class education.

I recently sat down with the League of Education Voters to discuss the upcoming session. You can listen to the podcast here.

In addition to my Senate committee assignments, Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib recently appointed me to his International Trade and Economic Development Commission.


One of my first priorities early this session will be passing legislation to expand the successful “Breakfast After the Bell” program to more schools around the state. The program ensures more students — especially those with limited financial means — have access to a nutritionally balanced meal after the first bell of the school day. We know the traditional before-school breakfast program doesn’t always work for every student, and this bill will give our districts more options to put students in a position to learn.
I’m also focused on expanding access to high-speed internet across the state, especially ensuring access in every classroom and public library. Several school districts still lack access to a reliable internet connection, and that must change. If we expect our kids to attain the skills they will need to compete in our current global economy, we must have digital parity across all 295 school districts.

Capital budget

When the long 2017 session finally ended last summer, Senate Republicans left town and refused to bring up the bipartisan capital construction budget for a vote because of an unrelated dispute with the House over rural water wells. Their actions have delayed important projects throughout the state, including school construction and important environmental cleanup projects. They blocked hundreds of family-wage jobs and many state employees have been laid off. As we resume work to resolve this standoff, I have renewed hope that we can pass a capital budget early this session and get these crucial projects re-started.

We toured the Yakima watershed, learning about the need for infrastucture projects critical to our economy across the state.

Closing the book on 2017

Last year was tough for many of us due to the constant chaos coming from our nation’s capital, but we also saw a surge in citizen participation and engagement – which gives me hope for 2018. For me, it was a year about learning as well as doing. As a freshman, I had the chance to focus on issues that impact people here in the 41st Legislative District and across the state. The past few months have been full of learning opportunities:

• I joined Principal David Staight and other leaders to celebrate the grand opening Bellevue’s Bennett Elementary. It’s exciting to think of all the learning that will take place in that beautiful facility for years to come. Go Bulldogs!

• I had a great visit to Enetai Elementary (photo above) to visit with students in ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program). I learned a lot about this innovative program for our littlest learners. There are many children still waiting to get into this program – we have more work to do!

• I had the chance to travel east of the Cascades to learn about Yakima watershed’s integrated management strategy. This partnership is all about sustainability – water for today and water for tomorrow.

• I travelled to Moses Lake to discuss rural jobs, tour local manufacturers and visit a data server farm. It’s always exciting to see great examples of economic development in rural Washington up close. I was also interviewed by the local paper about my ideas on how to improve infrastructure financing.

Stay in Touch!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office this year. I always love to hear about the issues important to you. It’s a true honor to serve you in the Legislature.

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and productive new year.