Greetings from Olympia!

The final gavel fell on the 2018 legislative session last night and I couldn’t be more proud of what our new Democratic majority accomplished this year. We started 60 days ago with big goals and we were able to deliver legislation that will improve lives in communities across the state. I have a lot to share!


The biggest investment we made this year was in education, and as chair of the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, I spent a bulk of the session focused on improving schools and education policy. Our final budget fully funds teacher salaries by the start of the 2018-19 school year, as ordered by the state Supreme Court. We were also able to make needed adjustments to the sweeping education legislation (HB 2242) passed in 2017. Our schools will see more funding for special education, and levy capacity will grow at a more accurate inflationary rate, which will help maintain local support for enhancements we value in our Eastside schools.

I was also proud to sponsor the Breakfast after the Bell legislation in the Senate this year. The idea is pretty simple — hungry kids have a hard time paying attention and learning. This common-sense legislation will result in more kids starting the day with a nutritious meal, a dynamic that has been proven in the schools that already had this program.

I will have another update soon highlighting all the other great investments made this year in the supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets.

Keep Washington Working Act

I was proud to again sponsor the Keep Washington Working Act (SB 5689), which would safeguard our thriving economy, protect the state from the lack of federal immigration action, and recognize the important role of immigrants in Washington’s workplaces. I believe we have a responsibility to stand up for Washington businesses and protect our economy. From Puget Sound tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft to our agricultural producers across the state, our economy depends on the energy and talent of immigrants. While the legislation did not pass this session, I will not give up on all the workers who are the engine of our economy. I plan to introduce the bill again in 2019.

Eliminating dangerous chemicals

One of the measures I worked on this year concerned perfluorinated chemicals, which are found in fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and butter wrappers, among other everyday items. These persistent chemicals get into our food and from there into our bodies, where they build up to increasing levels. The chemicals have been linked to health concerns ranging from cancer, to developmental toxicity, to the disruption of hormones. The House companion legislation to my bill passed the Legislature and will lead to our food being packaged in safer materials. Washington also became the first state in the nation to ban perfluorinated chemicals in firefighting foam. For years, firefighters have sprayed the foam around Washington’s military airstrips and fire-training facilities, including the facility in Issaquah. The state Department of Ecology will now study these chemicals so we can take a comprehensive approach to creating a toxic-free environment.

Making progress in 2018

2018 Washington State Senate Democrats.

When Democrats won control of the Senate last November, we identified several key priorities as part of a session-long focus on “putting people first” and completing the people’s work on time with a balanced budget. We passed landmark legislation with bipartisan support throughout the 2018 session, putting the needs of people first in a wide range of areas.

We passed a statewide property tax cut to give households relief from the Republican Property Tax of 2017. In 2019, property taxes will be lowered by $0.31 per $1,000 of assessed value.

We banned bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to give a semi-automatic rifle the rapid-fire capability of a machine gun.

We required equal pay for equal work to close the wage gap between women and men who do the same work with the same experience.

We passed The Reproductive Health Equity Act to make sure women have the option of choosing the healthcare choices that are best for them and their families. We also passed legislation to require health care providers to cover the cost of 3-D mammograms and to require doctors to inform and assist patients who have high breast density, to better detect early signs of breast cancer.

We strengthened health care coverage for all Washingtonians, addressing health care needs such as disease screening and contraception access in the event the Trump administration continues to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

We expanded high-speed broadband access to rural communities through actions to increase internet access throughout our state, regardless of where you live.

We took action to create more family-wage jobs in rural areas by: directing the state to assess thousands of acres of trust lands that could be harvested without harming endangered species; requiring the state to explore ways to make common-sense land swaps to boost our timber industry; and creating a stronger market for wood products by updating the building code to include cross-laminated lumber.

We increase funding in the capital and operating budgets to help stem the opioid crisis. Much of the funding is directed toward behavioral health and crisis care.

We protected Washingtonians from unfair fees charged by financial institutions to freeze and unfreeze credit accounts when information is breached as in the notorious Equifax debacle.

We expanded voter access to Democracy on several fronts. We passed The DISCLOSE Act to expose hidden money in elections; same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration, and voter pre-registration; and The Washington Voting Rights Act to provide representation to disenfranchised voters.

We passed Net Neutrality to protect Washington households from receiving slowed or reduced internet service.

We protected college students from fraudulent and predatory practices by lenders that saddle students with spiraling debt by passing The Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect.

We reformed juvenile justice to reduce recidivism by increasing access to evidence-based rehabilitative services for certain youth who would otherwise be tried and sentenced as adults. We also gave prosecutors more discretion to divert less serious cases so youth can access the services and help they need to get back on track.

We passed The Dream Act 2.0 to expand access to higher education for students who are DACA recipients.

We fought to limit the disclosure of people’s religious affiliations to protect them from federal authorities who would use the information to arrest or apprehend law-abiding Washingtonians.

We banned conversion therapy, the practice of applying physical and mental discomfort to try to force LGBTQ minors to conform to a gender identity other than which feels appropriate for who they are.

We phased out Atlantic salmon net pen farms that threaten the health of our water and native finfish populations such as salmon.

International Women’s Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and we marked the occasion with a video message. Please take a minute to watch the video on my new official Facebook page.

Stay in Touch!

I am proud to be a member of a caucus that prioritized legislation to make our households healthier and our communities stronger. As a result, our state provided a national example for what can be done when Democrats are united and put people first. Please continue to reach out to me with any questions. It’s a true privilege to serve the 41st District.