We’re wrapping up another powerful week in the Senate and we’re almost done! It’s the legislative session’s last full week and I’m proud to say we made great progress. Some of my bills have already been passed through the House. I’m working on shepherding House education bills through the Senate.
Scroll below for a quick update.
School District Consultation with Local Tribes
I am honored and excited to report that my bill to equip school board members with tribal consultation training passed! SB 5252 (which cleared the governor’s desk yesterday!) will result in the development of elements and procedures of a formal consultation for engaging with local tribes.
The Washington State Native American Education Advisory Committee, the Washington State School Directors’ Association’s (WSSDA) Government-to-Government Task Force, the Tribal Leaders Congress on Education, and other stakeholders are on board. And I am looking forward to taking the training myself!
Legislation like this helps us work out how to address topics like mascots, regalia at graduation, canoe journeys and more. When schools celebrate the cultures of their students and when students feel seen, student success is more assured. I believe this well worked bill will have meaningful outcomes for many students and administrators.
In Solidarity with Missing Indigenous People.
Yesterday the Senate passed a resolution remembering and honoring missing indigenous children who fell victim to the hateful practices of early colonial boarding schools. There was a movement to take the “Indian” out of these youngsters. They were supposed to learn the ways of the white population. But they weren’t given a good education, they were often starved and mistreated and were deprived of loving families. This is a dark stain on our state’s treatment of tribal peoples.
Today we passed HB 1571 which helps tribal members in the state find missing or deceased loved ones. The bill also enables tribal members to conduct services for loved ones before their remains are moved, which is important for healing and reduces trauma.
The grant-funded measures in this bill supports organizations that are creating a safety net for those who are missing and trafficked. This will help missing indigenous persons find a way to safety and help trafficked individuals reintegrate back into their communities. The bill also ensures that jails are searched for these individuals.
We have a long way to go before we realize justice for missing indigenous people. I believe these actions by the legislature are a step forward.
Wellman: “Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine call for solidarity, unity”
On my father’s side, our family left their Ukrainian farmland and immigrated to Connecticut in the early 1900’s, where they started over in pursuit of the American dream. My grandmother, the matriarch of our family, moved us to flee increasing anti-Semitic violence in her home country. Because of her, I am here.
It has been quite extraordinary to view Ukraine’s growth as a democracy over the past years as well as their embracing greater diversity and inclusion is evidenced by the fact that they are the only European country with both a Jewish President and Prime Minister. I can’t imagine what my grandmother would have thought of this. Now, watching the horrible, unprovoked incursion by Russia calls for me to speak out. Every nation that values democracy must stand with Ukraine.
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution “recognizing and supporting Ukrainian Americans” following Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision early this week to halt Washington’s business economic ties with businesses and institutions in Russia.
Putting an End to a Deadly Practice
My heart goes out to Jolayne Houtz and Hector Martinez, Sam Martinez’ parents who have endured a pain higher than any other–the pain of losing a child. This week the legislature made history when we passed another anti-hazing bill named “Sam’s Law.” Named after the late UW student Sam Martinez, who’s accidental death was due to hazing, HB 1751 establishes a clear definition of these reckless acts, creates hazing prevention committees at public institutions of higher education, requires public and private institutions of higher education to prohibit hazing on and off-campus and more. It is past time that we put an end to these family-destroying practices and keep sacred our places of learning.
Washington State Auditor’s review of Summit Charter Schools
If you haven’t had a chance to read my Press Release on the Washington State Auditor’s review of Summit charter schools, I’ll briefly summarize: The audit noted that Washington schools receive funding based on their independent claims of certified, or eligible teachers. The state paid some $12.3 million in taxpayer dollars to Summit based on its internally reported number of certified teachers on staff. There were significant numbers of staff who were not Washington State Certified teachers. There wasn’t strong oversight on operations and due to these wrongly reported numbers, it is estimated that Summit schools could have received up to $3,890,855 more in apportionment funds than it should have per state law.
I encourage you to read more here.
Please Join Us!
Please join us for a Virtual Town Hall on March 16th at 6pm Pacific. This session ends next week so we’ll be doing an after-action review of the session, as well as taking all the questions we can get to. Stay up to date and make sure you don’t miss it by Following and Liking my page on Facebook! You can submit questions ahead of time at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LNGQZ7N
Honored to serve as you Senator,