Successful public hearing for Rep. Kagi’s Early Start Act

 Washington State Legislative Sup

Rep. Kagi testifying on Early Start

OLYMPIA – Yesterday, in a packed hearing room, Early Learning & Human Services Committee members heard testimony from countless supporters on HB 1491, The Early Start Act.

“Early learning has the highest return on investment of any education dollar spent,” said Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, Chairwoman of the Early Learning & Human Services Committee and prime sponsor of the bill. “Estimates range from $4-$17 for every dollar invested. When children start school with the skills they need, they are prepared to succeed. If we want better education outcomes for our children, investing in early learning is the critical first step.”

The hearing drew a wide range of supporters of high quality preschool including, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett, Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan and retired Navy Admiral Eleanor Valentin, among many others.

Sheriff Burnett and Chief Strachan emphasized that the best investment we can make to improve public safety is high quality early learning.

“Seventy percent of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma,” said Chief Strachan. “And one of the few proven ways to increase graduation rates is high-quality early learning. It’s about doing the right thing, early on.”

The latest data on kindergarten readiness shows that nearly half of Washington’s children are not ready for kindergarten. The Early Start Act will support high-quality and culturally relevant early learning that, beginning at birth, helps close the opportunity gap by getting children to the kindergarten door on a more even playing field.

Rear Admiral Eleanor Valentin, a 31-year Navy Veteran, who, when she recently retired was the highest ranking woman of color in the Pentagon, spoke to the merits of the Early Start Act as it relates to National Security.

“Three-fourths of young adults aged 17-24 are unfit for military duty because they can’t pass the physical and mental tests required,” she said. “Early Start is part of a strategy that will allow our children to succeed, whether they choose to join the military or pursue civilian careers. It’s a smart investment for all who care about the future of our kids and the future of our national security.”

The bill is scheduled for a committee vote next week.

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Strong Support for Mass Transit Expansion in House Hearing

Legislation to expand regional transit service in the Puget Sound received positive support from local elected officials and members of the community at a hearing of the House Transportation Committee yesterday afternoon.

“Sound Transit 3 would expand predictable and reliable light rail further into Pierce, Snohomish, and King Counties, providing greater transportation choices and reducing gridlock for those who use personal vehicles,” said Representative Jake Fey, Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee and the prime sponsor of the bill.

The legislation, House Bill 1180, would give the residents of the Puget Sound region the opportunity to vote on a handful of new taxes that would expand popular high-capacity transit services that help combat rising congestion and promote economic growth.

“This bill gives the people the ability to vote as soon as next year to expand light rail and buses for the region,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “As the Central Puget Sound region continues to grow, it will take investments in transit to keep commuters, goods, and our economy moving.”

Sound Transit serves 40 percent of Washington’s population. Its service area include more than 50 cities that are responsible for 70 percent of the state’s economic activity. With the Puget Sound region expected to grow by nearly a million people and add more than a million jobs over the next 25 years, a strong transit system is critically important.

“We need to invest in our transportation system for our economy, our environment and our quality of life. People in the Puget Sound region are clamoring for better options for getting around and mass transit is an important part of our network,” said Representative Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle), Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee.

Sound Transit has an excellent track record of building projects on time and within budget. The original Central Link light rail line opened on schedule and $105 million under budget. The expansion into north Seattle, set to open in early 2016, is six to nine months ahead of schedule and approximately $150 million under budget.

If this legislation is approved, voters could see a ballot measure for their consideration as soon as November 2016.

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For interviews or more information:

Rep. Jake Fey, 360-786-7974 or

Staff: Quinn Majeski, 360-786-7225 or

Print-quality photo:


For access to Sound Transit representatives and information

Geoff Patrick, 206-398-5313 or


Radio and TV news directors: 

To obtain broadcast-quality audio on these issues, or to arrange for TV or radio interviews, please contact House Democratic Caucus Broadcast Coordinator Dan Frizzellat 360-786-7208 or

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Sullivan bill helps local schools match learning activities to communities

House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D-Covington) introduced a bill today to help bring additional education opportunities to underserved areas and students.

HB 1795 would give more flexibility to the process that allows schools to use a portion of Learning Assistance Program (LAP) money to contract with community organizations to provide after-school and summer education programs. It would also require that parents be involved in the service provided.

Currently, the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office must approve such contracts. Sullivan’s bill would also streamline the process by eliminating that extra step. The bill specifies reporting requirements to OSPI to ensure the money is being used efficiently.

“Local school officials know best how to use discretionary funds to educate their students,” Sullivan said. “My bill would require the funds be used on services that reflect the needs of each specific community.”

For example, Sullivan said “summer learning loss” – when students forget some of what they learned the school year before – can be reduced by summer school programs, thereby reducing the “opportunity gap” that occurs in many communities.

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Jinkins & Frockt introduce legislation to help law enforcement and protect families

 Legislative Support ServicesLegislation to help families and law enforcement when someone is at extreme risk for committing violence against themselves or others was introduced today by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. Companion legislation will be introduced by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma.

The legislation would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms when there is documented evidence that there are at an extreme risk to harm themselves or others.

Under the legislation, Extreme Risk Protection Orders temporarily remove access to firearms for 14 days. A hearing is then held to evaluate the case and determine whether the Order should be continued. Those requesting a suspension of firearm access must provide sworn evidence and can be arrested for knowingly presenting false evidence.

A person experiencing a crisis can exhibit signs that alert family or community members to the potential for violence. But under current law, a person suffering from mental illness is not prohibited from purchasing and possessing a gun unless he or she has been formally and involuntarily committed for more than 14 days or has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Bergquist introduces Youth Voter Registration Act

 Legislative Support Services

Legislative page Erin Demir joins Rep. Steve Bergquist (D-Renton) as he formally introduces the Youth Voter Registration Act. The legislation would allow students to automatically register using in the Motor Voter process when they get their first driver’s license. The proposed law (House Bill 1294) receives its first hearing on Jan. 29 in the State Government Committee.

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