Dear friends and neighbors,
We wrapped-up the fourth week of this 60-day session on Friday, which was also the deadline for bills to be voted out of policy committees. The ones that didn’t make it are officially dead, at least for this session.
Bills in fiscal committees still have today and tomorrow to be heard and voted on. So, as you can imagine, everybody here in Olympia is in high gear.
Cutoff days are definitely intense but, you know, it’s important to keep in mind why we are here. I’m here to bring your concerns to the big table and pass legislation that reflects those interests: issues that matter to our 19th district communities, but that can also make a difference to people across the state.
The only way to do this successfully is by working with legislators from both parties and both chambers. Sure, we don’t always agree, but most of the time we manage to reach solutions that we can all live with. I truly believe that bipartisanship is a pillar of our democracy.
Click on the image below to watch my latest video update on the importance of working across the aisle.
Privacy and Technology: a balancing act
As companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies rush ahead with developing new technologies in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition, among others, we have no rules or standards governing their use and no safeguards to correct their failures.
As a result, what’s on the line is our most fundamental right as Americans, the right to privacy. When new technology threatens our privacy and our way of life, we need to take a closer look.
That’s exactly what we’re doing this session with a slate of bills addressing privacy issues:
HB 2856 places a three-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by government agencies and private companies in Washington state.
HB 2401 requires employers that use Artificial Intelligence in hiring decisions to inform potential applicants of those technologies and obtain consent.
HB 2742 this measure, known as the “Washington Privacy Act,” is a comprehensive consumer privacy statute.
HB 2363 declares that people have an absolute privacy right in their biometric identifiers. It convenes a task force to examine issues related to infringement of these rights by biometric surveillance technology and make recommendations to the Legislature.
HB 2365 creates a sticker to notify Washington consumers of products that transmit their user data to the manufacturer or to other businesses.
HB 2396 bans the use of a bot to incentivize a commercial transaction or engage in political advertising without disclosing that it is a bot. It also calls for an online platform for users to report suspected violations for investigation.
Securing Washington’s election system
Hackers are constantly targeting Washington’s election system. It’s true, and it’s not just within our borders, many of the attacks are coming from abroad. The fact is, they’re getting better at their crimes, so we must get better at protecting our electoral system from those who aim to undermine its integrity.
In January, the House passed election security legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill requires the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Chief Information Officer to consult with county auditors to identify instances of security breaches in elections systems and determine whether they are foreign or domestic. It also requires the Secretary of State to report to the Legislature when security breaches happen and give options to increase the security of our elections systems.
We know that our election networks and data are under constant threat of being hacked. It is crucial that Washington’s election officials and the Legislature have the capacity to protect our infrastructure and thwart these attacks.
We have a childcare crisis
In a public hearing on HB 2661, the Fair Start for Kids Act, held on January 21, the Human Services & Early Learning Committee heard from over 40 parents, childcare providers and companies about the high costs of childcare. I encourage you to watch the hearing and listen to the testimony on TVW.
This is nothing short of a crisis. One look at these facts is enough to understand just how bad it is:
- Nearly half of Washington parents have a hard time finding affordable childcare, directly affecting their employment.
- Washington businesses lose $2.08 billion a year due to lack of childcare.
- Ninety-percent of a child’s brain develops by age five, yet more than half of Washington children enter kindergarten already behind.
- Forty-three percent of childcare providers turn over every year because they aren’t earning a living wage.
- Currently, the state only invests one percent of the budget in childcare and early learning.
The problem is not isolated, it is affecting people in every district, including ours. A step in the right drection is HB 2661, which would expand accessible, affordable childcare and early childhood development programs. It was heard in the Appropriations Committee last week; I’m hoping it gets to the Floor for a vote.
Would a 32-hour work week actually work in Washington? I’ve heard concerns about this Senate bill from several folks back home. Watch my response to a constituent on this issue clicking the image below.
Thank you for honoring me with your trust and taking the time to read my newsletter. I hope you found it informative. If you have questions or want more information on a specific issue, please contact my office.