Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Ortiz-Self’s e-newsletter for January 29, 2015

The legislative session is in full swing and I want to take a moment to update you on some of the work I have been doing in Olympia during the first 3 weeks.

I’m starting a new segment in which I respond to your emails and letters on video. Here’s the first one, let me know what you think:

 Aaron Barna Our work this session is about economic growth, opportunities, fairness and access. It’s about STRENGTHENING FAMILIES

Education and the state budget challenge

 In 2012 the Washington State Supreme Court found that Washington State is not complying with its paramount duty to fully fund education. The McCleary mandate says we must invest at least $1.3 billion more in K-12 education. Also, voters passed an initiative for smaller class sizes, which costs an extra $2 billion. And on top of that, we need significant improvements to our mental health and foster care systems. If that were not enough of a conundrum, we have over 120,000 teachers and state employees that have had their paychecks frozen for six years, reducing their buying power by 16 percent. Good teachers are leaving for other jobs.

The recession hit everyone hard, including our state. We cut $12 billion in state spending since 2008. We cannot continue making cuts and expecting positive outcomes. In the end, we’re probably looking at some level of spending cuts to go along with some new revenue in order to balance our state budget.

Fully funding education increases jobs and gives all students the OPPORTUNITY to succeed.

Mental Health needs reach epidemic proportions

A recent study put Washington State as number 48 out of 50 states, in regards to access for mental health services. This is unacceptable. You might have heard about Joel Reuter, who in 2013 was shot and killed by police after a standoff. This tragedy could have been avoided with proper treatment, which was not provided because under current law people with mental health issues cannot be involuntarily committed.

 Nieto, LiliaI am cosponsoring HB 1258, dubbed “Joel’s Law,” which would allow families to get a second opinion to determine whether their loved one needs to be involuntarily committed. Right now, families have little recourse to contribute to that determination. Families should have input on these decisions because they know their loved ones best. Watch the hearing in the Judiciary Committee on January 20 here.

Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time. Every family has some connection with someone suffering from issues like depression, suicidal thoughts, or mood disorders. Currently our jails and emergency rooms are used to serve our community members suffering from mental illness. This is not only an inappropriate treatment modality, it’s also very costly.

Let’s pass Joel’s Law and increase funding for mental health care programs our communities desperately need.

It’s about ACCESS.



Passing a comprehensive transportation package means more jobs for our communities. It also means building much-needed infrastructure, reduced traffic congestion, and repaired crumbling roads and bridges. It means bike paths, and increased transit services. It allows us to move our goods and people quickly so we can stay competitive. I am continuing to fight for the passage of a comprehensive transportation package.



I serve you best when I know what’s on your mind. Be sure to send me your thoughts on how to solve the budget challenge: What should we cut? What revenue options should we consider? And also let me know about any other issues that you’re dealing with back in district.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege to represent you.