Greetings from Olympia! I’m honored to represent you in the state House of Representatives as we continue to work on addressing Washington’s pressing needs.
Teacher Shortage at a Crisis Point
As a mom with two kids in school, I’ve seen firsthand the substitute teacher crisis—there are just not enough substitutes to fill in when teachers are absent. In fact, three-quarters of school principals reported that they personally substituted for a classroom teacher in a recent five day period. This shortage of substitute teachers has placed a strain on our school system – a strain that is felt in every region of the state and at every level.
As the legislature grapples with the “big picture” of McCleary funding, we must not lose sight of this immediate crisis.
There are a number of proposals we’ve been discussing, including a bill we voted off the House floor Monday to allow retired teachers to serve as substitutes. This seems like a reasonable approach and would also help transfer deep institutional knowledge to the next generation of education professionals.
Unlike many other education challenges we’re facing this year, the substitute teacher shortage can be solved this session.
Being ABLE to Save
Most Washingtonians with disabilities desire a life of self-sufficiency. Most of their parents wish them a life of financial security as well.
However, as federal law stands now, if an individual with disabilities saves or inherits more than $2,000–for a car, for college, or for a place of their own–they will lose their benefits.
A new bill introduced by Rep. Kilduff, HB 2323, known as the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act or “ABLE” Act, allows those with disabilities build up savings without fear of losing their benefits. Whether you have a loved one with a disability, volunteer with the Friendship Circle or simply understand the importance of feeling economically secure, this is a change we need to make. An ABLE program can be a vital part of allowing individuals to reach their dreams.
Getting to the Bottom of the DOC
Like you, I’ve been following the recent discovery of sentencing problems at the Department of Corrections (DOC) with alarm. Just last week, I had the opportunity to explore this issue with the new DOC Director during a briefing in the General Government and Information Technology Committee. The unintended early release of more than 3,000 prisoners, with at least 28 of these released prisoners having been accused or convicted of committing new crimes, is unacceptable.
These aren’t just statistics. Their improper release has had real consequences in our communities. One early-released offender has been charged with vehicular homicide in the death of a Bellevue mother of two.
Calculating sentences is quite difficult, with consideration of prior crimes, good behavior, community supervision, and other mitigating factors, but so is being a victim of a crime and seeing the offender released early. I am particularly concerned that some DOC staff knew of this problem back in 2012, yet there was little effort to elevate this issue to a level where it could be addressed. I will continue to monitor this issue and work to get it corrected.
Health & Safety of Our Built Environment
A recent article highlights the important work of our State Building Code Council which includes ensuring buildings are safely constructed. I have been working with stakeholders to ensure this important group stays funded and working smoothly. Read more.
It’s been a pleasure meeting with all of the constituents who have made it down to Olympia this session. Getting the chance to speak with you about the issues that matter most is truly rewarding. If you’re planning on visiting the legislature, please be sure to reach out to my office to schedule some time for us to meet!