Washington State House Democrats


Update from Olympia – Moving Forward on Education

Greetings from Olympia!
As we enter week 4 of the 2016 legislative session, I wanted to update you on what I’ve been working on this year. With my House Democratic colleagues, I am fighting to rebuild our middle class and close the opportunity gap. In this newsletter you will learn more about my efforts to improve the education of our kids, protect pregnant workers, ensure the safety on our roads, and add accountability to our tax loopholes.

Last week a group of Seattle legislators announced a package of bills that would make sure every kid gets a fair shot at an excellent education. The package addresses some of Seattle School District’s most urgent problems. These bills support the work being done to fully fund education statewide. These proposals, together with what the House passed last week, will make a real difference for students in Seattle Public Schools. As Democrats, we believe this is a very important session for education, not a do-nothing session.

Attendees at today's press event: Rep. Farrell; parent advocates Eden Mack, Summer Stinson, Sofia Deglel and Chandra Hampson; Senator Carlyle; Senator Frockt; Rep. Santos; Rep. Frame Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislative Support Services
Attendees at today’s press event: Rep. Farrell; parent advocates Eden Mack, Summer Stinson, Sofia Deglel and Chandra Hampson; Senator Carlyle; Senator Frockt; Rep. Santos; Rep. Frame

We focused on four key areas: capacity for students; recruitment of teachers; accountability for school district operations; and closing the opportunity gap.

You can watch the entire press conference here. I will be fighting for all three school districts in the 46th (Northshore, Shoreline, and Seattle) by ensuring we have great teachers, enough classrooms, and strong taxpayer accountability. Our Supreme Court has told us we have to, and for the sake of our students, it’s the right thing to do.

My Bills
I want to highlight a couple of the other bills that I am sponsoring this year:

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
No woman should be forced to quit her job because her pregnancy requires frequent restroom breaks or because she can’t stand up for 8 hours. As the mother of three young children, I have some real-life experience with the challenges faced by pregnant women in the workforce. As one of the only Members of the legislature to give birth in recent memory, I was surprised at how hard I had to work to get reasonable accommodations to continue to do my job representing the people of the 46th district. If a state lawmaker has to use the leverage of her position to get accommodations, what can a less powerful worker like a grocery clerk expect?

Entering the House Chamber with my son Julian on the first day of last year's session
Entering the House Chamber with my son Julian on the first day of last year’s session

My bill, House Bill 2307, requires employers, who have more than eight employees, to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as the use of a stool, more frequent bathroom breaks, access to food and water, and temporary reassignment to lighter duty.   The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act requires employers to make the small changes that promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, keeps women in the workforce and helps businesses by reducing turnover.

Hear some great news coverage here.   I am hopeful that the House will pass this bill this week!

Distracted Driving
Everyone deserves to be able to use our roads and sidewalks without worrying about whether or not the drivers traveling next to them are updating Twitter instead of giving their full attention to driving their vehicle.   At one point, Washington led the nation when we passed one of the first bills to ban texting while driving. Unfortunately, those bills have not kept up with technology. Our law currently bans sending texts while driving, talking while holding a phone to your ear, but is silent on updating Twitter, sending work emails, or Instagramming. It’s time to bring our distracted driving into 2016, and House Bill 2574 does just that. It has been heard in the House Transportation Committee, and is scheduled to be voted out of committee this week.   You can see all of the bills I am working on here.

Accountability Needed for the Boeing Tax Cut
As you probably remember, in 2013 the Legislature voted for a record tax cut for Boeing in a one-day special session. Since we passed that tax exemption, Boeing has cut 4,057 jobs from its workforce in Washington. Many of these jobs were shifted to other states with their own tax exemptions. The big difference though between Washington and these other states is that many of the other states (Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina) all require that a certain number of jobs be created or maintained in the state for Boeing to receive the tax exemption.   We failed to include such a provision here in Washington, and the people of Washington deserve better, which is why I am a proud co-sponsor of House Bill 2638, the Aerospace Tax Incentive Accountability Act, which will ensure that Boeing is delivering on their promise, and that Boeing is paying their fair share.

Other Issues
The issues above are only some of the issues I am working on this session. There is work being done to improve mental health care, address climate change, gun violence, to name a few other challenges.