Day of Remembrance and standing up to federal executive orders
This year we are seeing other forms of discrimination from our federal government. People have been denied entry to the U.S., detained unnecessarily, and even targeted because of where they come from. People in our neighborhoods are living in fear of persecution over what they look like or how they worship.
But there’s good news…
Last Thursday, I was happy to attend the ceremony in which Governor Inslee signed this Executive Order reaffirming our deeply held values: diversity, freedom from discrimination, and celebration of a culture that welcomes all.
As the governor’s order points out, our state relies on immigrants. Nearly one in seven people in Washington are immigrants and they are a vital part of our workforce. They are our neighbors, friends, and family members, and they contributed more than $2.4 billion in state and local taxes in 2014. Sixty percent of the Fortune 500 companies in Washington were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.
We have succeeded as a state not by rejecting their valuable contributions, but by embracing them.
The governor’s order includes a directive that prohibits any state law enforcement officer from entering into an agreement with the federal government, including ICE, to enforce federal immigration laws. It’s important that immigrants, regardless of their status, can go to law enforcement to denounce crimes and cooperate with our state agencies without fear of having their lives turned upside down.
This order is in line with similar actions that we are taking legislatively, like HB 2097, which passed the House unanimously yesterday, and denies the federal government access to any state information that contains the religious affiliation of individuals. As well as my bills:
- HB 1985 supporting the state economy and immigrants’ role in the workplace.
- HB 1988 allowing the courts to appoint a guardian for certain immigrant youth who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.
- HB 2029 providing a hotline for immigration resources, and helps agencies track incidences of harassment throughout the state.
It is hard to believe that our communities need these laws. Unfortunately, that’s the case. We have seen an increase in hurtful rhetoric by federal officials, and an increase in organized hate groups. As elected officials, our job is to protect our neighbors. That’s what these bills do.
A fair deal for foster kids
Every child deserves the opportunity to reach for his or her dreams. Children and young people in foster care need our support to help them succeed.
Foster kids already have it tough. Nationally:
The state is morally and legally responsible for taking care of foster kids, and it is not keeping up with its end of the bargain. That is why lawmakers are considering these reforms to help foster kids:
SHB 1617— I am sponsoring this bill, which will require guardian ad litem programs to limit their caseload of volunteer guardian ad litem (VGAL) coordinators so they supervise no more 30 volunteers. This bill will also require additional training for VGAL coordinators.
HB 1867 — I am proud to co-sponsor this bill that gives young people in foster care a better chance at successfully launching into adulthood by offering extended foster care to more young people between the ages of 18 and 21. This will help more of them get housing and other services. Making sure foster kids have a safe place to live is crucial to their success in high school, college, and life.
House approves six of my bills!
The House of Representatives has passed six of my bills so far this week. Now they go to the Senate for further consideration:
SHB 1293– School counselors or administrators can witness a student’s college bound scholarship pledge if the parent or guardian did not sign it after several notification attempts. This is prohibited if the parents don’t want the student to participate in the program.
HB 1298 – This is the Washington Fair Chance Act. It gives people with criminal records, who have paid their debt to society, a fair chance to earn a living and start a new, productive life. The bill prohibits an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal background until after the employer initially determines that the applicant’s merit, experience and skills qualify him or her for the job.
HB 1401– Prohibits anyone serving as a court-appointed special advocate or volunteer guardian ad litem from serving in the state if that person was found guilty of knowingly making a false statement during an official proceeding under oath.
HB 1445 – Will grow Washington’s language learning capacity by expanding dual language programs – a model that can help close the opportunity gap before it starts, while supporting our schools in embracing language and culture diversity to help all children and their families thrive.
SHB 1618– Specifies minimum duties for family and community engagement coordinators:
- Identifying and bridging barriers to students’ and families’ access to needed services.
- Consulting with an advisory group of students’ families that reflect the demographic diversity of the school district.
- Collaborating with community-based organizations to increase resources for family and community engagement.
HB 1988 – Allows the courts to appoint a guardian for certain immigrant youth who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned and are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking and the sex trade industry. By helping kids in these situations, we will be giving them a real chance for a better life.
We recently had Suicide Prevention Education Day and held a Ceremony of Remembrance and Hope for a Suicide-Safer Homes Memorial on the Capitol lawn, to recognize the lives lost to suicide in 2015.
The colors in the visually striking memorial reflect different manners of death: red for firearm, white for suffocation, yellow for poisoning or prescription overdose, and green for jumping or cutting.
It was very moving to hear the stories of survivors and to see so many people there supporting the work we’ve done at the Legislature to make Washington state the leader in the nation in suicide prevention.
This year, I am supporting these measures to further our vision of making Washington a model suicide prevention state:
HB 1122 encourages the safe storage of firearms.
HB 1047 is a drug take-back program to protect public health through safe storage and disposal of medications.
HB 1377 I am sponsoring this student mental health bill, which promotes collaboration between school districts with mental health centers and local licensed mental health services, and convenes a task force to study the need of school counselors, psychologists, and social workers and look at alternative certification routes.
HB 1612 creates a fund for a Suicide-Safer Homes public education platform.
Watch my videos and visit my website
Likewise, be sure to stop by my website from time to time to read previous newsletters, press releases, and other information on what I’m working on in Olympia.
Mark your calendar: Town Hall Meeting coming up
Sen. Marko Liias, Rep. Strom Peterson and I will host a town hall meeting on March 18.
I hope you can join us at the Meadowdale High School Great Hall (6002 168th Street SW, Lynnwood), on Saturday, March 18, from 2 to 4 p.m.
This was a long newsletter and I truly appreciate your taking the time to read it. I hope you found it informative. As always, please contact my office if you have any questions or concerns.