This year, I’m focused on:
- Legislation to ensure equal pay for women,
- The Washington Voting Rights act,
- A Capital Budget for school construction and infrastructure,
- Improvements to our mental health care system,
- Expanded opportunities for education beyond high school, including more apprenticeships, certificates, and degrees,
This is an ambitious list and there’s a lot to do in a 60-day session. But I’m off and running.
The Washington Voting Rights Act
The Washington Voting Rights Act would allow communities that are systemically disenfranchised in local government elections to work collaboratively with their local governing bodies to adjust local elections without going through costly and time-consuming federal litigation.
If this collaborative process fails after six months, a process that is not available under the Federal Voting Rights Act, communities can then seek relief in state court.
Passing the Washington Voting Rights Act will result in an improved process for addressing systems that perpetually disenfranchise significant segments of local voting populations.
I’m supporting this measure to give underrepresented voters a stronger, more meaningful voice in the government closest to them, and empower them to elect leaders that best reflect their community’s values and vision.
Every other week I get the opportunity to respond to constituent e-mails on camera, so I welcome your questions! In this first Ask Lillian of 2018, I talk about one of my bills, the Fair Chance Act. Click on the image to watch the video.
Improving outcomes in for 1.1 million public school students
The state’s paramount duty is to fund basic education for every student in Washington. Over the years, that funding became inadequate and the Supreme Court ruled the Legislature had to meet its obligation. It wasn’t easy. Compromises were needed with a Republican-led Senate. But in 2017, the Legislature enacted the last remaining major piece of legislation to get our education funding system back on the right track.
Lawmakers budgeted $13 BILLION in new K-12 spending – that will nearly double public school funding over a 10-year period.
The state Supreme Court recently upheld our plan, putting more money into classrooms and better teacher salaries. They agreed with nearly every element of the state’s new education funding model.
The timeline – fully implementing new teacher salaries in 2019 instead of 2018 – was the one exception they took with our plan. Despite that one year difference in the timeline, public schools will be fully funded by the start of the 2019-20 school year. This is a great achievement that was over a decade in the making.
Lawmakers will continue to discuss possible remedies to the Court’s objection in the one-year difference in timeline, but we have a plan in place now. That plan does need some fixing. Lawmakers are working with school officials and education leaders to address important issues like special education, class size reduction, and levy flexibility.
But as I’ve said all along, our focus needs to be on improving student outcomes and boosting academic achievement.
I will keep you posted through the upcoming weeks on our progress as we work to close the opportunity gap, reverse the ongoing teacher shortage trend, and lower the number of homeless students.
Tackling carbon pollution: A low carbon fuel standard for Washington state
There are several efforts on multiple fronts to reduce carbon pollution and mitigate the effects of climate change on our state’s people, communities and economy. One of these is House Bill 2338. It would direct the Washington State Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program (also known as a low carbon fuel standard) to limit the greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028. This would lead to improvements in local air quality, as well as boost our clean energy economy.
Tools you can use
To get informed and involved in your democracy, here’s a quick guide on how to contact your lawmakers, learn about the issues, or share your views on legislation under debate at the State Capitol:
- Call or email your legislators.
- Read the How a Bill Becomes a Law page.
- Learn how to read a bill.
- Research issues important to you.
- Testify at a committee public hearing. View calendar here.
- Tune into broadcasts of hearing and floor action online on TVW.
Our democracy is strongest when everyone has the ability to learn about the issues and share their comments, questions and ideas. I hope to hear from you soon!