Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Orwall’s 1/26/18 Update: National Guard Day / Mental Health for College Students / Car Tab Relief / Equal Pay

Dear friends,

We’re three weeks into this short 2018 session and, as always, things move very quickly. There’s never a dull moment.

As you probably heard, we passed the Capital Budget, which includes almost $37 million for our district. For the list of projects, please see this press release. And you can also watch my Ask Tina video for more detailed information on some of these projects.

I also encourage you to watch this week’s Legislative Video Update, in which I give an update on the status of sexual assault kits testing, as well as other bills dealing with the issue of sexual assault and ensuring policies are in place to support survivors.

The Huffington Post recently ran a great story on new laws (including one of my bills) under consideration in legislatures across the nation that stemmed from the #metoo movement.

National Guard Day

natl guard rostrum

I was pleased to preside on the House floor today as we honored the National Guard with House Resolution 4663 (watch the video here).

I am grateful for their service to our state and nation.

Here I am with Adjutant General Bret Daugherty.


Mental Health for College Students

The mental health of students and student veterans is a primary concern of colleges and universities nationwide.  Washington state loses 2-3 young adults between the ages of 14-24 every week.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of another precious life in the recent death of WSU student Tyler Hilinski.  My thoughts are with his family, friends and the WSU community.

I am working with Forefront to strengthen suicide prevention resources at our higher education institutions with HB 2513, which:

  • Creates suicide prevention training and materials, including online training, for faculty and students to understand the signs and symptoms of suicide and what actions they can take.
  • Increases access to appointments with mental health counselors and implements best practice crisis intervention programs.

Read more about my bill in this Spokesman-Review story.

Veteran students are at a higher risk of suicide and mental health concerns. As of 2016, there were over 16,000 student veterans enrolled in Washington State colleges and universities.  Studies show that half of the veterans on campuses have contemplated suicide and 20 percent had formed plans of how they would end their lives.  HB 2513 includes enhanced services for student veterans.

HB 2513 passed out of the House Higher Education Committee and will have a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee next week.

National Suicide Prevention hotline for those who need support:  1-800-373-8255

Car Tab Relief Passes House

After ST3 passed to expand light rail north to Everett, south to Federal Way and Tacoma, east to downtown Redmond, south Kirkland, and Issaquah and west to Ballard and West Seattle, many of you reached out to me, shocked about the increased cost of car tabs. For many working families, that increase is a major burden.

Our region needs to move forward with light rail and it is important we uphold the projects that voters approved when ST3 passed. But, we shouldn’t be taxing people unfairly. ST3 uses what is called the “1996 MVET” to assess car value and it is widely seen as unfair because it overvalues vehicles. We have a better valuation schedule, called the “2006 MVET” that is more fair and accurate, and closely tracks with Kelley Blue Book values.


I voted to pass legislation (HB 2201) that moves to the 2006 MVET and if the bill passes, drivers will see corrected car tab taxes this year.

This bill was the only bill to have bipartisan support and also keep light rail projects on track, while still returning $780 million to tax payers.

Equal Pay bill in the Senate

Last week we passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act on a 69-28 vote! This is the fourth year in a row that the House sent an Equal Pay bill to the Senate. This historic measure updates the Washington State Equal Pay Act for the first time since its passage in 1943.

equal pay

You’ve probably heard that, on average, a woman makes around 80 cents to a man’s dollar for the same work. This wage gap is real (read our Debunking the Claims sheet) and it’s not just hurting women. It affects entire communities because women are either the sole or primary breadwinners in over 40 percent of families with kids.

As a result, women are taking home smaller paychecks and many of them don’t even know it because they don’t have the freedom to discuss their own pay.  That’s right, many businesses don’t allow their employees to talk about wages with coworkers, effectively keeping them in the dark.

The Equal Pay Opportunity Act will empower women and reaffirm Washington’s longstanding pursuit of equality in the workplace. Details of the bill include:

  • Banning pay secrecy policies,
  • Allowing discussion of wages; and
  • Prohibiting retaliation against workers for discussing their pay, or for asking for equal pay and opportunities.

I am confident the Senate will give this bill its support and send it to Governor Inslee for his signature soon. Enacting HB 1506 will send the message to employees and employers, men and women, and our girls and boys that, indeed, all of us are created – and must be treated – equally.

Highline students

Students Visit the State Capitol

Students from Highline College’s Student Legislative Action Committee stopped by my office earlier this week.

It was a fun visit (as you can see in this group selfie) in which we shared ideas and learned from each other.

I hope more students from our district can come to Olympia to get a hands-on experience of the exciting and fast-paced Legislative process.

Thank you for reading my newsletter. I love hearing from you, your comments and feedback help me represent you better, so please continue calling my office and sending me emails.


Orwall Sig