Dear friends and neighbors,
Even though the Legislative Session is behind us, there’s been a lot of activity in Olympia with people attending bill signing ceremonies. Here are highlights of some of my bills and measures that passed:
Student Loan Debt
Airport Impact Study
As you may recall, last session we secured state dollars to have the University of Washington perform an air quality study on ultrafine particles. I’m pleased to report that we secured an additional $300,000 (to be matched by local funds) to conduct a larger impact study, which will cover:
Impacts of airport operations on air traffic noise, public health, traffic, congestion, and parking in residential areas; effects on property values, and economic development opportunities; benefits derived due to proximity to the airport, including wages, taxes, and improved access to transit; and recommendations for mitigating negative impacts, or bolstering potential benefits.
Suicide prevention in higher education
After three years of stakeholder meetings, chaired by Forefront, with higher education institutions, suicide prevention experts, veterans organizations, and survivors, I am so pleased that Gov. Inslee signed Senate Bill 6514, concerning suicide prevention and behavioral health in higher education, with enhanced services to student veterans. You’ll find more information on this policy, of which I sponsored the House version, in this January e-newsletter.
Addressing Rape Kit testing backlog
My bill supporting survivors of Sexual Assault/Rape kit reform, HB 2353, requiring that backlogged rape kits prior to 2015 be submitted for lab testing did not pass.
However, we did get a budget proviso that includes $1.5 million over the next three years to fund three additional State Patrol lab technicians to address new backlog. The proviso also states that the SAFE Best Practices Task Force will continue one more year; it clarifies that the seven lab technicians we funded in 2015 are for the sole purpose of testing sexual assault kits; and it confirms that the Attorney General will direct $3 million from a federal grant toward testing old kits.
While there are no new state dollars for testing older kits, I am very grateful that we will have three more full time (ongoing) lab staff dedicated to testing kits collected since 2015. We will need to come back next year for funding for older kits, but the State Patrol does have the necessary funds now to continue testing until then.
Also, our statewide tracking system of sexual assault kits – the first state tracking system in the country, will come online this year. This system will allow survivors of sexual assault to check the status of their kits online.
Abandoned properties in foreclosure
On March 28th, the governor signed my legislation to create new protections for low-income consumers, senior homeowners, and communities facing foreclosure while also addressing blight by giving tools to cities and counties to clean up abandoned properties in mid-foreclosure. Read more about this measure here.
K-12 Snapshot for the 33rd Legislative District
OSPI put together a district-by-district snapshot with information about public K-12 schools and students in each legislative district. Click on the image below to access more detailed information.
I would not be able to efficiently tend to legislative matters without the help and support of my amazing Legislative Assistant, Mary Soderlind. For 9 years now, she’s been taking care of numerous things, from scheduling appointments, to making sure I make it to meetings and hearings on time, to getting your messages to me and ensuring my newsletters reach you, among many other things. We are also fortunate to have a talented UW social work intern every session who helps with research and policy. This year, Mary and I enjoyed working with Rachel Alger. Together we work as a team to support you and navigate the legislative process!
Thank you for reading my newsletter. As always, if you have any questions or need additional information on any of the issues covered here, please contact my office.