With new leadership in the Senate this year, Democrats led the way on advancing several major progressive policies to the governor’s desk. This list of accomplishments is impressive, especially given the short 60-day session calendar. But the work is not over.
Below is a summary of some of the major bills we passed in the 2018 legislative session and some ideas we believe will be at the top of the list for 2019. Let us know what you think about these issues by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Also, be sure to read to the bottom of this e-newsletter for an important announcement about our communications with you over the next six months.
- Implemented same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration.
- Passed voter pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds making it easier for them to vote when they turn 18.
- Passed the Washington Voting Rights Act.
- Created the DISCLOSE Act bringing transparency to hidden money in elections.
Education opportunities for all
- Fully funded our education obligations on time and putting the McCleary lawsuit to rest once and for all.
- Increased funding for special education in operating the budget.
- Expanded the Breakfast After the Bell program, which provides nutritious meals to school kids so they can start the day ready to learn.
- Put the state on the right path to fully fund the State need Grant within the next four years.
- Expanded financial aid for Dreamers so DACA recipients have more access to higher education.
- Preserved net neutrality protections.
- Prohibited credit freeze fees so you can freeze and unfreeze your credit accounts without charge when there’s a privacy breach like the notorious Equifax debacle.
- Created the Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect student loan borrowers from fraudulent and predatory practices.
- Banned conversion therapy.
- Required all state health plans to cover, without copay, the same preventive services required by federal law in the Affordable Care Act, such as disease screening and contraception.
- Covered hearing aids in health plans offered to Medicaid enrollees and PEBB covered employees.
- Created a drug take-back program requiring drug manufacturers to offer programs and services to take back unused prescription drugs.
Equality for women
- Passed the Equal Pay Act to eliminate pay secrecy, prohibit retaliation for asking for equal pay, and protect employees from receiving lesser career advancement opportunities based on gender.
- Created the Reproductive Parity Act ensuring women have the option of choosing the healthcare choices that are best for them and their families.
- Required Health care providers cover the cost of 3-D mammograms to better detect early signs of breast cancer.
- Addressed homelessness by funding homeless services and investments across the state.
- Prohibited housing discrimination by stopping landlords from turning away potential tenants who rely on Section 8 vouchers, Social Security, foster care vouchers or veterans benefits.
- Passed the Fair Chance Act or ‘ban the box’ legislation ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity for employment.
- Pushed juvenile justice reforms reducing recidivism and racial disproportionality, and expanding juvenile court jurisdiction to age 25.
- Protected religious freedom by restricting state agencies from sharing personal religious affiliation information with federal authorities.
Big issues on deck for 2019
Without a doubt, one of the biggest disappointments this year was the lack of significant progress on climate legislation. The current White House policies on climate are the absolute wrong direction for this country, making it that much more important for states to step up and lead the way.
The Legislature considered several climate change bills this year like a carbon tax, limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and a clean fuels program. These bills did not make it to the governor’s desk, but will be a top priority for us and other lawmakers next session.
We all have a shared responsibility to protect what we have, to safeguard our quality of life, and to leave future generations of Washingtonians a cleaner, healthier state.
Common Sense Gun Safety
The start of 2018 was no different from the start of any other year in America regarding guns. Our country has a unique gun problem that is only getting worse. We have made little progress on curtailing mass shootings, homicides, and suicides in large part because policymakers around the country have done little to enact new laws that will make our communities safer.
Then came the students of Parkland who have put a new face on this issue and added new voices to the conversation.
They’ve joined millions in the country who agree “thoughts and prayers” are not enough to solve this problem.
This year, the Legislature passed a few gun safety bills including banning bump stocks, allowing people to voluntarily put themselves on a “no-buy” list, expanding restrictions for gun ownership for those who commit domestic violence.
But this is not enough. There’s more work to do next session to reduce the number of shootings in our communities.
Progressive Tax Reform
Washington state has the most unfair tax system in the country. Low and middle-income families pay far too much of their income in taxes will millionaires and billionaires live comfortably paying very little of their income in taxes.
This has to change if we want to see economic fairness and prosperity for all in Washington state.
Democrats have proposed a number of progressive tax solutions over the last few years, but Republicans have rejected those ideas. Progressive tax reform will be a top priority for us next session.
This will be our last e-newsletter until after the November election. State ethics laws restrict our communications with you during an election year to ensure lawmakers maintain a strong firewall between legislative work and campaign work.
However, we are your representatives full time and you are free to contact us anytime with questions, comments, or concerns you have about state laws, regulations, and agencies.
Thanks again for allowing us to be your voices at the state capitol. It’s an honor to serve you!