OLYMPIA – In his very first legislative session, Rep. Jesse Johnson, D-Federal Way, prioritized youth, children, and infants as he worked in Olympia. That led to the passage of four bills through the Legislature that tackle tough issues, including obstacles to education for youth facing homelessness or in the foster system, global climate change and how that impacts local communities, access to services for families who are struggling, and oral health outcomes for children and babies.
Johnson first passed House Bill 2811, which will help develop a high school curriculum on global and local environment, real-world environmental science, and opportunities for careers in renewable natural resources.
Turning toward addressing obstacles in education, Johnson passed House Bill 2711, which looks to address problems facing students who experience homelessness or are in the foster system. The bill tasks an existing work group to examine and provide recommendations for how to improve outcomes for students who have lower average passing rates in Math and English literacy and higher truancy rates.
Continuing his work to help at-risk youth, Johnson passed House Bill 2873, which allows families and youth to request Family Reconciliation Services (FRS), a tool used by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to provide local, culturally relevant, trauma-informed services for families or children who are struggling with conflict. Services include mental health, conflict resolution and family counseling.
Finally, Johnson passed House Bill 2905, helping to expand the ABCD program, a proven and cost-effective way to provide dental care to children. HB 2905 will help support local ABCD programs and providers as well as direct the Health Care Authority to look at how to increase outreach.
“I came to the Legislature with a goal of focusing on the families and children in our community putting them first in my work,” said Johnson. “Whether its increased costs, career pathways for our students looking for a good-paying job in their future, or addressing youth violence, I kept those families on my mind. As an educator, I am proud of the work I’ve done to improve outcomes for students struggling the most in our schools. I look forward to continuing my work on career pathways in the trades, housing stability, strengthening small businesses, protecting our seniors, and helping remove barriers to services and jobs for our veterans and military service members.
Johnson’s bills have passed the Legislature and are awaiting approval by Governor Inslee.