Dear friends and neighbors,
The Washington State legislative session starts on January 11. It has never been more important for us to work together to improve the lives of people in our Washington. In the 2019 and 2020 sessions, we made historic progress by enacting laws and budget investments that put people first. Now, we will continue to work together to recover from the pandemic and build a better future for us all.
To protect the health of the public, legislators, and staff, this session will be held virtually on-line. Nonetheless, my office will still be easy to reach. You can contact us anytime by e-mailing my legislative assistant, Daniel Lugo (Daniel.Lugo@leg.wa.gov) or calling us at (206) 905-6681.
Priorities for the 2021 session
This session, I will be serving on three committees: Appropriations, Finance, as well as Housing, Human Services & Veterans. Among my priorities for this session:
- Invest in child care, early learning, and foster care. The pandemic has made it even clearer that we need affordable and accessible child care for our kids. It is so important for working parents and the businesses that employ them. We are working to enact new legislation to provide a fair share for child care, including specific investments in child care programs, higher compensation and training for care providers, and expanding the number of children enrolled in early education. This is critical to promote economic recovery and advance social equity.
- Expand our best-in-nation, free college tuition program. In 2019, as Speaker of the House, I led the way to enact the Workforce Education Investment Act, that raised $1 billion in progressive revenue to secure free college and university tuition for all low-income students and reduced tuition for middle-income students. A national organization, the Education Trust, declared that it is the best in the nation for equity and support for student financial aid! Now, we want to expand this model policy to include investments in graduate degrees in behavioral health, dual-language teaching, and other desperately needed professions in our state.
- Provide supportive housing. Never has it been more important to have a home than during the pandemic, especially for people with mental health challenges and substance use disorders. Last session, we significantly expanded funding for supportive housing including $400 million dollars in King County. With the obvious evidence of people living in encampments, we need to do more. I’ll be pursuing a state-wide billion dollar fund to ensure that our most marginalized communities have a decent place to live. Having a home is a fundamental human right!
Ensuring foster youth are set up for stability and success
This past year has been a trying time for our community, but especially for youth who have had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic independently with little to no support.
If anything, the pandemic has exposed glaring gaps within our institutions that require immediate attention. For example, when foster youth age out of care at 21, they are abruptly cut off from essential services. Unfortunately, this often leads to a myriad of unintended consequences, such as homelessness.
We need to be more intentional about how we support and prepare marginalized youth for long-term success.
My office is currently working with stakeholders, community advocates, and foster youth to identify a path forward on improving the Independent Living Program so that supportive adults can be more mindful about a young person’s time in care to promote more equitable transitions from foster care to independence.
Working with a stakeholder group of community advocates, constituents, and environmental experts (that I call the Climate Crew), I’m actively supporting an action agenda to address the climate crisis while promoting social equity and economic recovery. Priorities include enacting a clean fuel standard, improving energy standards in buildings, promoting the transition to electric cars, and protecting our beautiful Washington environment.
If you would like to join our efforts, please feel free to reach out to us!
Thank you so much,
Rep. Frank Chopp