Freshman Legislator Julio Cortes Passes Three Bills to the Senate

OLYMPIA— Yesterday marked the passage of Rep. Julio Cortes’, D-Everett, third freshman bill to the Senate. Cortes, who currently works for the City of Everett and previously worked to help assist at-risk and homeless youth, has introduced multiple pieces of legislation to remove barriers for non-profits, expand affordable housing, help youth seeking access to housing, and improve retirement benefits for tribal law enforcement officers

As Vice Chair of the Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning Committee, Cortes has introduced two bills concerning the critical shortages in affordable housing and access to non-profit services. First, House Bill 1326 would help non-profits, transitional and permanent supportive housing, and emergency shelters establish services quicker by giving municipalities the ability to waive utility connection charges. This would help providers reinvest those savings into serving the community.

Second, House Bill 1406 would authorize a child experiencing homelessness or crisis to remain in a licensed shelter for up to 90 days if the shelter is unable to contact a parent. The bill provides additional funding assistance for youth service providers to create a community support team to bridge gaps in accessing services, and coordinate with DCYF to provide reconciliation services to families.

“For many children, getting kicked out and experiencing family conflict is a reality. Homelessness for other families is also a glaring reality only made worse by our housing crisis and lack of affordable, permanent, and transitional housing options,” said. Rep. Cortes. “I introduced these bills to help non-profits and affordable housing providers get up and running as quickly as they can. I also want at-risk and homeless youth to know they have a safe place they can go in times of crisis.”

The third bill Rep. Cortes has passed from the House of Representatives is House Bill 1481. The legislation would permit federally recognized tribes in Washington to opt in law enforcement officers to the state retirement plan known as LEOFF2. By improving retirement benefits for tribal law enforcement, tribal partners will have improved ability to recruit and retain personnel.

“Tribal law enforcement officers provide the same services that our nontribal partners offer our community. Community safety depends on all localities having well-staffed police departments to keep our communities safe. This honors that sacrifice and offers them the same retirement benefits that our local officers enjoy.”

All three bills now head to the Senate for further consideration.