Rep. Cortes Passes Bills to Governor on Homelessness, Police Benefits, Affordable Housing & Statewide Travel

OLYMPIA – Representative Julio Cortes, D-Everett, arrived in Olympia this January ready to make a positive impact for his community. To date, he has passed four important pieces of legislation to the Governor to address youth homelessness, reduce startup costs for community service providers, improve retirement benefits for tribal police, and provide policymakers more information on statewide travel patterns.

The first bill sent to the Governor was House Bill 1481. The legislation would help tribal partners in recruiting and retaining personnel by providing access to the state retirement plan known as LEOFF2. The bill passed both House and Senate committees unanimously and received a unanimous floor vote in both chambers. The Governor received the bill on April 7th.

House Bill 1406 builds on more than a decade of experience Rep. Cortes has in working with at risk-youth in youth shelters and bridges gaps in funding assistance for youth service providers. HB 1406 will authorize a child to remain in a licensed shelter for up to 90 days if the shelter or organization is unable to contact a parent. The bill also requires the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to offer family reconciliation services to families or youth. Finally, the bill directs the Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs to provide additional funding and assistance to youth service providers. On April 8th, the Senate passed the bill unanimously following a strong bipartisan vote out of committee on April 3rd, and a unanimous vote out of the House on March 2nd.

Earlier this month, House Bill 1326, addressing utility service connection waivers for community service providers, passed the Senate with near unanimous support. The bill 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. On April 13th, the House concurred with overwhelming bipartisan support to changes made by the Senate that clarify fundings sources for waived connection charges for municipalities. The bill was delivered to the Governor’s desk on April 18th.

The final bill Rep. Cortes passed is House Bill 1736, to provide a better understanding of statewide mileage trends and patterns. It will direct DOL to request odometer information during vehicle registrations and renewals. Amendments to the bill that the House concurred on include protections to personal identifying information and clarification of reporting requirements by DOL of odometer information. This bill is an important step in learning where investments in transit infrastructure and maintenance should be directed. HB 1736 was delivered to the Governor on April 19th.

“I am beyond proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish so far this session,” shared Rep. Cortes. “Issues such as youth homelessness and reducing workforce shortages in areas like policing are a constant priority for our caucus. It has been an honor to work with my colleagues in helping the most vulnerable in our state and making our communities more resilient.”

More information on these bills and Rep. Cortes’ work can be found here.