Budgets and bills: An end of session wrap-up
It was an honor to represent the 47th District in my first legislative session. Adjourning on time and restoring the people’s faith that government can work together was a big priority of mine and I am glad we were able to reach compromise where needed and finish the People’s work. There was a lot of good done this year and I want to update you on the status of legislation I sponsored, as well as funding for key projects in our region.
Legislation that passed
Many bills failed to pass this year, but I am happy to report some of my priorities passed the Legislature this year and are either signed or on their way to being signed by the governor. Below are a few you have heard me speak about before.
- Going after promoters of sex trafficking (HB 1055): Victims of sex traffickers who have the courage to break free from their abusers and report them to the police can obtain a no contact order, in hopes of keeping themselves safe. Unfortunately, sex traffickers under investigation often break those no contact orders to intimidate, threaten, or harm their victims. This new law allows law enforcement officers to arrest sex traffickers for violating those no contact orders when there is probable cause, sending the clear message: sex trafficking will not be tolerated and we will punish those who promote it.
- Granting high school diplomas to students who earn an associate degree(HB 1714): This bill passed the Legislature and allows students to get a high school diploma if they are under the age of 21 and complete an associate degree.
- Supporting community and technical college students (HB 1893): Another new law I passed gives community and technical college students access to emergency grants for unexpected financial burdens. I am very passionate about this issue. I am very passionate about this issue. Too many families in our state, and our country, struggle to handle unexpected bills. A problem with your car, a sudden health care bill, or some other unanticipated expense can be devastating. It is the same with our community and technical college students, who often have to face the choice of dropping out of college in order to pay for one of these unexpected expenses. This law helps ensure that students can complete their degrees or certificate programs.
- Exploring ways to get more doctors in rural and underserved areas (HB 2104/SB 5846): Washington state is struggling to train and keep doctors and health care professionals. In order to increase the number of doctors available, I introduced legislation to establish a process that would allow foreign medical school graduates to bypass certain hurdles that can significantly slow down the accreditation process. My bill did not pass, but a companion bill that creates a workgroup to study the idea did pass both the House and Senate. That workgroup will review the process and report to the Legislature on strategies and recommendations for reducing barriers for international medical graduates. I am hopeful this group can help us find a policy that gets more doctors in our communities across the state.
Major projects coming to our region
In addition to an operating budget, the Legislature passed a transportation and capital budget that funds projects from roadwork and widening to building maintenance and community priorities. Our district received significant funding to address some of our key traffic chokepoints and funding for Green River College facility repair. A list of projects is below.
- $11.5 million for lane widening of SR 516 from Jenkins Creek to 185th Avenue
- $19.1 million for the Covington Connector project
- $11.8 million for corridor widening and off-ramp construction on SR 18
- $3.5 million for Renton to Auburn Transit through King County Metro
- $1.5 million for 224th Phase 2 construction
- $1.2 million for City of Kent Rapid Ride
- $20 million for expansion and new capacity for behavioral health services at the MultiCare Auburn Medical Center
- $2.28 million for Green River College facility repair and improvements
- $1.7 million in addition to previous funds for a new hatchery incubation building for Soos Creek Hatchery
- $1 million for an Aquatic and Recreation Center
- $1 million for the HealthPoint Behavioral Health Expansion
- $500,000 for the Auburn Arts & Culture Center
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Even though the Legislature has gone home for the year, I am still available to meet with you or your group. Please reach out to my office to schedule during this time.