Legislative Update – 1/21/2014

Priorities for 2014

The New Year brought with it new committee assignments, and I am excited to get to work. In addition to the House Transportation Committee and House Environment Committee, which I served on last year, I will be sitting on the House Education Committee and House Technology & Economic Development Committee this session. Here are some of the important policies I will be working on this year:

In the Education Committee, which handles everything related to our K-12 system, I am particularly excited to work on addressing our unconstitutional deficiency in school funding. Instead of revisiting the same tired reforms we debate every year, we need to have a serious conversation about how to provide adequate funding that actually helps our kids succeed.

Many schools in Tacoma are struggling to close the achievement gap for low-income and minority students. At the same time there are notable success stories like the Tacoma School of the Arts and Science and Math Institute, which have been remarkably successful in preparing our children for college and careers. I will fight to make sure we live up to our constitutional duty to fund our schools so that every child, regardless of where they go to school, can get a quality education.

On the Technology & Economic Development Committee I will be focused on legislation to help support our small and local businesses and grow our economy. We will also be working on the development of our technological infrastructure and privacy policies related to unmanned aerial vehicles and personal content available online.

Finally, I will continue working to pass the transportation investment package that we spent all of last year pushing in the Transportation Committee. This legislation would provide critical funding for our roads, bridges and public transit systems that would reduce gridlock and provide the infrastructure our businesses need. It would also direct almost $2 billion to the Puget Sound Gateway project, which would bridge two major gaps by connecting SR 167 and SR 509 to I-5. We must take action this year to ensure Washington remains economically competitive in the future.

First bill of the year passes on first day of session

The House of Representatives made history in 2014 by passing legislation on the first day of session – a day usually reserved for ceremony.

This legislation that I am proud to have co-sponsored and that we passed on a strong bipartisan vote (71-23) wasn’t inconsequential, either.  It wasn’t what people in Olympia call “a good little bill.” In fact, it was a great big bill: the DREAM Act, which will help open the doors of our universities to all students – even those who were brought to this country by their undocumented parents.

If you talk to these students, you hear the same thing, over and over: America is the only home they’ve ever known. They graduated from our high schools and received high grades and test scores and earned their way into our colleges and universities. Ultimately, they want to give back to their community and their country.

I was proud to vote for a bill that will help them achieve that goal. It’s the right thing to do for those kids and the right thing to do for our economy.

We are a nation of immigrants, and I support the notion that every child in Washington state, regardless of race, religion or circumstance, should have a great education and a fair shot at the American Dream.

This legislation, though, only has a fair shot if the Senate will allow it to come to the floor.  We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.