Cleaning up our own house is priority number one
The Washington State House of Representatives took its first vote of the year on January 24, on a measure that aims to protect the legislative community from sexual harassment and bullying. The problem of harassment has festered in the Legislature for decades until more than 200 women in the legislative community recently came together to sign a “Stand With Us” letter. Since then, the Legislature has taken significant steps to end this culture of harassment, including creating the House Workgroup on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment. Last month’s vote saw the House pass House Concurrent Resolution 4401, establishing the Legislature’s Code of Conduct.
From now on, all members of the legislative community — legislators, staff, and people who conduct business with the legislature — are expected to:
- Conduct themselves with self-awareness, self-respect, and professionalism;
- Treat all others with respect, dignity and civility, regardless of status or position; and
- Refrain from engaging in hostile, intimidating, offensive, or unlawful activities or behaviors that may amount to discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, or bullying.
As my colleague Rep. Macri, a member of the workgroup, said, “If we can’t protect our staff here in the House and Senate, then we have no moral authority to legislate how any other employer should protect their workers.”
I was proud to vote for this resolution to create a workplace where everyone is treated with respect.
Continuing Dr. King’s work
Every year, the state House of Representatives gathers together to honor the life, work, and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The speeches that lawmakers give are important – they remind us of the work that has been done and the work that remains. We have made significant progress in the fight for equality and justice, but that fight is far from over. As our country wrestles with turmoil over race, police violence against communities of color, policies that prevent working families from earning a good wage, and much more, Washington state legislators have to remain focused on how we can improve our state and local communities. I don’t have every answer but I am proud to join my colleagues as we work together to put people first.
Making our schools a safe place to learn
Our nation has experienced far too many tragic school shootings in recent years: Sandy Hook Elementary, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Santa Fe High School, and more.
Closer to home, one student was killed and three were injured at Freeman High school in Rockford, Washington. At Marysville Pilchuck High School, a 15-year-old freshman shot and killed four students and injured another before taking his own life.
Students need to be safe in schools, and they need to feel safe in schools. Those are the guiding principles behind a package of bills introduced by my Democratic colleagues, which are focused on improving school safety and student well-being.
These bills focus on preventing youth suicide, increasing access to school guidance counselors, building regional safety support networks, improving student mental health services and training, and reforming school resource officer policies.
If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch this video of Alissa Parker, mother of Emilie Parker, one of the 20 children who died tragically in the Sandy Hook school shooting. Alissa told her story at a recent school safety press conference, and she shared again in greater detail during the House Education Committee work session on school safety. Since her daughter’s death, Alissa has dedicated her life to sharing her story in hopes of changing school safety policies and practices in communities all over the country.
I look forward to working with my colleagues this session to make our schools safer and improve student well-being.
As always, feel free to reach out if you have comments, questions, or ideas.
All best wishes,
Representative, 45th District
Washington State Legislature