Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the turmoil of war now gripping Ukraine, my thoughts are with the tens of thousands of Ukrainian-Americans who live right here in Washington State. I cannot imagine how difficult it is for them at this time. Last week, the House passed a resolution recognizing their valuable contributions to our community. I stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian-American neighbors and hope for a swift and peaceful end to their nightmare.
Addressing the Mental Health and Substance Use Crisis
Washington and the nation are in the midst of a behavioral health crisis. We must do better for those suffering from mental illness and problematic substance use. Last year, the Legislature took a new approach to focus on treatment, recovery and intervention as opposed to punishment for substance use disorder. In this week’s GoodMinute, I describe some of the investments that we are now making in our behavioral health system:
Getting more kids outside
This session, I was proud to vote for legislation that will expand outdoor education to get kids learning with and from nature. When kids learn biology from studying tree leaves and music from rushing creeks, they learn the value of the land, our responsibility to it and how healing nature can be.
HB 2078 directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to create a program that will award grants to support schools in offering outdoor learning, requires the OSPI give priority to schools that have been underserved in science education, and encourages the program to work with education stakeholders to develop principles for outdoor education.
Kids have spent so much time behind screens in the last two years. It’s time to get them outside and learning from nature and connecting with the world around them.
Affordable housing through ADUs
We are not building enough housing to keep up with demand, driving up rent and housing prices. But there is a tool to help us build quickly, cheaply and preserve the character of neighborhoods – accessory dwelling units or ADUs.
Also known as backyard cottages or mother-in-law units, this type of housing makes use of existing space by building on top of a garage, in a basement, or in a backyard. But in many cities, local regulation makes ADUs prohibitively expensive or difficult to build.
That’s why I supported HB 1660 to remove certain barriers to construction and require comprehensive plans under the Growth Management Act allow for ADUS within an urban growth area.
In 2017, California passed legislation to encourage more ADU development. Since then, the state has seen ADU permitting requests increase from about 1,000 units a year to over 12,000 units a year. While HB 1660 makes more gradual adjustments than the California legislation, it will allow for substantially more ADUs to be built in Washington.
The bottom-line is that ADUs are a great option for someone looking for an affordable apartment, to make extra income off an unused space on their property, or to provide a home for their aging parents. HB 1660 is in an important step in confronting our housing crisis and making ADUS an option for everyone.
Most parents have no clue how prevalent hazing is on college campuses when they send their graduate to school. The parents of Sam Martinez certainly didn’t expect to lose their son because of hazing. Unfortunately, that is what happened at WSU in 2019.
We owe it to parents and students to reduce the occurrence of hazing. That is why I voted for House Bill 1751 which establishes prevention, educational and reporting requirements to address hazing on college campuses. Increasing transparency and accountability is the best way to reduce hazing and hazing related incidents.
As always, please reach out if you have questions, comments, or ideas. Look forward to another legislative update from me soon.
All best wishes,
Representative, 45th District
Washington State Legislature