Week 3 Legislative Update: Bipartisanship & Bills to Watch

Dear friends and neighbors,

One-third of legislative session has passed, and together, we’re making progress! As we bring week three of the legislative session to a close, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the important work we’re doing in Olympia. It’s been a busy few weeks, with countless bills introduced, committee hearings held, and passionate debates on issues critical to our state.

We face complex challenges, but I’m confident that by working together, we can find common ground and build a brighter future for Washington.

How Right to Repair Unites Us All

From opposite sides of the aisle to united on a mission – that’s the story of Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) and me. We joined forces to champion the Right to Repair bill, a common-sense measure that puts Washingtonians back in control of repairing their products.

Our recent conversation goes beyond policy. It’s a glimpse into the value of friendship and the potential of cross-party collaboration. We talk about why Right to Repair matters, how we found common ground, and the impact our partnership could have on our state.

I invite you to watch our discussion and witness the power of working together. It’s a reminder that progress is possible when we choose to build bridges.

Rent Relief Takes Root

As of 2019, nearly half of Washington renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing and over 20% spend half or more of their income on housing.  Rental costs are skyrocketing for residential and manufactured home. Renters face unpredictable cost increases and impossible choices. In fact, for every $100 that rent increases, homelessness rates increase by 9%. This disproportionately harms families with low incomes, people with fixed incomes and seniors, and communities of color.

Last year, the legislature took significant steps to increase housing supply, but this step alone won’t help with rent affordability. We must take action that will provide more immediate help for tenants. Increased housing supply will take years or decades to bring any real relief to today’s renters. We need to stabilize rent to help tenants now.

This year, I’m committed to supporting rent stabilization again via House Bill 2114. Residential and manufactured home renters alike deserve the predictability and stability that homeowners with a mortgage experience. Because, when the rental market is escalating at this pace, rent stabilization is a lifeline for Washington tenants.

Full Bellies & Bright Minds

During the pandemic, the federal government provided emergency funding for states to increase access to food for children. Washington state invested heavily in this area and continues to in our most recent budget. But as federal funding has ended, so has the guarantee of a hot meal for many of our public-school children.

That’s why I’m supporting universal school meals for all our public-school kids, regardless of their ability to pay. House Bill 2058 requires public schools to provide breakfast and lunch, without charge, to any student that requests it, starting in the 2024-2025 school year. The state will pay for the meals out of our general fund.

I’ve received questions about why the state should pay for school meals. The reason is that hungry children don’t learn as well as children who are fed. Studies show that having a meal and not having the anxiety of wondering where the next meal will come from allows students to have greater success in the classroom. We don’t make children pay for school bus rides, a necessary component of learning, so why are meals any different? If providing a meal helps improve our school testing scores and gives children the chance to thrive, then it is worth the cost, just like other elements of basic education.

Apple Health Expansion Coming in July

Everyone deserves access to health care, but in America, immigration status can lead to lack of coverage because of lack of income and inability to use federal assistance programs, like Medicaid. Here in Washington state, we believe that no one should be denied coverage because of their immigration status and that we all benefit when every person in Washington can access the care they need.

I am so excited that Apple Health Expansion is coming this summer. The Legislature passed a budget that funded a medical assistance program that expands Apple Health to people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify due to immigration status. This is good for everyone and every community in Washington.

Expansion begins this summer, and you’ll start to see opportunities to sign up in the spring. Check back on the Health Care Authority website by clicking here where new information is posted and you can sign up for email updates.

I am proud we have invested in ways we can make Washington state more equitable and provided access and opportunity for communities that have been historically excluded.

Best wishes,

Representative Mia Gregerson

33rd Legislative District