Dear friends and neighbors,
It’s a busy week at the state capitol! Yesterday, February 19, was “House of Origin cutoff.” That’s the final date for bills to be voted out of their chamber of origin if they are continuing to move forward this session. There is one exception to this cutoff: any legislation necessary to implement the state budget.
We’ve passed a lot of great bills here in the House, addressing housing and homelessness, health care, climate change, and more. This newsletter features a couple of great bills that made it through cutoff, and you can find out about many more at the town hall meeting I’m hosting this coming Saturday, February 22, with Rep. Jake Fey and Sen. Jeannie Darneille. Join us from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Eastside Community Center, 1721 E. 56th Street, Tacoma. (Sign-in begins at 9:30 a.m.)
Your ideas and feedback are always welcome. Please reach out anytime. It’s an honor to serve as your representative.
Honoring our promise to Washington’s students
Last year, the Legislature passed the Workforce Education Investment Act, which makes public college tuition-free for families making up to $50,000/year and provides partial financial aid for other low- and middle-income students. This investment fully funds the Washington College Grant (formerly the State Need Grant), meaning every student who qualifies for the grant will receive it.
But there’s more. It also funds the Guided Pathways programs at our community and technical colleges, like Tacoma Community College. Guided Pathways is a highly successful effort that helps ensure students who enroll at our state’s public two-year institutions have a clearly defined path to successfully complete a degree or certificate, preparing them for the great jobs our economy is creating.
And there’s even more! The Workforce Education Investment Act also expands enrollment in high-demand fields like nursing, engineering and computer science. Thanks to this investment, Tacoma Community College was able to increase compensation for nursing educators, enabling them to retain high-quality faculty to train students for high demand, good-paying health care jobs.
As the parent of a college student, I’m thrilled our state has expanded access to college and apprenticeships for thousands of Washingtonians in this way.
So, that was last year. What did we do this year?
The Workforce Education Investment is working so well across the state that we have more students wanting to go to school or go back to school than we expected. That’s why the House and Senate passed a bill to simplify and improve the way we collect the funding for these programs, making it easier for businesses to comply, and keeping our promise to Washington’s students.
The governor signed the bill into law on February 10.
Connecting students with environmental education
In my opening day speech, I called on my fellow lawmakers to be the leaders our state, our country, and our planet need to protect our future before it’s too late.
Children and students are particularly worried about the challenges facing our planet, feeling lost and unsure about what they can do to secure their future in the face of unsustainable practices and climate change. These young leaders are imploring politicians to do more, and it’s time we listen.
That’s why I’m excited about House Bill 2811, which was voted off the House floor last week. It brings climate science, global and local environmental impacts, and localized, project-based learning into the classrooms of Washington state.
This bill helps set up a new curriculum for students to learn about how the environment impacts them, their health, and what opportunities there are after high school to pursue jobs in sustainability, renewable energy, climate justice, conservation, and engineering.
Coming on the heels of our nation-leading 100 percent clean electricity bill last year, this legislation connects students directly to their environment and educates them to be part of the solution, which includes transitioning to a clean energy economy.
I’m also happy we passed House Bill 2311, which aligns our state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with the latest climate science. These targets haven’t been updated since 2008, even though our scientific knowledge about climate change has evolved since then. This bill will help us make better environmental policy decisions based on vetted information.
Local arts organization receives state award
One of the highlights of my week is being able to present the award for Washington State Organization of the Year to Tacoma’s own Hilltop Artists in a ceremony today at the Governor’s Mansion.
This award is an annual honor chosen by the state Lieutenant Governor and the Association of Washington Generals. It recognizes an organization that “…has made a significant and sustained positive impact in the state.”
Since Hilltop Artists is based right here in the 27th Legislative District, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office has invited me to present the award to them, and I am honored to oblige.
Congratulations to Hilltop Artists, who provide arts education and support services to hundreds of at-risk youth each year in our community, including in their year-round programs at Jason Lee Middle School and Wilson High School.
One last reminder: