Dear friends and neighbors,
We are in the final weeks of the 2021 legislative session. The end of this week marks another important cutoff date in the legislative calendar: Opposite House Cutoff.
By Sunday, any House bills under consideration in the Senate must pass that chamber in order to continue moving forward. Likewise, any Senate bills under consideration in the House must pass off the House floor by Sunday’s cutoff. The exception is any bill necessary to implement the budget.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate each passed their budget proposals last week. Highlights of the House budget were featured in my previous e-newsletter.
This week, House and Senate budget negotiators have begun working through the differences between the two budgets in order to come to a final agreement. While the two budgets have many similarities, there are differences in spending amounts for various areas.
You can view the House budget as passed here.
You can view the Senate budget as passed here.
House bills heading to governor’s desk
Several House bills that will help people, families, and communities across our state are heading to the governor’s desk or have already been signed:
Easing cost barriers for childcare and early learning facilities
House Bill 1331 gives cities and counties the ability to reduce impact fees for building and expanding childcare and early learning facilities. This is a big win for working families and for communities struggling with access to affordable childcare. The measure allows childcare and early learning facilities to be excluded from impact fees up to 80 percent and higher. For a full 100 percent exemption, a developer would have to indicate that 25 percent or more of the children and families using the facilities qualify for state-subsidized childcare. Headed to governor’s desk.
Banning private prisons
House Bill 1090 bans for-profit, private prison companies from operating detention facilities in our state. Many of you have written to me about your concerns with Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center, where hunger strikes, attempted suicides, and suicides have occurred with alarming frequency. This bill means that facility will close in 2025. Headed to governor’s desk.
Expanding help for struggling families during these difficult times
House Bill 1151 expands cash and food assistance to families that need it most in our state – help that is desperately needed at a time when many are struggling due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. With food insecurity on the rise in our state, this bill allows for five additional months of food assistance to families who qualify, and updates existing programs to help ensure families have options beyond food banks. It passed with strong bipartisan support. Signed by governor.
Great news: all adults over 16 eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting April 15
Thanks to the heroic work of healthcare professionals and expanded vaccine supply from the federal government, the governor recently announced that all adults over 16 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 15th.
This accelerated timeline comes, in part, as a response to a recent increase in COVID cases. New variants are highly transmissible, and we must continue to wear masks, social distance, and wash our hands, even once fully vaccinated.
I know it’s hard to keep this up. We’ve all been living under these restrictions since this time last year. But now is not the time to give up.
Many, many people in our community and across our state have made sacrifices to help protect the health and safety of others. And since the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order first came down, we’ve saved countless lives. In the meantime, multiple vaccines have been developed, and millions of doses of these vaccines have been given.
To find a vaccination appointment, use the Vaccine Locator, now available in multiple languages. And if you can’t get online, call the state COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.
It’s an honor to serve you. Please reach out to me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.