Dear friends and neighbors,
February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate our Black and African American communities, and a time to reflect on how we can fight anti-Black racism in our day-to-day lives. I’m proud to support our Legislative Black Caucus, which is larger than ever before, as they bring their voice and experience to many of the issues we’re working on this session.
I’m also thinking about the Black legislators who served throughout our state’s history. Representative Owen Bush was elected in 1889 to our state’s inaugural legislative session, we have him to thank for our state’s first civil rights legislation. Sen. John Ryan served off-and-on in the House and Senate between 1921-1942, he lived in Tacoma, and was a charter member of the Tacoma NAACP.
Some of this history feels far away, but some is pretty recent. In 1993, Sen. Rosa Franklin was the first Black woman elected to the Washington State Senate. She represented Tacoma in the legislature for 20 years and her work helped to reduce inequities across our state in health care, labor, housing, and much more. She also served in Senate leadership, and mentored many, including myself. I’m grateful to be able to call on her continuing wisdom, and it is a joy to see our community recognize her and thank her for her work.
Black History Month is about connecting the past and the present, about recognizing and honoring Black and African American communities, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with them for a more equitable future.
Passing Bills off the Floor
Over the last few weeks we’ve been working hard to pass good legislation off the floor, with a focus on housing and workforce development. That includes legislation to:
- Make it easier for children and families to access speech therapists and audiologists (HB 1001)
- Streamline licensing for counselors already certified in other states, growing our counseling workforce (HB 1069)
- Allow municipalities to waive utility connection fees when developing affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, or transitional housing (HB 1326)
- Ensure that common interest communities like HOAs can’t prevent you from sharing your home (HB 1054)
We’ve sent 50 bills over to the Senate already this session, and I’m excited that 42 of them passed unanimously. A lot of the work we do down in Olympia is bipartisan, at the end of the day we’re all here to work on your behalf.