Dear friends and neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session is off and running! I am excited to continue my work to reduce homelessness, improve housing affordability, protect the environment, make child care more affordable, protect transit projects and funding, and so many more important priorities.
I am also so thrilled to have elected the first woman and out lesbian as Speaker of the House in our state’s history. Speaker Laurie Jinkins of the 22nd LD, Tacoma, took the gavel on January 13th, our first day of the 2020 legislative session. Representation matters—it is so important that our leaders reflect our society and communities. Now, girls across our state can look up and see a woman at the highest perch in Washington’s House of Representatives for the first time ever.
This will be a short, 60-day legislative session, but the list of challenges ahead of us is long. Please get in touch me and let us know what is important to you. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this update, or simply reply to this email.
Renter Protection Day in Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee
House Democrats continue making progress to improve the landlord-tenant relationship, and I’m proud to lead that charge. This year, I’ve introduced new legislation that simply asks landlords to cite a reason for evicting someone or declining to renew a lease—that’s currently not a requirement in month-to-month tenancies. It’s modeled after Seattle’s decades-old Just Cause Eviction Ordinance.
Another bill will address a growing problem of tenants being billed for replacement of expensive items or damage not caused by them after their tenancy ends.
These are modest proposals that recognize both that stable housing is a life-sustaining necessity, and that landlords have legitimate business interests that need protection.
Both pieces of legislation had lively public hearing in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee on Friday.
These bills build upon legislation passed in 2019 to make sure that tenants have time to earn another paycheck before they are evicted for lack of rent payment.
Clean Fuels, Single-Use Plastics, Not-so-Flushable Wipes, and Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions
In 2019, we made extraordinary progress on some key environmental policies, including a bill to transition our state to 100% clean energy by 2045, legislation that phases out super pollutants, a bill that supports increased energy efficiency for commercial buildings, and much more.
While these were big victories, we know that there’s a lot more work to do to.
I’m a strong supporter of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, address plastic pollution, implement solid waste policies, and further efforts to protect clean water.
- Clean fuels – Nearly half of Washington state’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector. Implementing a clean fuels standard would deliver the triple win of protecting our climate, cleaning our air, and growing clean energy jobs. The House passed a bill last year, and this year we’re hoping to get this policy all the way to the governor’s desk.
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets – In 2008 Washington established an emissions reduction timeline, this legislation would align those targets with current climate change science. Climate change is already increasing the severity of wildfires, making our ocean waters more acidic, and melting our snowpack earlier in the year. Climate change is a global problem, but it will take all of us working locally to protect our environment for future generations.
- Single-use Plastic Bags – Plastic bags gum up our recycling facilities, add to landfill waste, and contribute harmful microplastics to the environment. HB 1205 would bring the state into alignment, giving retailers and grocers one simple standard to comply with instead of the current 37-jurisdiction patchwork. The bill advanced out of committee last year, and the Senate voted it’s companion off the floor last week.
- Not-so-flushable wipes – Just because something is labeled “flushable” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to flush it down the toilet. Flushing so-called “flushable” wipes can cause major problems for household plumbing and municipal sewer systems. It has also led to expensive repairs for wastewater infrastructure and sewage spills into the Puget Sound. This legislation would make sure that items labeled as “flushable” are actually flushable.
House approves nation’s first ‘Office of Equity’ on MLK Day
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, House Democrats voted in equality for ALL people by passing legislation to create the nation’s first ‘Office of Equity’ (House Bill 1783) to help reduce systemic disparities in Washington state.
Since Dr. King voiced his dream for a more just America, we have come far, however systemic inequalities still exist. Too many people are being left behind.
I am proud to say that Washington is leading the nation in bringing Dr. King’s vision of equality, opportunity and fairness for ALL people to reality.