Welcome to the 2022 Legislative Session! Learn about the policies and funding I would like to bring back to the district

Dear friends and neighbors,

Welcome to the 2022 Legislative Session! We have 60 days to complete the People’s business. There will be a lot of work that will need to get over the finish line before Sine Die on March 10. As we continue to put people first, we want to continue to minimize the spread of COVID and its variants; the State House of Representatives has begun the session in a full remote session. I have confidence that the pandemic will not hinder the people’s work.

One positive that came out of working virtually is that more of you could engage through testimonies and meetings. I am delighted that our community is committed to having their voices heard and coming along with me to ensure that we, in the 29th, receive the policies and resources that will keep us safe, equitable, and prosperous.

I look forward to hearing from all of you, whether through virtual committee hearings and meetings, emails, or phone calls. I encourage you to track my bills at leg.wa.gov and sign up to testify or submit written testimony. Your voice is essential in ensuring that the policies and resources reflect the issues in our district. All committee hearings and floor debates are streamed live on TVW.org.

This year will be another robust session in terms of the bills I will be introducing; to include two bills that I will re-introduce that did not make it through the last session:

  • HB 1067 Designating the Suciasaurus Rex as the Official Dinosaur of the State of Washington – This bill was brought to me several years ago by a fourth-grade class from Elmhurst Elementary in the Franklin Pierce School District. I am still committed to making the Suciasaurus Rex the state’s official dinosaur. You can watch my testimony on this bill here.
  • HB 1210 Replacing the Term “Marijuana” with the term “Cannabis” throughout the Revised Code of Washington – “Marijuana” has a long, racist history of demonizing black/brown people. The scientific name of Cannabis is both accurate and known across cultures and continents. Last year, I testified on this bill in the Commerce & Gaming Committee, and you can watch my testimony on TVW here.
  • HB 1617 Aligning State and School Holidays – This is a trailer bill that will bring parity in the celebration of Juneteenth. View my testimony on HB 1617 on TVW here. This legislation will align state and school holidays. In 2021, some districts and schools were unable to celebrate or acknowledge Juneteenth due to scheduling, an issue Jennifer Ramella raised in the News Tribune last year.
  • HB 1827 Concerning the Community Re-Investment Account – As the chair of the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force, since its inception in 2020, I have facilitated public testimony from different communities. The common theme was a strong interest in reinvesting a portion of the cannabis revenue sales into disproportionately impacted areas that have been wronged by the war on drugs. HB 1827 is a Governor requested bill. $125 million has been earmarked in his budget that will be annually deposited into the community re-investment account to fund four areas: economic development, civil and criminal legal services, violence intervention and prevention, and reentry services for formerly incarcerated individuals. I testified on HB 1827 last month, which you can watch here.
  • HB 1951 Concerning Seller Disclosure Statements – This bill is about giving homebuyers the maximum buying power of making a well-informed decision on possibly the most significant purchase in their lives. Damage from animals can potentially cause unsuspecting new homeowners thousands of dollars in surprise costs. HB 1951 will require that sellers disclose any damage that has been caused by animals, i.e., urine, feces, digging, chewed wire/siding, etc. It is the right thing to do in making a fair and just sale. This bill was heard in the Consumer Protection & Business Committee on January 27. You can view my testimony here.

Budget Provisos:

  • $200,000 – Incorporation Study of Parkland, Midland, Summit Waller, Spanaway, and Frederickson as one city.
  • A study for the Alfred C. Davis Hospital that will service historically underrepresented individuals, especially in disproportionately impacted areas.
  • $125,000 – Community Investment Account that will allow the Department of Commerce to make expenditures for economic development, civil and legal assistance, community-based violence intervention and prevention, reentry services, and 911 system support.






Black History Month 2022

February is here, which means it is Black History Month.

Throughout history, the history and accomplishments of black Americans have been so overlooked. It is amazing that in our lifetimes, we have a whole month dedicated to celebrating wins in the black community.

For young black children, this month is particularly important. We are reminding them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. But the impact of Black History Month expands far beyond February. Year-round, we have the struggles, victories, and legacies of black civil rights heroes to celebrate.

Graphic credit: Flickr under a creative commons license.

Washington CARES  A safety net for long-term care that will be there when you need it. 

Last month, I voted to pass some important legislation that will impact our district.

HB 1732 – Delaying the implementation of the long-term services and supports trust program by 18 months. This bill will extend the implementation period for WA Cares. Washington employees will not pay any premiums into this fund until the Legislature completes their work to improve the benefit.

HB 1733 – Allows voluntary exemption for certain individuals, including military spouses and disabled veterans, non-immigrant visa workers, and border state workers who live outside Washington and would not qualify for WA Cares benefits.

Most families do not have a long-term care plan or have the financial resources to implement said plan. This results in spending down hard-earned savings to qualify for the state Medicaid funding for long-term care. Many families become inexperienced unpaid caregivers, and this simply is unacceptable. Our seniors and disabled neighbors deserve a true social safety net that protects working families like yours and mine.


Police Accountability Implementation and Clarification 

In the 2021 Session, the Legislature passed a package of bills to address police accountability. These bills were intended to work together to establish clear expectations that addressed acceptable use of force, tactics, and equipment permitted to ensure there is accountability in police misconduct.

HB 1054 & HB 1310 went into effect July 25, 2021. Concerns and confusion have been expressed by law enforcement, mental health professionals, and the public. They view these new laws as restricting, especially in getting care for those suffering from mental health crises.

House Public Safety leaders gathered feedback from law enforcement leaders, rank and file officers, designated crisis responders, mental and behavioral health professionals, firefighters, EMTs, cities, and counties on possible legislation to ensure that police officers have the clarity necessary to do their jobs. Those discussions resulted in the following two bills:

HB 1735, modifying the standard for the use of force by peace officers, clarifies that officers can use force, subject to the newly established reasonable care standard, in behavioral health circumstances, for involuntary treatment commitments, in instances of child welfare, and other related circumstances.

While the new use of force standard never made any changes to these statutes, some law enforcement agencies contend that it prevents them from assisting designated crisis responders and mental and behavioral health specialists with involuntary treatments and other community caretaking functions. Regrettably, this has caused some law enforcement agencies to stop responding to community caretaking calls altogether.

HB 1735 ensures that officers have the certainty they need to respond to community caretaking calls.

HB 1719, concerning the use and acquisition of military equipment by law enforcement agencies, amends the ban on .50 caliber firearms to only apply to .50 caliber rifles and not less-lethal ammunition that may be greater than .50 caliber or the devices that fire them, such as shotguns or other rifles used to deploy less lethal munitions such as bean bags, non-penetrating impact rounds, and rubber rounds. Some law enforcement agencies had discontinued using these devices because they feared they might violate the ban on .50 caliber firearms. However, the new standard of reasonable care explicitly calls for using less-lethal devices before employing deadly force, if possible.

With these changes to the law, I am confident that our dedicated law enforcement professionals will prioritize de-escalation and less-lethal alternatives to deadly force while providing everyone in our community with the public safety they expect and deserve.

Meet our intern, Asma Ibrahim!

We welcome Asma to our team in the 29th District virtual office. I am excited for Asma to learn the processes of bringing legislation to fruition and to learn about our community.

“My name is Asma Ibrahim. I am a junior at Saint Martin’s University, majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Legal studies. I was born here in Washington. When I was three years old, my family moved to my home country of Somalia. My family wanted to ensure that I had the opportunity to learn about our cultural and ethnic background, for which I am grateful. We moved back to Washington the summer before my freshman year of high school. It was a huge transition, but I was up for the challenge. I speak four languages, English, Arabic, Somali, and Turkish, which is fun and sometimes gets a little complicated. I enjoy going for long walks on the beach or any place with water, night drives, and watching the sunrise. I also love weightlifting! It’s a hobby that puts my mind and soul at ease. Although it makes my body sore, it is for a good cause.

I will be interning for three legislators this session! In Representative Morgan’s office, I will research and track legislation, attend committee and legislative meetings, research and draft constituent correspondence, and work with her communications staff on her newsletters and social media content while participating in intern classes. I look forward to submerging myself in the civil rights issues Representative Morgan has been working on and many more topics that have captured my interest. I would like to become a lawyer who gives disadvantaged communities a voice. I am really interested in learning and understanding more about the Long-Term Care Act while also learning about various other proposed legislation. I look forward to learning how our legislators work to pass important bills that benefit those they serve. It is both an honor and a privilege to witness this process firsthand.”

Are you a college sophomore or junior interested in interning at the Legislature next session? Applications open on September 1. Learn more about how you can apply this fall for next year’s legislative session by clicking here and visiting the Legislative Internship Program website.

Rep. Melanie Morgan at her desk on the floor of the House of Representatives pre-pandemic