Thoughts on justice, a survey for your input, and my first video of the session

Dear friends and neighbors,

Like many of you, I’ve been grappling with the verdict in the trial of the officers accused of murdering Manny Ellis. I have called the Parkland area home for more than 30 years, and having this tragedy unfold so close to our community has been a challenge no one can prepare for. My truth is this: I am absolutely devastated, for the Ellis family and his loved ones and for our community. I am also devastated over the realization that the police accountability legislation that I voted for and wholeheartedly believed would protect the lives and wellbeing of my Black brothers and sisters did not work in this case.

Manny Ellis was a Black man murdered in Washington’s 29th Legislative District. Our community is in shock and many of us feel that we have been silenced by our justice system, stuck in a cycle of grief that overcomes us with every tragedy. This has long-term impacts to our mental health, as individuals and a community, and our mistrust of the law enforcement in our communities continues.

I appreciate the many words of support from allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators who want to be part of this fight for justice and for the Black community. Unfortunately, too many have chosen to move on without us. That is moving backward and we must continue to move forward as we strive to be the anti-racist state that the governor declared on March 21, 2022. One way we can do that is to pass the Nothing About Us Without Us Act (HB 1541) to include people with lived experience in our government task forces and advisory committees. Another important bill we must pass is HB 1445, legislation that authorized the Attorney General to investigate when law enforcement uses deadly force or violates state law or the Constitution. We cannot allow misconduct and violence against communities of color to continue.

I encourage community members to seek help if they need it, and to please talk to someone whether it be family, friends, or a licensed professional. There are great resources for communities listed on this state government website (scroll down to “culturally specific mental health resources for communities of color”).

We do matter. We belong. We will continue to march on until victory is won, no matter how many times we are denied justice.

Take my survey: How do you feel about the term “minority”?

Did you know that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in the next few decades, America will no longer have a single “majority” ethnic group? Despite that fact, we still use the term “minority” to describe non-white Americans. I’m interested in hearing YOUR opinion about the use of “minority” and whether we should consider more appropriate language as we continue to advance equity and anti-racism in Washington state.

Use the link below to share your thoughts and opinions. Hearing from my constituents about the issues I’m working on in Olympia helps me make the case to my colleagues about the importance of the work we are doing together. I hope you’ll fill out this short survey, which will take about 2 minutes.

VIDEO: Welcome to the 2024 Legislative Session!

I started my first week at the Legislature this year by recording this video for you, highlighting our past successes, some highlights about how youth can learn more about the Legislature, a new bill I’m proposing on African American Studies, and introducing my new legislative assistant.

Watch the video below and reach out to my office with any ideas, questions, or opinions about work we are doing in the Legislature.

New policies this year

Here are some of the new bills I’ve introduced this year.

  • African American Studies (HB 2282)

A portrait photo of Rep. Melanie Morgan smiling

This bill directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to continue building on the blocks the 2019-2021 operating budget where we appropriated $50,000 to begin the work of identifying an African American Studies curriculum for public school students, by convening a workgroup that will define African American Studies and identify curricula and explore instructional methods for grades 7-12.

In order to effectively address the seriousness of our housing and homeless crisis, we need to bring all housing programs and services into one department to take a holistic approach in improving our coordinated efforts across state, local and federal resources. This will ensure there is a plethora of housing units and services available to our communities. The work will start with a feasibility and planning workgroup.

I believe we need a Department of Housing to bring all housing programs and services that effectively addresses the seriousness of our housing and homelessness crisis in a more efficient and effective way to get unhoused people the services they need.

There are state-owned lands that are currently unused or underutilized. This bill directs the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the State Conservation Commission and the Washington State University energy program, to assess those lands for agriculture and renewable energy use. This study will also be used to promote communities of color to create generational wealth in agriculture and energy production.