Dear Friends and Neighbors,
More women are serving in the Legislature than ever before, with more women of color representing our communities. We recently had a chance to celebrate by taking a group photo. Walking around the halls of the Capitol and seeing photos from past Legislatures is a stark reminder of how far we have come in building a representative democracy.
I am proud to work side by side with these great women in the House and Senate who are leading the way on addressing the structural barriers that hold back people of color, making Washington a place where systemic racism is rejected, and working to ensure every community can thrive.
Town Halls coming up next month
Your 21st Legislative District delegation, Sen. Marko Liias, Rep. Strom Peterson, and I will be hosting two town hall events in mid-March. Be sure to mark your calendars and look out for an announcement with all the information, including links for you to submit questions ahead of time.
My Bills Continue Moving Along
Private Detention Facilities
You may have read some recent news reports about dire conditions in the only private for-profit detention center in our state. This must change and that’s why I introduced HB 1470. If we have standards to keep our public detention centers accountable, does it make sense to not hold private prisons to those same standards? While people are detained, they are under the care of the institution, so they should be treated with respect and afforded basic needs. This is what my legislation is all about.
Strengthening the Professional Education Workforce
I am so excited about this bill because it is one of the ways we are addressing the workforce crisis in our state. My House Bill 1565 will develop an online platform to recruit and hire educators and will establish a teacher residency program. Check out this news story to learn more about my bill.
Dual & Tribal Language Education
There are so many reasons starting dual language programs early are a good idea, from developing a more active brain to accelerating student achievement, to opening doors of opportunity for future success. My HB 1228 establishes a process to build a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education.
Many families are living paycheck to paycheck, which could mean that if their employer withholds payment, those families may be facing homelessness. One paycheck can and does make the difference between being able to put food on the table, buy medicines or pay rent. My legislation, HB 1217, is an attempt to prevent wage theft by allowing the Department of Labor and Industries to demand interest on wages owed when a wage complaint is filed, and it also requires L&I to evaluate strategies to help workers recover wages.
Voluntary Placement Agreements
Removing children from their family environment and community is sometimes necessary, but it doesn’t make the experience any less traumatic. When parents are considering voluntary placement agreements with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, their decision should be an informed one. But right now, they don’t have access to legal counsel in order to make an informed decision. My legislation, HB 1295, would change that by ensuring parents have the right to an attorney so they fully understand their options when going into a voluntary placement agreement. Two national news outlets recently ran stories about my bill, you can read them in ProPublica and in The Imprint.
Guardianships & Voluntary Placement with Nonrelative Kin
HB 1278 is another measure aimed at reducing the trauma children go through when they cannot remain with their parents. My bill expands guardianship assistance subsidies to include children who are placed with certain nonrelative guardians; and expands placement options under a voluntary placement agreement to include “suitable persons.” This bill supports families, and when families are supported, children are supported. Subsidized guardianships provide stability and permanence for the child while also providing flexibility for the caregiver.
For more information on these two bills that have to do with our state’s foster care system, watch my latest video update:
Thank you for reading my newsletter. If you need more information on any of the issues discussed here, or on any other legislative matter, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.