Newsletter: Town Hall TOMORROW & Update on Bills

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are roughly three weeks away from the conclusion of this 60-day session. This week we had two full days of floor action and now we’re back in our committees, but this time hearing Senate bills.

We will hear and pass Senate bills out of policy committees until the next cutoff, which is February 21.  And the fiscal committee cutoff is February 26.

There’s a perception that government is deeply divided, but I think that’s inaccurate. I believe we are all here, on both sides of the aisle, with a shared purpose: to do the best we can for the people and communities we serve. And the truth is that we agree more often than not, in fact, 76 percent of all the bills we have passed in the House so far this year have received strong bipartisan support (80+ votes).

In this newsletter I want to discuss three of my bills that went to the Senate, but first, a reminder about our community town hall tomorrow:

21st LD TH

HB 1228 – Building a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education

My bill passed the House on a unanimous vote on February 12 and will be heard in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.

This measure will strengthen Dual Language and Tribal Language programs, empowering multilingual educators to unlock students’ potential and prepare them for a globalized world.

I introduced this bill in direct response to parents who have been asking for dual language programs that begin at the elementary school level because they know this is best practice and is supported by research. Multilingual graduates are highly sought-after due to their expanded career options, increased earning potential, and ability to bridge communities and ensure effective communication. This bill marks a major step towards embracing multilingualism and cultural understanding in Washington by investing in our children’s future, preparing a globally competent workforce, and fostering an inclusive society.

So much has been researched and written about the advantages of speaking more than one language. And studies keep popping up underscoring what we already knew: It’s a good thing!

According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website, there are five basic benefits of speaking two or more languages:

OSPI benefits bilingual

But you don’t have to take OSPI’s or my word for it; when you do a web search on this topic, the number of hits you get is almost overwhelming. Here’s a sample:

The list of results goes on and on.

Another thing worth mentioning about this bill: Legislation enacted in 2014 established the state seal of biliteracy. This program encouraged school districts to recognizes high school graduates proficient in English and one or more world languages, including American Sign Language and Tribal languages. All students are eligible, and participating districts note the Seal on diplomas and transcripts. Under House Bill 1228, it will become mandatory for Washington school districts to award the Seal of Biliteracy to eligible graduates. By changing the language from “may” to “must”, we increase the value for multilingualism, promote recognition and inclusivity, and provider wider accessibility to the seal of biliteracy.

This legislation gets us closer to a time when learning a second or third language is the norm, rather than the exception. I am certainly looking forward to that day.

HB 1975 – Relieving individuals from paying interest on certain unemployment insurance overpayment assessments

I wrote about this bill in my January 28 e-newsletter. My bill will remove interest owed for people paying back unemployment insurance beyond what they were initially supposed to receive. I am happy to report it passed the House unanimously on February 8, was fast-tracked through the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce and approved by that committee yesterday!

Watch my From the Wings video on this legislation below:

LOS from wings 1975

HB 2226 – Collecting data on the H-2A worker program and from certain hand harvesters

This bill passed the House on February 7 and was approved by the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce yesterday.

My legislation gets us one step closer to ensuring fair treatment and just compensation for our state’s vital farmworker community by tackling concerns about wage suppression and exploitation in the H-2A guest worker program.

Read the press release here to learn more or watch my floor speech below:

LOS H-2A play

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.

I hope you can join us at the town hall meeting tomorrow!


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