Newsletter: Update on Bills, Nursing Shortage, Capital Budget & More!

Dear friends and neighbors,

With just nine days left of session, this is the final stretch and, as you can imagine, we’re all in overdrive to get the work of the people done on time. This week, we passed Senate bills off the House floor, and the Senate did the same with our bills. Now we’re working on reconciling differences between both budget proposals. You can feel the intensity in every marble wall of this historic building!  In the midst of all this activity, though, we pause and make time to take in the beauty of the cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Capitol campus.

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Bills’ Status Report: SUCCESS!

I am so excited that all of my bills (or their companions) passed and are either coming back to the House for concurrence or on their way to the governor’s desk!

HB 1028, my measure to support crime victims and witnesses by promoting victim-centered, trauma-informed responses in the legal system and providing counseling resources, was passed unanimously by the Legislature yesterday and has been sent to the governor. KOMO TV had a story on my bill last weekend.

My legislation to continue the implementation of the 988 behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention system, HB 1134, passed the Senate unanimously on April 8. I was on TVW’s Inside Olympia last night discussing this bill, as well as behavioral health in general, including the Blake legislation, which passed the House on April 11 with a 54-41  vote.

While we are on this topic, you may remember In my previous newsletter I told you about SB 5022, legalizing strips to test for fentanyl. It is very similar to my HB 1006 that did not move. The Senate bill was amended to rename it the Patrick Janicki and Allisone McClanahan Act, two young people who lost their lives due to having consumed pills that, unbeknownst to them, contained fentanyl. Their stories are heartbreaking, click on their names (Patrick and Allisone) to read about them. While SB 5022 did not make it out of the House before Wednesday’s 5 pm deadline, I am grateful that the policy was integrated into the Blake bill mentioned in the previous paragraph.

update on bills

HB 1165 was passed unanimously on March 31 and was signed into law by Governor Inslee yesterday! This measure establishes the Uniform Civil Remedies for the Unauthorized Disclosure of Intimate Images Act, providing a right of action for the actual disclosure of intimate images, as well as for damages caused by the threatened disclosure of these images.

Yesterday, the Legislature approved HB 1222 with an 88-8 vote and it’s on its way to the governor. This legislation requires large group health plans to cover hearing devices.

My bill on unscrupulous contractors, HB 1534, was also passed by the Legislature yesterday on a unanimous vote. This measure strengthens protections for consumers in the construction industry by establishing penalties for bad actors and creating the Homeowner Recovery Program for consumers who are wronged by dishonorable contractors.

My two foreclosure-related bills, HB 1349 and HB 1636 passed the Senate with a unanimous vote on April 6 and 7, respectively. And there’s more good news: HB 1636 was amended in the Senate to include the policy in HB 1637, which did not make it out of the House. Read all about these foreclosure protections bills in this press release.

I teamed-up with Rep. Gina Mosbrucker on HB 1564, which bans the sale of over-the-counter sexual assault kits. The problem with these kits is that they are deceiving; OTC kits are ineligible for testing at the Washington crime lab, cannot be entered in CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), and are out of the chain of custody, so they are not admissible in court. The only thing they do is give victims false hope. I am happy to report that the Legislature approved it unanimously yesterday. 

Another victory was passage of SB 5087 on April 7 with a 58-39 vote. It was contentious and the debate was long and, at times, heated, but I truly believe we did the right thing by abolishing several unconstitutional statutes, including the death penalty. I sponsored the House version of this bill. Read yesterday’s Everett Herald editorial on this issue.

We passed SB 5114 with solid bipartisan support (94-1) on April 12. This is the companion to my bill supporting adults with lived experience of sex trafficking. This legislation has been a long time in the making and came to fruition thanks to the collaboration with survivors, advocates and colleagues. It is the first of its kind to create a network of services to support survivors of sex trafficking. As we crafted the bill, bringing so many elements together, we realized that what this measure is actually offering are healing centers. The different levels of support included in this bill will enable people to exit their trafficking situation and begin their journey toward freedom. This week finally, after two years, this legislation is on its way to the governor’s desk. Sen. Claire Wilson, who sponsored the bill, and I commemorated the moment right after this great bill passed:

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Addressing Washington’s Nursing Crisis

Serving on the Health Care and Wellness Committee has helped me better understand the complexities of hospital staffing, particularly since we are experiencing a serious nursing shortage in our state. According to the Washington Center for Nursing, an average of 2,600 people graduated as registered nurses from 2014-2019, but close to the same number are expected to retire through 2029. In other words, we are replacing the nurses in the workforce, not growing the workforce.

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Last year we added 220 nursing education slots, a good start, but it’s not enough to meet current needs. This session we passed a package of bills to retain the existing workforce, attract new nurses to the state, and graduate new nurses:

SB 5236, strengthens accountability to hospital staffing plans. If hospitals fall below 80 percent compliance with their staffing plans, they will be assigned corrective action plans. The bill also expands meal and rest break laws to include all frontline staff, closes loopholes to make mandatory overtime laws fully enforceable, and ensures hospitals follow the law.

SB 5499, enters Washington into the Nurse Licensure Compact, an agreement between 37 states that allows for a multistate nursing license. This means a nurse licensed in one of the participating states can work as a nurse in any of the other 36.

SB 5582, reduces barriers and expands educational opportunities to increase the supply of nurses in Washington by, among other things, requiring the development of an online Licensed Practical Nurse program; creating a marketing plan to advertise available nurse training opportunities and jobs in Washington; and creating pilot programs for high school students and working caregivers.

Capital Budget Highlights

I also serve on the Capital Budget Committee and am excited with the historic investments we are making this biennium.

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Our $8.3 billion budget proposal sets a new state record for construction funding. These are just a few of the highlights:

  • Affordable housing and home upgrades: $704 million
  • Behavioral health: $893 million
  • Clean energy and climate: $318 million
  • Public schools, colleges, and universities: $1.5 billion
  • Community facilities: $137 million
  • Essential public infrastructure: $475 million
  • Natural resources: $821 million

For more information on these investments, please read the press release here, and for detailed projects in the 33rd district, click here.

Honoring Trooper Atkinson

This past Monday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to honor Trooper Dean Atkinson for his exemplary service and bravery.

Atkinson was shot in the face and hand while patrolling Walla Walla last September. He was able to drive himself to a hospital before being transferred to Harborview Medical Center. He has fortunately returned home and is recovering well with the support of friends and family.

It was a very moving moment on the House floor and I’d like to share it with you:


Thank you for your continued interest in my work on your behalf here in Olympia. Be sure to contact my office if you need more information on any of the issues discussed in this report. Hearing from you helps me represent you better.


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