The last year has been challenging for our community, and the COVID-19 pandemic and recession affected so many of us and our neighbors. After listening to your concerns, I entered the legislative session focused on three main priorities: promoting economic development and recovery in rural communities, boosting access to higher education and family-wage jobs, and sustaining environmental and economic health in Washington.
Despite the challenges of our state legislature’s first remote session, we finished our work on time, passing budgets and bills that will help families and small businesses recover and rebuild.
I’m proud that more than 90 percent of the votes were bipartisan, and that so many people used new options to participate in their democracy remotely, such as committee testimony by video. I’ve pushed for those reforms for years and they worked well, saving people a day-long trip to Olympia and back.
In this e-newsletter, I’d like to tell you about some important victories for all of us here in the 10th District.
Rural broadband is an essential service
The experience of working from home, often while family members are in remote school, has shown we need to invest in fast, reliable internet service for all.
Broadband internet is no longer a luxury. It’s an essential service like electricity and running water.
I’m proud that we took bold action to improve access to broadband.
The Public Broadband Act (House Bill 1336) lets public utility districts and other local governments provide internet service. This will help fill holes in coverage, especially in rural areas like ours.
Dig once (House Bill 1457) plans ahead for future broadband needs by encouraging utility companies and government agencies to install internet fiber or cable during construction projects, saving the great expense of digging up the same site again for later projects.
The state construction budget (House Bill 1080) invests a historic $411 million in broadband infrastructure across the state. This is a huge win for people and businesses here in the 10th District.
Landmark victories to help families and small businesses
One of the first votes I took this session was to approve $2.2 billion in federal aid through our early action bill, Step One for Washington’s Community and Economic Recovery. This funding was essential to preventing schools from laying off teachers, bolstering our health care system to fight COVID-19, and helping struggling small businesses.
Washington state also received $4.2 billion as part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with that funding allowing us to pass a budget putting people first: the Washington Recovery Budget.
The Working Families Tax Rebate will put money back into the pockets of Washingtonians who need it the most. More than 400,000 taxpayers will be eligible for a tax credit ranging from $500 to $950 per year. One in every four children in our state will benefit from this policy, which will help lift working families out of poverty.
Opportunity for all
It’s important that every Washingtonian has access to family-wage jobs. I’m pleased that the Legislature made significant commitments to creating pathways to high-paying jobs through a number of bills and policies.
Creating more manufacturing jobs—House Bill 1170 is bipartisan legislation I co-sponsored with the goal of doubling the workers employed in manufacturing, the number of small manufacturers in Washington state, and the number of such businesses owned by women and people of color. It passed both chambers and was signed into law by the governor.
Dual-credit programs—High school students should get equal credit for equal work, but that wasn’t happening for some of our students. Ninth graders could enroll in College in the High School Classes, but they didn’t get college credit. With the passage of House Bill 1302, now they can begin earning college credits and start on the path toward a professional career.
Scholarships for two-year colleges—House Bill 1425 helps all students get the higher education they need for the jobs of tomorrow. This legislation opens up the state’s Opportunity Scholarships for students attending community and technical colleges to residents who didn’t graduate from Washington state high schools. This will help older, nontraditional students along with those from military families here in the 10th District.
Please join our bipartisan town hall meeting!
Sen. Ron Muzzall, Rep. Greg Gilday, and I are hosting this event with Mount Vernon Mayor Jill Boudreau as moderator.
We’re excited to listen to your thoughts and share legislative updates from the end of session.
I hope you join us! You can watch the livestream here on my Facebook page, but live questions will only be taken on Zoom so make sure to register in advance.
Keep in touch
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and stay informed about the issues.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your representative, and please feel free to get in touch to share your comments, questions, or ideas. I hope to hear from you–or to see you at our 10th District town hall!