Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With about one third of this “short” legislative session behind us, House Democrats are making good progress on many important issues facing families in our state. We have already passed off the virtual House floor two bills to make improvements to WA Cares to ensure the success of Washington’s nation-leading long term care social security program. We are also continuing our work to confront the challenge of climate change by making sure climate resiliency is included in the comprehensive planning that shapes many of our communities.
Those are just two of the issues we have taken votes on this year, and we have so much more work ahead of us to address our state’s most urgent needs.
I hope you will join your 21st Legislative District delegation—Sen. Marko Liias, Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, and me—for a virtual town hall on Monday, January 31 at 6pm. This is an important chance for us to hear about the issues that are important to you, and to answer your questions and concerns about the legislative session.
Video update from the virtual session
Check out my latest video where I respond to your emails about my legislation to protect tenants from excessive rent increases, the two bills we recently passed to make necessary changes to the WA Cares program, and a bill to address the workloads of health care workers.
The Solitary Confinement Restriction Act
Washington’s Department of Corrections (DOC) has made strides to reduce the use of solitary confinement, but there’s more to be done to restrict the use of this practice that the United Nations has likened to torture. Even DOC has published reports affirming that it is harmful.
This year, I have introduced HB 1756 to codify restrictions on the use of solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons. The bill prohibits the use of solitary confinement in state correctional facilities except when necessary for emergency purposes, medical isolation, or when an incarcerated person voluntarily requests such confinement conditions. It also includes limitations on placing vulnerable persons in solitary confinement, imposes time limits on its use. Safety remains of utmost importance, so we crafted the bill to ensure that DOC has the resources and tools needed to keep both staff and incarcerated individuals safe.”
Our proposal received support in the House Public Safety Committee, and I’m working hard to keep these reforms moving forward.
Read more about why we need to restrict the use of solitary confinement in this recent media coverage:
Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee
The HHSV Committee, which I chair, has been hard at work advancing policies to make housing more affordable, ensure that people can access state services when they need them and without facing undue hurdles, and to support Washington’s veterans and military families.
Already this year, our committee has advanced legislation to make sure people who experience domestic violence or sexual assault are not stuck with the financial burden of damage to rental homes caused by the violence inflicted on them (HB 1593), support human trafficking victims by ensuring their eligibility for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) and Aged, Blind or Disabled (ABD) programs (HB 1748), and prepare for future economic downturns by allowing for time limit extensions of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) during times of high unemployment (HB 1755). We’re the one committee in the House with responsibility over policies to support veterans and military families, and just this week we voted to advance new efforts to support military spouse employment (HB 1592).