Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re now more than halfway through this year’s legislative session. As I’ve mentioned before, our time in session this year is short, but the list of challenges to address is long. This week we spent long hours on the virtual House floor passing strong legislation to make sure the state is helping meet the needs of all people who live here, like advancing worker protections, addressing the climate crisis, and helping reduce homelessness and ease the housing crisis.
Keep reading for updates on these important issues.
Thanks for taking the time to read this update,
In the news: addressing the housing crisis
As chair of the Housing, Human Services & Veterans Committee, addressing homelessness and the availability of affordable housing are top of mind for me this session. I had the opportunity to talk about our work this session on TVW’s Inside Olympia this week. I hope you’ll take some time to watch.
I also had a chance to share my thoughts in the Edmonds Beacon about the need to give renters more notice for rent increases. We’re not asking landlords to cap rent, but with rent increases of 20%, 30%, 50% or more—we simply cannot stand by and do nothing. Read about my proposal here.
This week on the House floor, we focused much of our work on how House Democrats are Serving Washington and ensuring every family, worker and small business can count on Washington to educate our children, protect our communities from injustice and be there for our neighbors in need.
Here are a few examples of legislation I was proud to support that will make a big difference for families across our state:
- HB 1153 will bring down barriers in our schools by making sure children and families who need spoken or sign language interpretation and translation can access it
- HB 1878 expands free school meals to thousands more students
- HB 1888 improves the Working Families Tax Credit that will greatly benefit our lowest income families
- HB 1955 to support our most vulnerable youth in their education
- HB 1703 modernizes the 911 system to keep it up to date with modern technology and public expectations, so it can meet the needs of the 988 crisis response system coming this summer
- HB 1881 will make doulas accessible for the 52% of Washington births covered by Medicaid, because everyone deserves access to a doula, not just those who can pay out of pocket
- HB 2051 will provide much needed disaster assistance support for our farmers and ranchers
Addressing the climate crisis
While some people in power continue to deny science or delay climate action, House Democrats embrace reality and are addressing the climate crisis by fighting for a safe and healthy clean future for everyone.
It will take collective action to defeat a global threat, and we know we can’t do it alone—but we will not stand by and wait for others to lead the charge. Addressing the climate crisis now is critical because we know the harms land first and hardest on communities that can least afford it.
House Democrats are committed to a future for our kids with fewer floods and wildfires, cleaner air, and healthier communities.
We have a robust climate action agenda including,
- HB 1619 updates and establishes appliance efficiency standards and will have multiple environmental and economic benefits, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water use and saving consumers money,
- HB 1753 provides an opportunity for our Tribal partners to work in consultation with the state to continue to fight for the people of this state to have clean air and water, and
- HB 1768 gives Washington the advantage of new technologies to harness sources of clean, safe, renewable energy right here in Washington — giving us the chance to further limit greenhouse gas pollution, while creating new jobs in communities throughout the state.
Giving a Voice to Washington Workers — WA Silenced No More Act
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have been used for decades to protect trade secrets and proprietary information. But at the height of the #MeToo movement, we began to see the pervasive abuse of these agreements to silence employees and shield employers from accountability for inappropriate—and even illegal—conduct in the workplace. Since that time, we have fought to end the use of NDAs to prevent employees from coming forward to speak out against wrongdoing.
Every worker should have the right to share their story in their personal pursuit of justice, healing, and protecting their peers. I was proud to join my colleagues in passing Washington’s Silenced No More Act (HB 1795) this week to prohibit employers from using NDAs and settlement agreements to block employees from speaking out about harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wage-theft they experience in the workplace.
As home to many of the largest corporations, Washington’s Silenced No More Act will likely play a significant role in extending worker protections far outside the state’s borders. The bill now moves to the state Senate for further consideration.