The tragic events that took place in Georgia last week are heartbreaking. Racism is alive and we need to acknowledge it, not shy away from it and pretend it doesn’t exist. I address this issue in my latest Ask BILL video below, among other topics.
We must keep the conversation going to fight bigotry, racism and hate. I am committed to working with community leaders in our legislative district and across the state to make Washington more equitable and inclusive.
On March 18, my friend and colleague, Rep. My-Linh Thai, released a compelling statement on this issue. I encourage you to stop by her Facebook page to read it.
New guidance and vaccine access
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Whether you are vaccinated or not, the CDC is still urging people to keep taking precautions in public, like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
We have moved into a new phase of vaccine eligibility and now critical workers in grocery stores, food banks, public transit, agriculture and more are now qualified for the COVID-19 vaccine, along with people over the age of 16 who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high risk.
The state Department of Health launched the latest version of the Vaccine Locator tool, a user-friendly web app that displays available COVID vaccination appointments from multiple provider scheduling sites in one place. Check out the Phase Finder tool to see if you’re eligible for the vaccine.
I know that many of us are eager to get vaccinated and are frustrated by the distribution process. When we take a step back to reflect on the last year, in just 12 months, we have come together, developed multiple vaccines and given more than 2 million doses in Washington. We are on the right track.
In fact, you’ll remember from the March 6 newsletter, that 1 in 5 people in King County had received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Things are moving fast, Just two weeks later, Dow Constantine announced that now one quarter of all eligible adults in King County have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Opinion column on Transportation Package in yesterday’s Everett Herald
Rep. Javier Valdez and I co-authored an opinion piece on the equity element of the transportation package. It ran in yesterday’s Everett Herald, which couldn’t be more timely, since we will be rolling out our Transportation Budget later this week.
Click on the image above to continue reading in the Everett Herald, or here to read this opinion piece on my website.
In this edition, I talk about my two bills under consideration in the state Senate: HB 1089 (law enforcement compliance audits) and HB 1216 (urban and community forestry). I also discuss a bill I co-sponsored, HB 1168, which deals with addressing forest health to minimize wildfires. Lastly, I talk a bit about the package of bills focused on police accountability.
HB 1089 will be heard in Senate Ways & Means on March 23rd and is scheduled for executive action on the 25th.
HB 1216 was voted out of the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee on March 18 and has been referred to Ways & Means. Go to my previous newsletter for more information on this bill.
HB 1168 is scheduled for executive session on March 25th in the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks Committee.
Prioritizing de-escalation and limiting use of force
After months of work by the families of victims of police violence, elected officials, law enforcement organizations and other community groups to answer the call for action in the wake of lives lost to unnecessary police violence, the House of Representatives passed HB 1310. This bill sets the clear expectation that de-escalation should be an officer’s first instinct and that deadly force should only be an absolute last resort.
Current law allows police to complete an arrest “by any means necessary,” a broad authorization that allows an unlimited amount of force. Under this bill, when determining use of force, officers would be required to consider circumstances, such as a person having a disability, experiencing a mental health crisis, pregnancy, or the presence of children. By setting that new standard, deadly force would be a last resort after de-escalation efforts failed.
HB 1310 is one of a series of bills brought forward by members of the Policing Policy Leadership Team, of which I am a member. The House had already passed HB 1267 to establish an independent agency to investigate police uses of deadly force, and HB 1054 to ban dangerous and unacceptable police tactics.
Upholding our promise to working families
The Working Families Tax Exemption, or Recovery Rebate, is our promise to the people of Washington that when they work hard to achieve their dreams, their community will rise up to support them.
I did not hesitate to add my name to the list of cosponsors of this legislation, and was truly happy to see it pass out of the House on March 9 almost unanimously. It was already heard and voted out of a policy committee in the Senate and is now waiting to get scheduled in Ways & Means.
This bill is a tool for racial justice, economic recovery, and community health. It is a lifeline for the immigrants, refugees, people of color, and low-income workers who have always kept our communities strong. Now is the time to lift them up and give everyone a chance at a healthy, happy life.
With this bill, we’re taking the first step on the path toward shifting our regressive tax structure to a more balanced system, so that lower-income families can get a little money back to help cover their needs.
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.
And visit my official Facebook page for frequent updates.