Newsletter: Last week of session and lots to report!

Dear neighbors,

This is the last week of session and, while there’s no denying we’re all experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” it’s also true that this remote setup has allowed more Washingtonians than ever before to have access to their legislators and participate in the legislative process. I hope we keep some of the things we have learned about working remotely even when we’re back at the state Capitol.

Right now, we’re debating and passing bills that are necessary to implement the budgets and ironing out differences because we want to meet our deadline, which is this coming Sunday.

As we did last year, my seatmate, Rep. Lisa Callan, and I will be sending out a joint End of Session report in May, so keep an eye out for it. And I will continue sending out e-newsletters over the interim, but not as frequently.

As always, I am grateful that you’re taking the time to read this update. Please remember to visit my Facebook page and my website for a closer look at the issues I have worked on this session.  And reach out anytime with your questions and feedback. My Legislative Assistant, Erika Boyd, and I truly appreciate hearing from you.


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My two bills will become law!

I am excited that my two bills were passed by both chambers and are now waiting to be signed into law by Governor Inslee soon:

House Bill 1089: Investigations after deadly force is used by police are required under Initiative 940, passed by Washington voters in 2018. My bill authorizes a review of deadly force investigations to determine whether those involved complied with all applicable rules and procedures. 

These audits will provide another check on the system as we continue efforts to build trust between communities and law enforcement.

House Bill 1216: This legislation will help cities manage their forests and encourage robust tree canopy within urban communities.

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It will enable the state’s Department of Natural Resources to deliver guidance and other resources to cities interested in improving urban forests.

Increasing trees improves air and water quality, especially in communities of color that disproportionately bear the brunt of negative environmental impacts. Crosscut wrote a story on my bill back in January, you can read it here.

Got my first shot!

As you know, everyone age 16 and over is now eligible to receive the vaccine. I got my first shot the other day and can’t wait for the second. The quicker we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can go back to a life where visiting with friends and family doesn’t represent a risk to anyone.

As our state continues receiving more supply, getting available slots is no longer an almost impossible feat. In fact, I was surprised at how easy and smooth the whole process was from beginning to end. So far, no side effects except a little soreness in my arm, but it went away very quickly.

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If you’re debating whether to get it or not, or you keep putting it off because you think it’ll be a cumbersome experience, please give it a shot now and you’ll see how easy it’ll be to get your shot. Yes, that pun was intended.

Also, you may have heard that the Snoqualmie Tribe Partnership drive-through at Lake Sammamish State Park is now open, but did you know they give you a snack after you get vaccinated? So go ahead and click here to schedule an appointment and read all the information you will need on the day of your vaccine.

You can also use the Vaccine Locator, now available in multiple languages, to find a vaccination appointment. And if you can’t get online, call the state COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

Acts of hate have no place in our public schools

As more children return to in-person learning, we owe them the unwavering promise that they will be safe, protected, and valued. The acts of hate in Marysville are unacceptable in our schools, and they are an attack on all of us.

Racism has no place in our public schools, especially when it continues re-traumatizing students of color during and after acts of hate. Sen. Mona Das’ SB 5044 will ensure that K-12 staff are equipped with anti-racism training.

We passed that bill on Sunday, April 11, after defeating an amendment that would have essentially gutted the bill. In my latest Ask Bill video, I talk about the extraordinary display of solidarity in standing against an attempt to shut down the much-needed conversation about race relations in our state. Click below to watch:

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SB 5044 is just one step toward uprooting systemic racism in public education and ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education.

Every single one of our kids should be able to learn without threats on their life, and they’re counting on us to make good on that promise.

Chauvin verdict

The jury didn’t deliberate long, and when the world heard that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, some people may have felt that justice had been served. For me, it is a very small step but, at least now, it is in the right direction.

I’ve been asked why I didn’t put out a statement, especially since we have been working on comprehensive law enforcement reform this session. I didn’t say anything because the statement released by the House Democrats’ Black Members Caucus covers everything I was thinking about and more. It is very much worth sharing; I hope you can spare a few minutes to read it:

While communities in Washington state and around the country have called for action in the streets, pushed for change at all levels of government and simply tried to persist despite continued police violence, the Floyd family, and too many other Black and Brown families, have shouldered the weight of this pain. It’s our hope that today’s verdict brings the Floyd family some peace. 

This verdict is a step forward, but it should only add to the growing momentum for change. Our work is not done until everyone feels safe and protected, no matter their skin color. 

As we have passed bills in the Legislature to prioritize de-escalation by officers, ban and limit dangerous police tactics, ensure independent investigations of deadly force, and build more transparency and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve, we have simultaneously watched police violence replayed in the news and in our own neighborhoods. It’s clear that the work must continue. 

It is not lost on us that Manuel Ellis’ family is still waiting for justice. It is not lost on us that it took a video from Minnesota to spark change in Olympia… 

Click here to continue reading.

A worthy honor for Billy Frank Jr.

I am excited to share that  Governor Inslee signed HB 1372 authorizing a statue of Billy Frank Jr. in the National Statuary Hall collection in our nation’s Capitol. Billy Frank Jr. dedicated his life to advocating for equality, justice, and environmental protections. He vocally advocated to unify people to save salmon and restore their habitat. His endless work on salmon recovery was based on inclusivity and an understanding that tribal treaty rights will help recover salmon and benefit everyone.

Billy Frank Jr.

A statue among other national heroes is the right way to elevate his story and continue to acknowledge and apologize for the decades of violence and oppression the federal and state governments perpetuated against Native Americans and sovereign tribes and nations. Billy Frank Jr. will stand as one of our state’s two statues in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.

“It’s a great bill because Billy Frank was a great man. Don’t take my word for it. It’s no accident that he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest reward, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, won the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award and countless others.”

– Lt. Governor Denny Heck in his testimony on HB 1372