Dear friends and neighbors,
We are about 10 weeks away from the 2024 Legislative Session, so this is a good time to give you an update on some of the work I’ve been doing and invite you to a Latino Democratic Caucus Facebook town hall in December. But it is also an opportunity to remind you that, as your representative, I need your input on the issues that matter to you. All my contact info is at the bottom of this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your feedback, ideas or concerns.
Three-day tour of bridges in SW WA
A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to tour numerous bridges along the Columbia River. Many of them face urgent needs for either maintenance or complete replacement, such as the 100-year-old bridge at the I-5 crossing that connects Washington and Oregon. These bridges are often 50 miles apart along the border, and that could be disastrous if one of those were to close.
The image below shows the Bridge of the Gods, known to many through-hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail that traverses 2,660 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico to the U.S. border with Canada, going through significant portions in Washington and Oregon. It is a dangerous bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists. While the original cost to build the bridge was $602,077 a century ago, today its replacement would cost around $270 million.
The I-5 Interstate Bridge, one span of which is over 100 years old, is at risk of collapse. It no longer satisfies the needs of modern commerce and travel with greater than 130,000 vehicles and millions of dollars of goods crossing the bridge daily. Replacing this bridge with a modern, seismically resilient, multimodal structure that provides improved mobility and reliability for people, goods and services is a high priority for Oregon and Washington to maintain our economic vitality.
For a full rundown of the trip, read this report by our House Transportation Chair, Rep. Jake Fey.
Temporary license plates
In 2022 the Legislature passed my House Bill 1790, which was brought to me by a constituent, to use actual temporary license plates instead of paper permits attached to the back window.
This past summer, the Washington State Department of Licensing introduced the new and longer-lasting temporary license plates for newly purchased vehicles. Have you seen or noticed them?
These plates are constructed from better materials and are weather-resistant, making them more durable (watch this DOL video on their durability) and easier to read than the previous permits. The change is in response to the difficulty in reading paper permits on rear windshields. These new temporary plates are designed for various motor vehicles, including motorcycles, and are meant to be placed on the location of the regular plates until you receive your permanent license plates.
This new law will increase safety on our roads and will be useful for law enforcement to more accurately identify cars and their drivers.
KING 5 ran a great story about this new law back in July, watch it here.
Latino Democratic Caucus Update
As you know, I serve as vice chair of the new Washington State Latino Democratic Caucus (LDC). I am collaborating with Latino elected officials around the nation to see what ideas we can bring to Washington support ALL our communities. I recently attended the NALEO conference and will be going to the Board of Latino Legislative Leaders next month.
The eight state representatives and three senators who form the LDC want to hear from our constituents, so we will be hosting a Facebook town hall event the first week of December.
Keep an eye out for all the details so you can join us and let us know what you think about our caucus and the work we’re doing at the state level.
2023 was the first session for the LDC so, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we put together a short video highlighting some of our policy and budget accomplishments. Click on the image below to watch it.
Washington ranked SAFEST state for high school students
Prioritizing safety for high school students is crucial as it creates an ideal environment for learning and personal growth. Schoolaroo, a website to help match students with scholarships, conducted a detailed analysis to identify the safest states for high school students in the USA, and Washington is at the top of the list! Click on the image below for more information:
Changes to financial aid applications
This year’s financial aid application process will open in December instead of October. This change is due to the FAFSA Simplification Act, which modifies eligibility determination, aiming to be more accurate and user-friendly. The Act also shortens and simplifies the FAFSA application by reducing the number of questions and allowing direct income information retrieval from the IRS. For more information, please go to https://t.ly/J0dv0
Thank you for reading this newsletter and for your interest in state government. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, I hope you will give my office a call or send me an email with your thoughts and views.