Reflecting on our work this session

Friends and neighbors,

In my first newsletter earlier this year, I talked about how important it is to take care of each other and invest in our communities. That’s why my top priorities this legislative session were supporting families and children, protecting the most vulnerable and increasing access to behavioral health care. I’m proud of the work we did this year in each of these areas, but there’s a lot left to do. Here’s a look at some of the bills I supported and helped pass:

Supporting Families and Children

-SB 5237: The Legislature passed the Fair Start for Kids Act to make child care more affordable and accessible for families. This bill will help get parents back to work, our economy up and running and more kids a fair start in life.

-HB 1151: Our state has been hit hard by the pandemic, leaving many struggling to make ends meet or worrying about where their next meal will come from. This new law will expand food and cash assistance for families who need it most.

-HB 1227: The primary goal of our child welfare system is reunification, because we know that kids and parents are better off when we invest in keeping families safely together. This legislation protects children from undue family separation by requiring clear evidence demonstrating a child may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

Protecting the Most Vulnerable

-HB 1221: There are kids right here in Whatcom County who don’t have a stable home and lack the support they need to thrive. My bill standardizes the definition of homelessness to streamline services for our most vulnerable kids, so more families have access to support and can find stable housing.

-HB 1166: Too many students are on the verge of dropping out of their programs because they struggle with finding shelter, food and warmth. This bill expands assistance at state institutions and community and technical colleges for students experiencing homelessness and those previously in foster care.

Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care

-HB 1477: Congress passed a bill last year making 988 the new national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline number, paving the way for states to develop improved crisis response systems. So this session, the Legislature passed a bill to implement the 988 system in our state to create robust call centers that support people in crisis and make sure they get the care they need.

-HB 1373: This bill uses technology to help youth who might be in crisis by requiring public schools to post contact information for behavioral health services on the homepage of school websites and district social media platforms.

-HB 1325: By making sure families have the behavioral health support they need as soon as possible, we can give kids their best chance to thrive. This legislation makes permanent a program for primary care providers of pregnant and post-partum women with questions about behavioral health care, and a referral access line for families looking for behavioral health providers for teens and younger kids.

The latest on the Main Street Program

You may remember that I introduced and passed a bill to expand the Main Street Program, a state effort to revitalize downtowns, support small businesses and bolster economic recovery. With the 2021 session behind us, I want to use these updates to connect our community with the latest resources, especially as we recover from the pandemic.

That’s why I want to let you know that the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation is now accepting applications from those interesting joining the Washington Main Street network. Visit this link to learn more about the program and how to apply.

Constituent corner: rental assistance

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about rent and housing assistance. If you or someone you know could use some help, I encourage you to visit the state Department of Commerce’s website at this link for more information about rent and housing assistance, and relief available for small landlords through the Limited Landlord Relief Program.

Everyone deserves stable, secure housing. But too many of our friends and neighbors have been struggling to keep a roof over their heads, especially over the past year.

I voted for a budget that pays back due rent and offers utility assistance to struggling families, as well as a community and economic recovery bill that included $325 million for rental assistance and $5 million for rental and foreclosure assistance.

Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out at 360-746-3744 or It’s an honor to serve the 42nd.

Alicia Rule