Legislative Update: Why a Change in Vehicle Pursuits is Necessary + Supporting WA’s Agriculture, Keeping Families Intact & Nature for Our Health

Dear friends and neighbors,

Nearly two weeks ago, I introduced House Bill 1363 with Rep. Eric Robertson (R-Sumner).  This bill will restore the laws around vehicle pursuits to what they were in 2020. The main reason for introducing this bill is that I do not believe a one-size-fits-all pursuit policy works for every community in Washington, and that it would allow police agencies to set their own pursuit policies, which is what is needed here in Whatcom County.

This issue can be controversial, and I am aware of that. It’s been getting some attention in the press—and unfortunately, there are folks who have misunderstood why this topic is important to me. The bipartisan bill has more than 50 sponsors in the House and Senate and deserves to be considered fully by both houses. This bill would ensure victims of crime know law enforcement can pursue fleeing suspects. It’s important that I work across the aisle, and I am committed to being a voice for our most vulnerable and promise to continue working with Republican House members when you bring matters to my attention that need reform.

Fox13 News in Seattle just covered this story. Click here to read more.

Supporting Washington’s Agriculture

Yesterday a bill I introduced, HB 1574, was read for the first time and referred to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. I’ll keep you updated as this advances, but essentially the legislature finds that our state’s crop and livestock farms offer some of the most cost-effective, readily available opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help achieve the state’s pollution reduction goals. Alternative manure and agriculture waste management practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions on smaller farms while providing organic compost to replace synthetic fertilizers, improve soil health, and sequester carbon. Better yet, these practices also improve water and air quality! What excites me about this bill is that it brings dairy farmers and climate change folks together—which is pretty neat and unique—and farmers and climate change experts will be able to solve problems that otherwise seemed intractable.

Families Deserve to Stay Together

I’m happy to report that HB 1186, a child welfare bill I introduced before the start of Legislative Session, has passed out of committee! This bill will protect our most vulnerable families who are experiencing housing insecurity. In a nutshell, this bill means that kids won’t be removed from a safe parent and put into foster care simply due to homelessness.

Sadly, in our state where the cost of housing is 22 percent higher than the national average, and the overall cost of living is 13 percent higher than the country at large, it is not unthinkable for some families to be without their own home. Then, there are other reasons that come into play, too, such as domestic violence, a family tragedy, or other crises. The face of homelessness looks different for everyone, but I am committed not to leaving our littlest and most vulnerable children behind as we address the complexities of homelessness.

Already a pilot program since the summer of 2020 and known as the Child Welfare Housing Assistance Pilot Program, this bill will become a permanent fixture throughout our entire state and expand beyond its current Lewis County borders to include our very own Whatcom County! Our kiddos and families really need this to stay together—and they deserve it, too!

Want to learn more? I encourage you to tune in to an executive session on this bill, scheduled for 8 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 27. You can tune in live to this hearing on TVW by clicking here. Or, if you can’t watch live, you can always come back to TVW’s website a day later and watch it on demand. I’ll also be sure to keep you updated on this bill and how it progresses, so stay tuned.

The Importance of Nature for Our Mental & Physical Health

Last year, you may recall that my bill to expand outdoor school programs (HB 2078) was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee last March and became law on June 9, 2022. It’s great to see our kiddos learning beyond the traditional school walls and thriving in the great outdoors after so much time spent on screens during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our littlest ones endured a lot of mental anguish during the days of remote learning, increased isolation and time spent indoors and on screens. It’s wonderful to see our kiddos now learning and thriving in the great outdoors; and now I’m working on a bill that will get people of all ages outside and into nature, too. This bill will allow prescribers to write a script for anyone in need of mental health support or physical exercise to enjoy time in our parks and get into nature.

Research indicates that time spent in nature is connected to cognitive and mental health benefits, as well as improvements in mood and emotional well-being. Studies also show that being outside in nature is relaxing, reducing our stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates. One of my personal favorites to get this kind of R&R is Semiahmoo Park in Blaine. What’s yours?


Best wishes,


Photo courtesy of Brewin Creative