Legislative Update: A Public Safety Caucus + Protecting Our Kids, Pocketbooks & Bodily Autonomy

Dear friends and neighbors, 

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last newsletter to you. We’re now in week four of this year’s legislative session. In a week’s time, my fellow legislators and I will begin debating bills on the House floor long into the night.

I recently co-founded a public safety caucus with Rep. David Hackney (D-Tukwila) to promote legislation and funding that strengthens the rule of law in our state. Members of this caucus will work together in recognition of our shared responsibility to ensure everyone in our communities are safe and that law enforcement is compliant with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

While Rep. Hackney and I represent two very different districts, we both share the same concern that members of vulnerable communities (low-income, protected classes) are significantly and disproportionately victims of violent and property crimes, and these groups have significantly fewer resources to recover from personal injury or property damage caused by criminal activity. 

My core work in Olympia and in district has always been about protecting our most vulnerable. Today, I want to address how I’m fighting to protect our kids, protect our pocketbooks, and share news on what my fellow lawmakers and I are doing to protect bodily autonomy. Read on.

Protecting Our Kids

I’d like to share news with you on five bills I’m sponsoring this year that protect our littlest members of society, our kids.  

  • House Bill 2010: Working with my colleagues across the aisle on this one, this bill aims to put more protections in place to keep children safe from violence. Sadly, most child abuse (30-60 percent) is perpetrated in the family by a parent, and in child sexual abuse cases, that number is higher than 75 percent! This is unacceptable and this piece of legislation would offer kids protection from parents that cause harm and get them to safety. Child violence doesn’t just harm our littlest ones’ mental health, but it also harms the economy. Child physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect results in $124 billion in annual costs to the U.S. economy, roughly 1 percent of our GDP. 
  • House Bill 2222: This bipartisan bill aims to make exposure to fentanyl, synthetic opioids, or methamphetamine a crime for those who endanger the lives of kids or dependent adults to these dangerous and lethal substances. Too many people are losing their lives to these substances and these tragic deaths from these illicit substances must be stopped. Right here at home, our overdose deaths rose by a whopping 43 percent last year due to fentanyl. December 2023 statistics show that we lost 130 people in our communities due to fentanyl—up from 91 people a year earlier. This crisis needs to stop now.   
  • House Bill 2224: Another bipartisan bill, this piece of legislation would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to conduct a study to improve its risks, strengths, and needs assessment tool used in the risk assessment process when investigating alleged child abuse and neglect referrals. This improved assessment tool will improve safety and reduce bias. It had a public hearing in the House Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning Committee a week ago, which you can check out here on TVW. 
  • House Bill 2259: With bipartisan support, this bill addresses parents who expose their kids to fentanyl.  Just a small amount of fentanyl, the size of a grain of salt (2 milligrams), can kill a person—including and especially a small child or baby. It looks like candy, and kids and babies put everything in their mouths.  
  • House Bill 2280: This bill creates a student mental and behavioral health network to maintain, expand, and provide oversight to Washington’s school-based mental and behavioral health system for children and adolescents across the state. Post pandemic our kids are still struggling with mental health, substance use, and behavioral health challenges that impact their ability to engage in learning and develop healthy coping mechanisms for success.  

Protecting Our Pocketbooks

It’s no ongoing secret that inflation and higher prices continue to impact the lives of everyday people. I introduced two bills last year that are still moving through the process—House Bills 1716 and 1717. HB 1716 would give businesses that provide childcare a credit on their business and occupation taxes. You can learn more about it by watching the public hearing on TVW that was heard in the House Finance Committee last week.  

HB 1717 is about jobs. Associated development organizations (ADOs) build the foundation for economic progress in every corner of our state and work tirelessly to save small businesses. ADOs are especially important for timber and farm country. This legislation helps them and frees up money to do their job, which is to protect jobs! This bill passed out of the House with broad bipartisan support (93-4) on Jan. 11 and is now under consideration in the Senate.

Protecting Bodily Autonomy


Two weeks ago, I told you about a piece of legislation I was working on that would give women and men full bodily autonomy. January 23 marked the 51st anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Despite last year’s overturning of Roe by the Supreme Court, our state has shown unwavering support for reproductive freedom. Our ongoing efforts in the Legislature empower individual to make decisions about their own bodies. We champion policies for reproductive freedom, equality, and healthcare access—and our work continues as we remain committed to preserving rights and advocating for comprehensive reproductive healthcare and protecting a woman’s right to choose. I also encourage you to watch this video that also shows our unwavering support on this important issue.

Mark Your Calendar!

Join me at a town hall from 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Horizon Middle School in Ferndale. My seatmates, Sen. Sharon Shewmake and Rep. Joe Timmons, will also be there! This is your chance to ask us questions about what’s happening in Olympia and tell us what’s important to you. More details are coming soon. 

 Best wishes,