Final Week Update: Building for the Future of Washington

Dear friends and neighbors, 

It’s hard to believe we are in the last week of the legislative session! As we near Sine Die ending the 2023 Session, I want to take a moment to thank you for your engagement and advocacy. Your input and feedback have been invaluable in shaping the policies that will impact our communities for years to come. 

Here’s an update on some recent legislative developments from the last few weeks: 

Committee achievements and bills headed to the governor’s desk

governors desk

This session, I was honored to have been re-appointed by my colleagues to chair the Innovation, Community & Economic Development, & Veterans committee. I have invested considerable time and effort over the last few years to understand the variety of opinions stakeholders have on the subject matters under consideration by this committee. Here are some of the highlights from our work over this session – all these bills are headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law 

HB 1009 helps military spouses by making it easier for them to get professional licenses when they move to a new state due to their service member spouse’s duty assignment. This can be a big challenge for military families, and this bill aims to reduce some of the barriers they face. It also allows military spouses to end work contracts without being penalized when their service member spouse gets new orders to move. Overall, this bill shows support for military families and helps make their lives a little bit easier while addressing some of our workforce shortage issues. 

HB 1728 requires the Emergency Management Division (EMD) within the Military Department to develop and run a program to increase disaster resilience. The program aims to coordinate state and local disaster response efforts, ensure collaboration between agencies, and identify and mitigate all types of natural and human-caused hazards. The program will promote collaboration between agencies to advance statewide climate resilience activities, identify opportunities to leverage funding, and improve the resilience of communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. By increasing disaster resilience, the bill aims to help communities withstand and recover from adverse events in a fair and equitable manner.  

HB 1783 is a bipartisan bill to help associate development organizations by establishing a grant program that will support them in recruiting, hiring, and retaining grant writers. By doing so, these organizations will be better equipped to secure funding through grant applications, which will ultimately help them better serve their communities and achieve their goals. 

SB 5268 establishes a small works roster that requires contractors to indicate if they are a women and minority-owned business, veteran-owned business, or small business. By requiring contractors to indicate their status and establishing a statewide roster with filters, these businesses will have greater visibility and access to small public works projects. The elimination of the retainage or performance bonds requirement for small public works contracts under $5,000 will also make it easier and less costly for small businesses to participate in these projects. Overall, this bill seeks to support and promote the growth and success of small businesses, which are essential to the state’s economy and local communities. 

SB 5269, the Washington Clean Manufacturing Leadership Act, directs the Department of Commerce to conduct an independent assessment to identify opportunities for new and emerging industries while strengthening the existing manufacturing base. The assessment will evaluate the impacts of transitioning to net-zero emissions, identify needs of existing manufacturers, and support minority and women-owned businesses. The bill aims to promote economic development and environmental sustainability, both reflecting the values of Washingtonians. 

SB 5323 creates a director of nursing services position at each state veterans’ home, requires the director to be a licensed registered nurse in Washington, and allows the WDVA to exempt certain veteran discharge papers from public disclosure under specific circumstances. It also repeals outdated statutory references to the Soldiers’ Colony and fundraising for the eastern Washington veterans’ home, as well as a requirement to provide domiciliary and medical care. 

SB 5358 updates and expands the Veteran Peer-to-Peer Program and the Veteran Service Officer Program. The updates include extending due dates for reports and evaluations, analyzing areas lacking veteran support services, and increasing state appropriations and grants for these programs. The goal of the bill is to improve and expand support services for Washington’s large population of veterans and their families. 

SB 5324 supports communities adjacent to military installations in Washington State by updating the Defense Community Compatibility Account (DCCA). The bill demonstrates a commitment to supporting veterans and maintaining strong military infrastructure in our state. Projects under the DCCA are vetted and can leverage federal funding, bringing additional money into Washington. The clarification that funds can be matched by any nonstate source will improve adjacent cities’ competitiveness in the next grant cycle for compatibility-enhancing investments and to ensure that federal money is not left on the table. 

Updates on my bills: building for the future of Washington state


I am excited to share with you some updates on my own bills and initiatives from this session. While we celebrate the successes we have achieved, we must also acknowledge that there is still much work to be done. I am committed to continuing to fight for our shared values throughout the remainder of this biennium and beyond. 

HB 1746 would develop a state broadband map for the state’s 5-year Action Plan and a Digital Equity Plan, allowing for a more accurate identification of unserved or underserved areas while avoiding over-building. Despite not advancing in the Senate this year, HB 1746 remains a crucial piece of legislation that will lay the foundation for future work in Washington State. Broadband is a public utility, and this bill aims to ensure that all Washingtonians have access to affordable and accessible broadband infrastructure.  

HB 1621 sets guidelines for public works projects in Washington State. The goal is to ensure fairness in the bidding process and award contracts to responsible bidders. The lowest bidder who meets specific requirements will receive the contract. These requirements include having the necessary registrations and insurance coverage. This bill prioritizes accountability, fairness, and responsible business practices in public works projects. I am proud to share that this bill is headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law!  

HB 1061 is about making it easier for people to become licensed insurance producers in Washington State. Currently, first-time applicants must complete pre-licensing education in addition to passing exams and meeting other requirements. This bill would remove the pre-licensing education requirement, making it easier for people to enter the insurance industry. This can help increase access to job opportunities and promote economic growth in the state. This bill has been signed into law and will become effective on July 23!  

HB 1017 allows applicants for cosmetologist, hair design, barber, manicurist, esthetician, and master esthetician licenses in Washington state to take their licensing exam before completing the required hours of course instruction, as long as they are within 100 hours of completion. This can help streamline the licensing process and allow individuals to start their careers sooner, while still ensuring that they meet the necessary training requirements before being licensed. 

Operating budget: On the House floor, I also highlighted the opportunity to double manufacturing activities in Washington state over the next decade with the help of significant federal funding. The “Inflation Reduction Act” and the “CHIPS and Science Act” represent a level of investment from the U.S. government that has not been seen before, and they have the potential to bring $18.3 billion in investments to the state. This kind of investment has the potential to bring 20,000 or more jobs to every corner of the state, which will help to strengthen communities, improve the standard of living for Washingtonians, and boost the state’s economy. By dedicating $5 million of state funds to pursue these federal investments, the state can take advantage of this unique opportunity and work towards achieving its goal of doubling manufacturing activities in the next 10 years. It is important to support this initiative as it can bring tremendous benefits to the people of Washington and help to position the state as a leader in clean energy and semiconductor industries.

Watch my amendment speech on the House floor here:  


I am thrilled to see the passage of so many bills this session that will improve the lives of Washingtonians and make our communities safer, greener, and more equitable. 

As we move forward, I encourage you to stay involved, stay informed, and continue advocating for the issues that matter to you. Stay tuned for information about an upcoming in-person town hall and other opportunities to connect over the interim. I look forward to working together towards a brighter future for our state. 


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