A quick note before the holidays

A Time for Compassion

Our 41st legislative district, encompassing one of the most diverse zip codes in the US, benefits from the cultural and religious diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, differing viewpoints and love of family that our many neighbors bring. We must stand together and be clear that we value the words on the Statue of Liberty welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”

As the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, I understand the importance of welcoming those fleeing violence and oppression. As a parent, I ache for the Syrian mothers and fathers trying desperately to protect their children. As an elected official, I join with Gov. Jay Inslee in stepping up, speaking out and acting to help those in such desperate need. I encourage everyone to join in doing so.

Helping the Environment One Code at a Time

There are many ways to make positive changes as a legislator. I serve on the State Building Code Council, which establishes health and safety code requirements for buildings in the State. We recently finalized some important code revisions and here are a few I was proud to champion:

  • Electric car charging station Aaron Barna
    Electric car charging station

    Electric vehicle charging stations. To encourage continued adoption of electric vehicles, we need to ensure that infrastructure exists to support them. The new code will require that parking lots in newly constructed buildings set aside 5% of their spaces for electric vehicle charging. By making sure that these drivers have access to the energy they need, we can help reduce our state’s carbon impact.

  • Water bottle filling stations. Obesity is a problem plaguing states across the country. In order to encourage people to drink water, rather than sugary beverages, up to half of all water fountains in new buildings will be substituted with a dual-purpose water bottle filling station and water fountain. More than just a public health benefit, these water bottle filling stations also benefit the environment by reducing the use of disposable water bottles.
  • Composting. Presently in King County landfills, 73% of what people throw away could be recycled or composted. This code would require that all new multi-family housing units be constructed with capacity for compost collection, just as they are for garbage and recycling, so that as compost collection expands across the state, they’re prepared to participate.

Of course, these code changes wouldn’t have been successful without the help of advocates like Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett; Vic Coleman, Director of Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition; and JJ McCoy, of the Northwest Energy Coalition, whose dedication and commitment to these issues helped make them a reality. It’s been an exciting experience to enact such impactful and long-term change and I look forward to continuing my work with the State Building Code Council in the future.

Awards and Recognitions

I’ve been honored to receive awards from several organizations for my work in the 2015 Legislative Session:

  • City Champion Award from the Association of Washington Cities;
  • Champion for Change Award from the Arc of King County; and
  • Outstanding Legislator Award from the Community Employment Alliance.

Thank you so much for these significant recognitions.

Happy Holidays

 As the end of the year approaches, I want to wish you and your family happy holidays!