It’s been an exciting year in the Legislature and wanted to share with you a few policies that effect our community, our kids, and our economy.
Bellevue College: The economy is booming on the Eastside. In fact, tech business leaders decry the difficulty in hiring enough computer science-trained applicants. At the same time, there aren’t enough slots for those seeking a computer science degree.
So what’s the solution? Utilizing our high quality community colleges—like our very own Bellevue College. This session I introduced legislation to create a pilot program for community and technical colleges to offer bachelor degrees in high-demand fields like computer science.
In the end, the compromise effort I spearheaded authorized Bellevue College to offer a baccalaureate degree in computer science. With its broad reach, diverse student body, and proximity to high tech industry, Bellevue College is primed to make a dramatic, positive impact across the region.
Equal Pay: We already have equal pay laws on the books, so why do we need more legislation? Unfortunately, women still make on average 78 percent of the paycheck men earn. Women of color make as low as 46%. A major problem that perpetuates the wage gap is pay secrecy policies.
Women often don’t know if they are being paid equally or not. That’s why I introduced the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. The bill would ban employers from retaliating against employees for discussing wages and salaries, allowing transparency in hiring and salary practices for everyone.
At its heart, pay equity is about fairness. Two people with the same education, experience and training doing the same work should be paid the same. We must be sure women who discuss or inquire about how much they make or about any wage differential do not face retaliation.
Again this year, gender pay equality legislation died in the Senate. But this fight isn’t over. I strongly believe in the equality of women and look forward to reintroducing the bill next session.
Children’s Mental Health Workgroup: For years, children’s mental health has been largely ignored. With the growing body of evidence on brain science, children’s mental health is starting to be part of the conversation around learning, behavioral problems, physical health and future success.
This session, we passed legislation that establishes a Children’s Mental Health Workgroup—to identify ways to increase access to mental health services for children. As a member of that workgroup, I believe all children deserve a strong developmental foundation. By reaching children and their families early on, whether through the health delivery system or our schools, we can make a difference in the overall mental health picture for our state.
Gun Responsibility Not a day goes by seemingly without a news story of an accidental gun death or mass shooting. As a mom and a legislator, I want to do everything I can to reduce gun violence. This year, I introduced two gun-related measures designed to reduce the government’s potential role in any future violent crime and help offset the hidden costs to society.
Did you know that your law enforcement agency may sell guns they find at a crime scene that are not needed as evidence? I introduced legislation to prevent our public safety departments from selling weapons and reintroducing them into our communities.
My second bill focused on addressing the societal costs of gun violence. Just as cigarette taxes help pay for the impacts of second hand smoke, so would my proposed fee on bullets help pay for the hidden costs of gun violence.
Although no gun legislation made it to the Governor’s desk, this is an issue I feel extremely passionate about and will continue to push for reasonable firearm regulations during upcoming sessions.
McCleary & the Levy Cliff: The 41st Legislative District has amazing schools. Dedicated teachers, engaged parents and a generous levy system all contribute to their high quality. However, the amount of money school districts can collect through property tax levies will decline significantly starting next year if the legislature fails to act.
Although legislation to address this “levy cliff,” this year, was passed out of the House with a strong bipartisan vote, it failed to pass the Senate–leaving our local school districts with dangerously unpredictable revenues, which may result in teacher layoffs.
This is a pre-cursor to the larger issue of “amply” funding our public schools as required by the McCleary court ruling. Last year, we expanded all-day kindergarten, increased funds for classroom materials and supplies, and reduced class sizes in K-3.
This year, after much wrangling with the Senate, we made progress toward addressing teacher and substitute teacher shortages, committed extra resources to homeless student services and passed numerous strategies to close the opportunity gap.
Holocaust Center for Humanity: As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, the values of inclusion, equality and tolerance are engrained in my very being. At a time when discrimination, xenophobic sentiments and anti-Semitism appear to be on the rise at home and abroad, the legislature granted $200,000 in capital dollars to help complete the Holocaust Center for Humanity.
The Seattle-based Center teaches students of all ages to stand up to prejudice and intolerance—of any group—through the stories and artifacts of local Holocaust survivors.
A FINAL NOTE
This will be our final e-newsletter before entering the campaign-year break and I wanted to take a moment to say that it’s been an honor to represent such active and engaged constituents in Olympia this Session. Thank you to all who have written, called, or dropped by in person – your engagement is key!
I look forward to running into you around district and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or would like to meet. Have a great summer!