Dear friends and neighbors,
Major announcements regarding vaccine distribution broke this week and I want to make sure you heard the news. Our teachers and child care providers are approved for vaccinations immediately with additional people becoming eligible later this month.
[For more information, please see the Department of Health’s statement in English or Spanish. Find a vaccine provider using the state Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator. If you need translation assistance or can’t get online, call the state COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.]
Our healthcare providers are telling us that vaccine supply from the federal government is low and appointments fill up fast, but more vaccine is on its way. We’ve come a long way, with 1.7 million Washingtonians having received at least one dose and increased progress towards our goal of 45,000 vaccines administered each day. We owe thanks to the healthcare workers who are working hard to vaccinate people quickly!
We also passed a sobering milestone recently – over 5,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in our state and 500,000 across our country. I honor all of the loved ones who’ve been lost. The pandemic may haven taken them from us, but we will carry their legacy as we continue to persevere through the pandemic and recover, together.
This milestone also serves as an important reminder to remain vigilant in our fight against COVID-19. New variants are much more transmissible and can create more strain on our healthcare system. We can still save lives if we continue to mask up, wash our hands and keep our physical distance.
Upcoming Virtual Town Hall
Please join Sen. Lisa Wellman, Rep. My-Linh Thai and me on Thursday, March 11 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. There are several ways to tune in: the event will be livestreamed to my legislative Facebook page, to the House Democrats Facebook page, to the House Democrats Twitter feed, and to the House Democrats YouTube channel.
You can submit questions to us ahead of time at this link: surveymonkey.com/r/41stTownHall. Questions can also be submitted live during the event by entering them in the comment section.
We’re looking forward to listening to you, answering your questions, and sharing our priorities for the 2021 session.
A Quick Bill Round-up
Now that we are getting close to the House of Origin cutoff – the date by which bills have to be passed out of the chamber in which they originated – I want to update you on some significant bills that have moved forward in the legislative process.
- House Bill 1061, which will help foster youth with disabilities transition from the foster care system to developmental disability services and stability, passed the House last week on a unanimous vote! The bill is now under consideration in the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.
- House Bill 1214, which extends training requirements including restorative justice, to all school safety staff, improves data collection and requires school districts to introduce their safety staff and specific roles to students and families each year, passed the House Tuesday and is now under consideration in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.
- House Bill 1091, which establishes a Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Washington, passed the House and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee on March 10 at 8 a.m. I was proud to give the debate closing speech!
- House Bill 1050, which increases regulations of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases that are mainly used for cooling and refrigeration, passed the House and is now under consideration in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee.
- House Bill 1287, which builds a plan to ensure that our electric grid and infrastructure are ready to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles, passed the House on Wednesday!
- House Bill 1099 incorporates climate change mitigation into the Growth Management Act (GMA), which guides land management and planning in our state. The bill passed the House on Friday!
- House Bill 1267 establishes an independent agency to investigate police uses of deadly force. In another step toward accountability, transparency, and justice, the House passed the bill this week on a vote of 47-39.
- House Bill 1054 bans dangerous police tactics and military equipment to truly uphold just public safety. The bill passed the House last weekend on a vote of 54-43.
Both bills help us begin the daunting process of rebuilding trust between communities of color and law enforcement. Too many families have suffered unimaginable loss. We’re grateful for their willingness to share their stories, and we’re grateful for the organizers, advocates, and law enforcement who helped craft this legislation. Together, we’re shaping a Washington that is safer for Black and brown communities.
Women’s History Month…and our Mom’s Caucus
March is Women’s History Month! As the proud mom of two, I’ve been reflecting on all that moms do every day and the extra pressures added during this pandemic. It’s time to demand more for women. That’s why I’m proud to have launched, with my colleague Rep. Liz Berry, the House Democrats Moms’ Caucus. This week, we shared with leadership our Moms’ Caucus legislative priorities that included affordable child care, expanded Paid Family & Medical Leave, expanded post-partum healthcare, racial justice, and a healthy environment.
This week, we saw the passage of House Bill 1073, sponsored Rep. Berry, which expands access to Paid Family & Medical Leave for workers who would have otherwise qualified except for a cut in work hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As always, whether in person or online, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me this session with your questions, concerns, or comments. We will get through these hardest of times together.
Rep. Tana Senn