Dear friends and neighbors,
Last Friday, I attended a 6-minute virtual swearing-in ceremony along with several of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. I was honored to take the oath of office to uphold the constitution and serve the people of Washington to the best of my ability.
I am humbled by your continued trust and ready to work hard to represent you in the coming legislative session. Click on the image below to watch the TVW footage.
A guide to the first (and hopefully only) virtual session
Every year, on the second Monday in January, lawmakers from all 49 legislative districts across the state convene in Olympia to carry out the business of the people of Washington. House and Senate members and their staff move to Olympia for the duration of the legislative session. Stakeholders and lobbyists also set up shop in town and large groups visit the state Capitol daily. In a normal session, there can be as many as 10,000 people on campus every day from January to April! Clearly, packing the campus with that many people in the time of COVID-19 would be unsafe and irresponsible.
By law, we had to meet in person at the state Capitol on the first day of the legislative session to adopt temporary rules that allow us to work from home virtually for the remaining 104 days. We were able to do this by taking every precaution and following all COVID-19 guidelines. Thank you to our law enforcement agencies and the Washington National Guard for keeping our campus safe for all so we could begin the legislative session, ready to do the people’s work.
So, how will this virtual session work?
It will be challenging to do the state’s business virtually. However, thanks to technology, more people than ever before will be able to participate in the legislative process. For starters, every committee hearing, work session, debate, and vote on the floor of each chamber will be televised, streamed live and archived online by TVW.org.
It will also be easier than ever before to locate information online, whether you are connecting with your representatives and senators, submitting remote testimony, or looking for schedules, agendas and bill summaries. One upside this year is that Washingtonians in remote parts of the state won’t need to travel to Olympia and bear the costs of accommodation to participate in the legislative process.
Check out the graphic below or click here for a short video by Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Senator Andy Billig, a Q&A slideshow, and more information on the many ways you can participate in your democracy from your home, phone, or nearest internet provider.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: Find Your Phase!
The Washington State Department of Health recently announced a timeline for vaccine distribution in our state. This timeline was developed with input from nearly 20,000 people around the state, through surveys, focus groups, and interviews. You can find out when you can be vaccinated by taking a short survey at FindYourPhaseWA.org. Click on the image below for a larger version.
Thank you for your willingness to be vaccinated and for reaching out to me to ask for more information on the timing of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. I was able to share your emails and requests with the Washington State Department of Health and the Governor’s office. The work to get vaccines to frontline workers and vulnerable populations is continuing with further efforts to improve transparency and data collection. We also hope to see improvement in the coordinated federal strategy and response in the coming days.
As a reminder, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being distributed in Washington state after rigorous testing and emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and additional approval by the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup of our Western States Pact.
Diversity in the House!
The Washington House Democrats Members of Color Caucus (MOCC) was founded in 2003 by a small group of lawmakers seeking to increase the cultural competence of House Democrats, and elevate issues impacting marginalized communities. Today, with 19 state representatives, we are the largest cohort of legislators of color in the history of our state, and we make up one-third of the House Democratic Caucus.
I am proud to be in this group of diverse and spirited individuals who, each year, prioritize policy proposals that break down structural barriers and reimagine opportunity, access, and representation for people of color.
This session, the MOCC also has a new Facebook page.
Keep in touch
|Thank you for reading my newsletter, I hope you found it informative.
I encourage you to use the available tools presented here, including visiting my official Facebook page, to connect with me and follow what I am working on this session.
In these difficult and uncertain times, it is important to be kind, care for one another and follow current guidelines from health experts. Wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, limit your exposure to others and, above all, wear a mask whenever you are out and about.
My office may be virtual right now, however Elsa, my legislative assistant and I are still receiving your emails and calls. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our contact information follows below.