Dear friends and neighbors,
Today was the very last day of the 2021 legislative session! Working virtually for 105 days during the COVID-19 pandemic has been an intense, unprecedented experience during which we were focused on the COVID-19 response, economic recovery, advancing racial equity and tackling climate change.
I am thankful for the amazing hard work of the House staff and fellow legislators, on both sides of the aisle, who were willing to do what it takes to safely get this important work done for the people of Washington state.
There is much to report, so I will be sending out a series of “Session Wrap” newsletters focused on issues that you have asked about. Keep an eye out for the first one, about budgets, within the next couple of weeks. You will also receive one dedicated to the work we did in the College and Workforce Development Committee and what I learned as its new chair!
I am grateful for the opportunity to represent you in virtual Olympia. It is a great privilege and honor to serve the 48th district. Your input and feedback have been essential to drafting policy and making decisions. Thank you so much.
The 67th Legislature adjourned today, however, I am your legislator year ‘round, so please contact my office anytime. My legislative assistant, Elsa Brown, and I will do our best to serve you.
What’s new on the COVID-19 front
More people are getting vaccinated and that’s great news, but we cannot let our guard down. With a 4th wave taking hold in Washington, please continue wearing masks, washing your hands frequently and staying at least six feet away from others when possible.
The latest Department of Health Statewide Situation Report found that the estimated percentage of the population with active COVID-19 infections has almost doubled over the past month, hospital admissions are rising, and cases with COVID variants are also increasing.
Please stay the course, get vaccinated, and hold on a bit longer so that all those we care about will be safe when we finally see the end of this pandemic.
To learn more reliable information about vaccine safety and effectiveness, please visit COVIDVaccineWA.org
To get vaccinated, use the state’s Vaccine Locator tool to find open appointments near you, and the Vaccine Finder shows providers who receive vaccine directly through federal government collaborations like the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
For information on the Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program or if you are behind on rent or a landlord with tenants behind on rent, please visit this link.
My COVID-19 health data privacy bill is on the Governor’s desk!
I am happy to report that House Bill 1127 passed both chambers and will be signed into law soon.
Public health contact-tracing apps can help us fight the pandemic, however, concerns over privacy issues have made some people hesitant to use these apps, so we brought this bipartisan bill forward.
This legislation strictly limits organizations that collect and analyze COVID-19 data to only use your COVID-19 health data for public health purposes. Any other use, including for commercial, advertising, policing or immigration enforcement, is strictly prohibited.
Additionally, my bill requires your affirmative consent; and outside other significant privacy protections, requires government or business organizations to delete your COVID-19 electronic data after 30 days.
I believe this is an important measure to reassure people so they feel safe in using public health technology tools that can stop the virus from spreading, while re-opening our economy safely.
For more information on this measure, please click here.
This year we passed historic environmental legislation
Addressing climate change and preserving our environment are priorities for me and are the topic I receive the most emails about. This session I am proud that we sent the governor two historic measures to ensure that future generations of Washingtonians have a sustainable future and clean place to call home!
Low Carbon Fuel Standard HB 1091
The transportation sector makes up 45 percent of the emissions in our state and in this bill, Washington is adopting emissions standards for transportation fuel. This bill will not only make Washington state cleaner and reduce emissions, especially in impacted communities, but will also spur economic activity and growth. WA can become a leader in producing and exporting clean, green biofuels and also create sustainable, living wage jobs. Click here to watch my Floor remarks on final passage, as recommended by the Conference Committee.
Climate Commitment Act SB 5126
This is the first climate legislation in the country to pave the way to net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. This landmark legislation will put both a decreasing cap on carbon and on greenhouse gas emissions, while making significant investments in new infrastructure, transit, agriculture, forestry and shipbuilding projects; and help to proactively address emission impacts in overburdened communities. Here is my Floor speech on final passage.
Investing in Working Families
We have an upside-down tax structure where our low-income working families pay six times more in taxes than the wealthiest Washingtonians. Taxes provide revenue for infrastructure and investments in our state as we continue to grow our population and address important community and economic needs. Two pieces of legislation start us on the path toward progressive tax reform by investing in Washington’s working families:
With passage of Senate Bill 5096 to enact a capital gains excise tax, we will specifically fund early learning, child care, and K-12 education.
The bill implements a 7 percent tax on the sale of stocks, bonds, and other long-term capital assets, with the first $250,000 in profits exempted annually. This measure is specifically designed to avoid taxing working families. It includes several additional exemptions, such as all real estate, retirement accounts, and qualified family-owned small businesses.
This new tax asks the wealthiest 0.25% of Washingtonians – around 8,000 of the total 3.2 million taxpayers in our state – to share more equitably in the responsibility of funding the programs and services our communities need. It will bolster economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 and support all our working families by funding expanded access to affordable, high-quality child care through the Fair Start for Kids Act; as well as our paramount constitutional duty to provide an education to Washington’s kids.
The legislature also sent the Working Families Tax Exemption (WFTE) to the governor’s desk.
The bill sets up a sales tax rebate of between $500 and $950 for which over 400,000 taxpayers in our state will be eligible. This will put more money directly into the pockets of working families and is a critical tool to help build economic stability for those at the lowest end of the income spectrum who pay a disproportionate amount of their earnings to taxes.
These policies are a significant first step toward balancing our regressive tax code and supporting the economic well-being of working families in every corner of our state.