I hope this finds you healthy and well. Starting December 1st, state election-year restrictions around legislative communications begin, so this will be my last e-newsletter until January 2022. Please follow my legislative Facebook page for news and updates. Below is information on the upcoming short session, vaccination updates, as well as links to financial, food, mortgage and rent assistance.
I’m also excited to introduce you to my new legislative assistant, Noelle Kappert! Noelle has a passion for public service and has worked in the 27th LD for both Speaker Jinkins and Representative Fey. Most recently, she was Session Aide to Senator Darneille. Noelle received her degree in International Studies from Seattle University, with a focus in Economic Development and Nonprofit Leadership. She has also worked globally for non-profits, supporting women’s access to healthcare and to economic opportunity.
I am happy to have her on my team and I know that she will serve the 48th LD well. You can reach her at email@example.com or 425-458-7240. Welcome Noelle!
2022: Focused priorities in a short session
The 2022 legislative session convenes January 10 with only 60 days for state lawmakers to get our work done on behalf of the people of Washington. As we continue reopening from pandemic-related shutdowns, it is vitally important to focus on policies addressing our state’s most urgent needs. These include public health measures to keep people safe from COVID-19 so that we can move forward together.
Additionally, House Democrats will ensure our state serves people better by championing bills that strengthen economic well-being for people and communities, and looking at investments in housing and basic needs. The short session also allows legislators to address bills from a past session to make them better and address constituent concerns such as with the WA Cares Fund bill/Long-term Care, as noted further below.
There are also critical workforce shortages in areas of healthcare, behavioral health, childcare, teaching and many others. I am currently working with Rep. Eileen Cody, chair of the Healthcare & Wellness Committee, to convene colleges, nurses, hospitals and unions to address the critical nursing shortage. In addition, we are seeing drops in enrollment in our colleges and universities especially in our first generation, rural, under-represented and low-income students. That’s why I plan to introduce Equity and Affordability legislation to help close the gap in accessibility to college and important skills training for these students, while also supporting workforce development in Washington State. Accessibility to the American Dream should be accessible to all, not just a privilege of the few.
I also serve on the Transportation Committee, where we have been listening to many voices asking us to maintain and preserve our current infrastructure, while also investing in multi-modal infrastructure that truly connects people to their communities, businesses, healthcare, schools, and workplaces in safe, green, and resilient ways.
Like last session, you can expect to see legislation advancing racial equity and justice in our state, as well as efforts to address the climate crisis we all are facing together. These themes will continue to be priorities because these issues are complex and generational, requiring ongoing commitment and work.
COVID-19 impacts on higher education
The health and well-being of students, staff and faculty in our colleges and universities are essential to the state’s post-pandemic recovery. Last week, during Assembly Days, the College and Workforce Development Committee held a work session to get an update from our higher education institutions on the continuing impacts of COVID-19, including changes in enrollments, any disproportionate impacts, and how the return to in-person teaching is unfolding.
It was reassuring to learn that an overwhelming majority of both employees and students are complying with masking and vaccination mandates.
We also heard a presentation on “service plan coordinators,” also called “navigators,” who provide a single point of contact for individuals transitioning into the workforce on a chosen career path. For more on these updates, please watch the work session and presentations at this TVW link.
Financial aid/FAFSA for college
Have you filled out your FAFSA yet? Are you wondering what the FAFSA is?
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is the form you need to fill out to get financial aid from our federal government.
Even if you don’t know which college or university you’ll attend, filling out the financial aid forms now is the right move. Our state’s financial aid portal includes all the information you need about state and federal aid programs, including the Washington College Grant. If you need help completing financial aid forms, you can register for a virtual financial aid event.
10 million milestone, boosters, and COVID vaccines for kids
We reached a big COVID-19 vaccine milestone this month as the state Department of Health announced more than 10 million doses have been given out across our state. Thank you for getting vaccinated, for recognizing that this is a deadly virus that can overwhelm our health systems, and for protecting our community.
But that’s not all! Everyone who is 18 years and older who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is eligible for a booster. Also, if you’re a parent [like me], you may have also heard that kids ages 5-11 can now get the vaccine. For help finding a pediatric vaccine appointment near you, enter your zip code online at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov and filter your results by clicking on “Pfizer-BioNTech Pediatric, ages 5-11”.
Long-term Care – Quick Update
Thank you to everyone who has reached out and to those I’ve had the opportunity to talk with about Long-term Care. In my September 11 newsletter, I included some information on the Long-Term Care Fund knows as WA Cares.
My office continues to receive your questions, and there are real issues that need to be addressed. However, I have learned that not everyone has the same information, which has also been a key concern with the roll-out of this policy. I want you to be fully informed about WA Cares, so we have included here a FAQ document and a video that I hope you will find helpful. This coming session I will work with my colleagues to address the key questions and concerns with this policy.
During this week of Thanksgiving and family gatherings, I want to share my gratitude to the 48th Legislative District and for all your support. I hope that you have a lovely, relaxing holiday season and that you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy while traveling this week.
Also, feel free to email me or Noelle anytime with your questions, comments, ideas and concerns because they matter. Thank you for all you do.
Happy holidays to you and yours. See you in 2022!