Celebrating Lunar New Year and the first two weeks of session

Celebrating Lunar New Year

On January 25, Asian communities across the state celebrated Lunar New Year. Here in Olympia, I hosted a Lunar New Year reception with Senator Joe Nguyen. We were happy to welcome Governor Jay Inslee, Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, other legislators, and members of the community to celebrate with us at the Legislature.

My first year in office, I was proud to offer the first ever resolution recognizing Lunar New Year at the Washington State Legislature. In my second year, I am happy to be able to recognize and celebrate our state’s Asian community by continuing this tradition.

Interview with All Things Considered

On the first day of session, I sat down for a live radio interview with Ed Ronco, the host of All Things Considered at KNKX, the Olympia-area affiliate of National Public Radio. We talked about my personal story and how it informs the way I see public service. Listen here.

Update on my bills

  • School lunch durations: When I introduced this bill, the intent was to encourage school districts to provide at least 20 minutes seated lunch time. While the bill did not pass last year, we were able to get funding put in the budget for a pilot program to study six primary school sites putting this policy into practice. This will give us a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities to support school districts implementing this important practice for the wellbeing of our children. Second Substitute House Bill 1272 has been voted out the House floor last week, and it is now awaiting hearing in the Senate K-12 Education and Early Learning Committee.
  • Student health plans: Health insurance plans in Washington State may not restrict a patient’s access to reproductive health care, including abortion services. However, under current law, health plans for students at certain higher education institutions are exempt from these requirements. House Bill 2252 would ensure that students have the same affordable access to reproductive health care by extending these provisions to student health care plans. HB 2252 has been voted out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.
  • Open courts: I have been disturbed by reports of immigration officials conducting civil arrests of undocumented people in courthouses. If courts are viewed as staging grounds for immigration arrests, people will avoid going to court out of fear for themselves and their families, which means that victims cannot seek protection, families cannot enter into custody agreements, and those charged with crimes cannot mount a proper defense or be held accountable. Our court system was built on the promise that all people should be free to seek justice regardless of their status. House Bill 2567 would prevent civil arrests inside or near court facilities, and it would prohibit judges and court staff from collecting information about immigration status or disclosing such information to immigration authorities. It would not apply to individuals charged with criminal violations. The bill was heard in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee last week.

Constituent Engagement

I really encourage my constituents to come to me with opinions, questions, and ideas for bills. In Washington State, we have a part time Legislature, and we write two-year budgets. Every odd-numbered year, we meet for 105 days and agree on a two-year budget for our state. During even-numbered years, we have what we call a “short” session of only 60 days. That means that, especially in short sessions, the best time for constituents to propose ideas for bills is during the interim.

For example, this year one of my constituents contacted me during the interim because it was impossible for him to comply with the requirement that his back license plate be visible when using a bike rack. As a result, we drafted a bill to create exceptions in the current for bicycle or ski racks or wheelchair lifts. House Bill 2197 was heard in the Transportation committee yesterday. It is a great honor to be able to bring this bill on behalf of my constituents.

It is an honor to represent you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions, comments or concerns.

Rep. My-Linh Thai