Dear friends and neighbors,
Today was the last day of this 2021 legislative session. It’s been a wild ride, but we got a lot of great work done for the people of Washington!
Nobody knew how or if it would work to legislate from home, and while there’s no denying we’re all experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” it’s also true that this remote setup has allowed more Washingtonians than ever before to have access to their legislators and participate in the legislative process.
There is a lot to report, but I won’t include it all here. My seatmate, Rep. Monica Stonier and I are planning to send out a joint newsletter focused on the three budgets within the next couple of weeks and, as always, you’ll be receiving a “Session Wrap” report with more information on this session’s achievements. Also, following our tradition to meet with you after every session, we will hold a virtual Town Hall meeting. I’ll send you the details as soon as I have the information.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for trusting me to represent your interests in virtual Olympia, it is a true honor to serve you and your input and feedback have proved essential in my decision-making process.
While session adjourned earlier today, please keep in mind that I am your legislator year ‘round, so contact my office anytime. My legislative assistant, Megan Walsh, and I will do our best to address your issues.
COVID-19: Not out of the woods yet
The latest Department of Health (DOH) Statewide Situation Report found that, despite what you may be hearing elsewhere, we are definitely not out of the woods yet.
There’s a false sense of safety that, since we’re getting vaccinated, it’s OK to relax precautions. It’s not. In fact, the estimated percentage of the population with active COVID-19 infections has almost doubled over the past month, hospital admissions are on the rise and cases associated with COVID variants are also increasing.
Yes, more and more people are getting vaccinated and that’s great news, but we cannot let our guard down. Please continue wearing masks, washing your hands frequently and staying at least six feet away from others when possible.
If you are wondering whether to get vaccinated or not, please visit COVIDVaccineWA.org to learn more about vaccine safety and effectiveness, how the vaccines work, and other frequently asked questions.
If you want to get vaccinated, please use the state’s Vaccine Locator tool to find open appointments near you. The Vaccine Finder also shows providers who receive vaccine directly through federal government collaborations like the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Historic environmental legislation
Addressing climate change and preserving our environment have always been priorities for me and for House Democrats. This session we sent the governor two historic measures to ensure our kids and their kids have a clean place to call home.
Low Carbon Fuel Standard – HB 1091
The transportation sector makes up 45 percent of the emissions in our state. To take action on climate change, Washington is following our neighbors on the West Coast and adopt emissions standards for transportation fuel. This bill will not only make Washington cleaner and reduce emissions, it will also create sustainable jobs, and spur economic activity and growth. Our state can become a leader in producing and exporting clean, green biofuels.
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 measure will put both a decreasing cap on carbon and on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while making significant investments in new infrastructure, transit, agriculture, forestry and shipbuilding projects. This Act will ensure the state not only meets its carbon emissions goals, but also stimulates economic returns and generates substantial investments for overburdened communities.
Investing in Working Families
The Legislature has approved significant legislation that starts us on the path toward progressive tax reform and invests in Washington’s working families, helping them build economic stability.
With passage of Senate Bill 5096 to enact a capital gains excise tax, we will 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.
Click below to watch my most recent Ask Sharon video for more information on this bill, including my Floor remarks:
This new tax is a progressive tool that asks the wealthiest Washingtonians – only 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 the economic well-being of working families by funding expanded access to affordable, high-quality child care through the Fair Start for Kids Act and our paramount 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.
Acts of hate have no place in our public schools
As more children return to in-person learning, we owe them the unwavering promise that they will be safe, protected, and valued. Racism has no place in our public schools, especially when it continues re-traumatizing students of color during and after acts of hate.
On Sunday, April 11, we passed SB 5044 to ensure that K-12 faculty and staff are equipped with anti-racism training. In my latest video update, I talk about the extraordinary display of solidarity from my caucus in standing against an attempt to shut down the much-needed conversation about race relations in our state. Watch:
SB 5044 is just one step toward uprooting systemic racism in public education and ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education and is able to learn without threats or intimidation.