(360) 786-7350

Carlyle introduces comprehensive data privacy protection bill

OLYMPIA – Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, has introduced one of the nation’s most robust and comprehensive privacy protection measures to strengthen consumer access and control over personal data held by companies and the government.

The Washington Privacy Act, Senate Bill 5376, would give Washington residents tools to determine how their personal data is used and shared, and sets out steps companies must take to prevent practices that might compromise the security of personal information. The act also would limit how companies and government can use facial recognition technology in order to prevent it from being irresponsibly deployed.

“Washington’s economy and social fabric is framed by some of the premier technology companies in the world, and we’ve enjoyed unimaginable public benefits as a result,” Carlyle said. “One of the positive ripple effects of being a technology-driven state is that we have developed a profound sensitivity to advanced public policy regarding the responsible use of technology as a force for good. More than ever, it is essential that our state – as home to some of the leading technology companies in the world – ensure we are a thought leader in designing and developing a responsible regulatory framework around how personal data is generated, collected, stored and sold in the marketplace and by government.

“Throughout our state’s history, Washingtonians have cherished privacy as an essential element of their individual freedom. Taking a leadership role in implementing guardrails that thoughtfully apply this principle to the technologies and products of today as well as tomorrow is key to preserving consumer trust and confidence that personal data will be protected, while supporting the flexibility and free flow of information needed for continued innovation and economic growth in the networked economy.”

The Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the bill at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Click here for an overview of the legislation.
Click here for the Washington Privacy Act FAQs.

January 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|

The Everblue State: Democratic Floor Leader Sen. Marko Liias

Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) joined us to talk about his priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session and his accomplishments from sessions past.

He discussed the process of passing a conversion therapy ban, and what he’s doing to protect transgender students in public schools. He told us about his efforts to help people with student loans, and the benefits of paid family leave.

Liias is a lifelong resident of the 21st District. He plays a key role in setting the Senate’s agenda.

January 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Native American Voting Rights Act to be heard in Senate

OLYMPIA –The Senate State Government Committee will hear the Native American Voting Rights Act next week. The legislation would allow the residential address portion of a voter registration form to be filled out with a nontraditional address.

When: 8 a.m. Wednesday (Jan. 23) in Senate Hearing Room 2

Brief Summary:

  •  Senate Bill 5079 establishes the Native American Voting Rights Act of Washington.

Quote from Sen. John McCoy, D- Tulalip:

“As the only enrolled tribal member elected to the Washington State Senate, I realize there is still much work to be done to ensure that the indigenous community can fully participate in the democratic process.

“Voter participation is not a partisan issue; it is the foundation of our democratic system and must be protected by all sides. Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together to ensure that our electoral system works in the interest of all Americans.

“Our democracy works best when we all have the opportunity to participate. When entire communities are denied access to the ballot box; lawmakers need to take a look at systemic issues that need to be addressed.”

January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|

State Legislature welcomes one of the most diverse cohorts on record, including women of color

Women of Color Caucus in the State Reception Room.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Legislature welcomed one of its most diverse cohorts of elected officials in state history on January 14. The most recent class includes a female majority in the House Democratic Caucus with women of color serving in both the House and Senate leadership ranks.

Washington currently ranks fourth in the nation in terms of gender parity in the state legislature.

“Today is a resounding visual and symbolic demonstration of the diverse strength and talent that comes when we ensure our government is reflective of the people we represent,” stated Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way, who will serve her second term in the House. “I am proud to count myself among the largest induction of women and people of color to the legislature in this state’s history. I look forward to fighting for families and putting people first as we work to represent all Washingtonians.”

“We doubled the number of women of color in the Senate in 2018, and again in 2019. We now have the most diverse legislative body in Washington state history,” said Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, who serves as the Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader. “We are finally starting to see elected officials reflect the diverse communities that make up our country. Policies developed with input from diverse stakeholders work best to address all of our needs.” Dhingra is the first Sikh elected to any state legislature in the nation.

Senators Dhingra and Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, both serve as Deputy Majority Leader, making them the highest ranking women in the Senate. They are joined by newly elected Senators Mona Das, D-Covington and Emily Randall, D-Bremerton.

Senator Das is a small-business owner who moved to the United States from India with her family at eight-months old.

Senator Randall is a community organizer. She plans to focus on affordable college, apprenticeship and job training programs.

The newly elected women of color to the House of Representatives include Reps. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland, Debra Entenman, D-Kent, My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, and Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow.

Rep. Morgan is the former School Board Director for Franklin-Pierce County and US Army veteran. Prior to her school board service, she served as the Commissioner on the Board of the Pierce County Housing Authority and as a member of the Board of Community Health Care.

Rep. Entenman is the former District Director for Congressman Adam Smith. She was in the inaugural class of Seattle/County’s Head Start program, later serving on the Head Start Parent Council.

Rep. Thai is the former Board President of the Bellevue School Board and Vice President of the Washington State School Board Directors Association. Prior to her educational service, she was a practicing pharmacist, volunteered as a medical interpreter and co-taught in Vietnam’s first nursing graduate program. She is the first refugee woman to serve in Olympia.

Rep. Lekanoff is the Swinomish Governmental Affairs Director. Lekanoff is the first Native American woman elected to the House.

Freshmen members will join Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, Kristine Reeves, Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, D-Seattle, Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue, and Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver. Stonier is the current Majority Floor Leader and Ortiz-Self is the current Majority Caucus Vice Chair.

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For information:    Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Legislature opens 2019 session

OLYMPIA – The 2019 Legislature will officially be gaveled into session today at the Capitol. New and recently re-elected representatives and senators will be sworn in starting at noon. TVW.org will stream the ceremonies and speeches live. Follow the Senate Democrats on Facebook and Twitter for updates today and throughout the session.

It has only been a year since Senate Democrats took control the Senate after five years of Republican control. Last year, the Legislature cast bipartisan votes to move the state forward on issues like education, voting rights, net neutrality, equal pay and women’s health — and passed two capital construction budgets. Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature grew as a result of the November election. This year Senate Democrats remain committed to putting people first by targeting job training and education, behavioral health services, clean air and water, affordable health care, and an economy where everyone has a fighting chance to find a path to prosperity. 

New faces in the Senate

From left: Sens. Mona Das (D-Covington), Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline), Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), and Emily Randall (D-Bremerton).

Senate Democrats will welcome five new members on Monday. Mona Das was born in India and moved to the U.S. at eight months old. It helps inform her efforts in her community on behalf of women’s and immigrants’ rights groups. Joe Nguyen, a second-generation Vietnamese American, has helped lead efforts in his community on issues related to affordable housing and police relations. Emily Randall is a community organizer and the daughter of two union workers. She plans to focus on affordable college tuition, apprenticeships, and job training programs. Jesse Salomon is an attorney with the King County Department of Public Defense, a Shoreline city councilmember and a former child welfare prosecutor. Claire Wilson is an educator who has spent three decades specializing in early education and family involvement.

Click here to view bios of the entire Senate Democratic Caucus.

New leadership in 2019

Senate Democrats elected new leadership in November. Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) was elected to serve as the new Senate majority leader. Billig has served in the Legislature since 2010. One of the two deputy leaders, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), is a former labor organizer who worked with farmworkers in eastern Washington. The other, Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), is a prosecutor who has led community-wide efforts to prevent domestic violence in King County. Both broke barriers upon entering the Senate: Saldana became the only Latina in the chamber, while Dhingra became the first Sikh woman ever elected to a state legislature. Read more about the team.

Hearings to watch this week

LAW & JUSTICE COMMITTEE

TUESDAY @ 10 A.M.

LAW & JUSTICE COMMITTEE

The committee will hear compromise legislation (SB 5039) that makes changes to Initiative 940, which was passed by voters in November. The measure aims to address officer-involved shootings and ensure that police have the tools they need to respond to people in crisis.

SENATE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

TUESDAY @ 10 A.M.

SENATE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE TUESDAY @ 10 a.m.
Senators will hear a briefing on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report and the National Climate Assessment — plus an overview of proposals for carbon emissions reductions in 2019.

WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE

TUESDAY @ 3:30 P.M.

Members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee will get a briefing on Gov. Inslee’s budget proposal. This year lawmakers will write the state’s two-year budget, which pays for education, human services, corrections, natural resources, and more.

WEDNESDAY @ 8 a.m.

GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE

Lawmakers will hear an update and analysis of voter turnout for the 2018 election and have a hearing on legislation to ensure every future Washington ballot includes pre-paid postage (SB 5063). STATE

SENATE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

THURSDAY @ 10 a.m.

Lawmakers will hear the governor’s plan (SB 5116) to transition the state to an entirely carbon-free electricity supply by 2045. They will also hear an important bill aimed at improving appliance efficiency standards (SB 5115). 

January 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|

The Everblue State: Farewell to Sen. Sharon Nelson

Sen. Sharon Nelson served Washington state in the Legislature for more than a decade. She led the Senate Democratic Caucus for four years — including during the progressive and productive 2018 Legislative Session.

For this episode, we traveled to Vashon Island to speak with Nelson in her home district. She talked to us about her experience as majority leader and the highlights of her career.

She was a champion for equality, consumer protection measures and environmental issues in her district. In 2010, she was part of an effort that prevented gravel mining on her home Maury Island. This accomplishment protected orca habitat and preserved an area where 34th District residents can enjoy the island’s natural beauty.

Nelson announced her retirement following the 2018 Legislative Session, explaining that she wanted to spend more time with her family. She and her husband John plan to travel (their motto is sun, sand and surf) and explore Vashon and Maury islands on their e-bikes.

January 11th, 2019|Podcast|

The Everblue State: Sen. Annette Cleveland talks health care

For this first full episode of the Everblue State, we drove down to Vancouver, WA to catch up with Sen. Annette Cleveland.

Cleveland chairs the Senate’s Health & Long Term Care Committee, and is working to ensure that Washingtonians have access to affordable health care. She talked to us about the rising cost of care, efforts Senate Democrats are making to improve the system and what issues are likely to arise during the 2019 Legislative Session.

And as a bonus, she talked to us about what she’s doing to ensure health care for some of our favorite family members: our pets!

January 8th, 2019|Podcast|

Senate Democrats elect most diverse leadership team in state history

Senate Democrats will be led by the most diverse leadership team in the history of the Washington State Legislature when lawmakers return to Olympia in January for the 2019 legislative session.

The Senate majority leader hails from Spokane on the east side of the Cascades. The two deputy leaders are women of color from distinctly different cultures and backgrounds. The caucus chair is a Tulalip Tribe member who has long served as the Legislature’s leading authority on tribal issues.

“I think it’s fair to say that a Washington legislative caucus has never had the benefit of this diverse a range of representation,” Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said. “It’s one thing to talk about someone else’s needs and another thing altogether to have lived them. No one needs to explain Eastern Washington priorities to me; I’ve been fighting for them ever since I was elected to the Legislature.”

Similarly, the caucus chair needs no primer on tribal issues. Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip) has been the Legislature’s foremost arbiter of tribal concerns since he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2003.

One of the two deputy leaders, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), is a former labor organizer who worked with farmworkers in eastern Washington. The other, Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), is a prosecutor who has led community-wide efforts to prevent domestic violence in King County. Both broke barriers upon entering the Senate: Saldana became the only Latina in the chamber, while Dhingra became the first Sikh woman ever elected to a state legislature. Both say they understand intuitively whether aspects of state laws meet or fail the unique needs of Washingtonians of color.

“The Legislature is full of smart, insightful elected officials who can write strong, sensible laws, and our knowledge is further enlightened by our personal life experiences,” Saldaña said. “Representation matters, and when we apply a more diverse range of experiences to our work, we wind up with better laws that apply more fairly and equitably to the very diverse communities that make up our state.”

“In addition to serving as deputy leader, Saldaña will serve as vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and serve on Labor & Commerce as well as the new Housing Committee.

“As a King County prosecutor in my day job, I have the benefit of a specialized skill set that increases my awareness of the legal ramifications of any legislation I touch,” Dhingra said. “In the same light, I know that when women of color advance into leadership roles, we flourish. We uplift our communities. We uplift us all.”

In addition to her leadership duties, Dhingra chairs the Senate’s new Behavioral Health Subcommittee. She will also serve as vice chair of Law & Justice and serve on the Health & Long Term Care Committee.

“Our life experiences allow us to do far more than represent a particular point of view,” McCoy said. “I can look at a proposed law and know readily if it might violate tribal sovereignty or cause other problems unique to tribes. That results in legislation that is better grounded, laws that are more fair, and communities that are healthier.”

In addition to his leadership post, McCoy will serve as vice chair of the Environment & Tourism Committee. He will also serve on Early Learning & K-12 as well as on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks.

“We may do our work during the legislative session here in Olympia,” Billig said, “but we are focused on the needs of the very diverse people and communities that make up our state.”

SENATE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS 2019 LEADERSHIP TEAM
Majority Leader: Andy Billig (D-Spokane)
Deputy Leaders: Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond); Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle)
Caucus Chair: John McCoy (D-Tulalip)
Floor Leader: Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo)
Whip: Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah)
Vice Caucus Chair: Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle)
Assistant Floor Leader: Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue)
Assistant Whip: Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way)

PENDING A FULL SENATE VOTE IN JANUARY:
President Pro Temp: Karen Keiser (D-Federal Way)
Vice President Pro Temp: Steve Conway (D-Tacoma)

November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats prioritize affordable housing, mental health care and the environment in new committee structure

RENTON – The issues of housing affordability, homelessness and mental health care will receive intensified scrutiny in the 2019 Washington State Legislature.
Senate Democrats on Wednesday adopted a structure that includes two new committees that prioritize these areas – the Housing Stability & Affordability Committee chaired by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) and a Behavioral Health Subcommittee chaired by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond).

“I’ve heard from people across the state, and these two issues consistently rise to the top,” said Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane). “Every community, and really every family, has in some way been touched by a mental health crisis and the intersection between that issue and our state’s housing and homelessness crisis is clear as glass. The creation of these new committees will enable us to intensify our efforts to create solutions in these areas while providing Washingtonians more opportunity to articulate their needs.”

The Senate is also restructuring environmental oversight by creating a committee whose primary focus is environmental health through improved water quality, oil spill prevention and other measures to protect our state’s ecosystems. Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) will chair the new Senate Environment & Tourism Committee. As the name suggests, committee members will also work to boost our state’s tourism industry.

The Senate Energy, Climate and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), and the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee, chaired by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim), are the existing environment-focused committees. These committees will address a variety of issues from climate change to telecommunications to water rights.

“The environmental health of our country and our state have reached a critical tipping point,” Billig said. “Washingtonians want and deserve action on this critical concern. It’s up to us to lead on this issue and accomplish what the other Washington can’t or won’t.”

Click here complete list of committees and membership.

November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Billig elected Senate Majority Leader

TUKWILA – Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, will be the new Senate Majority Leader in the Washington State Senate, following a vote among Senate Democrats on Monday.

Billig will take over immediately as Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, prepares to retire after more than a decade of service in the Legislature, including five years (2013-18) as leader of the Senate Democrats.

Billig has served in the Senate since 2013 and was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2011. Billig is the only Democrat in the Senate representing eastern Washington, but he’s not the first Spokane Democrat to lead Senate Democrats in Olympia. Former state legislator Lisa Brown previously held Billig’s seat and was majority leader from 2005-13.

In the Legislature, Billig has been a leading voice on early learning and was instrumental in forging compromise on the state’s education funding challenge. Billig has also been a fierce advocate for campaign finance reform. Earlier this year, he sponsored and passed the DISCLOSE Act, which exposes the source of hidden contributions in campaigns and closes campaign finance disclosure loopholes.

Although a handful of 2018 election results are too close to call, Billig is poised to lead a larger majority of Democrats in the Senate next year. In 2018, Democrats took back a slim 25-24 majority after five years of Republican control. In the short 60-day session, Democrats made progress on a bevy of issues that had stymied in a split Legislature, including education funding, voting rights, net neutrality, women’s health and LGBTQ rights.

“I’m extremely eager to build on the success we had in 2018. I am humbled to lead this diverse and talented group of senators. This caucus recognizes that bipartisanship and viewpoints from every corner of Washington are crucial in moving our state forward,” Billig said. “We welcome new members whose energy and passion will help Senate Democrats continue to put people first and tackle the issues Washingtonians care about most – affordable health care, tax fairness, public education, mental health, public safety from gun violence, climate change, and more.”

November 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|