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Targeting Washingtonians protected under DACA is ‘unacceptable’

OLYMPIA –  The following is a statement from the Members of Color Caucus of the Washington State Senate 

“The Members of Color in the Washington State Senate stand firmly in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) and the individuals and families throughout Washington who participate in the program. The arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Washingtonian protected under DACA, is absolutely unacceptable.

“The nearly 750,000 young people across the nation who voluntarily shared their information with federal officials by signing up for DACA are our neighbors, our coworkers, our classmates, our friends and our families. They are also Washingtonians. 

“The Trump Administration said they would not go after individuals without criminal offenses. Mr. Ramirez has no criminal record, is the father of an American citizen and lives and works in one of our communities. When the Trump Administration targets DACA students, they target the best among us.

“We stand with all families in Washington, and will work with our federal elected leaders and our governor to do all we can to protect those who are unfairly targeted, and uncertain of the place they hold in their own home.”

The Members of Color Caucus for the Washington State Senate are: Sens. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, John McCoy, D-Tulalip and Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.

 

 

 

February 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|

BILL TO WATCH: Republican bill criminalizes homelessness

The goal of ending homelessness is a noble one and must be addressed in a serious, evidenced-based way. The bill below takes a punitive approach to the problem of homelessness and does little to address the root causes of our state’s homelessness crisis.

Bill to watch: Republican bill to address homelessness

WHAT: Senate Bill 5656

STATUS:  Scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health and Housing on Wednesday, February 8, at 1:30 p.m.

INTENT OF BILL:

  • Attempts to end all homelessness in Washington state by 2018.

WHAT IT WOULD COST:

  • While the Senate has not yet issued a fiscal note on the cost to implement statewide, the City of Seattle estimates that it will cost them $60 million implement changes from this legislation, and $64 million in ongoing costs each subsequent year.

WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Criminalizes parents. Under this bill, parents would be guilty of a misdemeanor if they do not report their children as missing within 48 hours, despite national research that shows that the majority of youth return home within a week after a cooling off period.  Misdemeanors are punishable with up to 90 days in jail and $1,000 dollar fine.
  • Makes family reunification the primary goal for homeless youth. Reunification should be a goal when it’s safe and this section simplifies what are normally complex reasons for why a youth is homeless, including domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Eliminates services for young adults, ages 18-24. The bill eliminates the category of “young adults,” slashing services for this age group, including: age-appropriate housing, high school graduation support, job training, and other resources to help them successfully launch into adulthood.
  • Criminalizes unsheltered homeless individuals. Unsheltered homeless camping would become a misdemeanor statewide. The provision does not require law enforcement officers to attempt to provide services before arrest, and would results in more people in jails, including those in need of mental health treatment.
  • Changes definition of “gravely disabled” to include substance use disorder. Under this bill, a person would automatically be categorized as “gravely disabled” if he/she is homeless for a year and actively uses heroin. This would greatly increase the number of people who would be eligible for detention beyond capacity for involuntary treatment system, and requires increased funding for detox facilities and law enforcement to treat and transport individuals.

QUOTE FROM SEN. JEANNIE DARNEILLE: “Our state’s homelessness crisis affects real people, who deserve real solutions. To criminalize homelessness, and to criminalize parents, is going to make the situation much worse. We need to give our state’s most vulnerable citizens a helping hand-up, not punish them. This dangerous bill only serves to put more homeless youth at risk, and criminalizes adults struggling with mental illness or substance abuse. We must to better.”

February 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Lawmakers say students could pay for Republican inaction

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January 25th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Democrats urge Senate Republicans to act quickly on levy cliff


OLYMPIA – The Senate Democratic Caucus on Monday delivered a letter to Majority Leader Mark Schoesler calling on Senate Republicans to pass legislation that would allow local school districts to continue to collect money that has been approved by district voters.

The letter, signed by all 24 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, urges Republicans to pass House Bill 1059 or its companion measure, Senate Bill 5023. The House of Representatives passed HB 1059 Monday on a bipartisan vote of 62-35.

If the legislation fails to pass the full Legislature, school districts across the state would lose $358 million – the largest cut to basic education in our state’s history—and be forced to map out worst-case scenario budgets that would cut programs, lay off staff and increase class sizes.

 

January 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|

Statement from the Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus

 

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus, Sens. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, John McCoy, D-Tulalip, Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, released the following statement:

“Today we have never been more proud to represent Washingtonians and the inclusive values we collectively hold.

“As a new administration takes over in the nation’s Capital, we stand ready to safeguard our state’s commitment to equal rights and human dignity. From the Yakima Valley to downtown Seattle, Vancouver to Spokane, we know many of our friends and neighbors are worried about attempts to foment hate and steer the path of our country away from justice.

“From the creation of reservations at our state’s founding, to Japanese internment camps during WWII, to mass detention and deportation of Latinos in the past two decades, it is not only the threats of a new president that make Washingtonians fearful, it is the experiences we carry with us.

“Our state has made great progress, but the job is never finished. Change comes from vigilance, from engagement and from organizing at the local level on up.

“The Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus will continue to stand up for the immigrants who enrich the cultural and economic landscape of our state.

“We will continue to stand up for voters in every community until we all have the ability to be fully represented in fair elections.

“We will continue to confront racial bias in the criminal justice system and in other institutions built on the promise of equality.

“We will continue to fight for environmental protections, affordable health care, and tribal sovereignty.

“We will stand up for the rights of all citizens in the state, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, how they worship or who they love.”

 

January 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Looking forward on education funding

Seven months ago, eight lawmakers representing each legislative caucus were asked to examine nine outstanding questions related to the basic education funding problems that remain and make recommendations to the Legislature on what should be done to solve those problems.

The task was clear.

The questions were clear.

The timeline was clear.

The Democrats on this task force answered that call. We did our jobs. The Republicans did not.

After seven long months and countless hours of work, the four Democrats on this task force accepted the challenge and put forth a specific proposal we believe includes the right recommendations that will provide opportunities to learn for every child in this state.

It wasn’t easy. The four of us didn’t agree on everything simply because we’re all Democrats. Concessions were made by all of us because we know the best way forward is through compromise.

The Democrats were ready to share our proposed solutions with Republicans last week expecting that they were ready to do the same and negotiations would begin.
Unfortunately, they literally did not show up for the discussion we all agreed to have.

As a result, instead of adopting a joint set of specific recommendations for the Legislature to consider, or even two sets of specific recommendations from each caucus, this task force is left with one set of specific solutions from the Democrats and a set of guiding principles from the Republicans.

Representing the Democrats on this task force, our goal was to reach a bipartisan consensus on a set of recommendations we could send to the Legislature. Unfortunately, that will not happen because we have not received any specific recommendations from the Republicans.

With a bipartisan agreement no longer an option, Democrats would support the next best option, which would be to adopt the task force materials into the record with the Democratic solutions and Republican guiding principles included.

For reasons still not entirely clear to us, the Republicans will not support this option.

Therefore, because this task force has failed to produce a set of specific recommendations and has failed to support an alternative approach to include the Democratic solutions and the Republican guiding principles, Democrats will not support the adoption of a formal report that is empty of the one thing specifically required in SB 6195 – recommendations and solutions to fully fund education for Washington’s 1.1 million school children.

This vote today will not negate any of the hard work put in by members of this task force, our staff, and the independent consultants. We are proud of the solutions that were developed by our members of this task force, and especially thankful for all the countless staff hours that have been put in to support us.

And we thank the outside consultants who gathered and analyzed the data we needed to be successful and finish the job we were tasked to do and identify solutions to the specific questions in SB 6195.

Regardless of today’s votes, all of the materials, notes, and testimony are available online at leg.wa.gov for members of the media and the general public to read.
Going forward, House and Senate Democrats will continue to work on specific education policy and funding recommendations that we believe are best for Washington’s 1.1 million school kids.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what all this work is about – providing opportunities for every child to learn and reach their dreams.

No more excuses. No more delays. The Legislature needs to fully fund education this session.

That’ll be the primary focus of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses for the next 105 days. We encourage the Republicans to join us in that dialogue when they’re ready to propose specific recommendations.

We welcome our Republican colleagues to the table when they are ready to work together on solutions. We hope those discussions can begin soon for the sake of Washington’s 1.1 million public school kids.

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Ranking Member on K-12 Committee
Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, Deputy Democratic Leader
Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, House Majority Leader
Rep. Kris Lytton, D-Anacortes, Chair, House Finance Committee

January 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Democrats release school funding recommendations

OLYMPIA – Democratic education leaders on Wednesday released final recommendations on a K-12 school funding package to ensure competitive wages for teachers and to resolve the McCleary case before the state Supreme Court.

Senate and House Democrats unveiled their plan during one of the final the Education Funding Task Force meetings. The panel was set up seven months ago and was directed by law (SB 6195) to develop bipartisan recommendations by the start of the 2017 legislative session.

While a bipartisan agreement on recommendations could not be reached, Democratic education leaders released a detailed plan that provides an opportunity to build new schools across the state, place high-quality educators in every classroom and give 1.1 million Washington school kids opportunities to learn and achieve their dreams.

House and Senate Republicans declined to propose a plan and instead submitted a “guiding principles” document.

Click below to read more about the plan released by House and Senate Democrats on the Education Funding Task Force:

 

January 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats announce committee assignments

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats on Wednesday announced their committee assignments for the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

“With six new members, Senate Democrats are energized heading into 2017 and we are ready to deliver on our values of fairness and opportunity for all in Washington,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson, the caucus leader. “We have a historic opportunity to fully fund quality education for our state’s 1 million kids and focus on improving the lives of working families and small business owners across the state.”

Nelson was especially proud of the diverse voices on her leadership team.

“We are a diverse state and we put together a team that reflects that,” Nelson said. “Voices from the LGBTQ community, communities of color and men and women from different areas of this state are all represented. I think our team is an accurate representation of the state in which we live.”

The 2017 legislative session officially starts on Jan. 9.

(Click here for a printable copy of the 2017 SDC committee assignments)

December 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|

Senate Democrats elect new leaders ahead of 2017 legislative session

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate Democratic caucus held leadership elections on Tuesday, electing Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip as caucus chair, and Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynwood, as floor leader. Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, was re-elected leader and released this statement following the vote:

“With less than two months to go before the next legislative session, and a nearly evenly divided Legislature, our caucus elected two great new leaders. Sen. McCoy brings a steady demeanor and breadth of experience to the role of caucus chair, replacing retiring Sen. Karen Fraser who has served in that role for several years.

“Sen. Liias has served as the assistant floor leader and has proven to be a capable operative and dynamic speaker. He will continue to be an asset in his new role as floor leader. I am honored to continue to serve as the leader of such a strong group of Democratic senators, and look forward to continuing to fight for families across this state.”

November 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Senate Democrats resolute against fear and division

State Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, released the following statement in response to recent actions by members of the Senate Republican Caucus following the presidential election:

“In the last week, we have seen behavior from Senate Republicans that a vast majority of Washington residents would find disturbing. Since the presidential election, members of the Senate Republican Caucus have used words and actions to create division and instill fear among members of our communities.

“We have already seen an unconstitutional proposal that would undermine our right to free speech and heard divisive and false language about immigrants in a Senate committee. At the same time, we are seeing a dramatic and alarming rise in hate crimes and increased fear in our communities of color.

“Senate Republicans may be successful in generating headlines, but they will not be successful in their attempt to bring ugly, Trump-style campaign rhetoric inside the Capitol in Olympia.

“It’s imperative that Senate Republican leaders immediately and forcefully rebuke these actions and statements.

“Washington is known for embracing diversity and rejecting the politics of bigotry and resentment. Senate Democrats will stand by our shared values of fairness and opportunity and lead the fight to resist division and fear.”

November 17th, 2016|Uncategorized|