(360) 786-7350

The Hopper

Nelson: Decision to end DACA is un-American

OLYMPIA – Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program:

“DACA kids are American kids. They are contributing members of society who had no control over the circumstances that brought them to this country – their country.

“Ending this program flies in the face of what this country stands for. Simply put, President Trump’s decision is un-American.

“We stand with the thousands of DACA kids in our state, and those who are fighting this cruel and short-sighted decision.

“We also call on Republicans in our state and those in Congress to do their jobs, stand up for what’s right and stand up for all children.”

September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Nelson: “Washingtonians will continue to fight every day for a world of inclusion and against a world of division”

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus in the wake of the racist violence in Charlottesville, VA and the unacceptable and inadequate response from the president:

“Washingtonians will continue to fight every day for a world of inclusion and against a world of division.  Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK, the alt-right and hate groups of every stripe are outnumbered not just in our state but in our nation. We shouldn’t have to denounce these people – their actions and words do that. But absent leadership from the top rungs of our national government, it is imperative for anyone with even a small platform to stand up and say that we will not accept racism, anti-Semitism and hate in our country and our state.

“We will not be intimidated. We will continue to move forward together. We will continue to fight for a world of inclusion and speak out against hate – even when leaders in the other Washington won’t.  We will fight for the Washington Voters Rights Act.  We will fight for our friends and families — regardless of their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, the address at which they live.

“We honor the memory of Heather Heyer and the people who were injured in the racist violence in Charlottesville and we send our love to their families.  We, as Washingtonians, will not accept that racism and bigotry is our country’s new normal. There is nothing normal about what’s happening at this moment in our history.

“Washingtonians will stand up to prejudice in all its forms – whether it comes cloaked in white hoods or originates from this White House — and we will lead that effort.”

August 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Washington State Just Passed a Bipartisan Paid Leave Law. Here’s How We Did It.

Originally published by the Center for American Progress’ Talk Poverty blog – July 31, 2017

Shared on RealClearPolicy – Aug. 7, 2017

About a quarter of new moms return to work two weeks after giving birth. Not because they want to leave their newborn, but because they need their paycheck.

I will never forget the testimony of a young mom from a Seattle suburb. During her pregnancy, she saved up every hour of her limited paid time off so that when her child was born, she would be able to spend every possible precious moment bonding with and caring for her newborn.

But one Thursday, she went into labor prematurely. Her baby boy was placed in intensive care at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and she went back to work on Monday. Her paid time off was so limited that she needed to save it for when her baby could come home. So, every day after work, she drove the 25 miles to Seattle to be with her baby until the hospital visiting hours ended.

Families have to make devastating choices every day because most working people do not get paid family and medical leave at their jobs. In particular, most lower wage jobs do not offer any paid vacation or sick leave, though it is typically available to highly paid workers.

That’s why I am thrilled that on July 5th, Washington’s Gov. Jay Inslee signed the country’s most progressive and comprehensive paid family and medical leave insurance program into law. We built it from scratch, with bipartisan support and significant input from leaders in business, advocates and labor.

The new law covers everyone working in our state, and is fully portable between jobs. It also includes a progressive benefit structure so that instead of providing a flat percentage of a person’s wage—which would pay lower wage workers less, and higher wage workers more—the paid time off is graduated based on income. For a minimum wage worker, our benefit provides a 90% wage replacement. For higher wage workers, the benefit caps at $1,000 a week. This ensures that every working Washingtonian, regardless of income, can afford to take the time they need with a new baby, a dying parent, or to recover from a serious illness or accident.

Crafting this policy took us a decade. We passed an initial paid family leave program that was never funded because of the Great Recession, but our coalition of lawmakers, advocates, and unions never gave up the goal. When the state’s 2016 ballot initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage and mandate paid sick leave passed easily with broad support, that let us begin serious negotiations again. Early polling indicated that a paid family and medical leave initiative that included a 100% employer-funded program would have received even broader support. The business community got similar results when they decided to test public opinion, so they came to the table early in the year to open discussions.

Though Seattle has a national reputation for being a progressive bastion, Washington state as a whole is actually quite purple. A Republican-led majority controls the state Senate by only one seat, and Democrats control the state House by only two seats. A young, socially-moderate Republican floor leader, Sen. Joe Fain, led the effort to bring his caucus to the table. Sen. Fain had a baby boy last year, and learned firsthand the need to have the time to bond and grow as a family. In state legislatures, relationships across the aisle are still important to make progress on policy.

In an era that feels increasingly divided along partisan lines on so many issues, Americans are overwhelmingly united in support of paid family and medical leave. This is why I believe that Washington’s historic victory must become the model for state-by-state enactment of such laws. The legislation we crafted, with a diverse range of stakeholders and perspectives, provides a roadmap for all states considering paid family and medical leave whether they are under single party control or divided government.

Ultimately, the paid family and medical leave bill received 37 of the possible 49 votes in the Senate, and 65 of the possible 98 votes in the House. The conditions for passage in Washington state may have been unique, but the law we produced provides a framework for state level leadership in a time that federal Congressional gridlock seems incapable of progress.

July 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Senate GOP failure on Hirst and capital budget mar otherwise positive outcomes for Washington

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the conclusion of the 2017 legislative session:

“Almost without exception, the 2017 legislative session was a victory for Washington.

“There were major victories in terms of record investments in education, the establishment of the most progressive paid family leave program in the nation and a budget that protects the most vulnerable among us and invests in our state’s shared priorities.

“I had hoped we could end on a high note and pass a capital budget and a fix to the Hirst water issue. Unfortunately for every Washingtonian, Senate Republican leadership ensured neither issue would be resolved.

“Senate Republicans will defend the indefensible. They will continue to manufacture a narrative that links Hirst to the capital budget that simply doesn’t exist. The fact of the matter is this was a sloppy attempt at political hostage taking with no plan on what to do beyond the initial kidnapping.

“Senate Republican leadership bungled this from start to finish and the people of this state ended up without solutions to urgent problems throughout their communities. No capital budget, no Hirst solution, only excuses from Senate Republicans.”

July 20th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Democrats, Republicans reach agreement on capital budget

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, released the statement below following a four-corner agreement on a Capital Budget:

“On Tuesday afternoon, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate reached agreement on a full capital budget. This is great news for job creation, mental health improvements, environmental protection and investments in communities across our state.

“But perhaps most importantly, this agreement will invest more than $1 billion in school construction throughout Washington.

“We can vote on this bill tomorrow before the third special session ends.  I ask that the bill be brought up for a vote.  I suspect it will have unanimous or near unanimous support.  It is time to get to yes on all remaining issues and bring our work for 2017 to a close.”

July 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Democrats, Republicans reach agreement on capital budget

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, released this statement today following a four-corner agreement late Tuesday on a Capital Budget:

“On Tuesday afternoon, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate reached agreement on a full capital budget. This is great news for job creation, mental health improvements, environmental protection and investments in communities across our state.

“But perhaps most importantly, this agreement will invest more than $1 billion in school construction throughout Washington.

“We can vote on this bill tomorrow before the third special session ends. I ask that the bill be brought up for a vote.  I suspect it will have unanimous or near-unanimous support.  It is time to get to yes on all remaining issues and bring our work for 2017 to a close.”

July 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Landmark education bill adds $7.3 billion to Washington schools

OLYMPIA – In the final hours before a state government shutdown, the Legislature passed a landmark bill that adds billions of dollars to public schools in Washington state over the next four years. Passage of this bill addresses the chronic underfunding of schools called out in the state Supreme Court’s McCleary case.

“This budget makes the biggest investment in education in a generation and reflects the core values that Democrats have advocated for throughout this process,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, one of the education negotiators who also serves as a negotiator on the state operating budget. “It ensures more equity between low- and high-income districts and students and provides additional funds for students with individual needs. Of course no budget is perfect, and the reliance primarily on property taxes for funding was not what Democrats wanted but unfortunately was all the Republicans would consider. In the end, kids and educators will see $7.3 billion more dollars going into their schools over the next four years, and that is an enormous win for the students of our state.”

House Bill 2242 takes numerous steps toward closing the opportunity gap including increasing salaries and salary equity for educators, providing additional funding for special education and for low-income districts. The bill also increases funds for career and technical education and ensures locals may retain control of their levies while also adding common sense transparency and accountability measures to how levies are spent.

“This has been a long process but in the end we were able to come together in a bipartisan way and produce a K-12 funding solution that will meet our Constitutional obligation and help the 1.1 million schoolchildren in our state to achieve their fullest potential,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “Education in general, and this plan in particular, goes well beyond just helping individual children. When we get education policy and funding right, we boost our economy, build community, and strengthen our democracy by producing well rounded, intelligent citizens.”

The bill passed with bipartisan support out of both chambers of the Legislature (67-26 out of the House of Representatives, and 32-17 out of the Senate). The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

To view a summary of impacts of the bill, please click here.
To review estimated school district tax impacts of the bill, please click here.

June 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

State Senate Members of Color Caucus statement on Juneteenth

OLYMPIA — Senate Members of Color Caucus released the following statement as the Legislature celebrates Juneteenth, a holiday marking the day the slaves of Galveston, Texas finally received word of their freedom nearly two years after President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War.

“Today’s historic anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity that enriches Washington state and the nation as a whole.

“Juneteenth is traditionally a celebration, but we should also use the occasion to focus on today’s challenges that communities of color continue to face in the pursuit of equality and justice.

“As our nation struggles to find political common ground, Juneteenth is a chance to reaffirm our shared dedication to ending discrimination and senseless violence that is still perpetuated against African Americans and people in our communities of color.”

Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle)
Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens)
Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip)
Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle)

June 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Cleveland, Cody say Democrats will fight to protect people’s health care

Key lawmakers say Democrats in the state Capitol will do everything in their power to provide Washingtonians continued access to affordable health care if the U.S. Senate should advance the bill that was passed today by the U.S. House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).

State Sen. Annette Cleveland, the ranking member of the Senate Health Care Committee, and state Rep. Eileen Cody, the chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, said Democrats in both chambers will be scouring the large and fine print of the federal legislation to identify provisions that would reduce access or affordability in Washington state.

“Congress rushed to a vote before the bill could be scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine how much it would cost and what it would do,” Cleveland said. “The CBO’s score of an earlier version of the AHCA determined that 24 million Americans would lose health care coverage over 10 years.  This is simply unacceptable. Citizens in our state need to know that we are carefully working to identify and craft state solutions to any federal changes that would affect Washingtonians, in the event the U.S. Senate passes the bill.”

Cleveland noted that the state’s public-private marketplace has been serving more than 1.8 million people, or one-in-four Washingtonians, reducing the uninsured rate by 60 percent to the point that now less than 6 percent are uninsured in our state

“Congressional Republicans have time and time again put politics above the health of Americans and today is another example of blind partisanship,” Cody said. “The AHCA takes away access to care for millions of Americans. It is clear that Trumpcare is not about patients but about cutting taxes for the ultra-wealthy. In Washington state, I will continue to fight for protecting patients, expanding access to care, and ensuring people with preexisting conditions can get health care. Our state will not be pursuing any waiver or policy that takes away healthcare from patients.”

The lawmakers said areas where Washingtonians might be undermined by the AHCA include: a reduction in federal subsidies that help cover the cost of private insurance for many Washingtonians; a reduction in Medicaid funding that provides health care to more than 600,000 Washingtonians; reversal of a reduction in average annual premium increases from 18.5 percent pre-ACA to 6.7 percent today; and a loosening of the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

May 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Nelson: Senate Republicans – “Grow up and govern”

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on Friday issued the statement below following a Senate Republican move to change their own two-thirds tax rule to hold an intentionally doomed vote on two tax bills with two days left in session:

“Senate Republicans need to do their job.

“They dragged their feet on releasing a plan to fund our schools. They continue to refuse to negotiate a budget. Now with two days left in session they change their own rule to bring tax bills to the floor they have no intention of voting for.

“What a tremendous waste of time. Senate Republicans should be embarrassed and I’m embarrassed for them.

“Come to the negotiating table. Work on behalf of the people of this state. Show a sense of urgency or at the very least some interest in doing some good for Washington.

“Stop the stunts. Stop the obstruction. Start doing your jobs.

“Grow up and govern.”

April 21st, 2017|Uncategorized|