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11 01, 2018

Senate committee passes bill to ban credit freeze fees

January 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – A bill passed today by the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee would eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, the committee’s chair, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

“This bill is an important, bipartisan consumer protection measure that I’m hoping will pass out of the Senate very soon,” Mullet said. “Washington residents can’t afford a delay and need this problem solved.”

Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request a “credit freeze” from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data.

Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees.

“Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own should not have to pay to protect their credit rating,” Mullet said. “These high-profile, cyber security threats have created a lot of fear, but I’m confident that my bill will make it easier for people to protect themselves and their identities without financial penalties.”

Mullet noted that the bill is one of his top priorities for the 2018 legislative session, which began this week, and he said that he plans to continue pushing for it to be passed and signed into law quickly.

10 01, 2018

Senate Democrats to hear higher education bills to expand access and opportunity to all Washingtonians

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats have introduced a package of higher education bills to ensure access and opportunity for all Washingtonians. The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will begin work to ensure DREAMers have opportunity regardless of federal action, find solutions for students mired in massive student loan debt and make college free for low-income students facing the high cost of higher education.

The committee will hear bills at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 2.

SB 5074, Eligibility for financial aid programs for DREAMers
• Extends the standard established in 2003, when the state first allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges to include those who were granted DACA status to ensure DREAMers are eligible for state financial aid programs.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Every Washingtonian deserves access to higher education, and the opportunities that will follow. Policies at the national level have placed DREAMers in jeopardy. We as a state need to make it clear that DREAMers deserve respect, and that they deserve access to the financial aid packages that Washington offers.”

SB 6029, Establishing a student loan bill of rights.
• Creates new protections for borrowers, requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the state and establishes a Student Education Loan Advocate to assist and aid borrowers.
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “I’m one of the 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off my student loans, so I really understand the economic pressures people face when trying to plan for their future. The student debt crisis is going to continue to grow and we should act now to protect borrowers from predatory loan servicers.”

SB 6101, Evergreen Free College Act:
• Creates the Evergreen Free College Program to offer free college to all Washingtonians making $89,000 or less for a family of four.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and committee chair: “There is a huge need in expanding access and opportunity for children, particularly those who do not have the ease of access and support of many families. While many of our lowest income students are eligible for our Student Need Grant and other programs, many students’ parents make just a bit more than those thresholds but can still not afford college. It is our duty to make absolutely sure that every single child has the chance to fully pursue their educational and training dreams and fully succeed in life.”

10 01, 2018

Ban on ‘conversion therapy’ to be heard in Senate

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

What’s happening: The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will hear legislation to ban the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ youth in Washington state.

When: 10 a.m. Thursday in Senate Hearing Room 2.

Where you can watch it live: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011104

Brief Summary: Senate Bill 5722 would make it unprofessional conduct for a licensed health care provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under the age of 18.

Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “Every major medical organization which has reviewed ‘conversion therapy’ has condemned the practice. It is barbaric to deny young people their identity and we have an obligation to protect our children from so-called ‘conversion therapy.’”

10 01, 2018

The Senate Members of Color Caucus welcomes Senator Manka Dhingra; lays out an agenda focused on inclusion

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

The Senate Members of Color Caucus welcomes Senator Manka Dhingra; lays out an agenda focused on inclusion

Olympia – Democrats welcomed the newly elected senator from the 45th Legislative District, Manka Dhingra, as the Washington State Senate convened for the 2018 legislative session.

Dhingra becomes the 25th member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and the fifth member of the Senate Members of Color Caucus (MOCC). Sen. Bob Hasegawa, Chair of the MOCC, and members Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, released the following statement:

“We are honored to celebrate the start of the 2018 legislative session by welcoming our new colleague, Sen. Manka Dhingra, to the Washington State Legislature.

“The election of Sen. Dhingra this past November not only led to a Democratic majority in the Senate but also expanded the membership of the Members of Color Caucus. As the power shifts in Olympia, the MOCC will continue to give a voice to communities of color across our great state, and ensure that they are represented in policy discussions.

“We have made significant progress in Washington, but we cannot solely rely on our past achievements. Serving you is a great privilege; one we do not take lightly. Our priority as a coalition will always be to amplify the voices of underrepresented and disenfranchised communities.

“At a time when our country appears deeply divided, Washington state will continue to be a beacon for the rest of the nation. We will continue to move forward on a unified path together. Uplifting the voices of our communities is a collective effort. That is why we stand together to support the economic and social growth of all people.

“We will stand up for immigrants, refugees, and all people of color who enrich the cultural and economic landscape of our state.

“We will stand up for voters in every community until we can all be represented in fair elections.

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

“This year in Olympia, we reaffirm our shared dedication to creating equity in our state. Our caucus knows diversity is one of our strongest assets and we look forward to working on a robust agenda that matters most to the communities we serve. ”

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For more information or for interviews: Bre Weider, (360) 786-7326; Sharlett Mena, (360) 786-7013

Para más información o para entrevistas en español: Sharlett Mena, (360) 786-7013

9 01, 2018

Senate committee to hear Access to Democracy reforms

January 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|

A package of elections reform bills to reduce barriers, increase transparency and boost turnout in elections statewide will be heard Wednesday by the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee.

SB 6002, Washington Voting Rights Act

  • Enables cities, counties, school boards and other local elected bodies to voluntarily adopt changes to their elections system that will improve representation in local governments.
  • Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle: “Ensuring that every Washingtonian has a seat at the table, and that people of color have the ability to choose their own elected leaders, is our essential duty. We’ve seen in Yakima and Pasco that when given the chance, impacted communities elect leaders who reflect their values and the diversity of their neighborhoods. The Washington Voting Rights Act will put power back into the hands of the people where it belongs, in local elections.”

SB 6021, Same Day Voter Registration

  • Authorizes in-person voter registration until 8:00 p.m. on election day and moves up the deadline for online or by mail registration to eight days before an election.
  • Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue: “Expanding access to our democracy is the core goal of same day voter registration, but it’s also about rebuilding faith in our civic institutions. There are far too many individuals in our state who want to participate in democracy on election day, only to have their voices and their passion squandered. This legislation opens the door to all, ensuring that every eligible voter is fully welcome to engage and have their say.”

SB 5991, The DISCLOSE Act

  • Requires nonprofit organizations that are making significant campaign contributions and activities to disclose their top donors.
  • Andy Billig, D-Spokane: “We need to shine light on money spent on elections in Washington State regardless of source. This bill strengthens our democracy and levels the playing field for disclosure by applying the same transparency rules to everyone.”

Chaired by Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, the Access to Democracy package will be heard in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

“This bold slate of bills would expand access to democracy and implement long-overdue updates to bring Washington elections into the 21st Century,” Hunt said.

18 12, 2017

Sen. Hobbs on derailment tragedy: “The Legislature stands ready to do whatever necessary to help the people and communities impacted”

December 18th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Senate Transportation Chairman Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, issued the statement below following today’s tragic passenger train derailment near DuPont, WA:

“I extend my deepest sympathies to the families impacted by today’s train derailment and my sincerest gratitude to the first responders on the scene. Like everyone else, we’re deeply concerned and waiting to learn what caused this tragedy. The Legislature stands ready to do whatever necessary to help the people and communities impacted.”

14 12, 2017

Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

December 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement after the release of the governor’s 2018 operating supplemental budget proposal.

“I appreciate the work the governor has done to craft a prudent supplemental budget proposal that offers a blueprint to complete our work in 60 days.

“This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up. I appreciate the governor’s focus on expanding treatment for mental health patients and his commitment to protecting affordable health care for all residents.

“This is a realistic approach that will guide the Legislature as we work to put people first with a balanced budget delivered on time.”

7 12, 2017

Senate Democrats offer preview of 2018 legislative agenda

December 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats offered a preview of their 2018 legislative agenda Thursday with the introduction of several bills during the start of the pre-filing period.

Topping the pre-file list is the Voting Rights Act. The bill aims to create more civic engagement and better access to the democratic process throughout Washington. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate the past five years despite bipartisan support in the House.

Other Democratic priority bills filed so far include:
• The DISCLOSE Act, a bill to improve transparency in elections by reforming the disclosure of secret money (SB 5991);
• A ban on bump stocks, the device used during the Las Vegas mass shooting in October (SB 5992);
• A bill preventing price gouging of prescription generic drugs (SB 5995);
• A bill encouraging the disclosure and discussion of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace (SB 5996);
• Breakfast After the Bell, a program aimed at reducing childhood hunger in our schools (SB 6003);

“These bills, although not a complete list of our agenda, are a good representation of the values of our state and our caucus,” Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson said. “Washingtonians want good government and a thriving economy, they want to reduce gun violence, end childhood hunger, create a safe workplace and address a number of other critical issues impacting their families every day.

“We have work to do, but we also have a tremendous opportunity to do the good work the people of our state sent us to Olympia to do.”

The pre-filing period begins the first Monday in December and lasts until the beginning of session. For a complete list of the bills pre-filed so far, click here. The list is updated daily.

30 11, 2017

Senate officially turns blue as Dhingra is sworn in

November 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

SEATTLE – Manka Dhingra was sworn in Wednesday as the state senator for the 45th Legislative District. Dhingra’s swearing in gives Democrats a 25-24 majority in the Senate ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session.

“I’m humbled and proud to represent the communities of the 45th Legislative District,” Dhingra said. “I promise to represent each and every one of my constituents with integrity, honesty and a commitment to solving problems with my colleagues—regardless of their party affiliation. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am confident that by working together we can make progress toward a better future for our district, our state and our country.”

A King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney and longtime advocate for women, children, and veterans, Dhingra is slated to serve as vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice and Human Services & Corrections committees in 2018.

15 11, 2017

Senate Democrats: Pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but hard work remains on school funding

November 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Democratic leads on K-12 Education on Wednesday reacted to the state Supreme Court’s latest order on the McCleary decision:

“We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Supreme Court are in strong agreement that the state has made significant progress on basic education policy, and that some important work remains,” said incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County. “Many lawmakers, myself included, have had conversations with our school districts since the 2017 session concluded. We know some steps need to be taken to ensure they have the flexibility and funding they need to provide students with the best education possible and in the fairest way for taxpayers. This order reiterates the need for these conversations to continue and intensify.”

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has largely affirmed the work we have done to help students in Washington succeed,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Deputy Leader Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “We knew the plan needed to be further refined and will incorporate the court’s guidance in to our work to improve the state’s plan to fund basic education. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to uphold our constitutional obligation to fully fund our schools and help every child achieve their fullest potential.”