29 01, 2019

State Senate expands remote testimony program

January 29th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate has approved a bipartisan proposal from Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) and Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) to make permanent and expand a program that further opens public access to state government by allowing remote video testimony in legislative hearings.

In recent years, a Senate pilot project developed a system enabling people across the state to testify over high-speed internet connections for a limited number of committee hearings. The proposal approved on Tuesday by the Senate Facilities & Operations Committee will make this system permanent and expand its use.

In addition to the existing program becoming permanent, it will expand this year. Starting in 2019, the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will become the first legislative panel to offer remote testimony for every hearing.

“Technology offers us an opportunity to open up the doors of government to more people across the state,” said Billig. “Everyone should feel like they can have their voice heard in Olympia, regardless of where you live.”

The proposal also calls for further study to identify the next steps in the program’s expansion.

In 2018, remote testimony was used in 21 hearings. There are now 16 available sites throughout the state offering remote connections. People have testified remotely from cities such as Ellensburg, Pasco, Spokane, Wenatchee and Walla Walla.

“Our democracy is stronger when more people are involved, and this offers another method to weigh in on pertinent issues without driving to Olympia,” Billig said.

Available remote testimony sites:

Bellevue College: Bellevue
Bellingham Technical College
Central Washington University
Clark College (Vancouver)
Columbia Basin College (Pasco)
Confluence Technology Center (Wenatchee)
Everett Community College
North Eastern Washington ESD (Spokane)
Peninsula College (Port Angeles)
Skagit Valley College (Mt. Vernon)
Spokane Community College Newport
Spokane Community College
Spokane Falls Community College
Walla Walla Community College
Washington State University – Spokane
Wenatchee Valley College

28 01, 2019

Week 3: Homelessness, school safety, affordable medicine, climate change

January 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — The third week of the 2019 session begins with hearings Monday focused on addressing the youth homelessness crisis. Senate Democrats will also focus on school safety, prescription drug prices, oil train safety, voting rights and climate change. The Senate is also scheduled to take its first significant floor votes of the session on Wednesday.

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Gun safety bills draw a crowd

Improving public safety from gun violence was the focus of a hearing in the Law & Justice Committee that drew more than 1,300 people last Monday. Legislation that would place restrictions on undetectable, 3D printed firearms, a ban on high capacity magazines, stricter regulations on firearms used in domestic violence cases and training requirements for people acquiring a concealed weapon permit all were voted out of committee last week.

What to watch this week


Monday, Jan. 28 @ 1:30 p.m.

The committee will hear bills to prevent families and children entering homelessness by expanding services provided by the Office of Homeless Youth (SB 5470) and strengthening protections for renters facing eviction (SB 5600).


Monday, Jan. 28 @ 1:30 p.m.

The Senate will consider two proposals to increase drug price transparency. (SB 5292, SB 5251)


Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ 11 a.m.

Democratic leaders from the Senate and House will meet with the media to provide an update on the legislative session.


Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ 12:30 p.m. (HHR A)

Senate and House Democrats as well as advocates for safe schools, including Alissa Parker, founder of Safe and Sound Schools, will discuss bills to address student mental health, youth suicide prevention, and access to counselors.


Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ 10 a.m.

New legislation (SB 5579) will be introduced to increase public safety and reduce the risk posed by highly flammable Bakken crude oil being shipped by rail through communities across the state.


Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ 1:30 p.m.

The Senate will hear a proposal to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the exploration for and production of oil and natural gas in Washington state. (SB 5145


Wednesday, Jan. 30 @ 8 a.m.

Lawmakers will hear testimony on a bill to restore voting rights for Washingtonians in community custody who don’t violate terms of their sentence. (SB 5076)


Wednesday, Jan. 30 @ 8 a.m.

Lawmakers will hear testimony on Clean Fuel Standards legislation (SB 5412), one of the most significant measures in the Legislature this year aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Click here to access the entire schedule of Senate hearings.

25 01, 2019

The Everblue State: Sen. Patty Kuderer talk plastics, Tobacco 21 and more

January 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|

For this episode of the Everblue State, we spoke with Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue). She represents the 48th District, serves as the assistant floor leader, and chairs the newly formed Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee.

This year, she’s passionate about a bill that would help Washington reduce its dependence on single-use plastics. Her proposed straw ban takes a different approach than Seattle’s, and was brought to her by high school students. Read more about Senate Bill 5077 here.

She’s also working to raise Washington’s smoking age to 21 through Senate Bill 5057. You can learn more about that bill here.

She has a bill that would ban large capacity magazines — the favorite of mass shooters. You can find more on Senate Bill 5062 here.

21 01, 2019

Senate looks at safety, privacy, voting

January 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|

Sexual harassment, plastic pollution among other topics of public hearings

OLYMPIA – As the 2019 session enters week two, the Senate will honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at noon with a resolution and floor speeches. Public hearings on dozens of issues will also continue this week — 411 Senate bills have been introduced so far; 357 in the House. Senate Democrats will focus on a number of priority bills this week, including legislation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, protect people’s data, increase public safety from gun violence, prevent plastic pollution, and ensure residents across the state have more access to democracy.

More diverse than ever before

Women of Color Caucus in the State Reception Room.

Last week, Washington state swore in the most diverse Legislature in state history. The 2019 class of lawmakers includes a female majority in the House Democratic Caucus with women of color serving in both the House and Senate leadership ranks. Read more.

What to watch this week


At noon on Monday, the Senate will offer a resolution in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his contributions to social justice and racial equality in the United States. A rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. on the north steps of the Legislative Building.


The public will hear proposals to curtail sexual harassment, particularly for low-wage, third-shift workers (SB 5258). Senators Keiser and Saldaña will host a 5 p.m. screening of PBS Frontline’s Rape on The Night Shift in JAC ABC.

LAW & JUSTICE – MONDAY @ 10 a.m.

The committee will hear a package of bills relating to guns and public safety on Monday. Bills include a restriction on undetectable or untraceable (3-D-printed) firearms (SB 5061), a ban on the creation, sale and purchase of high-capacity magazines (SB 5062), extension of the prohibition on firearms on school campuses to child-care facilities (SB 5434), stricter removal regulations on firearms used in domestic violence cases (SB 5143), and requiring gun safety and training courses before purchasing a concealed weapons permit (SB 5174).


Data privacy is on the agenda this week, with bills regarding online ticket sales (SB 5321), personal information and breaches in security systems (SB 5064) being heard in committee.


Senate Bill 5393 would transform the State Need Grant into Washington’s College Promise grant, a guaranteed source of financial aid for more than 93,000 eligible students.


Senators will hear public testimony on the Native American Voting Rights Act (SB 5079). The bill would amend the amount of information required for voter registration to be more consistent with tribal standards, allowing those with nontraditional addresses to register to vote.


Overwhelming evidence shows disproportionality in race, gender, and socioeconomic status of youth referred to courts or detained for non-criminal offenses like truancy, breaking curfew or running away from home. Senate Bill 5290 would end the practice.


Senators focus on a measure that would establish a public long-term care benefit (SB 5331) that Washington workers would pay into, and eventually benefit from later in life to deal with age-related issues, chronic illness, or disability.


The hearing will focus on a package of bills to reduce single-use plastics throughout the state. SB 5077 would prohibit the sale of plastic straws. SB 5323 would prohibit the use of single-use carryout bags at retail establishments. SB 5397 would require producers of plastic packaging to also take responsibility for its end-of-life management (reuse, recycling, and disposal). 


Senate Transportation Committee Chair Steve Hobbs will unveil a transportation package proposal to help reduce congestion, lower carbon emissions, and move our state forward with modern infrastructure.

FRIDAY @ 8 a.m.

Senators will hear proposals to de-emphasize standardized testing in Washington’s schools and open up multiple pathways to high school graduation (SB 5146, SB 5104).

Click here to view the complete schedule of committee hearings and here for a condensed calendar of the week. For more information about events on the Capitol Campus this week, click here.

18 01, 2019

Carlyle introduces comprehensive data privacy protection bill

January 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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.

16 01, 2019

Native American Voting Rights Act to be heard in Senate

January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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.”

16 01, 2019

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

January 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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.


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

14 01, 2019

Legislature opens 2019 session

January 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|

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




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.



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.


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.


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


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). 

28 11, 2018

Senate Democrats elect most diverse leadership team in state history

November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

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.”

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)

President Pro Temp: Karen Keiser (D-Federal Way)
Vice President Pro Temp: Steve Conway (D-Tacoma)

28 11, 2018

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

November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

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.