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Sen. Chase

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Feb. 2, 2017

Subject: We’re making progress!

 Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We’re 26 days into this 60-day legislative session. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished so far, and looking forward to making more progress for the good of Washington state. We’ve reached policy cutoff — meaning no new policy bills can be introduced to our committees. Lawmakers must now decide which of these bills should move forward for full consideration.

Here are some of the things we’ve been working on:

A bill to repeal Initiative 200

Repealing Washington’s affirmative action ban would open up educational and employment opportunities for underrepresented minorities, enable schools to recruit and hire the best available faculty, and send a message that Washington values diversity.

The Senate State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee on Jan. 26 heard Senate Bill 6406, which would repeal I-200. The initiative, enacted in 1998, was proposed to prevent discrimination in college admission based on race. It has instead prevented the state’s higher education system and agencies from making progress with regards to diversity.

I am proud to say that I am the prime sponsor of this bill, and that it passed out of the committee on Wednesday.

In our country, a person’s success is often determined by the opportunities they are given, whether they be opportunities in work and education. Unfortunately, our history has shown us time and time again that people of color in this country aren’t given a fair chance. This bill would take a step toward righting that wrong.

Net Pens

Three state agencies overseeing the 2017 Cypress Island Atlantic Salmon Net Pen Failure released a report this week highlighting insufficient cleaning, breakdowns in equipment and mooring, missed opportunity to adequately repair and recover the operations, and numerous incorrect statements from the corporation regarding the severity of the disaster.

We learned that there was opportunity over the summer to respond to issues at the facility, but that did not occur. Common sense should have come into play, and the facility should have taken steps to avoid this catastrophic failure that put the health of the Puget Sound at risk.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, this year introduced Senate Bill 6086, which permanently ban commercial net pens used for fish farming in Washington. I am a strong supporter and cosponsor of this measure.

Apprenticeships

The Senate Economic Development & International Trade Committee, which I chair, this week discussed the opportunities and necessary workforce training provided by Washington’s apprenticeship programs.

We heard from South Seattle College’s Georgetown Apprenticeship Education and Training Center, which trains nearly 3,000 apprentices each year for more than 60 different occupations.

According to the training center, enrollment in apprenticeship programs statewide is up 50 percent since 2012. More than $250 million has been invested in apprenticeship programs nationwide since 2015.

This is good news, as programs like the Georgetown Apprenticeship Education and Training Center will our key tools in updating and educating our workforce. As I described in last week’s newsletter, technology is changing and we’re headed toward workforce automation.

Apprenticeships will help us achieve efficiency and growth in our economy.

Here are some other issues the Senate Democratic Caucus has been working on:

Protecting and improving Women’s Health

In Washington state, Democrats are improving health care services for women and taking action to protect our state’s ability to provide affordable services. On Tuesday, the Senate passed three bills with bipartisan support to help achieve these goals. The bills will now be considered by the House.

Reproductive Parity Act

Senate Bill 5554 ensures women have access to contraceptive drugs, products and services needed to manage their reproductive needs and overall health.

3D mammography coverage

Senate Bill 5912  mandates insurance carriers cover three-dimensional mammography so women have access to potentially life-saving information   about their health.

Breast density notification

Senate Bill 5084 requires radiologists to include information about a woman’s breast density in a post-mammogram letter. This brings our state law in line with 27 other states that share this important information.

 1

 Net neutrality: Keeping the internet open and protecting free speech

 For years, net neutrality has prohibited big internet corporations like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from favoring or blocking certain viewpoints or websites you might want to use, or from providing slower internet service to some customers.

Net Neutrality protects free speech and preserves our right to communicate freely online and enjoy the same downloads speeds as anyone else. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your internet service provider shouldn’t interfere with the content or speed at which you view or post online.

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted open internet rules that prohibited ISPs from blocking or interfering with lawful internet content, website services and traffic. Last December, the Commission reversed its previously adopted open internet rules and gutted Net Neutrality.

In response, the Washington State Senate is considering SB 6423 and SB 6446 to keep the internet open, maintain free speech and preserve the right to communicate freely and efficiently online.

2

Permitting 16 year olds to register to vote

Only 59 percent of Washingtonians between the ages of 18 and 24 are registered to vote. This low level of participation is not good for our democracy. Young people face unique policy concerns and should voice their preferences and priorities through the electoral process.

Once registered, voters are much more likely to turn out to vote.  Senate Bill 5110 permits 16 year-olds to register to vote and is intended to increase young adult voter participation. This bill, which was just voted out of committee, is part of the Senate Democrats’ Access to Democracy package.

 3

Real-time traffic alerts

You can subscribe to nearly 200 specialized email or text alerts from the Washington State Department of Transportation to find traffic conditions along your route before you go. This includes mountain pass reports, construction updates, crashes, congestion and more. You can click here to subscribe.

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Gun safety                       

Gun violence is a public health crisis in our state and nationwide. Senate Bill 5992 is a bipartisan public safety measure that bans bump stocks — devices that enable people to give legal, semi-automatic weapons the rapid-fire capability of machine guns, which are illegal. This type of modification is easily purchased, and enabled a shooter in Las Vegas to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in a single assault in 2017.

The bill passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House.

Honoring the National Guard

The Washington National Guard is made up of 8,000 citizen soldiers and airmen dedicated to safeguarding lives, property and the economy of our state. Since 1855, the Washington National Guard has been serving Washington’s communities.

The Guard’s men and women are our neighbors, coworkers, friends and family members who train to serve those who need help. At the call of the governor, the Guard mobilizes and deploys during times of state emergency to augment local jurisdictions and responders in their efforts to protect lives and property. Our Guard is also subject to the call of the President to serve as part of the U.S. military.

This session the Senate honored the service of the Washington National Guard by adopting Senate Resolution 8692.

 

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National Guard Blackhawk helicopters in flight over western Washington.

 

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Guard soldiers assist with flood relief efforts near Sprague, Washington.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

asd

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