Sen. Maralyn Chase Newsroom

2018 Session Review

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Dear Friends & Neighbors

The 2018 Legislative Session was one of the most productive our state has had in years. It was a short session that accomplished several goals of our Putting People First Agenda and we got out on time!

We are delivering real results to the people of our state as we put people first, combining effective leadership with the courage to stand up and fight for working families.

As the new Democratic Chair of the Economic Development and International Trade Committee. I’m dedicated to helping lead our state in developing a growth strategy that meets the challenges to business and labor of globalization and automation, a strategy based on evidence and facts. We welcome scientists and their contributions to our public square.

In this time of devastating natural disasters caused by climate change, increasing inequality of income and wealth, economic stagnation, and housing unaffordability, we need our best minds working with us. Our communities are challenged with preserving our homes, our green environment including our precious tree canopies, and our way of life, in the face of tax credit venture capitalists coming into our communities as “developers”. We see little regard for the residents as the developers claim “the greater good.” Whether it is development at Point Wells or around Sound Transit 3, similar challenges confront our state in every community.

I encourage full participation as we struggle together – in our democratic tradition – to find solutions. Remember, if you are not at the table you are probably on the menu.

Best to you and yours,

asd

THE FUTURE OF WORK

Automation will bring big shifts to the world of work, as Artificial Intelligence and robotics change or replace some jobs, while others are created. Work will be less structured and more based on specific projects rather than job functions. Think of entertainers who get a “gig” working in different venues. Independent workers are increasingly choosing to offer their services on digital platforms including Upwork, Uber, and Etsy and, in the process, challenging conventional ideas about how and where work is undertaken. The Legislature enacted my bill creating the Future of Work Task Force to prepare our state for changes as significant for our economy as the steam engine was for the economy of weavers and Luddites in the First Industrial Revolution.

MANUFACTURING INNOVATION INSTITUTE: MII

In cooperation with the Federal Government we are working to establish a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) to serve as a catalyst for high-tech regional development. It is an initiative focused on coordinating public and private investment in emerging advanced manufacturing technologies. The MII brings together industry, academia, and government partners to leverage existing resources, collaborate, and co-invest to advance manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization. With an MII as the core institutional structure, the resulting “innovation cluster” is projected to grow rapidly and pay above average wages and salaries.

SIGNING

EDUCATION

The paramount goal and responsibility of our state is to provide students with the skills and capabilities they need to thrive in the knowledge-based global economy. We funded our schools with another billion of tax-payer dollars help all students obtain the credentials needed to participate in the future of work. These funds also put our state on the pathway to compensating our teaching workforce for obtaining the professional credentials we require them to possess.

The GED test is an option for the 500,000 out-of-school youth and adults in our state without a high school diploma to demonstrate their skills and knowledge and earn a state-issued high school equivalency credential. We reformed the GED test to cover material taught in high school rather than college. The changes will empower test takers to enter the workforce with the essential admission ticket or to obtain additional credentials to move up the career ladder.

EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY

We changed the rules for small works projects to permit small contracting business to expand their book of business. The National Minority Business Advisory Council’s President, Frank Lemos, presented their award as Legislator of the Year for this work.

EQUAL PAY: BRINGING HOME THE BACON

After waiting 75 years, women in our state will finally have a path to receive equal pay: workers now have the right to discuss and inquire about pay and compensation without retaliation. It also requires pay to be based on bona fide job-based criteria—such as education, training, or experience—instead of unfair assumptions and practices. We also passed legislation would have stopped employers from relying on prior salary history when making pay decisions.

HEALTH CARE

The people of our district are demanding health care form and relief from outrageous co-pays and spiraling increases in the price of prescription drugs. (Just this month – $200 co-pay on an asthma inhaler!). I introduced the single-payer health care bill seeking to ensure fair prices from drug companies, lower medical bills and overhead costs. Doctors, not insurance clerks, would make medical decisions. The beauty of a single-payer system is exactly that: one source for payment and administration, similar to social security. The legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a study of single payer and universal coverage health care systems due December 1, 2018.

PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS = Tax shifts

Washington taxes all property unless the law specifically exempts the property. Some exemptions are constitutional exemptions while others are legislative exemptions. Stocks and bonds, the fastest growing source of wealth, are legislatively exempted property. Churches and schools are constitutionally exempted from paying property taxes. Property taxes include the state property tax (for public schools), and local property taxes (for services and programs provided by counties, cities, fire districts, school districts, library districts, etc.) Exempting property from taxes results in a tax shift because the property tax base has declined in value by the value of the exemptions. When the assessor spreads the taxes across the base, the tax rate increasesbecause the amount of money that must be collected is the same no matter how many are paying. The exempt taxpayer now pays no property taxes but their tax obligation shifts to other taxpayers still in the base. In 2016, the majority (R) party changed the tax calculation for state property tax temporarily to a “rate based” system which allowed different property owners to pay different amounts. Wealthy property owners were given substantial exemptions on their tax bills. Even so, the amount of taxes collected was more than was needed which is why the new majority party (D) is refunding some of those taxes.

TAX JUSTICE

The tax struggles in our state are not new. 1927 brought deep recession and rising property taxes to the Agrarian West when state farmers lost their market share. By the Constitution, property tax was the source of revenue for the young state and property owners were given five years grace if the got behind on their taxes but no more. Farmers lost their farms and homes through tax or mortgage foreclosures and the state or the bank took title to the property. Only North Dakota escaped mortgage foreclosures because their state bank refused to foreclose. The Grange was the hero leading the fight for tax reform. The Grange proposed two taxes: first, stocks and bonds, “intangible” property, to be taxed uniformly at the same rate as “tangible” real estate and secondly, a progressive (not flat rate) income tax. It was an attempt to equalize the tax burden. The State Constitution was amended, (Art 7, Section 1, Amendment 14) requiring “uniform” taxation on both “tangible and intangible” property. The legislature then enacted progressive income tax which the court declared unconstitutional because income was “intangible” property and a progressive income tax was not uniform. The then legislature enacted a property tax on stocks and bonds but that was vetoed by the Governor. In 1932, for the first time, Democrats took control of the legislature.

The 1935 the legislature enacted the Revenue Act which is still in place today. The result? Washington has the most regressive, upside-down tax system in the entire United States. Low income people pay 17% of their income in taxes but wealthy pay a mere 2%. How fair is that? Washington State public policy is to tax homes but not stocks & bonds or earned income (wages and stock earnings); we tax gas, utilities, necessities, filing fees, etc., but not the fastest growing source of wealth in our state, (stocks and bonds), intangible property, while the majority of wage earners are living with wage stagnation since 1979. People refinance their homes (reducing their assets) to meet expenses, or go into bankruptcy because of outrageous medical expenses. All it takes is for the legislature to act. If your concerns are not at the table, you are on the menu.

In 1997 the Legislature removed the last vestige of intangible property from the tax rolls but they did not lower the amount of property taxes to be collected. Instead they shifted the tax responsibility onto those who are still paying property taxes based upon their real estate, the family home usually.

                               TAX

May 11th, 2018|E-News|

Notice: Website won’t be updated beginning May 14

Dear Readers,

In order to comply with election year regulations, my website will not be updated beginning May 14, 2018. However, my office will remain open. You can reach me and my staff there by phone at 425-245-8179. The office is located at:

3815 196th Street SW
Suite 136
Lynnwood, WA 98036.

Thank you for understanding.

Maralyn Chase

May 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Governor signs Future of Work Task Force bill and budget allocating funding for Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Governor signs Future of Work Task Force bill and budget allocating funding for Manufacturing Innovation Institute

Senate Bill 6544, sponsored by Sen. Maralyn Chase, and signed by Governor Jay Inslee on March 28, creates the Future of Work Task Force to assess the rapid changes to the workplace and ensure that Washington workers receive the education they need. The bill is designed to ready Washington state for a workplace that will feature automation, artificial intelligence and other technology advances. The Future of Work will be coordinated by the State Workforce Board.
The legislature also directed the state Department of Commerce to create a state economic growth strategy and devise a plan for a Manufacturing Innovation Institute. The institute would provide high-tech advanced manufacturing research and development, and the growth of a skilled, diverse workforce coordinating with the Future of Work Task Force.
Chase chairs the Senate Economic Development and International Trade committee and focused the committee’s work in the 2018 legislative session on preparing the state’s response to a future that that includes the growing role of artificial intelligence in our state’s economy.
“A society is only successful when it has a functioning and prosperous economy,” said Chase, D-Edmonds. “To ensure that Washington firms and workers are relevant in the new economy, we must provide them with opportunities for development, and ensure that they are learning the relevant skills. The creation of these two coordinated initiatives are important steps in that direction.
During the next 13 years, advances in workforce automation will force up to 70 million American workers out of their jobs, according to a McKinsey Global Institute study. For Americans performing “predictable physical work” — equipment maintenance, food preparation, security guarding, etc. — employment opportunities will fall by about 30 percent by 2030. But, the impacts will extend far beyond that. The demand for paralegals, secretaries and other office workers will drop by about 20 percent, researchers predict.
“Times are changing, and so are the demands on the American workforce” Chase said. “Government has an important role to play in advanced manufacturing R & D and the growth of a skilled, diverse workforce. It’s critical that we as leaders take the necessary steps to ensure the security of our economy, to identify areas of opportunity for state businesses and to recommend ways to coordinate R & D to maximize benefit and build a highly-trained workforce.”

April 23rd, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senator Chase is hosting town halls!

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Residents of the 32nd Legislative District want to know what the Legislature really did about gun safety taxes, single payer healthcare, climate change and education. 

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, will host five town hall meetings to report on the Legislature’s work, and accomplishments, during the 2018 session, and issues that are important to the 32nd District.

Let’s talk about these issues and whatever else is on your mind:

  • April 25: Legislative Report and discussion of gun safety
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
    Location: Richmond Beach Library, 19601 21st Ave. NW, Shoreline, 98177
  • May 2: Legislative Report and discussion of taxes 
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
    Location: Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W, Lynnwood, 98036
  • May 3: Legislative Report and discussion of transit and housing
    Time:  6 to 8 p.m.
    Location: Spartan Recreation Center  202 NE  185th Street  Shoreline  98155
  • May 8: Legislative Report and discussion of healthcare
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
    Location: Richmond Beach Library, 19601 21st Ave. NW, Shoreline, 98177
  • May 10: Legislative Report and discussion of the environment
    Time: 6:30 to 8 p.m.
    Location: Lynnwood Library, 19200 44th Ave. W, Lynnwood, 98036
April 18th, 2018|E-News|

We’re working on school and gun safety

Sen. Chase

March 3, 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, Washingtonians have been concerned about the safety of our own students and our own schools. We’ve realized that with current state laws, a similar tragedy could easily happen here.

It is time for us to act.

Senate Bill 6620 is a common-sense school and gun safety bill sponsored by Sen. David Frockt. This bill blends school safety measures — proposed by both Republicans and Democrats — with common-sense changes to the way assault weapons are purchased.

This bill does not ban any types of firearms, magazines, features, etc. It simply requires the same purchase safeguards for semiautomatic rifles that are already in place for handguns.

This measure gained support following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. Washingtonians realized that because of holes in our own gun laws, a similar incident could happen here. Our current restrictions on assault weapon purchases are almost identical to those in place in Florida. In fact, in 2016 a 19-year old purchased an AR-15 and killed three people at a house party in Mukilteo.

A Feb. 25 CNN poll shows that seven in 10 Americans favor tighter gun laws. This includes 71% support for preventing people under the age of 21 from buying any type of gun.

SB 6620 does the following:

  • Aligns purchase requirements for semiautomatic rifles with those already in place for handguns. Raises the purchase age for these firearms to 21.
  • Currently, Washington requires only a federal background check to purchase assault rifles. This bill would change the law to require both a state and federal background check.
  • Creates school emergency response systems and notification. The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs would be directed to create emergency response systems using new and evolving technology. This would expedite law enforcement response to schools in the case of a threat or emergency. First responders would notify all schools in the vicinity if there is a situation that may require a lockdown (based on Sen. Padden’s SB 6410).
  • Creates the Students Protecting Students program. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction would create an incident reporting system to be used by students (Based on Rep. Manweller’s HB 2442).
  • Facilitating School Resource Officers. Directs WASPC to establish and implement a grant program to fund school resource officers with joint proposals between local law enforcement and public school entities.
  • Regional school safety. Would require educational service districts to establish regional school safety centers (one in eastern Washington, one in western Washington) to provide coordination of school safety efforts related to behavioral health threat assessment and suicide prevention (based on Sen. Padden’s SB 6410).
  • Annual school safety summit. Would direct summit participants to discuss the respective safety challenges of rural and non-rural schools. Participants would also review programs suggested by the Sandy Hook Promise.

The state Senate has also taken the following steps to reduce gun violence:

  • A budget proviso of $382,000 to address the backlog of gun transfer background checks.
  • SB 5992, which bans bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas massacre to multiply the rate of gunfire and number of victims. This bill is scheduled to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 6.
  • SB 6298, Manka Dhingra’s domestic violence harassment bill adds DV harassment to the list of conditions that prevent people from buying a firearm. This bill is awaiting concurrence in the Senate.
  • SB 5553, Jamie Pedersen’s bill allows anyone struggling with mental illness to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list. This bill is awaiting concurrence in the Senate.

I stand behind these measures, and look forward to the positive changes they will bring to Washington state.

Sincerely,

Maralyn Chase

March 3rd, 2018|E-News|

Public Records

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am pleased to report to you that we passed the operating, capital, and transportation budget off the Senate floor today. These budgets make significant investments in projects and services that will benefit our communities statewide.

On another note, many of you have asked for my opinion on ESB 6617, the Legislative Public Records Act.  I support ESB 6617 and voted for it this afternoon when it passed the Senate by a vote of 41-7. I want to thank Senator Jamie Pedersen for addressing this issue. The House also voted to approve the bill this afternoon by a vote of 83-14.  My understanding is that Governor Inslee intends to let the bill go into effect without his signature, so it will become law next week.  I apologize in advance for a long response but wanted you to understand my position, since I think that the bill has been widely misunderstood.

Since the Public Records Act passed in 1972, the legislature has consistently maintained that the legislature is an independent branch of government, not an “agency”.  We have therefore made our own rules about what documents are public.  The judicial branch also takes the position that it is not subject to the Public Records Act and has adopted its own rules.  About a year ago, various media organizations sued, claiming that the Public Records Act should be interpreted to cover the legislature.  Just over four weeks ago, a Thurston County superior court judge ruled that although the legislature is not an agency, individual legislators’ offices are agencies and are subject to the Public Records Act.

This ruling overturns settled law from the last 45 years in this area and produces absurd and unworkable results.  For example:  I have one full-time staff person.  If Judge Lanese’s opinion stood, I would have to appoint my own public records officer; adopt rules for public disclosure in my office through the Washington Administrative Code; and be available at least 30 hours a week year-round for public inspection of records.

So the legislature has done exactly what Attorney General Ferguson said we should do:  change the law to clarify how legislative records should be treated.  The bill does not merely codify the legislature’s current interpretation of the Public Records Act.  It also adds substantial new categories of records (including legislators’ calendars and letters and e-mails from lobbyists) that will be subject to public disclosure.  These documents have never been public before.  The legislature will also create a new public records office and has funded several positions in the supplemental budget to staff it.  I view these changes as a significant step toward transparency.

The bill does continue to protect certain categories of documents, such as constituent correspondence and the location of meetings on our calendars.  I think that these exceptions are balanced and appropriate.  I receive 10,000-12,000 e-mails each session from constituents.  Many are form e-mails from advocacy groups.  Should a marketing firm be allowed to do a records request to my office for everyone who has e-mailed me about gun safety? Others share very personal information and seek my help in resolving their problems.  These range from government benefit issues to sensitive health information to challenging family situations.  If constituents knew that their correspondence could wind up on the front page of the Seattle Times, I believe that it would have a significantly chilling effect on the First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances. With respect to the location of meetings, women legislators have shared concerning stories of being stalked.  That would obviously be much earlier if anyone could find our locations at particular times well in advance.

I am very skeptical of the claim that lobbyists will “de-register” to avoid disclosure of their correspondence.  Our laws regarding lobbying disclosure are thorough and would pick up people who are making regular contacts with us on behalf of employers.  We can monitor this and see whether any significant numbers of lobbyist employers stop paying lobbyists.  I am not a betting person, but I would be willing to bet that a year from now there are no fewer lobbyists or lobbyist employers than there are now.  Remember also that NONE of these records have been previously disclosable, so although this change may not go as far as some open government advocates want, it is a substantial move toward transparency.

Another concern I have heard is that ESB 6617 does not permit judicial review.  The legislature is a separate branch of government with its own unique issues related to records.  The judicial branch made its own rules for what would be disclosable under GR 31 and GR 31.1 and that branch supervises itself.  No fees or penalties of any sort are available.  The House Executive Rules Committee and the Senate Facilities & Operations Committee are well-positioned to administer this process and handle appeals quickly and efficiently.  Their meetings are open to the public.

Some people have suggested that internal complaints should be public as soon as they have been filed. .  The basic protection that the Ethics Board has created is that complaints do not become public until the Board has made a determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the Ethics in Public Service Act has occurred or has dismissed or otherwise resolved the case.  Similarly under ESB 6617, every allegation will result in a final report, once all of the facts have been uncovered.  But while the complaint is in process, I believe that it is appropriate to keep the records confidential.  I should also note that although the Senate has made these records available previously, the House has not.  This is a significant change.

I have also heard concern that the changes to the law will apply only prospectively.  ESB 6617 effects a substantial change in the law about what records may become public.  It is appropriate to have its effect be prospective only so that people who are communicating with the legislature know what to expect about how their records will be handled.  Legislators can also adjust their calendar practices if necessary.

Finally, I must say that I regret that the bill did not have time to go through the regular committee process.  That is driven mostly by the fact that Judge Lanese ruled in the middle of the legislative session and refused to stay his decision.  By the time our counsel had drafted the bill and had it ready to introduce, we were already past the time when the bill could have been heard in the regular process.  If the ruling had come in October, we could have done this differently.  But of course this law – like any other – can be amended at any time and I think it is likely that future legislatures will make revisions to it as we gain more experience with how the new process works.

I strongly encourage you to read the bill’s intent section, which is I think a very crisp and thoughtful statement about why it is appropriate to have a statute crafted specifically for the legislative branch.  http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/6617.E.pdf

Please feel free to contact me with any further questions or comments.

Sincerely,

Maralyn Chase

 

February 24th, 2018|E-News|

It’s nearly cutoff!

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we progress through the legislative session and reach the opposite house cutoff, I would like to give you an update on the work going on here in Olympia:

SB 6406: Repeal of I-200

In my past newsletters, I explained the need to repeal I-200 through SB 6406. Unfortunately, the bill did not reach the Senate floor before the house of origin cutoff. However, this fight is far from over. The disparities in opportunities for persons of color are pervasive in public contracting, employment, and education. Through our public policy, we have created vast inequality that must be addressed. As your Senator, I plan to work on this issue in the interim and continue to bring balance and equity in our state policies.

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SB 5731: GED Testing

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, SB 5731 passed unanimously out of the Senate floor. This bill would correct years of unfair GED testing by allowing students the opportunity to take a test that matches the academic ability of high school seniors, rather than the Pearson GED. The 2014 switch to the Pearson GED test saw a drastic decline in GED certificates, particularly in communities of color. The current GED test closes doors to opportunities for employment and education. However, by providing an alternative route to a high school certificate, we create pathways for individuals searching for work or furthering their education. I am proud to have sponsored SB 5731, as it brings justice and fairness back into our education system.

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Source: http://www.wsac.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2016.GED.Report.pdf

Gun Control

My heart goes out to those affected by the shooting in Parkland, Florida. This tragedy underlines the importance of common sense gun legislation and the needs to address the issue of gun violence in our society. Last week, the Senate passed SB 5992, SB 6298, and SB 5553, which I supported, off the Senate floor and to the House of Representatives. As legislators, it is our responsibility to pass legislation that protects our communities. By passing and supporting these bills, we take a great stride towards a safer Washington.

 

Net Pens HB 2957

Last August, a Cooke Aquaculture net pen in public waters suffered a near-complete structural failure that released tens of thousands of non-native Atlantic salmon, debris, pollutants and fish carcasses into the Salish Sea off Washington’s coast. This incident emphasizes the need to ban net pens in Washington State. Net pen aquaculture pollutes our waters and introduces disease and food competition to our native fish. Fortunately, HB 2957, prime sponsored by Representative Lytton, takes the necessary steps from preventing an incident like in August from happening again. I want to thank the Representative for introducing this legislation, and I will be glad to support the bill when it reaches the Senate floor.  

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Supplemental budgets

Washington state budgets provide funding on a two-year (biennial) cycle. The 24-month period begins July 1 in odd-numbered years and ends June 30. The 2017-19 biennium runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019.

Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the Legislature to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget. It gives the state the opportunity to make critical new investments that keep families safe, provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

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2018 supplemental budgets introduced

Operating budget

This budget helps fund the day-to-day operations of state government such as schools and universities, state parks, teacher salaries and other state services and programs.

Senate Democrats unveiled their 2018 supplemental operating budget plan on Monday—a budget that will fully fund education and provide adequate support for those in our society who need mental health treatment.

This budget makes targeted investments in these areas:

  • Education: Brings the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. Includes an additional $1 billion to fully fund teacher and staff salaries as directed by the state Supreme Court.
  • Mental health:  Invests nearly $300 million more over the next four years for state hospitals, mental health treatment and addressing the opioid crisis.

 

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Property tax cut

Senate Democrats propose a $403 million property tax cut as part of their overall budget plan. Property owners could see tax relief in 2018.

 Capital budget

This budget pays for the construction and renovation of state facilities such as public schools, universities and colleges, parks, prisons, and other public properties.

supplemental capital budget proposed by Senate Democrats would provide nearly $334.7 million in new funding in Washington communities. The budget invests in public schools, higher education, behavioral health and local community projects. The proposal includes an additional $66.2 million for K-12 school construction.

We invest more than $4.3 billion into construction projects this year that will create jobs and build schools, health facilities and other public spaces we use every day.

Transportation budget

The transportation budget pays for the design, construction and maintenance of our roads and public transit systems as well as other transportation activities like ferries. This budget funds the Washington State Patrol.

crane  sign

The supplemental transportation budget introduced by the Senate on Monday contains $826 million in carryover funding for construction projects. A listing of projects can be found by clicking here. When the page opens, go to Budget Versions and click STC Chair Proposed on the drop-down menu.

We’re having a Town Hall!

Join us at the Edmonds Senior Center (220 Railroad Avenue, Edmonds) from 10 a.m. to noon on March 10.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the 2018 legislative session, what you’re hoping for next session, and the issues that concern you as Washingtonians.

 

Sincerely,

 

Maralyn Chase

February 23rd, 2018|E-News|

These bills are moving on!

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 Dear Friends and Neighbors,

 

Wednesday was an important day for us in the Capitol. It was one of many deadlines in the legislative process: House of Origin Cutoff. Simply put, in order to continue through the process, policy bills must have been considered on the floor of their house of origin. I’m very happy to say that several of the measures I’ve worked hard on were passed by the Senate and now move to the House for consideration.


 

Economic Growth Commission

Senate Bill 6236 would establish the Washington State Economic Growth Commission, which would develop an economic growth strategy and devise a plan for establishing a manufacturing innovation institute.

Our economy is rapidly changing due to globalization and automation. In order for our firms to remain competitive and compete both nationally and internationally, we need to remain on the cutting edge. The Economic Growth Commission would help us do that.

This measure passed with a 30-17 vote.


Future of Work Task Force

Senate Bill 5644 would establish the Future of Work Task Force to address manufacturing job loss issues.

The technology-driven world in which we live is a world filled with promise but also challenges. Cars that drive themselves, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer service inquiries are all manifestations of powerful new forms of automation. Yet even as these technologies increase productivity and improve our lives, their use will substitute for some work activities humans currently perform. This is a development that has sparked much concern.

This measure passed with a 36-11 vote.


Fair Chance to Education Act, or Ban the Box

Senate Bill 6582 would prohibit higher education institutions from requesting criminal history in an initial application unless a third-party application is used. It would allow institutions to request criminal history after an applicant has otherwise been deemed qualified for admission. It would require institutions to develop a process to evaluate the relationship between the applicant’s criminal history and admission or residency decisions to justify the denial of admission or access to residency.

These people have paid their debt to society by serving their sentence. They need to be able to access the higher education institutions that will allow them to become active members of our society. It’s well known that education reduces recidivism, so it’s in our state’s best interest to remove barriers to education.

The measure passed with a 28-19 vote.


High School Equivalency Tests

 Senate Bill 5731 directs the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to identify two high school equivalency tests that meet specific criteria. 

The GED test is a second chance test for students who, for various reasons have to drop out of high school and lack a high school diploma. For 70 years, Washington state offered high school dropouts a chance to get a GED certificate based upon a fair test that was normed to the actual ability level of high school seniors.

However, in January 2014 a for-profit corporation, Pearson, took over and dramatically changed this test from a high school equivalency test to a college prep test that very few people could pass.

We must give these students access to a fair GED test – for the good of the students and for the good of the state.

The measure passed with a 48-0 vote.


 

 The Harbor Maintenance Tax

 Joint Memorial 8008 would request that Congress reform the Harbor Maintenance Tax to ensure that U.S. tax policy does not disadvantage our ports and maritime cargo, and would provide greater equity to Harbor Maintenance Tax donor ports through expanded uses of revenue.

This tax levied on our ports causes cargo to be diverted to Canadian ports, then re-integrated into the North American market. We need to give our ports a fighting chance by reforming this tax.

The measure passed with a 47-1 vote.


 

Rental Housing Restored to Marketplace

With Senate Bill 5407, we were able to craft a compromise between the owners of the properties and the potential renters and the housing authorities.  A special account was established to reimburse landlords for damage over $500 up to $5,000 dollars and for up to 14 days waiting before a tenant can move in.  These changes will ensure that the landlords will not bear the financial burden of tenant damage to their property or from unexpected waiting periods for documents.  Furthermore, tenants with Section 8 will not be denied housing because of landlord fear of damage or loss of revenue.  Everyone’s concerns were addressed and answered in a bipartisan agreement.  This is the way disputes ought to be settled.  Thanks to all who contributed to this victory most especially the prime sponsor, Sen. David Frockt.

The measure passed with a 33-14 vote.


 

Gun Violence Needs to Stop

I also wanted to share some words written by my colleague, Sen. David Frockt, regarding the recent mass shooting in Florida. This is one of the biggest issues facing our country, and it’s time to act.

Here’s what he wrote: 

Frockt:  ’Thoughts and Prayers are not enough’

Like many of you, I was devastated to learn about the tragic shooting yesterday in Parkland, Florida. The 17 people fatally shot were in a school, a place where they should have been safe. The 19-year-old shooter used an AR-15 with several magazines of ammunition. Initial reports indicate this was a firearm he purchased legally.

While this happened in Florida, more than 3,000 miles from here, this could happen in Washington.

In our state, you can legally purchase an AR-15 or an AK-47 from a licensed dealer at age 18 — even though we know the rational part of the human brain does not fully develop until age 25. You have to be 21 to purchase a handgun from a licensed dealer in Washington. While there is a background check required when purchasing assault weapons, the check is not as extensive as the background checks we have for the purchase of a handgun. This does not make sense.

Over the objections of the gun lobby, the Senate passed three gun violence prevention bills this session.

We passed Senate Bill 5992, which would ban bump stocks — the trigger modification device that contributed greatly to number of victims in the tragically historic Las Vegas massacre.

We passed Senate Bill 5553, which would prevent suicides by allowing people who realize they are experiencing periods of extreme depression or stress to voluntarily waive their firearm rights. 

We passed Senate Bill 6298 to keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence harassment.  

These are good bills that, if passed by the House and signed by Gov. Inslee, can make a difference in Washingtonians’ lives.

But there’s more work to do. We must pass legislation to impose the same regulations and background checks on the purchase of an AR 15 as on handguns. We began that conversation this year with a hearing on Senate Bill 5444, which I introduced at the recommendation of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. It’s imperative we pass measures like this to ensure the safety of our children, and of all Washingtonians. This measure passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee but did not have enough support to pass the full Senate.

After every mass murder — and how sad is it that mass shootings have become so common that we refer to them in the plural and have had 30 this year alone — there inevitably talk about the intersection of mental health and guns. Clearly, we must find ways to address the needs of these young people who are socially isolated and fixated on violence as expressed on social media. 

The Sandy Hook Promise is trying to find ways to identify and help these people in school and in our communities before they act out. We need public policies to support this effort. At the same time, we should not shy away from the simple fact that it is easy access to high-powered weapons in combination with these social pathologies that is leading to the now all-too-common massacres we are witnessing.

The opposition refuses to give. But we have to keep pressing forward and let public officials know that this is a voting issue that will cause people to lose their jobs if they don’t act. When energized opposition prevents progress, it must be countered with energized support.

A few years ago, I sponsored the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, designed to prevent individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others from accessing firearms. The same interests who vigorously opposed that bill opposed our measures this year. That measure later passed via the initiative process, with a resounding 69 percent of the vote.

The same dynamic continues to play out in Olympia. The majority of voters are ahead of the majority of politicians on these common-sense measures, and things will only change if there are mass numbers of voters who make their voices heard.

Sincerely,

David Frockt

Our lawmakers need to take this issue seriously. I am committed to enacting reasonable measures to end this epidemic in Washington state.


 

We’re Having a Town Hall!

Join us at the Edmonds Senior Center (220 Railroad Avenue, Edmonds) from 10 a.m. to noon on March 10.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the 2018 legislative session, what you’re hoping for next session, and the issues that concern you as Washingtonians.

 

Sincerely,

Maralyn Chase

February 16th, 2018|E-News|

Things are heating up!

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Things are heating up in Olympia as the Legislature reaches its next deadline: house of origin cutoff. By Feb. 14, policy bills that originated in the Senate must be passed out of the Senate, and policy bills that originated in the House must be approved by the House in order for them to continue through the legislative process.

Some of my bills are still in play:

The GED is unjust, and it’s time to fix it.

A bill I introduced last year, Senate Bill 5731, would offer Washington students high school equivalency test options other than the General Education Development (GED) test.

The GED test is a second chance test for students who, for various reasons have to drop out of high school and lack a high school diploma. For 70 years, Washington state offered high school dropouts a chance to get a GED certificate based upon a fair test that was normed to the actual ability level of high school seniors. In 2013, more than 15,000 students passed this fair GED test in Washington, according to the Student Achievement Council.

However, in January 2014 a for-profit corporation, Pearson, took over and dramatically changed this test from a high school equivalency test to a college prep test that very few people could pass.

The result was a drastic decline in the number of students who could pass the test. In 2014, only about 3,000 people passed the new test.

Not allowing students access to a fair GED costs taxpayer money. According to a 2009 Northeasern University study, high school dropouts are far more likely to be jobless as adults. Nationwide, 54 percent of dropouts aged 16 to 24 were jobless in 2008. The report estimates that each high school dropout costs the nation $292,000 over their lifetime.

We must give these students access to a fair GED test – for the good of the students and for the good of the state.

Several states have already stopped using the unfair, unjust Pearson test. Washington must be the next state.

The time has come to repeal I-200

As I explained last week, a group of Washington lawmakers is working to repeal the state’s affirmative action ban. Senate Bill 6406 is currently in the Rules committee, and could soon come to the Senate floor for consideration.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, at the close of the Civil Rights Movement and following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., states nationwide developed policies aimed to mitigate the impacts of institutionalized racism, sexism, etc. The policies were considered to give special consideration to underrepresented minorities in hiring and state contracts.

Initiative 200 was a Washington state initiative promoted by California affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly, and filed by Scott Smith and Tim Eyman. It sought to prohibit race and gender preferences in state and local government.

In the five years before the passage of I-200, state agencies and colleges spent 10 percent of their contracting and procurement dollars with certified minority and women-owned businesses, according to the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises.

Since the passage of I-200, dollars spent with these businesses have dropped to 3 percent. Additionally, the number of certified businesses has declined by nearly half. If the rete of spending would have stayed at the level prior to I-200, an additional $3.5 billion would have gone to small minority and woman-owned businesses.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stated the following:

“I-200 has enhanced and entrenched discrimination rather than eliminating it.”

Both University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce and Washington State University President Kirk Schulz have urged repeal.

The initiative was a mistake, and it’s time to restore fairness to our state’s contracting and education systems.

Sincerely,

Maralyn Chase

February 10th, 2018|E-News|

We’re making progress!

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 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.

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 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.

 

 

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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.

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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,

Maralyn Chase

February 2nd, 2018|E-News|