June E-News Update

June 8th, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

The first special session of the Legislature ended on May 28 and a second special session was immediately called by Gov. Jay Inslee and began the following day. Now over a week into the second special session, budget negotiations continue to be on-going until there is an Operating Budget compromise.

Town Hall Meeting on Monday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.

vancouver libraryIt is important to me that we stay in touch. One of the ways for me to hear from you is to regularly hold Town Hall meetings. Please join me and Reps. Jim Moeller and Sharon Wylie for our next Town Hall Meeting on Monday, June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Columbia Room at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C Street, Vancouver, WA 98660.

You will have an opportunity to hear an update on what’s happening in Olympia, discuss issues important to the 49th Legislative District, and have an opportunity to ask questions and get some feedback on the 2015 Legislative Session.

I hope to see you there.



Making investments in our future – Fully funding our teachers and our students

I believe one of the pillars of a healthy community is access to high-quality educational opportunities, from early learning to higher education. That’s one of the main discussions around the Operating Budget – how much money are we going to invest in basic education? We must invest adequate resources to meet our Constitutional obligation to fully fund education.

I was very proud to stand with my fellow Democratic leaders, Gov. Inslee, and teachers from our district and across the state who gathered on the steps of the Capitol to call on the Legislature to fully fund education.education funding rally

More than 4,000 educators attended the rally at the end of April. Those 4,000 voices were clearly heard and I hope that my colleagues were also listening

Discussions also continue here in Olympia regarding higher education, tuition rates and accessibility. I am committed to accessibility to higher education for Washington’s citizens.

Our state’s “GET Program” is a wonderfully successful tool available to families to pay for their children’s education. The beauty of this program is that a little money can be invested in a secure account, which accrues interest and is guaranteed to hold its value. It is available for students to use at any college or university.

This legislative session, SB 5954 would affect changes to the GET program, and although well-intended, I have grave concerns about the security and promise of GET. I added an amendment to SB 5954 to help ensure that any possible changes would not have negative unintended consequences. Our GET program MUST hold its value and promise that families have counted on. You can help ensure that this program remains viable by contacting members of the Senate and House Higher Education Committees to let them know you oppose any changes that might impact the GET program. Click here for link to the committee members.

Photo: (L to R) Lynn Maiorca, Vancouver Education Association President, Sen. Annette Cleveland, Susan VanHouten Vancouver Education Association Board Trustee, Rep. Sharon Wylie during the education funding rally in late April.

2015-17 Transportation Budget passes

Progress was recently made in reaching a compromise on a modest, bare-bones proposal that allows critical services such as ferries and the Washington State Patrol to continue operating. Because these crucial services need to be maintained, I cast my vote in favor of this supplemental transportation budget.

I was disappointed that funding for moving forward on replacement of the antiquated I-5 Bridge was not included in the proposal, despite efforts by many. I am hopeful that we can pursue a path forward. Addressing replacement of this aging piece of infrastructure must be a priority for our community, our region and our state.

I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the river to find a solution.

Protecting the Columbia River and our environment

Kennedy and ClevelandI recently had the great honor to speak at an event in support of the Columbia Riverkeeper’s 15th Anniversary and introduce acclaimed environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He has spent most of his life in service to the environment to make sure that we are protecting our natural resources for generations to come.

The Columbia River is a national treasure that we need to continue to protect and preserve. Our community has depended upon the river for generations, and it is our responsibility now to protect this important resource for the future.

As a member of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, I joined with a number of my colleagues to help craft and pass an oil transport safety bill. In 2011, we transported zero shipments of oil by rail. By 2013, 17 million barrels of oil was being transported by rail. Currently, in our state, approximately 20 mile-long unit trains a week cross our state. Nearly every one of these trains move through Vancouver, literally just a few feet from our downtown, numerous neighborhoods and schools, and the Columbia River. The safeguards the bill passed this session puts in place are needed now to better protect our community and river.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Riverkeeper: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sen. Annette Cleveland celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Columbia Riverkeeper.

Please keep in touch

If you ever have any questions or comments about the legislative process or a state agency, please feel free to email me or contact my office.

Until next time,


Oil trains, Community Projects, Equal Pay for Women – Legislative Update, April 29

April 29th, 2015|


Dear friends and neighbors,

The Legislature adjourned two days early as no budget solution was reached within the time frame of the regularly scheduled 105-day legislative session. The requirements we needed to fulfill in order to be finished with the session were not met.

We still do not have an adopted final plan to fully fund K-12 education in our state to satisfy the State Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling, a final balanced Operating Budget, a Transportation Budget or a Capital Budget.

Gov. Inslee called the legislature back for a Special Session today, Wednesday, April 29. Budget negotiators began their meetings on Monday in an effort to gain momentum on a final Operating Budget.

While technically we may be called back for another special session, I sincerely hope that we are able to complete what we need to get done in the next 30 days.

VIDEO UPDATE: A strong oil transportation safety must be a priority for our community and state

oil trainsIn my most recent video update, I discuss an issue of vital importance to our community – the need for a strong oil transportation safety bill to protect our communities and our environment. Despite passage of a compromise bill, I will continue to advocate for more protections for oil transport on the Columbia River, through residential areas and downtown Vancouver.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of UW and WSU branch campuses

In 1989 the Legislature passed a bill that established five new university campuses – UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities, and WSU Vancouver. These campus extensions allow more students the ability to earn bachelors and graduate degrees closer to home.

At the time, this effort was not without its controversy. Sen. Al Bauer, the 49th LD Senator at the time, was a driving force behind the efforts to expand the campuses. Our leaders kept their focus on the future and what was ultimately best for the citizens of this state.

WSU Vancouver has become a hub of research and innovation. In the 25 years since the passage of the branch campus bill, and the subsequent founding of the WSUV campus, countless students have expanded their knowledge and broadened their opportunities as a result of being able to pursue their higher education goals in our community. The campus is integral to Southwest Washington and Vancouver.

I was very pleased to stand in support of Senate Resolution 8633. You may view my speech on the Senate floor here.

Senate Capital Budget proposal includes critical projects for the 49th

There are many projects included in the Capital Budget proposal that will benefit every district in our state and I worked diligently to see that funding for projects that will have a positive impact in our district and community were included in the proposal.

Some of the highlighted projects for the 49th Legislative District include:

  • $3.5 million for the Vancouver Waterfront Development Project;
  • $29.9 million in funding for the Health and Advanced Technology Building at Clark College;
  • $1.14 million for general campus preservation and construction of an independent living cottage at the State School for the Blind; and
  • $1.2 million in new funding for a Clark County Aging Resource Center.

Making infrastructure investments in our communities is the fastest way to help spur economic development. I am especially pleased to have the Vancouver Waterfront Development Project receive full funding. This is a project that I worked hard to have included in the Capital Budget and am working to have it included in the final budget.

The project will help better ensure a vibrant Vancouver for the future, and will further define our community and region as one of opportunity. Waterfront along the Columbia River that has been inaccessible to the community for over a century will be reopened. The Vancouver Waterfront Development Project will change the face of our waterfront and further enhance the quality of life our community is known for.

The Capital Budget proposal broken out by legislative district may be viewed here.

Sponsoring Equal Pay amendments to the Operating and Capital Budgets

This session I sponsored a bill that would update the state’s 72 year old Equal Pay Act. While the bill did not move and the House-passed bill died in the Senate, I did offer two amendments on the Senate floor that were aimed at addressing this issue.

floor vote

The Equal Pay Opportunity Act had a hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee before a critical deadline, but because a hearing on the cutoff day was cancelled, the bill died in the committee.

During late night debate on amendments to the Operating Budget proposal on April 2-3, I offered an amendment that would have required state contracts to have a provision to pay women fairly. As a result of a reinstated Senate rule, the amendment needed 30 votes to pass instead of a simple majority of 25. My amendment received 29 votes – just one vote shy of passing.

I also offered a similar amendment to the Capital Budget and was pleased to receive support for the amendment from a few Republican women and the Senate Majority Leader. I am working to make sure that equal pay for equal work will be included in the final Capital Budget.

While we have come so far on advancing women’s rights we must do more.

On average, women in Washington state earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same position. If we continue at the same rate of progress without changing our state policy, women in our state will not achieve pay equity until 2071! That is far too long to wait.

Boys & Girls Club Southwest Washington Youth of the Year – Fabiola Flores

I recently attended the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year recognition breakfast at the Governor’s Residence to honor students across our state who have made significant contributions to their communities and Boys & Girls Clubs across our state.

Cleveland and Flores

This year, the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington named Fabiola Flores as Youth of the Year. Fabiola has been a member of the Club for four years and is a senior at Hudson’s Bay High School. Club staff describe Fabiola as one of the most humble, driven, passionate, kind and confident young women they have encountered. I was so proud to have presented her with this award for her outstanding accomplishments. Congratulations!

I am honored to serve as your representative in Olympia. As we continue our work throughout this Special Session, please continue to contact me, or my office with your questions, comments and concerns. I always look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time,


Legislative Update – March 23, 2015

March 23rd, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

This week we have been back in committee hearing the bills that have come over from the House of Representatives. The next committee cutoff deadline is on April 1, so we have a little more time to hear testimony on bills before we are back voting on the Senate floor. Legislative deadlines help move bills through the process and can act as a barrier to both good and bad legislative proposals.

Structured settlements bill passes Senate despite concerns for injured workers

During floor debate the Senate considered and passed Senate Bill 5513 – a bill that removes protections for younger workers who are injured on the job, many of whom may have young families. These workers may not have the resources to weather a sudden loss of income and may be forced to accept a lump-sum settlement to pay for immediate needs to the detriment of a longer-term solution that offers sound financial security and reliable wage-replacement.

When I was a child, my family could have been greatly impacted by this legislation. My father was working one night loading lumber onto ships with his crew when an accident happened. A hook holding the lumber broke free and knocked off my father’s hard hat and threw him 40 feet into the hold of the ship. With the injuries he sustained and with the existing protections in place as he recovered, my family was able to get by and survive. These important protections need to remain. We need to make sure that we are protecting our workers today from the accidents that could happen tomorrow. (Please click the photo to hear my floor speech).

 floor speech

Legislative deadlines weed out bad bills that would harm our community in particular

One bill I was pleased to see not advance to the Senate floor for consideration was Senate Bill 5197 – a bill that would allow entities who have applied for project permits to circumvent the permitting system if a permit is not issued after 90 days and could allow entities to go directly to the Superior Courts in their county for project approval. Many very large and complex projects involve extensive permitting review and analysis that requires more than 90 days, while often smaller projects take much less than 90 days for a permit to be issued. For the larger projects, this bill could, in effect, substitute our already overburdened courts for the agencies in reviewing and issuing permit decisions.

In our community, this bill could have had the potential to sidestep the current Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) process for making decisions around the proposed oil-by-rail facility. We need to allow that process the chance to have all of our input and hear our concerns. I respect the process and its integrity. This bill would have potentially circumvented the current process in our state and allowed the courts to decide the future of many communities across Washington, including ours.

Equal Pay Opportunity Act advances through the House and comes to the Senate

I am proud to be the sponsor of the Equal Opportunity Pay Act in the Senate. The House version of this bill, House Bill 1646, passed through the chamber and has made its way to the Senate. When our state recognizes that equal pay should be given for equal work and when employees are not afraid of retribution for asking questions about their wages, we will have made significant progress in our state. Fairness and justice for equal pay for equal work will help all Washington families thrive. I look forward to actively advancing this bill in the Senate and would welcome your help in contacting the Chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, (Committee information, click here) to ask that this important bill be heard. I will be sure to update you on this bill’s progress.

Thank you for listening in and participating in our telephone town hall meeting!

Last Thursday night, Reps. Sharon Wylie and Jim Moeller joined me in hosting a telephone town hall. It is a great and convenient way to connect and speak directly to many of you! We covered a number of topics including: oil transportation safety, the proposed oil facility, education funding, reducing class sizes, how to get more people involved in the political process, and protecting our social safety net to name just a few. I encourage you to check my website soon for the full audio recording of the telephone town hall.

LULAC Students1 

I always enjoy when constituents come to visit me in Olympia. Last week, I met with many constituents including a wonderful group of young people from the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Until next time,


Legislative Update – Feb. 24, 2015

February 24th, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We have cleared the first real hurdle of the 2015 Legislative Session ‑ policy cutoff. Policy cutoff means that bills would have to make it out of the committee they were assigned in order to keep moving through the process. Our next deadline is the fiscal cutoff at the end of this week and bills will have to make it out of the Ways & Means Committee to move forward. Currently, I have bills that are waiting to get to a vote on the floor and bills in the Ways & Means Committee.

Honoring the legacy of Rep. Val Ogden

Each biennium, the legislature holds a memorial service in remembrance of all the former legislators who have passed on. This year we honored the life and legislative career of 49th LD Rep. and House Speaker Pro-Tempore Val Ogden. Val was a mentor to all three of us representing the 49th, and we each carry dear memories of her. It was truly an honor for us to carry a white rose and light a candle in her memory.

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I continue to fight for your transportation needs

The transportation package is advancing through the legislative process and we could soon see it on the floor for a vote. While I’m always a staunch supporter of investing in infrastructure, those investments need to be fair and balanced. It is impossible for me to support a 16-year funding package that does not address our community’s most pressing need – replacement of the nearly 100 year old I-5 bridge between Vancouver and Portland. A great deal of effort has been put toward that goal through decades of work, unanimous approval by 39 stakeholders, approval by necessary local entities and funding commitments from the FTA and the State of Oregon. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

Now is the time to make good on our promise to fund what our legislature failed to do two years ago. While we delay addressing this situation our state, our region and community waits. The blow that has been dealt to our community due to the failure to fund replacing the bridge will be felt for generations to come. Lack of replacement of the I-5 bridge means continued accidents, congestion and an inability to efficiently move freight and goods through the corridor and into our state. Even more devastating are the jobs that won’t materialize for our community as a result of the direct investment in an I-5 bridge replacement.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to address this critical need and move our state forward with a transportation package that best positions us for a stronger economy, cleaner environment and a healthier future.

 Your voice matters

I greatly enjoy the friends and constituents from home who have come to Olympia this session to visit or to participate in the legislative process. Your voice and your input is critical in helping to advance measures that will help our community.

Last week we had a special visit by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray who was home during the Congressional recess. It was incredibly valuable to be able to talk to her about issues like health care, transportation, and bills like the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. We are so fortunate to have her leadership in the United States Senate.

Until next time,


Legislative Update – Feb. 15, 2015

February 15th, 2015|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I am honored to serve as your state senator and as your voice in Olympia. This year, I serve on the Senate Health Care; Transportation; and Energy, Environment & Telecommunications committees. I also serve on the Senate Democratic Caucus leadership team as the assistant floor leader.

The 2015 Legislative Session convened on Jan. 12 and I continue to carry with me to Olympia our collective pride in our community and our desire to ensure the viability and good health of our region for the future. My focus this session is on removing barriers to our economic viability and good health.

Just a few bills I’ve sponsored to help move Washingtonians forward

Our community is at a crossroads. We are recovering from the recession, yet, not all at the same rates. I continue to hear from constituents who are still having trouble making ends meet. As a state, I believe we still face too many barriers that prevent us from moving forward. I am proud to sponsor several bills this session that will help break down those roadblocks. A few of those bills include:

Senate Bill 5630 – This bill would strengthen the Equal Pay Opportunity Act and make sure that people who work the same job are paid equally. Women earn 80 cents compared to every dollar earned by a man. We need to ensure that all our state’s workers have an opportunity to provide for their families. This bill also outlines protections for employees who want to find out about wages paid at their company, but don’t because they are fearful of retaliation. This bill breaks down barriers for workers by acknowledging that equal work should result in equal pay. (Photo: The Equal Pay Opportunity Act Press Conference, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015)

Senate Bill 5788 – This bill would establish in statute the creation of two demonstration sites for elder justice centers in Clark County and in Spokane County. The centers will create a multidisciplinary approach to protecting seniors from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation. Studies estimate that we will have 1.5 million people over the age of 65 by 2030. According to the U.S. Department of Justice one in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. Facing additional barriers as we age should not be a reality. I will present this bill in the Senate Health Care Committee at 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 16.

My latest video update on this subject may be found here.

Senate Bill 5897 – We should work to remove barriers for all children needing support. The goal of this bill is to allow children who suffer from felony-level abuse to be able to receive compensation for medical evaluations the same way that children who have medical evaluations for sexual abuse paid for by the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund. Children should not have to live in dangerous environments where they potentially could suffer life-altering or life-threatening injuries. Early medical evaluations by medical professionals are critical in establishing the presence and patterns of abuse. All children should have equal access to medical care without worrying about medical costs. I presented this bill to the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 5767 – Under this bill, local county treasurers would be able to move into the 21st century and accept electronic payment for all fees, taxes, and payments. Expanding easy access to making payments helps save time, is more efficient, and will bring our county treasurers up to date with their customers. This bill was presented to the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 5118/House Bill 1404 – I was proud to give our community a preview of this bill before introducing it officially in the Senate. This bill would create a bi-state workgroup for all bi-state transportation mega projects valued at or over $500 million. We need a clear channel of communication and consistency between our two communities and states if we are to move forward. The current nearly 100 year old bridge continues to be a barrier to our community from making significant economic advancements.

Transportation package announced in the Senate

On Thursday, Transportation negotiators stood together to announce that they have reached agreement on a 16 year, $15 billion roads transportation package that would increase to $26 billion if voters in the Puget Sound region approve expansion of Sound Transit. The transportation package relies on an 11.7 cent gas tax increase and modest fee increases. The roads package would create about 100,000 jobs for Washingtonians and an additional 100,000 jobs would be created with the passage of the Sound Transit expansion.

The projects in the proposed transportation package for our district are:

  • SR 501/I-5 to Port of Vancouver improvements
  • I-5/ Mill Plain Boulevard improvements
  • West Vancouver Freight Access project
  • Vancouver Mall Transit Center relocation and upgrade
  • Fisher’s Landing Park & Ride expansion

While I am glad there is headway with a transportation package, I am disappointed that the proposed package fails to address the single most important transportation infrastructure investment for my community and our region – replacement of the antiquated I-5 bridge.

The current transportation package will commit our community, region and state to another 16 years without any discussion about taking steps forward to replacing the bridge. By the end of the proposed transportation package in 2031, the bridge will be over 114 years old and will be in even more serious need of repair and replacement.

The future viability of our communities depends upon strategic investment in key projects necessary to move freight, goods and people safely and efficiently. My priority for any transportation revenue package in order to meet these goals is to make certain the projects funded are beneficial to all areas of the state and lend themselves to strengthening our transportation system as a whole.

I want to ensure that a successful transportation package positions our state for a future with strong economic, environmental, and personal health benefits. I embrace the innovative and bold approach Gov. Inslee proposed in reducing carbon emissions while shifting our state’s reliance on a gas tax to a more stable funding source as our cars and way of life becomes more energy efficient.

I will continue to advocate for fair and balanced investments within any transportation revenue package to best position our state for the future. At this time, I cannot in good conscience commit us to a transportation package that fails to address the antiquated I-5 bridge.

Thank you to those of you who attended our pre-session town hall on Jan. 10!


Thank you so much to all of you who took time on a Saturday morning early in January to talk with us about the important issues in our community and help us to prepare for the 2015 session. Your 49th Legislative District delegation will be hosting a telephone town hall early in March, so stay tuned for more information.

I always enjoy when constituents come to visit me when they are in Olympia. Over the course of the session, I have had many visitors from home stop by my office. I have created a special photo gallery on my website for all the photos!

Until next time,