Monthly Archives: January 2020

Update from Olympia

January 31st, 2020|

Dear neighbors:

The legislative session is advancing quickly!  Today is Day 19 of a short 60 day session, so we are nearly 40% complete.  In this first phase of the session, Senate committees are holding public hearings each week to decide which bills to pass out of committee.  Feb. 7th is the last day to pass bills out of policy committees, and bills with a fiscal impact must also be heard by the budget committees must be referred to the Rules Committee for possible floor action by Feb 11th.

Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation

As the chair of the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee, I’ve presided over hearings for several bills that have passed out of committee. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:

  • A bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 6204, would require the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to conduct a review of any fatality or near fatality of someone in DOC custody. The DOC has the largest population of people in the state’s care, and it is an aging population. This bill would help maintain accountability, transparency, and the trust of the public.

Wooden gavel lying on a circular wooden disc.

  • Another bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 5488 would allow adult courts to exercise discretion when sentencing someone for a felony committed while under the age of 18. Courts would be allowed to depart from mandatory or standard sentences to take into account youth factors such as age, lack of sophistication, susceptibility to peer pressure, and youthfulness at the time of the offense. This bill recognizes the evolution of the juvenile justice system, which now considers neuroscientific research showing that the brain does not fully develop until age 25.

Two Women Playing With Baby on Sofa

  • Senate Bill 5164 would allow non-citizen victims of human trafficking and other crimes to access food assistance, family assistance, and medical care services while they wait for applications for immigration relief to be filed or approved. Traffickers or abusers often use threats about housing, economic stability and immigration status to control victims and prevent them from escaping a dangerous situation. This bill would help remove barriers to services that can help victims find stability and freedom from their abusers while waiting for a lengthy immigration process to play out.

Compacts with Tribes

Three people testifying in a Senate Committee hearing.

Senate Bill 6601 is an historic bill heard this week before the Ways and Means Committee.  The legislation is requested by the Governor after years of work with the federally recognized Tribes to create compacts between governments regarding certain tax revenues.  If adopted by the Legislature, Tribes will enter into individual compacts that will authorize the state to share portions of state retail sales tax, use tax, and B&O tax on transactions that take place within a compact covered area.  Washington could join 7 other states in developing Tribal Tax Agreements.

Stay tuned for more e-news updates as the session quickly progresses. My office will continue to welcome your thoughts and concerns throughout the session, so please let us know what issues are important to you and your community!


Jeannie Darneille

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Update from Olympia

January 20th, 2020|

Session is under way!

Last Monday marked the beginning of the 2020 legislative session, and we got right down to business for this short, 60-day session. These short sessions occur in even-numbered years, and can often feel like a sprint to the finish line with the entire legislative process condensed into just eight weeks.

I-976’s effects on transportation funding

Unfortunately, in this short session we’re faced with increased budget challenges due to Initiative 976, known as the “$30 car tabs” initiative. Prior to its passage, the state’s transportation funding stream was already unable to keep up with the demand for maintenance, preservation, safety and projects across the state. The passage of I-976 devastated transportation funding across the state.

Although the measure is being contested in the courts, we must prepare for the worst by writing an all-cuts transportation budget, because it’s only responsible for us to prepare for the worst. Whatever the outcome, there will be significant delays with projects, and the situation will get worse before it gets better. Nevertheless, we are committed to keeping essential projects for safety and preservation, and prioritizing transit services for vulnerable persons in our state.

Upcoming committee work

This year, I continue to chair the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee, where I take an open and inclusive approach to the decision-making process. The issues this committee tackles represent the heart and social safety net of our state. How will our state respond to the needs of those affected by federal cuts to assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps benefit), families in need of federal assistance, children in foster care, or youth involved with the juvenile justice system?

I will also be fighting to put people first in my positions on the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability and Ways & Means committees, as well as the Behavioral Health Subcommittee to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee.

Meet my team

This session I have a great team made up of my legislative assistant, Lisa Fisch, session aide Noelle Kappert and intern Laura Amador. They are helping me answer your calls, emails and meetings requests.

Please reach out to our office with your concerns about legislation at 360-786-7652 or at the toll-free legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000. You can also send an email to Also, if you are having difficulty navigating problems with a state agency, you are welcome to contact my office.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Take care,

Sen. Jeannie Darneille