Monthly Archives: March 2020

Special Update: Coronavirus

March 18th, 2020|

March 18, 2020

Dear neighbors,

We wrapped up the 2020 legislative session last week, and updates about legislation will be coming soon.  For now, I’d like to take a moment to assure you that the Legislature and our state agencies are taking our current health crisis very seriously.

This is an urgent message.  The coronavirus pandemic has hit Washington.  You and I and every person we come close to are partners in a great social contract.  We are responsible for each other.  If I fail you, or you fail me, in keeping our promise in that social contract, we will fail to contain this virus.

It is not a time for business as usual. Every time we step out of our homes, each of us must imagine that we are the virus.  If we don’t self-isolate when we have any symptoms, fail to cover our cough, or forget to maintain a gap of 6 feet between us and every other person, we can infect that person.  A woman who is pregnant, a clerk in a grocery store, the driver of the bus you rode, your parent or grandparent, your friend at church, every person.

It is good news that many infected people are being released from hospitals to continue healing at home.  But the virus is spreading quickly, and our health care system is not scaled to meet the predicted level of need.  Rationing of services is expected to happen.

We need to make a serious commitment to that social contract.  Today and every day for the foreseeable future.

I recognize that many people living in the 27th District don’t have a choice about whether they isolate themselves during this health crisis.  To all the first responders, health care workers, support staff, persons who work at grocery stores, pharmacies, food providers, long term care providers, and all others who are necessary to maintaining core services, I thank you and hope you, too, are remaining as safe as possible.

The Legislature’s Actions

The Washington State Senate convenes for floor session - Feb. 19, 2020

We have now appropriated $200 million to fund our state’s response, including monitoring, testing and support for local health departments.

We have also acted to:

  • ensure that people receiving unemployment insurance benefits will be able to receive them even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine.
  • mitigate costs to businesses due to increased numbers of workers receiving unemployment insurance
  • reimburse nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response
  • keep school employees eligible for health insurance for the rest of the school year even if they don’t meet the required number of work hours because of the coronavirus state of emergency.

The Governor’s Actions2020-03-16 Governor Inslee gives a press conference on coronavirus

To minimize public health risks, in recent days Governor Inslee has:

For the latest updates on the Governor’s actions, click here.

 

Resources for Information and AssistanceScreenshot from the state's coronavirus website.

Are you looking for the latest updates or answers about how to cope with the disruption of daily life and the new financial strain caused by missed work? Do you want to know what state agencies are doing to help? Visit https://coronavirus.wa.gov/, where you can find all the information in one place.

Other resources in our area for information about coronavirus include:

Special Enrollment Period for Washington Health Benefit Exchange

In response to the potential growth of coronavirus cases, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is holding a limited-time special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance. This special enrollment period runs through April 8, 2020, and will allow uninsured individuals 30 days to enroll in health insurance coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. You can call 1-855-923-4633 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Thank you for your cooperation in this difficult time, when social distancing is required to slow the spread of the virus to ensure the safety of all members of our communities. Don’t forget to help your friends, family and neighbors who may be struggling to make ends meet right now.

My office will continue to welcome your thoughts and concerns, so please let us know what issues are important to you and your community at this time.

Sincerely,

Get more

Follow my Facebook page for the latest updates on what I’m up to during the interim.

Check it out now!

Stay in touch

What are the issues that are important to you and your community? Your participation helps improve our district for all! Contact my office to make sure your voice is heard!

Click here for contact information.

 

Dana Hicks serves as page in Washington State Senate

March 9th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Dana Hicks, 15, served as a page in the Washington State Senate during the week of March 6.

Pages are typically sponsored by the senator from their legislative district. Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma) sponsored Hicks’s week in the Legislature.

The page program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works. The interactive learning experience includes classes focused on topics like budget writing and how a bill becomes a law, and culminates in pages creating their own bills in a mock committee setting. The educational experience is furthered by guest speakers.

Page Dana Hicks, March 3, 2020.

Page Dana Hicks, March 3, 2020.

“I wrote a bill about classroom sizes in K-6 education for our Page School mock committee and I really enjoyed researching and writing my bill.  I wish I would have had more time to put more breadth and depth into my bill, but this place is fast paced,” said Hicks.

Pages also have the opportunity to work on the Senate floor. Their maroon coats and credentials allow them access to all parts of the Capitol Campus.

“I had the chance to work on the Senate floor on Tuesday and they were debating a really important and contentious bill, and I found it really interesting how both parties strategized their response to the bill being introduced and debated.  Although the Senators had very strong feelings about the bill, I never saw any of them attack each other or say demeaning things to each other.  It was all relatively civil,” added Hicks.

Senate page Dana Hicks with a colleague addressing questions of school children visiting the Washington State Capitol.

Senate pages Sarrah Khan (center) and Dana Hicks (right) address questions of school children visiting the Washington State Capitol.

“Being here has positively impacted me to think about a career in public service because I found out the Senators here have regular jobs outside of the Legislature that they go back to when the session is over.  I really like the idea of having an opportunity to come here and serve my community but still be able to go back to doing something else in my community.  It would give me the opportunity to pursue multiple passions,” remarked Hicks.

Hicks is in the 10th grade at The Science and Math Institute. In her free time, she enjoys restorative justice work, volunteering, and science.

###

For more information about the Senate Page Program, contact SenatePageProgram@leg.wa.gov

Senate passes several criminal justice reform bills

March 4th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Several criminal justice reform bills that moved out of the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee last week were passed in the Senate this week.

“We are approving important legislation that puts people first by setting them up to thrive in our communities when emerging from incarceration,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), chair of the Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee. “After someone finishes serving their time, they must be given a true chance to succeed.”

 House bills passed by the Senate this week include:

HB 2576 will direct the state to carry out a study of health and safety issues in private detention/correctional facilities in the state, such as private jails. Additionally, HB 2640, which will clarify that private detention facilities like the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center are not “essential public facilities,” meaning they are subject to local land use regulations and would need approval from local authorities in order to expand.

HB 2393 would allow a qualifying person to earn 10 days’ credit each month they are in compliance with the terms of their community custody. This was recommended by the Washington Criminal Sentencing Task Force to reduce recidivism through incentives for compliance.

HB 2394 would require terms of community custody to run concurrently unless a court expressly orders them to run consecutively. For individuals currently serving sentences, DOC would recalculate scheduled end dates for terms of community custody. This change was recommended by the Washington Criminal Sentencing Task Force to provide clarity for staff and to increase consistency among all counties.

HB 2417 will reform Swift and Certain sanctioning programs for individuals in community custody, allowing DOC to use nonconfinement sanctions for low-level violations and to consider additional circumstances when deciding whether to impose a confinement sanction for low-level violations. DOC requested this change to provide more appropriate sanctions and address concerns over the impact of jail confinement on a person’s stability in the community.

HB 2794 would streamline the sealing of juvenile court records once a youth has turned 18, completed confinement and supervision, and paid restitution owed to any victims.

The Senate and the House of Representatives must reconcile any changes made to these bills in their respective chambers before the governor can sign them into law.