(360) 786-7692|Mona.Das@leg.wa.gov

News

E-news – Another COVID-19 Update and More Resources for Our Neighbors

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    Dear friends and neighbors,

    How are you holding up? This has been a tough month for our state (and for the world!). If you or your loved ones have fallen sick, or lost a job, or can’t access the services you typically rely on, know that my heart is with you and I stand alongside you ready to help as your state senator however I can.

    My last e-newsletter was a list of resources and some updates about coronavirus in our state, and since a lot has changed, I want to again focus exclusively on helpful information that may be useful to you and your family as we endure this public health crisis together.

    But even in the face of illness, economic collapse, and worldwide uncertainty, I have seen so many beautiful acts of kindness and service in our community, in our state, and across the globe. I hope that this difficult time has also proven to be a time of family and friendship – even across distances.

    In gratitude,

    Mona

    ESD chart

    Resources for unemployed workers:

    We are seeing record levels of unemployment in our state – and all over the country – but we are also seeing federal and state governments offering historic levels of assistance to those in need.

    Our state Employment Security Department (ESD) is being inundated with requests for help, and they are doing their very best to add capacity and get help to every single Washingtonian. I know waiting is both frustrating and scary, but please be patient and try to opt for contacting ESD online rather than by phone, as is recommended in the following list of resources.

    Navigating ESD During COVID-19:

    ESD is experiencing an increase in calls due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. To better assist you and your case, please start with this website first if it is accessible to you. ESD can also be reached at 888-836-1900; people who are deaf or hard of hearing can call the Washington Relay Service at 711.

    Applying for Unemployment:

    1. Apply online if you can and read the helpful information on ESD’s website before you apply.
    2. In particular, review the unemployment application checklist.

    Recent Changes to Unemployment Insurance:

    To make Unemployment Insurance as widely available as possible, ESD has been working in conjunction with Gov. Inslee to make the following changes:

    • Allowing more workers to access standby status for longer periods.
    • Making job search requirements optional.
    • Lowering the tax impact to businesses who use ESD programs.
    • Waiving the traditional waiting week.
    • Relaxing penalties and fees for employers and workers who miss deadlines due to the COVID crisis.

    Additional tools:

    Federal Stimulus Information from ESD:

    Here are three ways that benefits and access to unemployment have been expanded:

    1. Many people who don’t usually qualify for unemployment benefits because they are self-employed or don’t have the typically required 680 hours will be covered under this legislation.
    2. An additional $600 each week will be paid to those on unemployment, for up to four months. (Some individuals will also receive $1,200, but that is not connected to unemployment and will come directly from the federal government).
    3. Unemployment benefits will be available for longer, up to 39 weeks (usually it is up to 26 weeks).

    I hope you find this information helpful. While we practice social-distancing, it’s also important we stay connected and informed. Sign up for ESD’s COVID-19 action alerts for the most up-to-date information and changes.

    SBA link

    Resources for businesses:

    Paycheck Protection Program

    The federal government has funded the Paycheck Protection Program with $349 billion intended to help organizations keep employees on payroll between now and the end of June 2020.

    Applications can be filed starting April 3 and funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to get your application in early.

    The program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organization affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Some businesses with more than 500 employees may also be eligible.

    Learn more about the program and how to apply at https://www.sba.gov/ppp.

    State and Federal Resources for Small Businesses

    Visit the following links for more information about resources and programs to provide relief to small business owners:

    July 16, 2019

    Contact Us

    Olympia Office:

    (360) 786-7692

    Kent Office:

    (253) 395-0867

    Email:

    Mona.Das@leg.wa.gov

    Mailing Address:

    Sen. Mona Das
    PO Box 40447
    Olympia, WA 98504-0403

    Facebook

    Go to

    Facebook.com/SenatorMonaDas

    to get frequent updates about the work I’m doing for Washington.

    My Committees

    Housing Stability & Affordability
    (vice chair)

    Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade

    Environment, Energy & Technology

    Transportation

May 4th, 2020|Uncategorized|

E-news – A COVID-19 Update and Community Resources

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Dear friends and neighbors,

I stand with you and your families as we all endure this unprecedented public health crisis together. Even in the midst of uncertainty, worry, and grief for those who have been affected by the coronavirus, I have seen such heartening examples of community and connectedness from Washingtonians and it has given me so much hope!

I want this newsletter to be a helpful update about what local and state resources are available to you during this time, and give you a brief overview of what we accomplished during the 2020 legislative session that has best prepared our state to weather this emergency together.

My thoughts are with you! I hope you’re able to stay home and stay healthy. And if you’re not staying home because you’re an essential worker on the front lines of this fight against the virus, helping keep our supply chains humming, maintaining our buildings, or providing health care and other critical services for our communities – thank you, thank you, thank you!

In gratitude,

Mona

Das on Senate floor

News from the local and state level

I’ve been so proud of the strong show of support and care that our local governments have demonstrated as we respond to this crisis together. You can find resources from the city of Auburn, the city of Kent, the city of Covington, the city of Renton, and King County on their respective websites.

At the state level, my House and Senate colleagues and I worked hard and worked fast to pass HB 2965, appropriating funding to address the coronavirus crisis. Our mission was to ensure that immediate and future needs can be met and that our state and local health departments have the full resources they need to respond to the pandemic.

We provided $200 million to:

  • support monitoring, testing and local public health response;
  • expand unemployment insurance for people who are quarantined;
  • increase access to health care coverage by opening enrollment for anyone who does not currently have health insurance;
  • mitigate catastrophic losses at local businesses, for employees as well as employers.

We also took action to:

  • ensure that people receiving unemployment insurance can continue to do so even if they cannot meet the work search requirements due to quarantine;
  • support businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency;
  • reimburse nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response; and
  • allow school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours due to this emergency.

For a full, comprehensive list of all the available resources from state agencies that have announced measures to help people and businesses, head to the governor’s central list of resources here.

Other actions:

  • I’ve heard from many local businesses in our district worried about eligibility for Small Business Association loans related to coronavirus. Fortunately, the SBA has revised their criteria, so more folks should be eligible! This link spells out the process for disaster assistance through the SBA.
  • If an employer temporarily shuts down operations because of coronavirus, workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits and the employer may receive relief of benefit costs.
  • If workers are exposed to coronavirus and asked to isolate or quarantine by a doctor or health official, they may receive unemployment benefits while they are temporarily away from work. A bill passed recently by the Legislature waives the requirement that people in this situation must be actively searching for work.
  • In response to the spread of coronavirus, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period for health insurance through April 8. You can call 1-855-923-4633 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The Insurance Commissioner has required all insurance plans to cover coronavirus tests with no cost-sharing and no prior authorization requirement for people who meet the CDC criteria for testing.
  • He has also required insurance plans to allow enrollees to refill their prescriptions early one time in order to maintain an adequate supply.
  • You can find more updates from the Insurance Commissioner at this link.
  • Many public and private schools have been ordered closed for the duration. You can find more detailed information from the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction here.
  • If you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the state Department of Health call center at 800-525-0127.

Sen Das and Gov Inslee

Other 2020 legislative accomplishments

One of the reasons I focus on the key issues our community cares about – like housing access and affordability, economic fairness, and environmental sustainability to name a few – is so that every single Washington family is as well-equipped as possible for unexpected emergencies just like the one we’re in.

That’s why I’m so proud to say that some of my priority policies passed this session, and several have already been signed by the governor! These included:

  • My Natural Disaster Mitigation bill, creating a work group to study and make recommendations on
    natural disaster mitigation and resiliency activities
  • The Reusable Bag Act, helping us reduce our single-use plastic consumption and keep our marine habitats and recycling systems clean
  • My affordable housing financing bill, expanding the use ability of local jurisdictions to use their “affordable housing property tax levy” to help low-income families access homeownership and support through foreclosure prevention programs
  • The “companion bill” to my greenhouse gas emissions bill, updating our state’s greenhouse gas emission limits for consistency with the most recent assessment of climate change science
  • Rep. Fitzgibbon’s bill to help cities increase their capacity to build housing, in which I worked hard to include development of “missing middle” housing (like duplexes, triplexes, and sixplexes) so that more affordable housing becomes more widely available

These are just a few highlights from a successful short session! I’m looking forward to continuing to build upon this good work in the months to come.

A few more COVID-19 resources:

The following websites and social media channels are great sources of information about the coronavirus as things unfold. I encourage you to check these out, and to share these with friends and neighbors. Let’s spread kindness and caring and factual information, and if you can, #StayHome! If you can’t, stay six feet away from other people and wash your hands well and often!

July 16, 2019

Contact Us

Olympia Office:

(360) 786-7692

Kent Office:

(253) 395-0867

Email:

Mona.Das@leg.wa.gov

Mailing Address:

Sen. Mona Das
PO Box 40447
Olympia, WA 98504-0403

Facebook

Go to

Facebook.com/SenatorMonaDas

to get frequent updates about the work I’m doing for Washington.

My Committees

Housing Stability & Affordability
(vice chair)

Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade

Environment, Energy & Technology

Transportation


This email was sent to Email Address using GovDelivery Communications Cloud, on behalf of: Sen. Mona Das · 2404 Chandler Court SW, Olympia, WA 98502-6052 1-360-786-7000 GovDelivery logo
March 30th, 2020|Uncategorized|

House passes Das’s and Peterson’s “Reusable Bag Act,” banning single-use plastic bags

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 7, 2020

House passes Das’s and Peterson’s “Reusable Bag Act,” banning single-use plastic bags

OLYMPIA — A bill passed today by the House would reduce pollution by prohibiting all retailers in Washington state from handing out single-use plastic bags. The bill passed the Senate on Jan. 15 on a vote of 30-19 and today passed the House on a vote of 67-29.

Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) sponsored Senate Bill 5323, which is supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders, including retailers and environmentalists.

“Today is such a victory for Washington,” said Das. “Our beautiful shoreline is increasingly littered with plastic waste, and it hurts our state. It’s not good for animals, for natural habitats, for our planet. It’s not good for us. We bear a responsibility to make this right, and today we took responsible action.”

“The actions we take today affect the Washington we will leave for future generations,” said Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds), sponsor of the companion House bill. “Plastic pollution has gotten worse in the 11 years since I first championed a reusable bag ordinance while on the Edmonds city council. Reducing plastic bag pollution means healthier waterways, more robust fish populations, and cleaner forests. I am excited to see this get over the finish line.”

This bill would allow retailers — including grocers —to provide paper bags or reusable, plastic film, 2.25 mil bags for 8 cents each. The reusable bags must meet standards for strength, durability and recycled content. The 8-cent pass-through charge would help retailers recover the costs of the paper or durable plastic bags and create an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags. In 2026, the allowed plastic film bags would increase in thickness from 2.25 to 4 mil and the pass-through charge would increase to 12 cents.

Shoppers who bring their own reusable bags would not be charged.

People using the State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program; or the state Food Assistance Program (FAP) would not be subject to the pass-through charge.

Thirty-eight jurisdictions throughout Washington state — comprising about one-third of Washington’s jurisdictions, and hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians — have enacted plastic bag ban measures, up from 28 jurisdictions when this bill was heard on the Senate floor in March of 2019. SB 5323 is modeled after those local laws and applies one uniform set of regulations to the state.

“I can’t think of a more important job for us as state legislators than protecting Washingtonians, and part of that means protecting our planet,” Das said. “Especially since the gravity of the climate crisis is taken less seriously by some at the national level, we need to do what we can here in Washington. We only get one planet. We need to care for it.”

The stakeholders who helped craft the legislation voiced resounding support for today’s passage of the bill.

Jan Gee, President and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association: “It is a good day for the environment, consumers,  local government, the timber industry in the state and our local grocers that we will all be working together to reduce pollution from film plastic bags and the promotion of reusable retail bags.”

Heather Trim, Executive Director, Zero Waste Washington: “This builds on 38 local bag ordinances in Washington and takes them statewide. It will reduce plastic pollution and help reduce the load of plastic bags that are going into the recycling system and clogging the equipment.”

Gus Gates, Washington Policy Manager with the Surfrider Foundation: “The passage of the Reusable Bag bill is an important step in Washington’s efforts to eliminate a chronic source of plastic pollution from our watersheds, beaches, and ocean.”

Dr. Erin Meyer, Director of Conservation Programs and Partnerships at the Seattle Aquarium: “Almost 9 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. And our research team finds microplastics in all of our water samples right here in Washington. This legislation will help reduce plastic pollution and protect our marine wildlife.”

Pam Clough, interim director of Environment Washington: “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our waters for centuries.”

Derek Ruckman, Vice President of Recology: “I am so excited to see this bill pass. Not only have single-use plastic bags contaminated our environment, our oceans and waterways, but they have also significantly clogged our recycling equipment at the sorting facility.  This bill will improve our ability to sort recyclables and improve the quality of our commodities.  Well done.”

Alyssa Barton, Policy Manager, Puget Soundkeeper: “We’re proud that Washington has taken this step to reduce plastic marine debris while transitioning to reusable bags. Together we can achieve a future where all our waters are swimmable, drinkable and fishable.”

SB 5323 now heads back to the Senate for the concurrence process.

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For information:

Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

Phil Olafsen, House Democratic Communications, 360-786-7214

For interviews:

Sen. Mona Das, 360-786-7692

Rep. Strom Peterson, 360-786-7950

March 7th, 2020|News Release|

Das sponsors concurrent resolution to modernize Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Mar. 5, 2020

Das sponsors concurrent resolution to modernize Legislature

OLYMPIA — Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) has introduced a concurrent resolution that would update and improve practices at the Washington State Legislature in an effort to make legislative processes more efficient and inclusive. SCR 8412 is cosponsored by members of both Senate caucuses.

“This is a measured, bipartisan approach to ensuring that the Legislature has strong procedures in place as we update, revitalize and streamline this environment. My resolution brings many voices together to do this,” Das said.

“Systemic barriers exist in this institution, whether in the technology we use or the information we make available or the hiring practices we apply, and it’s time to take those barriers down. The goal of this policy is to create a work environment where public servants – staff and legislators – can thrive, and where the public feels comfortable and able to access this space. Washington is an advanced, diverse and innovative state, and our Legislature should reflect that.”

“This concurrent resolution opens the door for collaboration between legislative community members,” said Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane), the Senate Majority Leader. “I’m grateful for Sen. Das’s leadership in this effort to make the legislature the best it can be.”

Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) testified in favor of the resolution this morning and said, “My office saves about eight hours a day thanks to technology. They use the time they save working with me on policy and building connections with our constituents. We all need a tech update to serve our districts better, and this concurrent resolution could get us there.”

The concurrent resolution establishes a joint select committee of 12 voting members and 16 nonvoting members drawn from a variety of legislative workgroups. Members would be selected from both chambers and all four legislative caucuses, as well as from various administrative offices. The committee would be tasked with creating recommendations that address the promotion of a more “modern and efficient” Legislature.

The recommendations will reflect themes that include technology, innovation, administrative efficiency, improved public access to documents, and staff recruitment and professional development measures. This approach is similar to that of a bill sponsored by Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way) in the House, and aims to replicate outcomes similar to the goals of Congressman Derek Kilmer’s (WA-06) recently proposed federal legislation to modernize Congress.

SCR 8412 was heard in the Senate Committee on State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections at 8:00am on Thursday, March 5.

 

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For information:

Hannah Sabio-Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

For interviews:

Sen. Mona Das, 360-786-7692

 

March 5th, 2020|News Release|

E-news – Important COVID-19 Update

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Dear friends and neighbors,

Washington State is experiencing an increase in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is anticipated that the virus will continue to spread. My heartfelt condolences go out to the families who have been affected by this illness. I am thinking of you!

I want to assure you that health officials are working rapidly to identify and test people who may have been exposed. Public health officials in our state have experience responding to pandemics and are working with state and county health officials to share information, deploy resources, and respond at maximum capacity.

I wanted to reach out to my community with an update about what the legislature is doing to support our neighbors, and pass along some important information about how to stay well.

In gratitude,

Mona

In the Legislature, my colleagues and I in the House and Senate just passed bills to allocate up to $100 million to get state agencies and local governments the necessary funding to respond to COVID-19.  It also will give the Department of Social and Health Services funding to increase nursing staff to help address this growing need. We’ll continue to work with DOH, DSHS, and other state agencies to identify what the Legislature can do to ensure we have the necessary resources.

We are all in this together. Please make sure to follow the DOH recommendations to keep yourself healthy and keep up on latest information via the social media channels above.

These are the recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • If you are sick and wondering what to do, call your healthcare provider or the Department of Health (1-800-525-0127) before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
  • Get prepared in case of a COVID-19 outbreak in your community. We have resources at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus#beprepared.

If you have questions, you can call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

You can also stay up to date by following them online at the various websites and social media channels below:

Website: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WADeptHealth

King Country Department of Public Health: www.kingcounty.gov/covid

July 16, 2019

Contact Us

Olympia Office:

(360) 786-7692

Kent Office:

(253) 395-0867

Email:

Mona.Das@leg.wa.gov

Mailing Address:

Sen. Mona Das
PO Box 40447
Olympia, WA 98504-0403

Facebook

Go to

Facebook.com/SenatorMonaDas

to get frequent updates about the work I’m doing for Washington.

My Committees

Housing Stability & Affordability
(vice chair)

Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade

Environment, Energy & Technology

Transportation

March 5th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Senate passes Das bill banning most Styrofoam-type products

Senate passes Das bill banning most Styrofoam-type products

OLYMPIA — A bill passed today by the Senate would reduce pollution by prohibiting the sale and distribution of most expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) products. The bill passed on a vote of 29-19 and now heads to the House for consideration.

“Styrofoam is a toxic material that we simply cannot reuse or recycle. It’s bad for our planet and it’s bad for people,” said Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), who sponsored Senate Bill 6213. “I was proud to sponsor legislation to ban single-use plastics for the same reason I am proud to sponsor this ban of Styrofoam. It’s a step toward environmental stewardship, it’s good for local economies, and it’s an important part of giving our kids and grandkids a healthy, clean earth.”

Effective June 1, 2022, this bill would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of Styrofoam-type food service products, coolers and packaging materials in or into the state of Washington. Food service products include food containers, plates, clamshells and hot and cold beverage cups.

It exempts packaging for raw, uncooked or butchered meat, fish and poultry, as well as packaging for seafood, vegetables, fruit and egg cartons. It also exempts Styrofoam products used to transport or store biological materials such as medicals items. Wholesale or retail establishments who use Styrofoam coolers to transport perishable items are also exempted from this prohibition.

“Styrofoam foodware with food waste attached is not recyclable and is a major problem for our recycling facilities,” said Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington. “We hope Washington will ultimately join the three other states that have passed similar laws.”

Alyssa Barton of Puget SoundKeeper Alliance said, “Soundkeeper cleaned up over 10,000 pounds of trash in 2019, including a significant amount of Styrofoam products and pieces. We support this bill, which will help prevent Styrofoam marine debris by stopping pollution at its source.”

Das, following the bill’s first public hearing, said, “Putting this legislation together was a team effort. Industry leaders, environmental advocates, and concerned communities all had a seat at the table. Some of the most powerful testimony came from a couple bright fifth graders from my district, who spoke about the toxicity and unsustainable nature of Styrofoam.

“This bill takes measurable steps in the right direction while being sensitive to the needs of local economies and industries. It was shaped by so many voices, from start to finish.

“Ultimately, this policy will reduce the impact of Styrofoam production on our finite, nonrenewable resources and its impact on wildlife, and keeps our state on track with the growing number of cities and states that have passed Styrofoam bans.”

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For information: Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

February 17th, 2020|News Release|

Das sponsors companion bill to prohibit openly carried guns on state Capitol campus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Feb. 11, 2020

Das sponsors companion bill to prohibit openly carried guns on state Capitol campus

OLYMPIA — Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) is sponsoring Senate Bill 6686, a companion bill to Rep. Tana Senn’s (D-Mercer Island) House Bill 2925, to ban openly-carried firearms from the statehouse and Washington State’s Capitol grounds. Under current law, Capitol visitors may openly carry guns anywhere on campus except for the House and Senate galleries and committee rooms.

“The state Capitol should be a safe and welcoming space to the public, and a place where the different school groups of young learners that visit every single day can come feel excited about civic engagement. A young woman visiting with one of these groups shared with me that seeing guns on campus terrified her because she had experienced violence in the past. I don’t want that for her, or anyone.”

“Allowing for open carry does not contribute to a safe, welcoming public atmosphere, and it does not contribute to a safe and welcoming workplace for people employed here.”

Senn said, “A couple of weeks ago, about 200 people carrying long guns and tactical gear roamed the state Capitol, without a permit, blocking school groups and intimidating visitors and staff, alike. This was the last straw for me.”

Both legislators dropped their respective bills last week shortly before Friday’s policy cut-off, a deadline past which bills need to move out of their committee of origin if they’re going to continue to the floor. Though neither bill is going to advance this session, both Das and Senn have expressed a commitment to continuing their work on this legislation next year.

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For information:

Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

Genevieve Jones, House Democratic Communications, 360-786-7759

For interviews:

Sen. Mona Das, 360-786-7692

Rep. Tana Senn, 360-786-7894

February 11th, 2020|News Release|

Das and Mead team up on minimum content recycling requirements and tackle other environmental protection policies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Feb. 7, 2020

Das and Mead team up on minimum content recycling requirements and tackle other environmental protection policies

OLYMPIA — Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) and Rep. Jared Mead (D-Mill Creek) are sponsoring Senate Bill 6645 and House Bill 2722 to establish minimum postconsumer recycled content requirements and require record-keeping of recycled plastic by beverage manufacturers. The legislation is part of a larger effort to promote plastic recycling and is one of a slate of environmental protection policies that both members are sponsoring or cosponsoring.

“The time to start changing the unsustainable way we live on this planet was yesterday,” Das said. “I’m working to ban single-use plastic, ban Styrofoam, limit state greenhouse gas emissions and promote recycling rather than production of plastic, because we need to go at environmental sustainability from all sides. We don’t have time for baby steps.”

“We are facing a crisis right now, because material that we used to send overseas to get recycled now has nowhere to go other than the landfill,” Mead said. “That’s bad for the environment and bad for our state. And it’s why I’m supporting a number of reforms to change how we handle recycling—including using the power of the free market to achieve the goal of protecting our environment. We owe it to our future generations.”

In addition to the minimum recycled content bills, environmental protection legislation that Das and Mead have signed on to includes:

  • SB 6622, establishing a statewide solar panel end-of-life program.
  • SB 6213, issuing a statewide ban of certain Styrofoam products. The companion is HB 2429.
  • SB 5323, reducing pollution from plastic bags by establishing minimum state standards for the use of bags at retail establishments. The companion is HB 1205.
  • HB 2496, providing for responsible environmental management of batteries.
  • HB 1543, concerning sustainable recycling, passed last year. The companion was SB 5545.

Several legislators in both the House and Senate have turned their attention to environmental protection policy in the 60-day session of 2020. Building upon the work done in the past two years to make Washington a 100 percent clean-energy state by 2045, to advance orca recovery and to phase in energy-efficient buildings, legislators in both chambers are pursuing ambitious legislation alongside stakeholders from different industries, environmental advocacy groups and agencies.

Das added, “I’m proud of the work we’ve put in with stakeholders from every corner of the environmental policy world to craft bills that will have a measurable, positive impact on Washingtonians. We’re making our state cleaner and greener not just for our kids and grandkids, but for people seeing the harmful effects of climate change and pollution today, right now.”

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For information:

Hannah Sabio Howell, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

Guy Bergstrom, House Democratic Communications, 360-786-7811

 

For interviews:

Sen. Mona Das, 360-786-7692

Rep. Jared Mead, 360-786-7892

February 7th, 2020|News Release|

Senate passes Das bill banning single-use plastic bags

OLYMPIA — A bill passed today by the Senate would reduce pollution by prohibiting retailers in Washington state from handing out single-use plastic bags. The bill passed on a vote of 30-19 and now heads to the House for consideration and a few technical fixes.

Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) sponsored Senate Bill 5323, which is supported by retailers as well as environmentalists.

“We’ve reached crisis-level proportions of plastic pollution,” Das said. “Everyone has seen the horrifying photos and videos of animals choked by plastics, tangled in garbage, or whose bellies are full of waste. It’s not good for animals, for natural habitats, for our planet. It’s not good for us. We bear a responsibility to make this right.”

This bill would allow retailers — including grocers —to provide paper bags or durable, reusable bags for 8 cents each. The reusable bags must meet standards for strength, durability and recycled content. The 8-cent charge would help retailers recover the costs of the paper or durable plastic bags and create an incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags. Shoppers who bring their own reusable bags would not be charged.

People using the State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program or the state Food Assistance Program (FAP) would not be subject to the 8-cent fee.

Thirty-seven jurisdictions throughout Washington state — comprising about 33 percent of Washington’s jurisdictions, and hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians — have implemented plastic bag ban measures, up from 28 jurisdictions when this bill was heard on the Senate floor in March of 2019. SB 5323 is modeled after those local laws and applies one uniform set of regulations to the state.

“Protecting our environment is one of the most important jobs we have as state legislators,” Das said, “especially since the gravity of the climate crisis is taken less seriously by some at the national level. We only get one planet. We need to care for it.”

January 15th, 2020|News Release|

E-news – Higher Callings Through Higher Education

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Dear friends and neighbors,

Something I’ve learned from conversations with members of my community – whether I’m in Auburn, Kent, Covington, or Renton – is that our cities and our state has so many brilliant, vibrant people in it who want to go to college or continue college but face barriers when trying to do so.

Last session, the legislature invested heavily in higher education to give Washingtonians greater access to degrees and credentials vital to obtaining family-wage paying jobs, and to help meet employers’ increasing needs for an educated and skilled workforce, particularly in high-demand fields. We also increased foundational support for four-year institutions, effectively doubling it for the state’s 34 career and technical colleges, and expanded efforts to support students and keep them on track as they pursue those degrees and credentials.

In this newsletter, I want to share with you what the legislature did through the Higher Education and Workforce Development committee last session to make post-secondary education opportunities more accessible.

In gratitude,

Mona

higher ed 1

Funding for Higher Education and Workforce Development

A postsecondary credential is essential to obtaining a good job. Meeting the increasing demand for credentialed workers is vital to the health of the state’s economy.
HB 2158, better known as The Workforce Education Investment Act, boosts funding for higher education and workforce development above levels slashed in the Great Recession, and will clear the current backlog in funding for State-Need-Grant-eligible students. Per student, the College Grant Program is the most ample need-based aid program in the country.

  • HB 2158, the Workforce Education Investment Act, invests another $375 million, focusing on high-demand fields, and increases foundational support at all public institutions. It replaces the State Need Grant with the Washington College Grant Program, a statewide, guaranteed free college program serving up to 110,000 lower-income students.
  • It also funds an advisory work group and related grant program to help local entities implement Career Connected Learning, connecting young people to high-quality, family-wage jobs. And lastly, it creates a pilot program to refinance student loan debt on better terms for borrowers, gives students greater access to child care benefits, expands a tuition waiver for veterans, National Guard members and gold star families, and allows local governments and Indian tribes to seek state matching funds for students under the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.
  • It does all this thanks to a small increase in the B&O tax rate, from 1.5% to 1.8%, for some 40 services. Businesses providing select advanced computing services with worldwide revenue of $25-$100 billion will pay 2%; those with more than $100 billion in revenue will pay 3%.

At the legislature, we believe that Career Connected Learning increases awareness of career options and allows students to pursue success through multiple avenues, including apprenticeship programs and technical training programs. We also know that student loan debt represents a growing burden on individuals – affecting the ability to save for retirement, purchase a home and start a family – and on the state’s economy.

It is reasonable to ask businesses to pitch in to help educate and train Washington residents to be able to meet workforce needs, especially in high-demand fields. Supporting students improves their chances of success and the likelihood that financial aid is not wasted.

behav health

Expanding Behavioral Health Higher Education Opportunities

We are experiencing a troubling two-trend situation nationwide — the demand for mental health and substance abuse counselors is increasing dramatically. One in five people struggle with mental health issues, but the number of providers is barely holding steady. The Legislature reviewed data showing that the state will come up 250,000 people short in this profession in the next few years.

One of the recommended ways to incentive interest in this profession is by providing affordable education. By expanding the scholarship from 45 to 90 credits for programs that lead to a credential required for a career as a mental health professional, we can increase enrollment and incentivize schools to have those programs approved as an Opportunity Grant Program.

SB 5635 (HB 1850) extends the Opportunity Grant Scholarship from 45 to 90 credits for students pursuing a certificate or degree required for employment in a behavioral health profession.

testing students

Religious Accommodations

SB 5166 requires post-secondary institutions to accommodate students whose sincerely held religious beliefs impact exam performance or successful program completion.

Six years ago, the Legislature identified a need for accommodations for people to observe holidays important to their faith communities without interrupting schoolwork. A bill passed which allowed an accommodation of at least two days an academic year. This year, we expanded the scope of that bill by removing the arbitrary, two-day accommodation limit.

For example, students fast during Ramadan, and it affects their ability to take tests and give schoolwork their full attention. The bill allows those students to perform 100 percent when they are testing and ensures respect for these community members on campus.

This bill creates a uniform guideline for all institutions. These students always have to ask for accommodations, but there is no uniformity amongst the institutions. This bill changes that.

July 16, 2019

Contact Us

Olympia Office:

(360) 786-7692

Kent Office:

(253) 395-0867

Email:

Mona.Das@leg.wa.gov

Mailing Address:

Sen. Mona Das
PO Box 40447
Olympia, WA 98504-0403

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My Committees

Housing Stability & Affordability
(vice chair)

Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade

Environment, Energy & Technology

Transportation

December 17th, 2019|E-News|