Senator Dhingra’s Legislative Update – 2/28/2019

February 28th, 2019|

Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-45

Inside Olympia – “Mental health is a top issue for the 2019 Legislature – we sit down for an in-depth discussion on the issue with Sens. Manka Dhingra and Steve O’Ban.”

February 7th, 2019|

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    Dhingra named Deputy Majority Leader, Chair of Behavioral Health Sub-Committee

Dhingra named Deputy Majority Leader, Chair of Behavioral Health Sub-Committee

November 29th, 2018|


Dhingra named Deputy Majority Leader, Chair of Behavioral Health Sub-Committee




OLYMPIA – After a hugely successful legislative session, Democrats head back to Olympia in January with an expanded majority in the Washington State Senate.

Following a strong first year in the Senate, Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) will become one of two Deputy Majority Leaders when the Legislature convenes in 2019, splitting the duties with Sen. Rebecca Saldana (D-Seattle).

Dividing up the duties of the number-two position on the Democratic leadership team will enable Democrats to more thoughtfully set the agenda and guide policy in the Senate. The Senate Democratic Caucus met yesterday to affirm the leadership posts and finalize committee assignments.

“I am humbled to have been chosen by my colleagues to help lead my caucus,” Dhingra said. “When women of color get elevated, we uplift many more communities because we wear many more hats. I look forward to bringing my unique perspective to the leadership table.”

Dhingra will also continue to serve as Vice Chair of the Law & Justice committee and will Chair the newly formed Behavioral Health Subcommittee. “I have spent my career standing up for those who have no voice; for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, for those with behavioral health struggles, for school children, and for those who have chosen to call America home and am excited to chair a new committee dedicated to addressing Washingtonians’, behavioral health needs,” Dhingra said.

“Mental health issues and substance use disorder impacts all of our lives, and it is crucial to have a collaborative, comprehensive plan to provide cost-effective services and support for all Washingtonians.”

Election Year Announcement from Sen. Dhingra

May 13th, 2018|

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your state Senator for the 45th LD this year. After completing a historically productive session, I am now transitioning back into running for my Senate seat for a full term. As I return to the campaign trail, I want you all to be aware that I can have limited communication with my constituents through my official state web pages. My office will continue to be open during the campaign to be a liaison to my constituents as they navigate our state and federal agencies, local governments, and non-profits.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns; you can contact my office by calling 360-786-7672 or by emailing me at manka.dhingra@leg.wa.gov.

I look forward to returning this fall so we can continue to lead the nation on important issues together by putting people first.
– Manka

Senator Manka Dhingra’s End of Session News

May 3rd, 2018|

Click on the hyperlink below to see Sen. Dhingra’s end of session newsletter to the 45th LD!

Senator Dhingra’s end of session newsletter

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    State senate committee clears bill to raise age to 21 for semi-automatic rifle purchases

State senate committee clears bill to raise age to 21 for semi-automatic rifle purchases

March 5th, 2018|

KOMO News / March 1, 2018
By Keith Eldridge


OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill to prevent those under 21 from buying semi-automatic rifles has cleared a key state senate committee. Republicans argued it goes too far in the direction of gun control.

The original bill surfaced in January in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Mukilteo party a few years ago where the alleged shooter legally bought the weapon at age 19. But that bill languished.

Then came Florida. The suspect in Parkland school shooting was under 21 and legally obtained an assault weapon that he is accused of using to gun down students and staff.

“Unfortunately because of the horrible events we saw in Parkland, Florida the national conversation has sparked renewed interest in this,” said bill sponsor Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle.

On Thursday, the state senate Ways and Means committee approved the bill (SB 6620) along party lines to prevent those under 21 from purchasing semi-automatic rifles.

“There are many many rifles that remain available to anyone between the age of 18 and 21, bolt action rifles and shotguns, completely exempted from this bill,” Frockt said.

The bill requires the same enhanced background checks needed for purchasing handguns. ”

The bottom line is that we need to have a full background check on people who are buying an AR-15 or AK-47 type of semi-automatic rifle,” Frockt said.

The bill now goes to the full senate where it’s fate is unknown, even though democrats are in the majority. Republicans and one democrat argue this is just another step in the direction of full gun control.

“Many people want to go to the 2nd Amendment. They think that’s the way it’s going to be solved. I don’t believe that,” said Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach.

They argue more money should be spent on mental health intervention to help people before they decide to shoot up a school or party.

“I think we need a greater emphasis on prevention, mental health, spotting those signs, security first,” said Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-minority leader.

The supporters of the bill say it also has components to provide mobile applications for students to use during lockdowns and increased protections for students to anonymously report suspicious behavior.

“We have to make sure our schools are protected,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond. “We have a whole generation of children who are growing up who are scared to go to school, scared to go to concerts, scared to go to the movie theaters and we have to change that culture.”

The regular session ends March 8th with not much time to get it through the Senate and then the House, but sponsors are hopeful given the climate in the country to do something about school shootings.

Washington lawmakers propose voluntary firearms training for teachers

March 5th, 2018|

Kiro 7 / Feb. 28, 2018
By Essex Porter

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There’s a new push to have the state pay for teachers and other school district employees who volunteer to be armed. Auburn Republican Sen. Phil Fortunato says it would not require teachers to be armed, but it would pay to properly train those who want to carry firearms in school.

Administrators in the rural Toppenish school district are already quietly carrying firearms in school, after undergoing extensive training.

At the state Capitol today, the superintendent remembered how a principal had to confront the Sandy Hook killer, unarmed.

“She went toward him. If she would have had a pistol or even a rifle maybe all those kids and adults would be alive today,” said Toppenish superintendent John Cerna.

Toppenish is a model for Fortunato. He wants the state to pay for training civilians to provide armed protection for schools.

“We are currently protected by armed security people in this building and we protect our children, the most precious thing we have with a sign that says Gun Free Zone,” Fortunato said at a news conference at the state Capitol.

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” said Redmond Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra. “I’m a parent of kids who go to a public school system. I’m a PTSA member. I have lots of friends who are teachers. I don’t know anyone who’s involved in the schools who think this is a good idea.”

In Georgia today, an armed teacher fired a shot in an empty classroom. No one was hurt.

Fortunato responded, “My question, too, is an active shooter comes into the classroom right now, what are you going to do? Are we going to not employ this program because somebody in Georgia decided to have episode in a classroom?”

Oak Harbor Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey has separate legislation to require mental health professionals in every school.

“It’s the priority, we need to make sure that our students have access to a mental health counselor.”

With Democrats in the Senate majority, it’s not clear how far their legislation will get.

Washington Legislature passes bump stock ban

February 28th, 2018|

KOMO News / Feb. 27, 2018
By Rachel La Corte

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill to ban trigger devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly.

The measure received a final 31-18 vote in the Senate Tuesday after the chamber accepted changes made by the House, which passed the bill on a 56-41 vote Friday. The House amended the bill with a provision that would allow the Washington State Patrol to set up a yearlong “buy back” program for people who already own the devices, known as bump stocks.

“It is crucial that we ensure that weapons are not turned into illegal machine guns,” Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra said after the vote. “I think the culture has changed, where a lot of people really want to see sensible, targeted gun legislation.”

The move to ban the devices came in response to last October’s mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and left hundreds more injured. The ban would make it illegal for anyone in Washington to manufacture or sell bump stocks beginning July 1. In July 2019, it would become illegal to own or possess a bump stock in Washington.

Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon, who caucuses with Republicans, said before the vote that “we can do better than this.”

“When a legislative body acts under pressure and feels they must act right away we often don’t get it right,” he said during the floor debate, and noted arguments made previously by Republican Sen. Mike Padden who questioned how much the buyback program could ultimately cost the state.

The measure now heads to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it.

“This is a modest, common sense piece of legislation that will help prevent further gun violence, though there’s a lot more we can do this session,” Inslee posted on Twitter after the vote.

Lawmakers are also weighing a new bill that was just introduced last week in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people. That measure would raise the age to purchase certain semi-automatic rifles or shotguns from 18 to 21, and would bring background checks requirements for those guns mostly into line with those required to buy a handgun in the state. The bill, which received a public hearing on Tuesday, also creates a program that would allow students and others to report concerns about unsafe, dangerous or illegal activities and creates another program for schools implement emergency response systems to expedite emergency response in the event of a threat.

Hundreds turn out for Eastside gun-control meeting

February 28th, 2018|

Renton Reporter / Feb. 26, 2018
By Aaron Kunkler

Hundreds of people gathered in Kirkland on Sunday to rally for increased gun control.

The meeting was put on by the Washington state chapter of Moms Demand Action Eastside in the Kirkland Middle School cafeteria.

Seats were scarce as around 300 people squeezed in for the presentation. Many attendees wore red shirts with the organization’s name on the front and “Everytown for gun safety” printed on the back.

The slogan heralds back to the group’s origins following the 2012 Newtown shooting, which left 26 people dead, most of them children.

Erin Cizmas, head of the Eastside group, addressed the crowd.

“The tide has officially turned,” she said. “People everywhere are banding up to say enough is enough.”

The turnout for the Sunday meeting was even more impressive considering the previous one had 11 people in attendance, Cizmas said.

“We refuse to accept that this is the new normal,” she said.

Renewed attention to reforming gun-control laws has emerged after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students were murdered by the alleged suspect, Nikolas Cruz.

It has sparked a national response with high school students often leading the conversation.

There have been renewed calls nationally to ban rifles similar to the AR 15, semi-automatic weapons that have been used in many mass shootings.

At the Kirkland meeting on Sunday, the brother of one of the women who was shot during the shooting in Las Vegas last year spoke.

That shooting left 58 people dead and 851 injured as a man named Stephen Paddock used weapon modification called a bump stock to pump more than 1,100 rounds into a concert audience. Bump stocks use the recoil of a weapon to significantly increase the rate of fire for semi-automatic assault weapons.

The speaker described what happened to his sister the night she was shot in the back.

“This is uniquely American, you know; no other developed nation deals with this stuff,” he said. “We’re tired of watching innocent people die.”

When he pointed her out in the audience, the rest of the crowd at Sunday’s meeting rose and gave her a standing ovation.

State Senator Manka Dhingra also spoke about the Legislature’s efforts to enact gun-control measures.

These include a proposed ban on bump stocks that passed the state House and will be sent back to the Senate for approval.

Another bill that would allow people to put themselves on a “do-not-buy” list for firearms sales is also being hashed out in Olympia. The rule would keep those on the list from being able to legally purchase firearms and was designed with people suffering from depression or other mental illnesses in mind.

A further bill would ban people convicted of domestic violence from buying guns.

State Democrats hope to eventually raise the age limit for buying all guns to 21, which is the age limit for buying pistols.

Anyone 18 years of age can buy a wide range of longarms, including AR 15s, in the state.

Other measures Dhingra discussed included the Senate allocating money in its budget toward clearing the backlog of pistol transfers in the state as well as assembling a task force to study school shootings and how to prevent them.

Moms Demand Action has been influential in getting previous measures passed, including the universal background checks that are currently law in Washington.

They also helped pass the ban on high-capacity magazines in California.

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    Fed up with skyrocketing property taxes? Don’t pay bill in full, say some state lawmakers

Fed up with skyrocketing property taxes? Don’t pay bill in full, say some state lawmakers

February 26th, 2018|

KOMO News / Feb. 22, 2018
By Jennifer Sullivan


SEATTLE – It’s a plan you might never think would be endorsed by state lawmakers: don’t pay your entire property tax bill in full, at least for now.

Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview) say they have a plan to reduce skyrocketing property taxes – which in some places in the Puget Sound region have increased by 30 percent.

Neither senator could explain exactly how much each property owner could see reduced, but they suggest people pay their first tax installment due in April then wait to see what remedies the Legislature can offer before paying in full.

“Pay your April as you would normally then before your October payment is due it gives us time to recalculate it based on the new state rate, so your October payment will be substantially less than what you paid in April,” Mullet told KOMO in Olympia Thursday.

Takko, a former county assessor himself, explained that if people pay their property tax in full now, and the Legislature comes up with a way to reduce the balance they had after making the April payment, there will be no way for people to recoup that money.

Mullet, who lives in King County, said he’s heard the complaints from constituents and has seen a painful jump in his own taxes.

“That’s why I’m sponsoring the bill,” he said. “I can appreciate the misery everyone is going through.”

Mullet said Substitute Senate Bill 6614 needs support from five Republicans before it can be sent to the House. Officials in the Senate Republican caucus say they’ll likely support it, but wish the tax cuts were bigger.

The Democrats’ plan is to take $435 million destined for a rainy day fund and dedicate it to reducing property taxes.

The Republicans say there should be $1 billion used to reduce taxes. The Democrats counter that they can’t use that much money because there are state funding requirements for education and mental health.

“The hope this year us Democrats can do something to make sure that people aren’t being taxed out of their homes,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond).

Dhingra is supporting legislation that would help seniors who are being forced from their homes because of high taxes. Senate Bill 6251 would change the eligibility requirements for senior property tax exemptions to base it on each county’s median household income.

But Mark Richards, who lives in Seattle’s Central District, said the assistance being offered by the Legislature isn’t enough.

Richards, 65, said he will be selling his house of more than 20 years and moving to California because he can no longer afford living in Seattle. His taxes had just jumped from $5,251 to $6,593.

Richards said he doesn’t qualify for senior property tax exemptions because he earns more than $50,000 per year working three jobs. Even if Dhingra’s legislation passes and lawmakers are able to slash people’s property taxes, it won’t be enough to get him to stay. He worries that taxes will keep climbing in the years to come and the city taxes keep growing.

“It’s much bigger than on the state level. It’s the city as well,” Richards said Thursday. “It doesn’t take into consideration the tax levies, the property tax levies, that Seattle is doing to take care of homeless, to take care of schooling to do a lot of different things.”