Sen. Dhingra Newsroom

Election Year Announcement from Sen. Dhingra

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

May 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Senator Manka Dhingra’s End of Session News

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

May 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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

KOMO News / March 1, 2018
By Keith Eldridge

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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.

March 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Washington lawmakers propose voluntary firearms training for teachers

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.

March 5th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Washington Legislature passes bump stock ban

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.

February 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Hundreds turn out for Eastside gun-control meeting

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.

February 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|
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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

KOMO News / Feb. 22, 2018
By Jennifer Sullivan

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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.”

February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Current gun safety bills up for debate in Olympia

KEPRtv / Feb. 22, 2018
By Elise Haas

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died, has revived Washington lawmakers who are pushing for enhanced background checks and restrictions on firearms.

We’ve watched students around the country and in the Tri-Cities speak out on gun violence and school safety.

Now there are several bills in the House and Senate that aim at keeping automatic rifles and high-powered weapons out of the hands of people who are more likely to do harm.

Action News heard from our Washington legislators to find out where these bills stand.

“I think we should all say this on a bi-partisan basis, thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference Wednesday. “Our students and our families deserve action.”

Governor Inslee said the voices of victims and survivors of mass shootings need to be listened to in Olympia.

“There are a handful of modest, common sense bills that if passed can take reasonable measures to reduce the threat of gun violence,” he said.

Inslee voiced that he’s in support of several bills, including:

  • SB 6298 would make it harder for people involved in domestic violence to get access to weapons,
  • SB 5992 would ban bumps stocks, and;
  • SB 5444 would enhance background checks for assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“I hope these bills get to my desk for signature,” he said.

As a sponsor and co-sponsor of a couple of these bills, Sen. Manka Dhingra said they target people engaging in violence.

“When you look at mass shootings, and one of these things that these guys have in common is that they are perpetrators of domestic violence,” Sen. Dhingra said.

The bill banning bump stocks passed in the senate, and just passed in Rep. Laurie Jinkins’ house committee.

“There is no single law that is going to end gun violence and I would never argue that,” Rep. Jinkins said. “But there are many things we can do that will help.”

Above all, Inslee said children and parents should not have to worry about gun violence in their schools, churches and shopping malls.

“I know this is an emotional issue and where good people have widely disparate beliefs, but I think it is very important to realize that these bills are not regulating guns that are out there for hunting and self-protection,” he said.

“We are talking about regulating weapons that are out there for quick and effective mass slaughter and we’re talking about simply closing loop-holes that have no sense whatsoever.”

Gov. Inslee said it’s now the legislators turn to make a difference.

“I urge legislators to listen to the voices of our students and Washingtonians who want common sense gun safety, for our kids and for all of us,” Inslee said.

A couple proposals drew bipartisan support, including SB 5992 to put a ban on bump stocks and SB 6298, prohibiting possession of firearms from people who’ve committed domestic violence against family members.

These bills have passed in the senate and are making strides through the house.

House lawmakers approved SB 5992 in committee, and the bill is awaiting a floor vote.

SB 6298 passed through the Senate and is scheduled Friday for a House committee vote.

However, the bill concerning enhanced background checks for assault weapons has only been introduced in the senate.

The latest version of SB 5444 would treat purchases of assault-style rifles similar to how Washington now regulates pistols.

The minimum purchase age would be raised to 21, and a gun-buyer would go through both a federal and state background check.

Lawmakers don’t have much time to see these proposals through, the legislative session is scheduled to end March 8.

February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    New unit will work to remove guns from potentially dangerous people in King County

New unit will work to remove guns from potentially dangerous people in King County

KOMO News / Feb. 22, 2018
By Matt Markovich

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SEATTLE – It’s been two years in the making, but now Ellie’s Place on the fourth floor of the King County Courthouse is officially open for business.

Named after the official courthouse dog that passed away in 2015, Ellie’s place will house three programs including one that is very timely, the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Unit.

The unit will consist of 12 people, including officers from the Seattle Police Department, deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, victim advocates and deputy prosecutors that are trained in weapons retrieval.

SEATTLE – It’s been two years in the making, but now Ellie’s Place on the fourth floor of the King County Courthouse is officially open for business.

Named after the official courthouse dog that passed away in 2015, Ellie’s place will house three programs including one that is very timely, the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Unit.

The unit will consist of 12 people, including officers from the Seattle Police Department, deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, victim advocates and deputy prosecutors that are trained in weapons retrieval.

In 2016, voters passed a statewide initiative allowing anyone who has evidence that a person who owns guns may pose a threat to others, could have those weapons taken away temporarily by a court order.

It’s known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order or ERPO for short.

“If an individual’s made threats, if an individual has been volatile, destroyed property, if he’s harmed animals, if he has a history of assaultive behavior, it’s evidence a judge can use for an ERPO,” said Anne Levinson, a retired Seattle Municipal Court Judge was instrumental in getting Ellie’s Place up and running.

Ellie’s Place will also house the Children’s Justice Center, where children and their families who’ve been victims of violence can come into a family-friendly setting for forensic interviews and legal assistance in getting an ERPO.

“There’s not another one like it in the entire country and we’ve already seen they are increasing the number of guns recovered from the most dangerous hands,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the group that backed the ERPO initiative.

But, it took a $1 million appropriation, shared between King County and the City of Seattle, and hundreds of volunteer hours to get Ellie’s Place operational.

Ellie’s Place will also benefit smaller cities like Bothell in King County, that couldn’t afford the resources of the firearms retrieval unit.

Not all counties and cities in the state are wealthy enough to do the same.

“These are great ideas, but they are unfunded mandates and they are being placed on departments with more unfunded mandates, it’s just making it very problematic,” said Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings.

Democratic State Senator Manka Dhingra of Redmond is sponsoring a bill to get guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic harassment, and realizes the funding hole gun retrieval laws represent.

“If we are asking more of our officers, we have to make sure they get the funding they need to get the work done,” said Dhingra.

No state monies are being set aside for ERPO’s and their enforcement.

It’s up to each individual law enforcement agency to figure out how it’s going to comply with these court orders, which can be very risky to execute.

February 26th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Education Funding on the Eastside

Sen. Manka Dhingra is joined by Sen. Lisa Wellman and Sen. Patty Kuderer to discuss the importance of education funding for Eastside school district including: Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, North Shore, Renton, Riverview, and Snoqualmie Valley.

 

February 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|