Sen. Dhingra Newsroom

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    Washington Republicans Block Extension of Domestic Violence Protections

Washington Republicans Block Extension of Domestic Violence Protections

From The Stranger

On Saturday Republican leadership in the statehouse—particularly Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler— blocked the extension of an emergency proclamation regarding protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The proclamation, set to expire May 11, allows victims to file no-contact orders online. It also allows law enforcement to serve those orders electronically or telephonically, and to remove any guns “when courts have ordered firearms to be surrendered” in a given domestic violence situation.

This batshit decision from a batshit political party is particularly batshit given the surge in domestic violence reports happening locally and, more than likely, across the country.

The state’s prosecutors and sheriffs associations both requested that the legislature extend the order, citing the need to protect victims and officers forced to serve papers in-person during the middle of a global respiratory virus outbreak.

Senior deputy prosecuting attorney David Martin, who chairs the domestic violence unit King County, noted the “very real increase in domestic violence we are now experiencing” and urged legislators to sign off on the extension.

“Felony domestic violence in King County is up 20% in new cases filed,” Martin wrote in a letter to the legislature. “Seattle police and other agencies are reporting stark increases in domestic violence calls for service and arrest. Over the last two weeks in King County there have been three domestic violence homicides, a very public domestic violence attempted murder, and two officer involved shootings of domestic violence offenders.”

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra, who also founded API Chaya, a nonprofit that supports DV victims, “Home is not a safe place for everybody, and we have to make sure we’re protecting the most vulnerable.”

“Given my work in domestic violence for decades, [electronic filing] is such a crucial tool for victims to be able to reach out and get help,” Dhingra added. “And it’s good for law enforcement. Being told to serve orders in-person puts them at risk.”

In a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins called the Republican blockade “incomprehensible.”

“We urge Senate Republican leadership blocking this extension to reconsider their decision,” they said.

Republicans will likely argue that the proclamation violates due process and Second Amendment rights, despite the fact that it doesn’t, because Extreme Risk Protection Orders within the proclamation allow cops to remove guns in certain situations.

“We know that when a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, it’s extremely dangerous for the victim. This is not a rhetorical or academic discussion. We are seeing victims of DV being killed by guns,” Sen. Dhingra said. “And the reason we have an extreme risk protection order is for those times of extreme risk.”

When the legislature is not in session, all four caucus leaders have to sign off on extensions of emergency powers that the legislature has granted to the governor. So far, Republicans have blocked two other extensions; one giving officers more discretion over sending probation violators to jail, and another temporarily lifting fingerprint background checks for child care workers.

By Rich Smith

May 9th, 2020|News|
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    Dhingra criticizes Republican refusal to extend emergency domestic violence protections

Dhingra criticizes Republican refusal to extend emergency domestic violence protections

“These measures are not about convenience; they are about saving lives”

REDMOND — Senate Deputy Majority Leader Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) issued the following statement after Senate Republican leadership declined to sign off on the Governor’s request to extend emergency protections for survivors of domestic violence:

“I am shocked that my Republican colleagues in the Legislature are playing politics with the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The Governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order has stemmed the tide of one pandemic, but if stripped of accompanying protections, it has the potential to unleash another. Domestic violence cases have been rising across the state since the beginning of the pandemic and are up 20 percent in King County.

“In the last two weeks alone, prosecutors in King County report, there have been three domestic-violence homicides, an attempted domestic-violence murder, and two officer-involved shootings because of domestic violence. When survivors are stuck inside with their abusers, home is not healthy—or safe.

“That’s why the Governor’s Proclamation 20-45 is so crucial. It allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to file protection orders electronically and allows courts to legally notify respondents electronically.

“These measures are not about convenience; they are about saving lives.

“We do not want survivors caught between fear of venturing out to file an order and fear of another beating. We do not want protection orders that cannot be served because law enforcement does not have enough officers available to do the work.

“Judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, and police across Washington—including the Washington State Supreme Court, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs—are telling us the same story: electronic service saves lives. In the short time since it has been implemented during this pandemic, Washington’s electronic service program has become a national model.

“Frankly, I cannot fathom how anyone could be so callous as to deliberately abandon domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking survivors during the greatest crisis of the last hundred years. Washington has some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the country. We ought to let them do their job: protecting the vulnerable. There is no excuse for playing politics with people’s lives.”

Related documents:

Letter from Legislative leaders on extension of proclamations

Joint letter of support from Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs

Letter of support from David Martin, Chair of Domestic Violence Unit, King County Prosecutor’s Office

Governor’s proclamation 20-45

May 9th, 2020|News Release|
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    Dhingra appointed to Senate bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee

Dhingra appointed to Senate bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) was appointed to a newly formed bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery in the Washington State Senate to address the state’s long-term economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into a special session this year.

“The pandemic is not over by any means, but it is time to begin planning for a robust and sustained recovery for all Washingtonians,” Dhingra said. “Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of many workers and businesses, our state is adapting at breakneck speed to the new conditions that the virus has brought, and it is imperative that we prepare legislation now to harness that innovation and adapt our systems for the long term.”

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. The seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators on the committee include Sens. Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldana. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

“The purpose of this select committee is to look deeply at the ways in which the pandemic has structurally changed our state and regional economies, and to make recommendations on how we can come out stronger on the other side for workers and the businesses that employ them,” Frockt said. “The goal is to have this committee work together, without partisanship, in order to drive innovative, forward-looking ideas that can help the people in every corner of this state recover and prosper.”

The committee will hold work sessions in the coming months to hear from experts in a variety of fields, look at what other states are doing to recover from the outbreak and identify innovative ways to rejuvenate Washington’s economy and communities throughout the state.

The Senate’s Facilities and Operations Committee voted today to officially form the committee.

May 6th, 2020|News Release|

Filibusters Live on KXRW with Jay Inslee and Manka Dhingra

The hosts of Filibusters radio show on KXRW invited Sen. Dhingra and Gov. Inslee to come on to discuss the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can listen to the show here.

May 6th, 2020|News|
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    E-News: COVID-19 Resources & Telephone Town Hall with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

E-News: COVID-19 Resources & Telephone Town Hall with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

Dear Neighbor,

Many constituents have been asking questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and our state’s response. We are working hard to contain the pandemic, preserve public health, and get our economy back on track.

Telephone Town Hall

To hear answers to your questions, please join me, along with Reps. Roger Goodman and Larry Springer, on Wednesday, May 6, at 6 p.m., for a telephone town hall. We will be joined by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Ingrid Ulrey of Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Our automated system will call out to landlines in the district. All you have to do is accept the call and press *3 to ask questions. To ensure you are called, you can sign up here.

If you do not receive the call, you can still participate by dialing 877-229-8493 and using ID code 116292, or by going to this website.

A Quick Guide to Coronavirus Resources

The Washington State Coronavirus Response Page has links to resources for families, businesses, workers, and more. State webpages also provide information about help with taxes and health care. The state provides multilingual COVID-19 fact sheets and lists resources available for immigrant communities.

You can find countywide information at King County Public Health. In addition, county webpages provide information about emergency food access and equity and social justice resources. The United Way of King County and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce have additional lists of resources for people and businesses.

Eastside resources can be found at Eastside for All and (re) Startup425Cities and local groups offer even more specific information at the following links:

45th District cities

Neighboring cities

In addition, federal information and assistance are available through U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBeneAdam Smith, and Kim Schrier, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The federal CARES Act included $17 billion for loan forgiveness for nonprofits and small businesses for certain types of loans. It also included $349 billion to create the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides subsidized loans of up to $10 million to nonprofits and small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover payroll, rent, mortgage and utility costs.

The Small Business Disaster Loan Program provides low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and nonprofits. And the Small Business Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 to bridge the gap while waiting for a decision and disbursement on a direct Disaster Loan.

Finally, you can always contact my office using the information below.

Sincerely yours,

Manka Dhingra

May 1st, 2020|E-News|

Taxless time of month: Governor signs bill exempting menstrual hygiene products from sales tax

From The Daily UW

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with Washington state’s unemployment claims rivaling the number seen in the 2008/2009 recession, every cent counts at the grocery store. Now, about half of the state population can rest a bit easier when it comes to their next round of errands.

We’re talking about menstrual products — tampons, pads, cups, and similar items. Last Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5147, which will provide “tax relief by exempting menstrual products from retail sales and use tax.”

The bill, effective July 1, will make Washington the 18th state to exempt menstrual products from retail taxes. The bill was unanimously passed by the State Senate on March 7. Three days later, the House of Representatives approved the bill in a 95–2 vote.

“This is great news for the women of Washington who now will get to keep the more than 3 million dollars they’ve been paying in tax each year on medically necessary products,” Sen. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver) said in a press release.

Wilson has worked on this bill for years, first introducing the idea in 2016 when she served in the House and then in the Senate the next year. The main drive for this bill was to combat the discriminatory assumption that menstrual products are not essential. To put this in perspective, male-marketed products like Viagra are not taxed.

The inclusion of menstrual products in the retail tax also puts those who are financially compromised at risk. With 14.3% of Washingtonians ages 0–17 and 10.6% of Washingtonians ages 18–64 living below the poverty line, those who menstruate are put under further hardship.

“When there’s a surplus of 1.5 billion dollars, it’s hard for anyone to justify continuing a tax as discriminatory as this,” Wilson said in the press release. “It’s especially unfair to women who are low-income or experiencing homelessness, and all the work on this bill has been worth it for their sake alone.”

While Wilson pushed the bill through the Senate, much of the driving force behind the movement came from the Washington Tampon Tax Task Force, which is part of the menstrual rights advocacy group PERIOD.

“I think it’s symbolic,” task force member Reem Sabha said. “When you’re taxing something that is essential for … half the population, it sends a message that that bodily function is … something to be ashamed of.”

In between classes this year, Sabha, a graduate student at the UW, along with undergrad Dena Sabha and Kamiak high school students Jinyang Zhang and Ramya Arumilli, called and emailed senators, wrote letters, and sent out petitions.

A key part of the bill’s success was adapting to the preferences of different senators. In 2019, the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee supported SB 5147, but the Ways & Means Committee opposed it until state revenue projections increased.

“We got a lot of support from both parties,” Sabha said. “With more Republican legislators, if we framed it as a tax repeal, making the tax code less regressive, it was a very compelling argument for them.”

While the exemption of menstrual products from sales tax is a major step toward gender equity in Washington state, the Tampon Tax Task Force is already working on its next plan.

“I think we’re all really excited on the passing [of the bill],” Zhang said. “But now that that excitement has faded and we’re moving into the next legislative session, we’re planning on working on the bill SB 6073.”

This bill aims to provide free menstrual products in public school bathrooms. Although it gained traction in the Senate, it has yet to pass in the House. Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) will introduce the bill in the next session.

In the meantime, the Tampon Tax Task Force continues to raise awareness for menstrual equity through a petition, urging senators to pass both bills by 2021.

“There are still 30 other states that still tax menstrual products,” Sabha said. “So we’re hoping that Washington repealing [the tax] will provide more of an impetus for other states to repeal it as well.”

By Nicole Pasia

April 13th, 2020|News|

E-News: Resources for people affected by the coronavirus

Dear Neighbor,

During this time of hardships, it is so important for us to come together as a community and look out for one another. And I’m hearing so many stories of friends and family members and neighbors doing just that—while keeping a safe six feet apart!

With that in mind, I would like to send you a list of some resources that might be helpful to you or people you know. And remember, the latest information about the coronavirus pandemic and what we can all be doing to keep safe and healthy will always be at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Medical resources

The Department of Health’s coronavirus resource page has answers to questions about your health or the health of a family member. Here you can find information on testing, tips to stay healthy and much more.

You can also call the DOH coronavirus hotline at 1-800-525-0127 (press #) or email them at doh.information@doh.wa.gov.

Educational resources 

Your kids are home with time on their hands. What to do?

Fortunately, our state school superintendent has a fantastic list of resources on their website.

From virtual tours of historical sites and museums to interactive math puzzles—whatever your children are interested in and would be learning in school, you can find it on their site.

Childcare resources

Parents should try to keep their children home, but this isn’t always possible, especially for moms and dads on the front line of the outbreak.

For those parents that need childcare, and for childcare providers that are open during this crisis, here are some guidelines to help keep your facility clean and, most importantly, the kids in your care healthy.

The Department of Children, Youth & Families also has information on child care you can find here.

Resources for businesses

If you’re a small business owner who has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the state has resources to help. Earlier this month, the Legislature passed $200 million funding for the coronavirus response, with $25 million allocated directly to help businesses that have been financially impacted.

The state Department of Employment Security provides help for workers whose hours are cut and businesses worried about having to lay off their employees.
The state Department of Revenue can provide tax deferrals.
The federal Small Business Administration has opened applications for low interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

You can find more information here. You can find this information and more at the state coronavirus response website linked to at the start of this newsletter. It is critical that our small businesses, the backbone of our community, survive this time and come out strong on the other side.

How you can help

This is a tumultuous and unpredictable time, and many of you have reached out asking what you can do to help beyond staying home and practicing social distancing.

This link has a variety of ways you can help those fighting the spread of the coronavirus. Here you can find a list of items the state needs to aid in the fight. You can also find ways to donate blood, volunteer your time and help support small businesses.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

On Monday evening March 23, Governor Inslee signed a two-week “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, similar to orders you may have heard about in other states. This decision is essential to our ability to control the virus and prevent the number of cases from overwhelming our healthcare system. For reference, here’s a reminder of what the order means:

Stay Home, Stay Healthy order

Sincerely yours,

Manka Dhingra

March 30th, 2020|E-News|
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    Washington Senate Narrowly Passes Gun Violence Prevention Bill Sponsored by Indian American State Senator Manka Dhingra

Washington Senate Narrowly Passes Gun Violence Prevention Bill Sponsored by Indian American State Senator Manka Dhingra

From India-West

On a narrow 25-24 vote, the Washington state Senate March 10 passed a seminal gun violence prevention bill, sponsored by Indian American state Senator Manka Dhingra.

“The bill takes a data-centered approach to addressing the epidemic of gun violence,” Dhingra, the first Indian American to be elected to the Washington state Legislature, told India-West. She noted that the bill was passed on a partisan vote: Democrats, who control the Legislature, voted for the bill, while Republicans did not. Dhingra said similar partisanship has stalled comprehensive gun control legislation in state legislatures across the nation and at the federal level.

Dhingra also serves as deputy prosecuting attorney for Kings County, Washington, and said the bill was born out of her experience at the prosecutor’s office. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots and another 150 are hospitalized.

“We have to have a public health approach to addressing gun violence,” she stated, noting that the Centers for Disease Control is currently banned from collecting data on gun violence and conducting research on the issue.

The bill, SB 6288, passed the Washington state House March 5 on a 53-44 vote. It must now be signed by the president of the state Senate, and the Speaker of the state House before it moves on to Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for approval. Dhingra said the governor has expressed his support for the measure.

Dhingra’s bill would establish the Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide. The office would make the data available for public health research.

Additionally, the new office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, funding initiatives that seek to end the epidemic of gun violence.

One of the initiatives the new office would fund is Choose 180, a restorative justice program designed to help young offenders re-direct themselves away from a life of criminal activity. The program diverts young people away from incarceration; they are typically paired with an older mentor, often someone who has been through the criminal justice system. Volunteers also help teen offenders talk about the struggles they have experienced in their lives which may have led them to criminal behavior.

Dhingra also hopes to fund programs that allow law enforcement to engage with communities of color to provide mentor-ship.

The bill would also create an initiative aiming to address PTSD for victims of violence and also for those who have observed it. These mental health treatment measures were developed by Washington state Senator David Frockt, a Democrat, who proposed the treatment initiative in a bill earlier this year, which did not pass the state Senate.

“The effects of firearm violence on survivors’ mental health can be devastating and long-lasting. We as a state, as a community, need to be doing all that we can to help survivors deal with the trauma, and that’s what this legislation will do,” said Frockt, in a statement released by Dhingra’s office.

“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said in the statement. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”

By Sunita Sohrabji

March 25th, 2020|News|

E-News: Coronavirus – state action to help

Dear Neighbors,

The Legislature is taking this health crisis extremely seriously. 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 can continue to do so even if they can’t meet the work search requirement 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
  • 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 because of the coronavirus state of emergency

The federal government has passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus response plan. Of that, $11.2 million came immediately came to Washington state for public health responses. Our congressional leaders are hard at work negotiating a supplemental bill that is intended to include additional Medicaid funding, housing support, and SNAP benefits.

To minimize public health risk, Governor Inslee has prohibited most large events of more than 250 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and Public Health — Seattle & King County has issued health and safety guidelines that must be followed by the organizers of smaller public gatherings.

State agencies have announced measures to help people and businesses whose lives are disrupted. The governor’s office has assembled a central list of resources here. Below are some of the most important changes that can help you.

Worker and employer assistance

  • 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.

Health care coverage 

  • 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.

Insurance assistance 

  • 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.

School updates

The governor has ordered all King County public and private schools to close through April 26th. You can find further information from the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction here.

Protect your health and your loved ones

Remember, if someone you know has a fever and non-acute respiratory distress, they should call their doctor. Symptoms to watch for are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The best preparations are to prevent infection with simple yet effective actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (singing happy birthday twice).
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, sleeve or tissue (not your hands).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Bump elbows with friends rather than giving hugs or handshakes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Use hand sanitizers when unable to wash your hands.

If you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the King County coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 or the Washington State Department of Health call center at 1-800-525-0127.

Sincerely yours,

March 12th, 2020|E-News|

Senate passes nation’s first statewide Office of Equity

From the Suburban Times

On Wednesday, March 5, the Washington state Senate passed House Bill 1783 to reduce systemic disparities in Washington state government. The bill would establish the nation’s first statewide Office of Equity within the Governor’s Office.

“This is about bringing equality for all to every community in Washington,” said Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), who sponsored the legislation. “Inequities impacting historically marginalized people run deep and they come at far too great a social and economic cost.”

While many state agencies in Washington are engaged in methods to reduce systemic inequities, those efforts are not currently coordinated at the state level. This leaves agencies to individually face the same challenges in developing, sharing, and implementing resources to address this issue.

The Office of Equity would streamline this process by recommending best practices and by providing assistance for implementation and training.

“Disparities in Black and African American communities exist due to the way systems were formed,” said Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland). “The vote today for the Office of Equity will help ensure we are truly addressing the needs of ALL Washingtonians as we begin to pave new roads to the ‘American Dream.’”

Last year, Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), Gregerson and Morgan were appointed to the Office of Equity Task Force, which was formed following the conclusion of the 2019 legislative session. The task force, established by the Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council on Health Disparities, was directed to create a proposal for the Office of Equity. The task force met several times throughout the interim in communities across the state and invited the public for opportunities to comment and participate.

“We need an Office of Equity to take a systematic approach across our state government to promote access to equitable opportunities and resources that reduce disparities, including racial and ethnic disparities, and improve outcomes statewide,” said Dhingra, who sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.

“The creation of an Office of Equity will help us ensure that all state agencies in Washington continually evaluate their policies and practices to address gaps in services and opportunities,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), who co-sponsored the Senate companion bill. “This is a big step toward eliminating disparities so zip codes or race are no longer determinants for economic opportunity and lifespan.”

The bill passed 28-21. It will now return to the House to reconcile amendments before arriving at the Governor’s desk for his signature.

March 8th, 2020|News|