Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Half-Way Point: Where we are, where we are going

February 10th, 2016|

Dear Neighbors,Hasegawa town hall 2016

We just passed the halfway mark for the 2016 legislative session. You may not be receiving as many updates as you did last year, which is due to restrictions on e-news during election years. For more frequent updates, please re-subscribe to my regular updates by clicking here.

As we move into the last 30 days of this session, I want to share with you an overview of happenings so far, and highlights of what might lie ahead.

Education for All?

As you may know, our state constitution calls ample funding of public schools our “paramount duty.” Right now though, the state is struggling to fulfill that duty in an equitable way for more than 1 million kids currently in Washington schools. Because the state is underfunding education, only districts that have the ability to pass levies can get better services to students and pay teachers higher wages. Lower income school districts, in both urban and rural areas, struggle to make ends meet.

The state is in contempt of court for failing to produce a plan to fully fund our schools by the 2018 deadline that the Legislature set back in 2009. We are being fined $100,000 a day until we do. So why is this so difficult – why is it taking so long?

One key issue is that our Legislature is divided, almost right down the middle. There is a one vote difference in the Democrat controlled House, and a three vote difference in the Republican controlled Senate. This makes big changes like funding McCleary extremely tough.

Hasegawa education rallyDemocrats in both the House and Senate have pushed hard to get commitments to end reliance on local levies and ensure ALL Washington kids, no matter where they live, get equal access to a great education. But chronic underfunding of basic education in this state has led to about a $3.5 billion dollar gap – this number was agreed to on a bipartisan basis last session.

But how will we meet this need? In the graph shown here, the blue areas are constitutionally protected and cannot be cut, while the red areas can be cut. It is clear that without new revenue, even deep cuts to essential services won’t fit the bill. For example, we could cut all funding to human services and mental health services and still be short. We could even cut all state funding of higher education and just barely make it. These are of course not realistic solutions, but they do illustrate the severity of the situation.

I have always fought for fair and equitable funding for our schools and state services, and will continue to do so. Raising taxes on an already overburdened middle class is not the way to meet the needs of our students and schools. We must explore other options like a capital gains tax on unearned income that comes from large profits on the sale of stocks, closing unproductive corporate loopholes that don’t create the jobs they promise to do, and a carbon tax to make corporate polluters pay.

Budget Pie

“State of Race” in Washington

Even as our state’s population grows and becomes more diverse, there are still only 14 members of color in a legislative body of 147. Along with Rep. Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, I am the co-chair of the Members of Color caucus, a group that works on legislation that most affects people of color in Washington.

A few of our priorities are:

  1. The educational opportunity gap bill: Omnibus bill to address the educational opportunity gap experienced by students of color in Washington. It passed out of the House four times in the past two sessions but has been unable to get a hearing in the Republican controlled Senate. (HB 1541/SB 6192)
  2. The Washington Voting Rights Act: Ensure all people have the opportunity to be elected and represented. (SB 5668)
  3. Racial disproportionality bill: Would provide racial impact statements, similar to existing fiscal impact statements, that would address the negative or positive impacts state laws have on people of color. SB 5752
  4. Data collection bill: Would collect data from coroner’s regarding deadly use of force related to law enforcement. (SB 6294)
  5. Renaming the ‘Jefferson Davis Highway’: Changing State Route 99 from the Jefferson Davis Highway to the William P. Stewart Memorial Highway. This would honor Stewart’s service in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment during the Civil War and celebrate his role as a farmer and pioneer of the City of Snohomish. (SJM 8014)
  6. Dental health access in Indian country: This bill would allow federally recognized tribes to train, employ and contract dental health aides to provide cleaning and other services in Indian country. It is estimated that 75 percent of native children aged 10 have experienced tooth decay as a result of lack of access to regular cleanings. (SB 5159)

Hasegawa speaking on the floorSome of these bills are making their way slowly through the process – I am optimistic my racial disproportionality bill will be funded this year for example. But I am the only person of color on two of the most powerful committees in the Senate – the budgetary Ways & Means committee, and the Rules committee. Nearly every bill that passes to the floor of the Senate for a vote goes through one or both of those two committees.

Representation is the foundation of our democracy. As our state continues to diversity, our government will be less and less a representation of the people of Washington. This is true now of both people of color and women in elected office. The Members of Color caucus will keep fighting for good policies like these, but progress will continue to be slow until equal representation is a larger part of our state discussion, and a better balance is struck between elected officials and the people they serve.

To watch my speech on social and economic justice on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, please click here.

Video Updates

In addition to re-subscribing to my e-newsletters, be sure to go to my website to watch regular video updates on the legislative session, happenings in Olympia and speeches I make on important issues on the floor of the Senate or in committee. To view my website, please click here.

First week legislative video update is here.

Second week legislative video update is here.

My Bills that are on the Move

I Want to Hear from You

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-news. I have heard from many of you over the past weeks on a variety of issues including:

  • Charter schools: To watch my speech on this measure, click here and scroll to 1:18:30
  • Human Rights Commission rule regarding rights of transgender Washingtonians: To watch my speech on this issue, click here.
  • Senate Republican’s DC-style move to fire Dept. of Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson: To watch my speech on that, click here and scroll to 3:29:30.

Despite the divisions in the Legislature, I remain focused on fighting for you – for full and fair funding of education, for higher wages, better working conditions and increasing equity of opportunity for everyone in this state.

As session progresses, I hope you will be in contact with any questions, comments or concerns you may have.


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Mid-Session Legislative Update

February 4th, 2016|

20140227_LegWA_6288abDear Neighbors,

The 2016 legislative session is underway, and as it is a short 60-day session a lot has already taken place. In this e-newsletter, I’d like to share with you some recent events that have taken place, and some tools to keep you informed about what I have been doing as well as what is happening in the Legislature at large.

Video Updates

Be sure to go to my website to watch regular video updates on the legislative session, happenings in Olympia and speeches I make on important issues on the floor of the Senate or in committee. To view my website, please click here.

First week legislative video update is here.

Second week legislative video update is here.

Honoring Wong Tsoo, a Pioneering Washingtonian

I offered a Senate Resolution, SR 8693, honoring a pioneering Washingtonian named Wong Tsoo. He was a Chinese immigrant who was hired by Bill Boeing as the fledgling company’s first aeronautical engineer in 1916. He helped to both design the Model C seaplane, and then redesign it to be a war training seabird for the U.S. Navy. During his lifetime, Wong is believed to have had a hand in designing 30 aircraft. He returned to China to continue working as an engineer and taught aeronautical engineering to some of China’s greatest minds in the field.

To watch my speech on Wong, please click here.

20150629_205640abCelebrating Dr. King’s commitment to economic and social justice

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is one of the busiest days in Olympia. Hundreds of groups, families, advocates and visitors spend their day off at the Capitol, lobbying legislators and speaking up about issues that matter to them.

I made a speech on the floor highlighting Dr. King’s dedication to social and economic justice for all, and his hope and dreams for not only his only children, but all children and all generations. To watch my speech, click here.

Tools to Keep You Informed

The Legislature has a variety of tools to keep you informed about what is happening during the legislative session.

  1. You can sign up for updates via email, and have anything from bills next to be voted on the floor, to committee schedules to legislative reports sent right to your inbox. To sign up, click here.
  2. Watch the action for yourself. Floor debates and votes, press conferences and public hearings in committees can be viewed on
  3. Want to know more about the budget and state finances? Go to
  4. The main website for the Legislature is You can find bill information, contact information for legislators, state laws and legislative agendas.
  5. There are lots of civics resources for kids and students available as well:
  6. “Short Titles” are lists of bills introduced to the Legislature each day. You can access them from the legislative website by following the instructions below. Please contact my office with any comments for concerns about bills you see on the short titles.
  • At the home page, on the left select “Bill Information”
  • Select “Detailed Legislative Reports”
  • Select “Text of a Legislative Document”
  • Type “Short Titles” in the 1st search box and select “Find Documents”
  • The most current Short Titles list is always at the bottom of the page.

As always, thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. Please pass this along to anyone you think would be interested in receiving these updates. For the link to subscribe, please click here.

I will send more updates before the end of session on March 10, but I encourage you to write or call anytime to share thoughts or concerns.


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Below is the postcard update I sent before the New Year.

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VIDEO Legislative Update from Sen. Hasegawa

February 2nd, 2016|