(360) 786-7640|Marko.Liias@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Liias bills signed by governor with more on deck

March 30th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Governor Inslee has signed three bills sponsored by State Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) into law since the Legislature adjourned on March 12.

Senate Bill 6690 repeals the preferential aerospace B&O tax rate and should stave off retaliatory tariffs on many trade dependent industries.

“When this issue was brought to my attention two months ago, the world looked quite different than it does today,” said Liias. “Obviously issues like international tariffs are going to take a back seat while the world focuses on defeating the coronavirus. Once we get the virus under control, a healthy aerospace industry will be vital to returning our economy to where it was before the outbreak. This measure will help us avoid retaliatory tariffs and give our aerospace-dependent companies and employees the best chance of success.”

Washington state is heavily dependent on international trade. Retaliatory tariffs could have resulted in tens of thousands of lost jobs in Washington’s aerospace sector and in dozens of other trade-dependent industries.

Senate bill 6493 allows the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Council to continue its work to make roads safer for all users.

”The Cooper Jones Safety Council has provided important information and recommendations to improve safety of bicyclists across the state,” said Liias. “The council provides lawmakers with the data and expert analysis we need to enact policies that make our roadways safer for everyone.”

SB 5282 prohibits health care providers and medical students from performing pelvic exams on women without informed consent. Under the new law, a licensed health care provider may not perform or authorize a student practicing under the provider’s authority to perform a pelvic examination on a patient who is anesthetized or unconscious unless:

  • the patient or the patient’s representative has provided informed consent; or
  • the examination is necessary for diagnostic or treatment purposes.

An amendment was added by the House to allow health care providers to perform pelvic exams in certain circumstances where sexual assault is suspected.

“This seems like a pretty glaring hole in our patient protections,” said Liias. “We want to make sure, while this practice thankfully is not happening in Washington that we know of, that we provide this really important protection.” [Link to audio file from Sen. Liias’ Senate floor speech]

In total, Liias was successful in passing 11 bills in this short 60-day session. Additional Liias bills awaiting action by the governor include bills to ease regulations for building accessory dwelling units (SB 6617), boost youth voter participation (SB 6313), and expand financial aid opportunities for undocumented students (SB 6561).

Update on the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 19th, 2020|

Friends:

I hope you and your family are in good health and safe from the coronavirus. The situation is evolving rapidly, so I encourage you to stay up-to-date with the latest information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Snohomish County Health District.

Washington’s Joint Information Center just launched a new online portal that will organize helpful information and resources in one location. The site currently has information about what to do if you feel sick, along with resources and information related to workers, small businesses, childcare, and travel guidance. The site will be updated as more information becomes available.

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/

Before we adjourned for the year, the Legislature passed HB 2965 to dedicate $200 million for our state’s response to the coronavirus. Governor Inslee has already allocated $75 million of those funds to various state agencies and organizations to respond directly to the challenges facing communities all over the state. The Legislature stands ready to allocate more resources if necessary.

We also made sure people can receive unemployment insurance even if they don’t meet the work search requirements. Yesterday Governor Inslee issued another emergency proclamation that waives the standard one-week waiting period and allows for benefits to apply retroactively to March 8.

The Legislature also ensured school employees can maintain health insurance eligibility for the remainder of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours because of being quarantined, school closure, or care of a family member.

Our state executive agencies are acting through emergency rules to provide relief and support. Some examples include:

I will keep you posted as additional resources come online to help our community during these difficult times. As always, if you need any assistance connecting with state agencies to help you or your family, please reach out to my office.

My Legislative Priorities

Despite the challenges facing lawmakers this session, we managed to pass a lot of great policy and make important investments for Washington’s 7 million residents this session.

I worked on several bills that will soon be making their way to the governor’s desk for his signature. Two bills I’m particularly proud of build upon efforts to expand access to college to more students.

Undocumented Student Support
Undocumented students want to pursue the same college opportunities as every other student with big dreams for their future. But they also face additional barriers to college, such as the lack of access to federal financial aid programs.

In 2014, the Legislature enacted the Dream Act, which increased access to college for undocumented residents. Senate Bill 6561 expands upon that effort by creating a state-funded, state-administered student loan program to help undocumented students who are ineligible for federal financial aid programs that cover the full cost of a degree.

Common Application for College
Currently, each of the public four-year institutions in Washington has its own unique application and fee waiver process for low-income students. SB 6142 will simplify the college application process by creating a single common application for our public four-year institutions in Washington state.

Legislative Recap

Other bills we passed include ones to reign in the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs like insulin. Lawmakers also approved several bills to address the homelessness crisis and increase the supply of affordable housing. We enacted a plastic bag ban and a requirement for public schools to phase in age-appropriate comprehensive sexual health education over the next several years.

I’ll share more details about my bills that passed and other statewide priorities in future updates.

Public service is an honor and privilege. Thank you for the opportunity to be your voice in the Washington State Senate. I welcome your feedback. Please keep in touch to let me know how I can best serve you.

 

 

Marko Liias
State Senator
21st Legislative District

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    VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets House approval

VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets House approval

March 5th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – A bill that aims to increase voter participation among young adults was approved today by the House of Representatives by a vote of 56-41.

“We have to do more to bring down barriers for young people to participate in our elections,” said state Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood). “The data is clear — if young people participate when they are 18, 19, 20, in those first formative elections, their lifetime voter participation is much higher. We want to teach young people to be engaged in our democracy.”

At a time when several states are making concerted efforts to restrict the voting rights of residents, lawmakers in Washington state are again focused on expanding access to democracy to as many eligible voters as possible.

During the 2018 legislative session, Washington lawmakers enacted automatic voter registration for those 18 years and older as well as a law allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote upon coming of age. However, the youth pre-registration is an opt-in process.

Senate Bill 6313, the Voting Opportunities Through Education (VOTE) Act, will change that to an opt-out process, making registration automatic unless they choose to not register. It will also allow young voters to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 and are otherwise eligible to vote before the next general election, which had previously been permitted in presidential caucuses before the state’s adoption of the presidential primary law in 2019.

Liias’ legislation seeks to address barriers to voting common to many younger adults, such as frequent changes of address, becoming eligible right after an election, and limits on voter registration access on college campuses.

The VOTE Act would create “Student Engagement Hubs” at the state’s public four-year colleges and universities. The hubs would make it easier for college students to cast ballots if they have last-minute challenges that would otherwise be barriers to voting. For example, the hubs could help people take advantage of the state’s new, same-day voter registration law in the final days before the election.

After regaining the Senate majority in 2018, Democrats in the Washington State Legislature enacted several polices expanding access to voting including same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration, the Washington Voting Rights Act, and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

SB 6313 was amended by the House, so the bill now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn for the year on March 12.

Coronavirus update

March 2nd, 2020|

Friends and neighbors:

Sadly, public health officials announced yesterday that four more Washingtonians have passed away after contracting coronavirus. I know all Washingtonians mourn their passing and send our condolences to their families and friends in this time of loss.

Lawmakers are receiving regular updates from health department officials and I am confident that state and local agencies are taking all necessary actions to limit the spread of the virus and keep us safe.

We all must do our part to keep the virus from spreading, which means washing our hands often, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, and staying home when we’re sick.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to avoid contracting and spreading the virus.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider before going to get care and tell them about your symptoms.

You can keep up with the latest from our federal, state, and local public health officials here:

Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC)
Washington State
Department of Health
Snohomish County
Health District
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ICYMI – On a happier note, we had another fantastic episode of Live with Liias last week with my friend and colleague Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. Click on the image below to check out our conversation. We had a great time talking about the work her agencies do for the people of Washington and her legislative priorities like wildfire prevention.

And as a bonus, you can find out more about her connection to a very famous ice skater from the 1990s.

Click here for Live with Liias with special guest Hilary Franz

 


I’ll send you an update on the bills I’m working on as we get closer to the end of the legislative session.

It is truly an honor to serve you, and my door is always open. If you have any questions about this session or any topic, please feel free reach me by email at Marko.Liias@leg.wa.gov or by phone at 360-786-7640.

All my best,

 

 

Sen. Marko Liias
21st Legislative District