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

News Release

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).

  • Permalink Gallery

    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.

  • Permalink Gallery

    House approves Liias bill requiring informed consent for pelvic exams

House approves Liias bill requiring informed consent for pelvic exams

February 27th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Legislation to prohibit health care providers and medical students from performing pelvic exams on women without informed consent was approved unanimously today by the House of Representatives.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood), said Senate Bill 5282 is a great example of people directly engaging with their elected officials through social media about ideas for legislation.

“I was contacted in the fall of 2018 by someone on Twitter who said there was a practice, widespread across the country, of performing pelvic exams while women were under anesthesia without their consent to help train medical students and others,” said Liias. “I thought this sounds so outrageous, surely it cannot be legal. We had our team dig into it and, in fact, it is not prohibited in Washington to perform a pelvic exam on a woman when she’s under anesthesia without her consent.” [Link to audio file from Sen. Liias’ Senate floor speech]

If the bill is signed into 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 the practice thankfully is not happening in Washington, that we provide this really important protection.” [Link to audio file from Sen. Liias’ Senate floor speech]

The Senate first approved SB 5282 on Jan. 24 by a vote of 45-0. The bill now comes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote. Liias expects the Senate will vote to approve the House amendment.

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

###

  • Permalink Gallery

    Brother and sister serve as pages in Washington State Senate

Brother and sister serve as pages in Washington State Senate

February 24th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Siblings Aaron Lee and Chloe Lee served as pages in the Washington State Senate during the week of Feb. 17.

Pages are typically sponsored by the senator from their legislative district. Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) sponsored the siblings’ week in the Legislature.

The page program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works. The interactive learning experience includes classes focused on topics like budget writing and how a bill becomes a law, which culminates in pages creating their own bills in a mock committee setting. The educational experience is furthered by guest speakers.

“Learning how to make our own bills and present them in our mock committee was really fun,” said Aaron. “I also enjoyed hearing other pages present their own bills. We were able to collaborate with our bills and pick and choose the best parts of them to make a better bill, much the same way that legislators do here.”

Pages also have the opportunity to work on the Senate floor. Their maroon coats and credentials allow them access to all parts of the Capitol Campus.

“I found going on the Senate floor to be the most interesting thing I did this week,” said Chloe. “Hearing and watching the senators debate different issues was fascinating, especially because learning about it in school is much different than actually watching them do it in person right in front of me.”

Aaron, 16, is in 10th grade and Chloe, 14, is in 9th grade. They both attend Liias’ alma mater, Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

“I’m always inspired by the next generation of young leaders I get to meet in my role as a lawmaker,” said Liias. “I’m glad Chloe and Aaron were able to spend the week in Olympia as Senate pages. It was nice to get updates about my alma mater and to hear that many of the wonderful teachers I had at Kamiak are still teaching and doing great work in our community.”

Chloe enjoys playing her violin, volleyball, and volunteering with key club. Aaron is active in Bothell Youth Court, debate club, and is on the varsity tennis team.

“Being here has had a positive impact on me,” said Aaron. “Seeing the inner workings of how this place runs has given me a new appreciation for the legislative process. Getting to experience this short window of public service has shown me that there are a lot of options for how I could make a difference here in the future.”

“At first, I wasn’t really thinking about a career in public service,” said Chloe. “But watching how everyone here works together to make everyone’s lives better has made me think more about being a part of this place. I am especially interested in the possibility of coming back and working as a legislative intern while I am in college to see if this is really something that I want to pursue for a career.”

###

For more information about the Senate Page Program, contact SenatePageProgram@leg.wa.gov

Print-quality photos

http://sdc.wastateleg.org/liias/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2020/02/20200221_130318aa-scaled.jpg

http://sdc.wastateleg.org/liias/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2020/02/20200221_130256aa-scaled.jpg

http://sdc.wastateleg.org/liias/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2020/02/20200221_130452aa-scaled.jpg

 

 

 

  • Sen. Marko Liias on the Senate Floor
    Permalink Sen. Marko Liias on the Senate FloorGallery

    Liias bill expanding financial aid to undocumented students wins Senate approval

Liias bill expanding financial aid to undocumented students wins Senate approval

February 18th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – A bill sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) that would create a new state financial aid program for undocumented students was approved by the state Senate today by a vote of 34-14.

“We know that our undocumented students want to pursue the same opportunities and we want to help the state meet the degree attainment goals we’ve set for ourselves,” said Liias in public testimony in support of SB 6561. “But there are critical barriers to them in the way. We’ve done work as a state to clear our state-based barriers, but one big barrier that still exists is a lack of access to student loans.”

SB 6561 would create 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.

In 2014, the Legislature enacted the Washington State Dream Act, opening the doors to a college education for thousands of undocumented Washington state students by making them eligible for state financial aid. Undocumented students are typically not eligible for federal student financial aid.

SB 6561 would bridge the gap between undocumented residents who are eligible for in-state tuition rates but are currently not eligible for financial aid resources that are available to other students.

In 2003, Washington passed HB 1079, which allows undocumented Washington residents to attend college at the lower in-state tuition rates.

The rising costs of tuition have prevented many undocumented students from attending college even with the lower in-state tuition rate. The Dream Act, passed in 2014, expanded eligibility for state financial aid to undocumented students. That policy was further cemented with Dream Act 2.0 in 2018, which guarantees state financial aid eligibility even if the DACA program is removed at the federal level.

Another bill sponsored by Liias, SB 6142, would create a common application for admission to Washington’s public colleges and universities. SB 6142 received a unanimous vote on the Senate floor.

“This bill also builds on the really important work we did last year to expand higher education to all of our students across the state,” said Liias. “If we don’t remove barriers to access, then the work we did increasing funding for the Washington College Grant won’t be meaningful if student can’t access it.”

SB 6561 and SB 6142 now go to the House for consideration. The bills must pass the House by March 6 to be eligible for enactment into law.

The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end on March 12.

###

  • Permalink Gallery

    VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets Senate approval

VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets Senate approval

February 14th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – A bill that aims to increase voter participation among young adults was approved Thursday by the Senate on a vote of 28-19.

“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. 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 for the presidential caucuses before the adoption of the presidential primary law in 2019.

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

The VOTE Act would create “Voter Empowerment Centers” at the state’s public four-year colleges and universities. The centers would make it easier for college students to cast ballots if they have last-minute challenges that would otherwise be a barrier to voting. For example, the center could help people take advantage of the state’s new, same-day voter registration law in the final days before the election as well as provide ballots and related materials.

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.

In 2019, the Democratic-led majorities enacted the Native American Voting Rights Act and increased transparency with political ad campaign contributions.

SB 6313 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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

  • Permalink Gallery

    Liias bill encouraging healthier beverage options for kids passes Senate

Liias bill encouraging healthier beverage options for kids passes Senate

February 13th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – A bill that would require restaurants in Washington to offer healthier drink options for any children’s meal on the menu that includes a beverage was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

“With this bill, we’re asking all of our restaurants in Washington to feature menus that are healthy, and promote healthy beverages for healthy kids,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “It’s a good step forward to improving health in our communities and encouraging families to make healthier choices for their families and kids.”

SB 6455 would require the default beverage offered with a children’s meal offered in a restaurant to be either:

  • Water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;
  • Unflavored milk; or
  • Any other non-dairy alternative that contains fewer than 130 calories per container or serving.

Restaurants would retain the option to serve children alternative beverages upon request.

Liias introduced the bill as an effort to reduce child obesity rates and address a steadily worsening public health issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, adult obesity medical costs were estimated at $147 billion in 2008, and medical costs for people who have obesity are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Liias stressed that his legislation does not prohibit restaurants from serving less healthy beverages with children’s meals.

“I wanted to make that very clear in the bill. This isn’t an attempt to force restaurants to sell one product over another. There are no heavy mandates here,” said Liias. “But with obesity rates trending in the wrong direction, all ideas need to be on the table to address this serious public health issue.”

[Click here for MP3 audio file]

The bills now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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

###

Obesity facts for the U.S.

Liias MVET compromise wins committee approval

February 11th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers on the Senate Transportation committee approved SB 6606 today, a measure introduced by state Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) that seeks to keep light rail construction in the Puget Sound area on track while also implementing a fairer vehicle valuation system for car tab fees.

“When I talk to my constituents, they don’t want to be stuck in traffic.” said Liias. “They want light rail to come to us but they also want their cars to be valued fairly. Not on inflated values. We want our light rail, but we also want the tax system to be fair. And that’s what Senate Bill 6606 endeavors to do.”  [Link to MP3 audio file]

Liias says the $490 million in surplus tax revenue Sound Transit has already collected, in addition to the $2 billion surplus the agency estimates they’ll have by 2028, can be used to offset much of the reduced funding resulting from the lower car tab fees.

“I feel like I’m stuck between Sound Transit and Tim Eyman, trying to find a pathway that’s reasonable and balances what my constituents are asking for,” said Liias. “They want light rail. They want to get out of this Puget Sound traffic. But they also want a tax system that is fair. And one that they can understand. And one that they can fit into their monthly budgets in their households. That’s what I’ve tried to do here.” [Link to MP3 audio file]

In 2016, voters within the designated Sound Transit taxing district approved the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) package, a 62-mile extension of light rail that expands the current system to more Puget Sound communities like Everett, Tacoma, Redmond and West Seattle.

Part of the ST3 funding package includes an increase in the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) – a progressive tax based on a vehicle’s value. The MVET valuation table used for ST3 for the next eight years is an older table seen by many as unfair because it overvalues most newer vehicles.

A newer valuation table, which aligns more closely with vehicle values like those listed in the Kelley Blue Book, is scheduled to take effect in 2028.

SB 6606 would require Sound Transit to begin using the newer valuation table starting in 2021.

Another major component of SB 6606 would give motorists within the Sound Transit District an option to pay MVET bills monthly or quarterly using Good To Go! accounts.

“I do think we need to provide more payment options to consumers,” said Liias. “When you pay your car loan, when you pay your auto insurance, you have options for how to pay those. I think it’s time to give our consumers, our taxpayers, those same options to pay quarterly, to pay monthly.” [Link to MP3 audio file]

SB 6606 was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Monday. Because parts of the bill would modify I-976 within two years of the initiative’s passage, the state constitution requires SB 6606 to receive a two-thirds majority for passage.

Liias testified in support of his bill last week. His full testimony can be viewed here. The Everett Herald editorial board recently weighed in stressing the importance of finding a compromise on this issue.

SB 6606 is considered “necessary to implement the budget,” meaning the bill is exempt from the traditional legislative cutoff deadlines other bills must meet to be considered throughout the 2020 legislative session.

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

Liias sponsors slate of bills expanding access to college

January 31st, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Continuing his efforts to make the college dream a reality for more students across the state, State Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) is sponsoring several bills during the 2020 legislative session designed to remove barriers and expand access to college.

“Obtaining a post-secondary education has become increasingly important for getting a high-paying, in-demand job in this 21st century global economy,” Liias said. “We need to look at more ways to help Washington students get into and pay for college.”

Washington “Next Step” Pilot Program

Senate Bill 6542 would open more doors for Washington students looking to continue their education after high school by moving Washington toward adoption of a “Next Step” program modeled after a similar program in Idaho.

“For too many people, a college education can seem like a dream that’s out of reach,” said Liias. “The reality is anyone who wants to go to college should have that opportunity. For some people, getting that acceptance letter from a local college could be the nudge they need to take that next step.” 

Idaho has seen growth in student enrollment under its Next Step Program, which automatically admits high school seniors to public colleges and universities. Students receive a letter listing the institutions that have accepted them and giving them information about state and federal financial aid options.

SB 6542 creates a pilot program for two school districts – one from each side of the Cascades – to help students navigate existing automatic admissions programs at institutions in Washington and study the impact on enrollment. It also brings together an advisory committee to develop a statewide automatic admissions policy.

Statewide Child Savings Accounts

College savings plans like Washington’s GET and DreamAhead programs help families save for future college expenses for their kids. However, for many families, the financial commitments for these existing programs can seem out of reach.

Several states have enacted programs that automatically enroll children born in the state into a savings account program to help families save for college. Research shows that low-income and moderate-income students who have children’s educational savings accounts are three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate college.

SB 6577 calls for a study of ways to create a child college savings program in Washington. The study would examine issues like automatic enrollment, initial seed deposits, progressive incentive structures, resources for foster youth, and collaboration with philanthropic and private-sector organizations.

“The growing body of research on child savings accounts tells a powerful story of the positive impacts we can have on educational and health outcomes through a small investment,” said Jennifer Tran of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center. “SB 6577 moves us forward in creating a strong and equitable statewide program that will impact kids’ lifelong trajectory and generate lasting benefits for kids and families.”

 Undocumented Student Support Loan Program

In 2014, the Legislature enacted the Washington State Dream Act, opening the doors to a college education for thousands of undocumented Washington state students by making them eligible for state financial aid. Undocumented students are typically not eligible for federal student financial aid.

SB 6561 would complement the 2014 act by creating a state-funded and state-administered student loan program to help undocumented students who are ineligible for federal financial aid programs cover the full cost of a degree.

“We know that our undocumented students want to pursue the same opportunities and want to help the state meet the degree attainment goals we’ve set for ourselves,” said Liias in his public testimony in support of SB 6561. “But there are critical barriers to them in the way. We’ve done work as a state to clear our state-based barriers, but one big barrier that still exists is a lack of access to student loans.” [Click here for MP3 audio link]

SBs 6542, 6577 and 6561 had a public hearing in the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee on Thursday.

SB 6142 – A Common Application for All Public Colleges and Universities

In an effort to reduce of the complexities facing teens, young adults, and other potential applicants trying to get into college, SB 6142 would direct the Washington State Student Achievement Council to create a common application for admission to Washington’s public colleges and universities.

SB 6142 had a public hearing in the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee on Jan. 16.

A “companion” bill sponsored by Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-University Place), HB 2514, is expected to receive a vote next week in the House Committee on College & Workforce Development.

All bills have until Feb. 7 to be approved by their respective committees to be eligible for further consideration this session.

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

###

Liias bill encourages healthier beverage options for kids

January 22nd, 2020|

OLYMPIA – The Senate Health and Long Term Care committee held a public hearing today on a bill from State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, that would require restaurants to offer healthier drink options for any children’s meal on the menu that includes a beverage.

SB 6455 would require the default beverage that comes with a children’s meal offered in a restaurant to be either:

  • Water, sparkling water, or flavored water with no added natural or artificial sweeteners;
  • Unflavored milk; or
  • Any other non-dairy alternative that contains fewer than 130 calories per container or serving.

“Kids learn a lot at a young age,” said Liias. “If we can teach them healthier habits when they’re young, they’re much more likely to make healthier choices when they become adults.” [Click here for MP3 audio file]

Liias introduced the bill as an effort to reduce child obesity rates and address a steadily worsening public health issue.

According to the CDC, adult obesity medical costs were estimated at $147 billion in 2008. Medical costs for people who have obesity are $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

Liias stressed that his legislation does not prohibit restaurants from providing less healthy beverages with children’s meals upon request.

“I wanted to make that very clear in the bill. This isn’t an attempt to force restaurants to sell one product over another. There are no heavy mandates here,” said Liias. “But with obesity rates trending in the wrong direction, all ideas need to be on the table to address this serious public health issue.” [Click here for MP3 audio file]

SB 6455 was referred to the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee where it will receive a public hearing at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24. An identical (companion) bill — HB 2383, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver) — was introduced in the House of Representatives.

The bills have until Feb. 7 to be approved by their respective committees to be eligible for further consideration this session.

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

###

Obesity facts for the U.S.

 

* Updated 1/24/20 to reflect Sen. Liias was unable to testify at the public hearing due to a scheduling conflict.