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

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    With Democrats in majority, Liias to command Senate floor action

With Democrats in majority, Liias to command Senate floor action

November 14th, 2017|

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, will lead Senate floor action as the majority floor leader in the 2018 legislative session.

As minority floor leader last session, Liias served in a more reactive capacity for the minority Democrats. But since Democrats won a special election earlier this month in the state’s 45th Legislative District, they now hold the majority in the Senate. This gives the Democrats and Liias the power to determine which bills will come up for a vote.

Liias will also continue to serve on the Senate Transportation Committee and the Senate Rules Committee and will assume roles on the Senate Local Government Committee and the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee.

“Guiding legislation through the Senate is a powerful responsibility and a role that I assume with the utmost respect and humility,” Liias said. “At the end of the day, what we do will determine the welfare of Washingtonians in communities across our state. It’s our job now to make sure everything that comes out of the Senate reflects Washington values and priorities.”

The 2018 legislative session gets underway in Olympia on Jan. 8.

How media literacy can help students discern fake news

June 7th, 2017|

This PBS NewsHour report during Education Week focuses on media literacy programs made possible by teacher Claire Beach and legislation by Sen. Marko Liias.

To watch the report, click here or on the icon below:

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    Bipartisan majority of Senate condemns Chechnya concentration camps

Bipartisan majority of Senate condemns Chechnya concentration camps

April 20th, 2017|

A bipartisan majority of 27 Washington state senators today introduced a resolution urging peaceable action on the part of diplomatic bodies of the federal government in collaboration with the international community on behalf of victims of homophobic persecution in Chechnya.

“There are reports of 100 or more gay and bisexual men having been abducted and detained at a de facto concentration camp, where many have been beaten, tortured and even killed, and yet many people in our country and around the world are not even aware this is happening,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood and the prime sponsor of the resolution. “If there is any hope of providing relief to those being persecuted and tortured, we must stop standing on the sidelines and work energetically to raise awareness and marshal global pressure.”

Senate Joint Resolution 8012 urges diplomatic bodies and others to advocate to end state-sanctioned detention of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and to provide asylum to LGBT individuals who seek safety.

“Chechnya’s blatant violation of international human rights law is being carried out with the consent of the head of the Chechen government, Ramzan Kadyrov, who denies the very existence of LGBT people in Chechnya,” Liias said. “Chechen officials have denied these reports and made statements to incite hatred based on sexual orientation or gender identity and to encourage violence against LGBT individuals by their neighbors and even their very families.”

The Russian government, during this time, has declined to publicly condemn the actions and has suggested that official complaints of abuse be filed with the same authorities responsible for promoting the violence.

“It is the moral obligation of the United States to ‘work aggressively to advance human rights for everyone,’ in the words of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing,” Liias said. “It’s time to back up those words with action.”

The resolution is addressed to the President of the United States, the Secretary of State of the United States, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and each member of Congress from the State of Washington.

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    As Trump holds out, Senate Democrats request AG opinion on requiring presidential candidates’ tax returns

As Trump holds out, Senate Democrats request AG opinion on requiring presidential candidates’ tax returns

April 17th, 2017|

Senate Democrats today requested a formal opinion from Attorney General Bob Ferguson on the state’s ability to condition ballot access on whether presidential candidates release their federal tax returns.

“As millions of Americans fulfill their civic duty this week by filing tax returns, it only makes sense that they should be able to know if there is anything in their president’s tax situation that indicate he might personally benefit from decisions made by his administration,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, whose office submitted the request. “President Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns leaves the public with no way of knowing if his actions might benefit his business portfolio or foreign governments or corporations with a financial interest in his businesses.”

In his request to Ferguson, Liias also asked whether the state can enact legislation requiring the secretary of state to decline a presidential candidate’s slate of electors if the candidate or the candidate’s running mate has failed to release federal tax returns. Since November, Liias noted, legislation has been introduced in 26 states that would require any candidate for president to disclose five years of tax returns no later than 50 days prior to a general election. You can read Liias’ full request here.

“Every major party candidate for president in the past 40 years has released their tax returns, with the exception of the current president,” Liias said. “Voters have a right to know of conflicts of interest or how a particular policy change might affect the president’s personal financial holdings.”

Also signing the request were Sens. Sharon Nelson, John McCoy, Sam Hunt, Patty Kuderer, Christine Rolfes, Jamie Pedersen, Rebecca Saldaña, Guy Palumbo, Mark Mullet, Lisa Wellman, Kevin Ranker, Annette Cleveland, Karen Keiser, Maralyn Chase, Jeannie Darneille and Reuven Carlyle.

“This practice dates back to President Richard Nixon who, when he released his returns in 1973, famously said, ‘People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook,’ ” Liias said. “People have a right and a need to know whether someone they are considering for president has interests that might conflict with the best interests of the country.”

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    At-risk youth could receive relief through Senate ID bill, budget grant

At-risk youth could receive relief through Senate ID bill, budget grant

April 5th, 2017|

Homeless and at-risk youth could receive critical help as a result of two Senate measures awaiting consideration in the House, Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, said today.

Both measures would extend the reach of Cocoon House, a nonprofit that helps homeless and at-risk youth in Snohomish County. One of the measures, the Senate’s capital budget, passed unanimously late last week and would provide a $2 million grant to Cocoon House.

“Cocoon House does an amazing job of making the most of a dollar in helping area youths, and these measures will enable them reach even more people in need,” Liias said. “I can’t imagine this money being put to a more valuable purpose than to help young people in our community who are struggling either because they lack basic resources or lack an ID that would enable them to access those resources.”

Among its many services to youth, the Cocoon House provides emergency supplies, hygiene packs, food packs and access to housing and local resources. It also provides short- and long-term housing to homeless young people ages 12 to 17 and their children.

“The funds we receive from the state can mean the difference between hope and hopelessness for a lot of kids,” said Julio Cortes, the public relations manager of Cocoon House, a nonprofit based in Everett. “These funds will be maximized and help to break the cycle of homelessness in our communities.”

The other measure awaiting a vote in the House, Senate Bill 5382, is sponsored by Liias and would enable Washingtonians under the age of 18 who have no primary address to purchase an identification card at cost, or about $10, instead of the standard $54 fee.

“Cocoon House works with youth every day who struggle to get connected to resources because they lack an ID,” Cortes said. “Sen. Liias’ bill is going to have a positive, very real and direct impact on youth experiencing homelessness in our communities. With access to IDs, doors for youth will open and give them a better chance to become successful adults.”

That bill awaits an up-or-down vote on the House floor, having passed out of the House Transportation Committee, while the capital budget must be further negotiated between the chambers. Liias said the unanimous passage of the budget in the Senate bodes well for negotiations.

“We often hear people say that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together, especially in today’s polarized culture, but this budget proves the opposite,” he said. “Now we need to build on this good will moving forward.”

Why we should close wasteful tax loopholes

March 22nd, 2017|

Everyone knows we need to find a way of fully funding K-12 education across our state, and we also know the price tag will not be cheap. But what if I told you there was a way to fund our schools without raising taxes?

In my second Washington Whiteboard segment on Tax Reform, I look at the state’s 694 tax loopholes and offer examples of some that are ripe for closing, either because they no longer serve the purpose for which they were created or they simply have not delivered the benefits they were created to provide.

You can view the short video by clicking here or on the icon below.

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    Democrats’ bills would improve transit agencies on multiple fronts

Democrats’ bills would improve transit agencies on multiple fronts

March 21st, 2017|

Democratic senators introduced five separate reforms today to address frustration surrounding how Sound Transit 3 is handling car tabs.

Senate Bill 5905, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, would adopt a new formula for assessing the value of vehicles taxed by Sound Transit on future bonds issued by accelerating the rate of depreciation.

“We all have a stake in building a world-class transportation system, but we must also ensure that those who can least afford it don’t shoulder an unfair burden – that’s what my bill is all about,” said Hobbs, the ranking member of the Senate Transportation Committee. “We must address the transit needs of our region and ensure greater transparency and accountability in working with Sound Transit. An undertaking of this magnitude is bound to find controversy along the way. I will remain open to all ideas that the public and Sound Transit bring forward.”

SB 5907, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, would direct transit agencies to improve coordination with Sound Transit and other agencies and show measurable progress as they integrate service with Sound Transit.

“As light rail grows, we want transit agencies to reallocate bus service so that our buses are feeding into rail stations rather than running the same routes served by rail,” said Liias, the assistant ranking member on the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our agencies need to work together seamlessly to make sure taxpayers get the best service for their dollars.”

SB 5908 and SB 5909, both sponsored by Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, would increase accountability by: requiring notices of regional transit authority motor vehicle excise taxes and property taxes to include budget information and status of Sound Transit projects being funded by car tab fees; and directing county auditors to provide similar accountability statements on the status of Sound Transit projects to property taxpayers.

“As a former senior manager in the technology industry, I learned that if I didn’t keep my investors updated on how their projects were progressing, I would lose their trust,” said Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby. “The same can be said for government and its responsibility to be transparent and accountable to taxpayers. After all, taxpayers are essentially investors. That’s why I am directing county auditors and the Department of Licensing to provide information on the status of Sound Transit’s projects. People need to see their hard-earned dollars at work and be able to hold government accountable if projects aren’t being done on time or on budget.”

SB 5906, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, would allow Sound Transit to offer a rebate of up to 40 percent on car tab charges for low-income vehicle owners and a similar rebate of up to 40 percent on the property tax charge for Sound Transit 3 (ST3) for low-income homeowners.

“Like the overwhelming majority of the people in the 37th district, I strongly support more public transit options that come about through better community support and engagement,” Saldaña said. “Our district is made up of diverse, working people and families who are most impacted by our state’s upside down tax system. This bill aims to mitigate the effects of that broken system on fixed income adults and low-income folks who may need relief with some of the extra costs related to ST3 while ensuring we keep our district and region moving toward a cleaner and better transportation future.”

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    House to hear Liias bill to improve students’ digital citizenship

House to hear Liias bill to improve students’ digital citizenship

March 15th, 2017|

In-school strategies to help students navigate the pitfalls of digital media and communication would be reviewed and improved by legislation scheduled to be heard at 8 a.m. tomorrow by the House Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 5449, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, earlier passed the Senate on a strong, bipartisan 40-9 vote.

“We live in a dynamic environment where our young learners are being exposed to thousands of messages and advertisements, such as for alcohol, and there are folks online who are looking to prey on young people, not to mention risks such as malware and other cyber threats,” Liias said. “We need to make sure as our students are learning and growing that they understand the challenges posed by technology and can be responsible and safe consumers.”

Liias’ legislation would:

  • Require the Washington State School Directors’ Association to review and revise its policy and procedures on electronic resources and Internet safety and to develop a checklist for school districts;
  • Direct the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI ) to create a web-based location with links to recommended successful practices and resources to support digital citizenship, media literacy, and Internet safety; and
  • Task OSPI with surveying teacher-librarians, principals, and technology directors to understand how they are currently integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education in their curriculum.

The bill expands on legislation passed in 2016 that was inspired by Claire Beach, a retired media literacy educator from the Edmonds School District, to establish curricula and programs to raise student awareness of the pitfalls of digital media.

“One of the lessons I always tried to instill in my students was that committed citizens can make a difference, and this legislation proves that,” Beach said. “This not only helps students become more responsible consumers of media, it shows them what can be accomplished if they engage with their elected officials.”

“Thanks to Claire’s leadership, our state is a national leader in the effort to help students deal with digital influences,” Liias said. “Even in retirement, she continues to teach us.”

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    Liias: Levy cliff bill ‘a huge, huge victory for our local schools’

Liias: Levy cliff bill ‘a huge, huge victory for our local schools’

March 8th, 2017|

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood, issued this statement today following the Senate’s passage of legislation to postpone the so-called levy cliff that would have resulted in massive budget cuts to K-12 schools across the state.

“This is a huge, huge victory for our local schools, which would have faced massive cuts and the prospect of budgets that would have laid off teachers and other staff. The Edmonds School District would have lost $14.8 million and the Mukilteo School District would have had to cut $5.1 million.

“This means our children can expect a stable school year through next year, and their schools won’t face the prospect of later having to recruit to replace teachers that might have left for other districts or professions.

“This is why I came to Olympia, to get things done. I hope now we can build on this progress to finish the job of giving all our schoolchildren the education they deserve.”

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    Senate passes Liias bill to reduce ID costs for teens without addresses

Senate passes Liias bill to reduce ID costs for teens without addresses

March 7th, 2017|

Teens who lack home addresses because they face homelessness and related hardships could purchase identicards at cost under legislation that passed the Senate 47-2 and is now awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives.

“The mere possession of an ID can mean survival for teens who experience homelessness and are trying to get a job or find permanent housing,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood. “Any money they save on identicards is better spent on food, clothing and shelter from the nonprofits who can make the difference between these kids having to sleep on the streets.”

Liias’ Senate Bill 5382 would enabled Washingtonians under the age of 18 who have no primary address to purchase identicards at cost instead of the standard $54 fee.

“Cocoon House works with youth everyday who struggle to get connected to resources because they lack an ID,” said Julio Cortes of Cocoon House, a nonprofit that serves homeless and at-risk youth in Snohomish County. “Sen. Liias’ bill is going to have a positive, very real and direct impact on youth experiencing homelessness in our communities. With access to IDs, doors for youth will open and give them a better chance to become successful adults.”

Identicards are designed to be readily distinct from driver’s licenses and expire on the sixth anniversary of the applicants’ birth dates after issuance. Applicants may renew identicards at Dept. of Licensing offices, by mail, or electronically.