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

Sen. Marko Liias Newsroom

Liias bills signed by governor with more on deck

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).

March 30th, 2020|News Release|

Update on the Coronavirus Outbreak

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

March 19th, 2020|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets House approval

VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets House approval

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.

March 5th, 2020|News Release|

Coronavirus update

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
Website Website Website
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Twitter Twitter Twitter

 


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

March 2nd, 2020|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    House approves Liias bill requiring informed consent for pelvic exams

House approves Liias bill requiring informed consent for pelvic exams

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.

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February 27th, 2020|News Release|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Brother and sister serve as pages in Washington State Senate

Brother and sister serve as pages in Washington State Senate

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.”

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

Print-quality photos

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February 24th, 2020|News Release|

Another great session putting people first

This is Marko Liias, your state Senator from the 21st Legislative District. If you’re getting this message from me for the first time, welcome!

I like to send a few updates while the Legislature is in session to help you stay informed on what lawmakers are doing on your behalf. During the rest of the year, I’ll send additional updates to let you know what I’m working on for the next legislative session and to hear about your priorities.

If you do not want to receive these email updates, simply click here and you’ll be instantly removed from this distribution list.

If you ever decide to change your mind, you can re-sign up and update your delivery preferences by clicking here.


The 2020 Legislative Session

We just reached a key cutoff of the 2020 session for Senate bills to be sent to the House and vice versa. This is a “short” 60-day session, meaning we’re a few days beyond the halfway point. After about a month of public hearings on bills, we debated and voted on more than 260 bills on the Senate Floor.

Some important issues we’re considering this year in our ongoing effort of putting people first:

  • Addressing the homelessness and affordable housing crisis impacting all communities across the state
  • Increasing health care access and affordability
  • Continuing our progress on fighting climate change
  • Expanding access to early learning for more families
  • Building a green transportation infrastructure
  • Reforming our state’s unfair and unsustainable regressive tax code

My 2020 priorities

Youth voting: At a time when several states are making concerted efforts to restrict the voting rights of residents, I remain focused on expanding access to democracy to as many eligible voters as possible. This session introduced Senate Bill 6313 – the Voting Opportunities Through Education (VOTE) Act, a measure aimed at increasing voter participation among young adults.

In addition to making the youth pre-registration process opt-out instead of opt-in, the VOTE Act creates “Voter Empowerment Centers” at the state’s public four-year colleges and universities. These voter empowerment centers will make it easier for college students to cast their ballots in several key ways: students will be able to print their ballots if they didn’t receive them at their current address and update their voter registration if they have moved away from home to attend school. Studies show that people who vote as young adults go on to become consistent, lifelong voters – one sign of a healthy, functioning democracy!

SB 6313 was approved by the Senate and is scheduled for a vote in the House State Government & Tribal Relations Committee for Friday.


College Opportunities: A major priority of mine throughout my legislative career has been to find ways to remove barriers to a college education. In 2018, I was successful in passing a Student Loan Bill of Rights, which protects borrowers from harmful and unfair business practices.

Last year, the Legislature enacted the Workforce Education Investment Act, which will greatly reduce financial barriers for thousands of low- and middle-income students.

Building on that success, I’ve introduced a few bills aimed opening up more doors of opportunity for people to go to college:

  • SB 6542 – Would create the “Next Step” pilot program, which would automatically admit graduating high school students into one or more colleges or universities in the state.
  • SB 6577 – Would create a child savings program to help all children born in Washington state pay for college.
  • SB 6561 – Would provide more financial aid options for undocumented students.

Join the Discussion!

Please join me, Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, and Rep. Strom Peterson for a town hall discussion on Saturday, February 22 from 10 a.m. to noon at Mariner High School (200 120th St SW, Everett). This will be a great opportunity for you to hear what we’re working on in the Legislature and share your thoughts about the issues we’re debating.


How to reach me?

As always, your ideas are important to me. You can stay in touch in a number of different ways:


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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February 20th, 2020|E-News|
  • 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

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.

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February 18th, 2020|News Release|
  • Permalink Gallery

    VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets Senate approval

VOTE Act aimed at boosting young voter turnout gets Senate approval

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.

February 14th, 2020|News Release|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Liias bill encouraging healthier beverage options for kids passes Senate

Liias bill encouraging healthier beverage options for kids passes Senate

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.

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Obesity facts for the U.S.

February 13th, 2020|News Release|