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COVID – Latinx resources one pager FLYER FORMAT – 10.27.20

Senate Members of Color issue statement about recent Census Bureau decision


The Senate Members of Color Caucus issued the following statement today:

“The Census Bureau recently announced that they were changing their operational plan to complete Census data collection by September 30, 2020 – rather than the previously planned October 31, 2020 – and have abandoned their request to extend statutory deadlines for delivery of the final census count to the President and the states. This leaves only six weeks for non-response follow up, which could jeopardize efforts to completely and accurately count our community members. And rushing the data collection process could leave historically undercounted populations without an accurate count, again.

As the Members of Color Caucus, we understand exactly what is at stake. Hundreds of federal financial assistance programs rely on census data to inform the distribution of funds – whether to states, counties, cities, households. These include Medicaid, highway planning and construction, special education grants, school lunch programs, low income home energy assistance, foster care, and so many other crucial programs on which our neighbors rely.

The census has traditionally undercounted communities of color, young children, lower income individuals, people for whom English is a second language, undocumented immigrants, Native Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, people experiencing homelessness, and those who distrust the government. These same communities are in profound need of equal representation in government. Without an accurate count, we risk disenfranchising these communities even further, and making it harder for them to access important services.

We oppose the federal government’s decision to rush the census count and to shorten the time allotted for non-response follow up. We believe that everyone counts, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that our whole community is accurately reflected in data determining the funding and representation we all receive.”

An open letter to the people of Washington state:

An open letter to the people of Washington state:

The Senate Democratic Caucus – fully recognizing that our own state Senate lacks the voice of even a single Black legislator, a voice that needs to ground us today and always – stands with our Black neighbors throughout Washington as we grieve together the violent and unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Charleena Lyles, Manuel Ellis and too many others, at the hands of law enforcement.

A history of systemic and institutionalized racism and violence leveled against our Black neighbors has manifested in days of protests around our grieving country, including here at home. As the Senate Democratic Caucus, we unequivocally stand with those who are raising their voices in pain, anger and hope to make demands for substantive change.

We are moved by the love and grief displayed over the life and death of George Floyd that has mobilized so many of every background, some for the first time. Though our state and country face a moment of deep pain and renewed trauma, we are also witness to a pivotal moment of potential historic change in public policy; one with an opportunity to craft equitable and compassionate laws that serve all of us.

We recognize that the power to make substantive change lies with us, the policymakers. We recognize this power to make substantive change should have been wielded long ago. We recognize that Black, Indigenous and brown lives have been disproportionately subjected to police brutality in addition to the merciless cycle of incarceration. We are committed to changing these broken institutions.

Our agenda will be shaped by the community. We are committed to listening and working alongside Black leaders and organizers. Their ideas and their solutions to these issues will be elevated so that we may respond to their call for action. Successful efforts toward change have always had their origins at the local level. We are listening.

Know that we grieve with you, stand united in your call for justice and promise to work with you in these next crucial steps toward real change.

On behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus,


Sen. Andy Billig

Majority Leader

Sen. Manka Dhingra

Deputy Majority Leader

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña

Deputy Majority Leader


House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses receive social justice award

OLYMPIA – On Friday, Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) and Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) accepted the Social Justice Champion Award from SEIU 775 on behalf of the Member of Color Caucuses (MOCC) of both chambers of the Washington State Legislature.

“We are thrilled to award the House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses the SEIU 775 Social Justice Champion Award for their work to transform Washington State into a more equitable and inclusive state for all,” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders. 

“In 2019, these legislators fought to ensure working people are paid enough to support themselves and their family and to have the opportunity to join a union, to end discrimination, and to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees to live and work in Washington,” she said. “Our state is stronger because of this work and caregivers look forward to continuing the fight for equity fighting alongside these women and men.”

In accepting the award on behalf of the Senate MOCC, Saldaña said, “It’s an honor for us to receive this award. The members of SEIU 775 have been among the first to support non-traditional politicians, and with support like this, the Members of Color Caucuses continue to grow.  Not only does this growth help us prioritize key legislation that puts people first, it also provides us with more people to help keep this legislation front and center throughout the legislative process.”

Valdez, who accepted the award on behalf of the House MOCC as its Chair said, “The 2019 session was a landmark one for social justice legislation, from prioritizing and advocating for critical bills, to fighting for budget dollars to assist underrepresented communities. The Members of Color Caucus was proud to champion these policies on behalf of all people in our state. We know the work continues, and together with allies like SEIU 775 we will keep standing up for Washington’s working families and diverse communities.”

September 23, 2019

Bill honoring civil rights activist Dolores Huerta passes Legislature

OLYMPIA – Today the Senate passed historic legislation to designate April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day as Ms. Huerta herself looked on.

House Bill 1906, sponsored by Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, honors Dolores Huerta, a feminist, civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 and was instrumental in California’s adoption of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted farmworkers collective bargaining rights.

Huerta was at the Capitol today to participate in Latino Legislative Day activities with the Latino Civic Alliance. As she looked on from the gallery, several senators rose in support of the bill, which passed on a 44-0 vote. 

From a humble background, Huerta pursued an education as a single mom and became a teacher. Dismayed by the poor living conditions of her students, the children of farm workers, she joined movements to improve living and working conditions of farm workers, and also challenged gender discrimination within those movements.

As a key leader and organizer of the farm worker’s rights movement, she fought against discrimination, stood up for the rights of women, advocated to bring dignity to farm workers, and emphasized the importance of building community. Over the years, she has worked on many issues, such as comprehensive immigration reform, income inequality, and the rights of women and those in the Latino community.

“Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role of women in American history, and Dolores Huerta is one of those women we recognize as instrumental in the fight for farm workers’ rights,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). “Her story resonates with many women from underrepresented groups, and her work has paved the way for women like me in assuming leadership roles in their communities. This recognition sends a message about the importance of the leadership of women and people of color.”

“I am proud that Washington will now honor the legacy and recognize the remarkable life of a tireless worker, a passionate advocate and a true fighter,” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, who prime-sponsored the measure and effectively steered it through the legislative process to get it out of the House the first week of March. “A warrior whose unwavering quest for civil rights, equality and justice continue to make our nation a more perfect union. A woman who defiantly looked oppression in the eye and said, enough. A Latina who pushed other Latinas to seek positions of leadership. An American who taught us that together we can do great things. ¡Sí se puede!

“Dolores Huerta is a true American icon,” said Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia). “Her leadership in establishing the United Farmworkers Union helped to lift up some of the lowest-paid workers, who make their living in backbreaking jobs harvesting our crops.”

HB 1906 passed the House on March 4 and now goes to the governor’s office to be signed into law.

Inslee signs Native American Voting Rights Act into law

Gov. Inslee signed the Native American Voting Rights Act today, allowing the residential address portion of a voter registration form to be filled out with a nontraditional address.

The measure would expand access to democracy in Native communities and prevent unnecessary barriers to voting, said John McCoy (D-Tulalip), prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5079.

“As the only enrolled tribal member elected to the Washington State Senate, I realize there is still much work to be done to ensure that the indigenous community can fully participate in the democratic process,” McCoy said. “Voter participation is not a partisan issue; it is the foundation of our democratic system and must be protected by all sides. Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together to ensure that our electoral system works in the interest of all Americans.”

“Our democracy works best when we all have the opportunity to participate. When entire communities are denied access to the ballot box; lawmakers need to take a look at systemic issues that need to be addressed,” he added.

State Legislature welcomes one of the most diverse cohorts on record, including women of color

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Legislature welcomed one of its most diverse cohorts of elected officials in state history on January 14. The most recent class includes a female majority in the House Democratic Caucus with women of color serving in both the House and Senate leadership ranks. Washington currently ranks fourth in the nation in terms of gender parity in the state legislature.

“Today is a resounding visual and symbolic demonstration of the diverse strength and talent that comes when we ensure our government is reflective of the people we represent,” stated Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way, who will serve her second term in the House. “I am proud to count myself among the largest induction of women and people of color to the legislature in this state’s history. I look forward to fighting for families and putting people first as we work to represent all Washingtonians.”

“We doubled the number of women of color in the Senate in 2018, and again in 2019. We now have the most diverse legislative body in Washington state history,” said Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, who serves as the Senate’s Deputy Majority Leader. “We are finally starting to see elected officials reflect the diverse communities that make up our country. Policies developed with input from diverse stakeholders work best to address all of our needs.” Dhingra is the first Sikh elected to any state legislature in the nation.

Senators Dhingra and Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, both serve as Deputy Majority Leader, making them the highest ranking women in the Senate. They are joined by newly elected Senators Mona Das, D-Covington and Emily Randall, D-Bremerton.

Senator Das is a small-business owner who moved to the United States from India with her family at eight-months old. Senator Randall is a community organizer. She plans to focus on affordable college, apprenticeship and job training programs.

The newly elected women of color to the House of Representatives include Reps. Melanie Morgan, D-Parkland, Debra Entenman, D-Kent, My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, and Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow.

Rep. Morgan is the former School Board Director for Franklin-Pierce County and US Army veteran. Prior to her school board service, she served as the Commissioner on the Board of the Pierce County Housing Authority and as a member of the Board of Community Health Care.

Rep. Entenman is the former District Director for Congressman Adam Smith. She was in the inaugural class of Seattle/County’s Head Start program, later serving on the Head Start Parent Council.

Rep. Thai is the former Board President of the Bellevue School Board and Vice President of the Washington State School Board Directors Association. Prior to her educational service, she was a practicing pharmacist, volunteered as a medical interpreter and co-taught in Vietnam’s first nursing graduate program. She is the first refugee woman to serve in Olympia.

Rep. Lekanoff is the Swinomish Governmental Affairs Director. Lekanoff is the first Native American woman elected to the House.

Freshmen members will join Reps. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, Kristine Reeves, Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, D-Seattle, Vandana Slatter, D-Bellevue, and Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver. Stonier is the current Majority Floor Leader and Ortiz-Self is the current Majority Caucus Vice Chair.