Senator Nelson announces retirement

March 27th, 2018|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Five years ago, when I became leader, my goals were to build a strong caucus and to retake the majority and to show what that majority meant to the State of Washington. Because of each of you, my goals have been achieved. I want to thank each of you for the privilege of selecting me as Democratic Leader.

Thus, it is time for me to return next year to being a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter (yes, my mother is 89 and still a big part of our family). Simply said, I am not running for re-election to the Senate and looking forward to time with my family!

Thank you for your support over the years. It has been an honor to represent Washington state.


Sharon Nelson

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    Sen. Nelson: Senate bills expand healthcare options for women

Sen. Nelson: Senate bills expand healthcare options for women

February 1st, 2018|

Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, issued the statement below following the passage of three bills that expand women’s healthcare options:
• the Reproductive Parity Act (Senate Bill 6219)
• Senate Bill 5912 concerning insurance coverage of three-dimensional mammography
• Senate Bill 5084 providing women with timely information about their breast health
“Today we made a statement that a woman should have complete control of her reproductive destiny. These rights are constantly under attack, especially at this moment in our nation’s history.”
“Washingtonians have long considered themselves leaders when it comes to granting access to women’s healthcare, and the state Senate is continuing that tradition.”
“In recent years, we’ve made great strides in detecting breast cancer and other medical conditions that affect women. All women should have access to these procedures so that they can make informed decisions about their health. We have the technology to detect cancer early and save lives, so we should use it.”

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    Capital budget to bring $4 billion to state, more than $5 million to Vashon and Maury islands

Capital budget to bring $4 billion to state, more than $5 million to Vashon and Maury islands

February 1st, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Passage of the capital budget on Jan. 18 directs much needed funding to the 34th Legislative District, and to Washington as a whole, said Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island. The budget will invest more than $4 billion in necessary, life-changing projects statewide.
“The capital budget represents one of the greatest investments we can make in Washington and in Washingtonians,” Nelson said. “Thousands of family wage jobs, school construction, affordable housing, environmental improvements, mental health enhancements and investments will now finally be delivered to communities across our state.”
For the first time in decades, the Legislature failed to pass a biennial capital budget in 2017 after Republicans tied it to an unrelated issue. But after less than two weeks of Democrats’ control of both the House and Senate, lawmakers were able to move the vital budget forward.
“For far too long, the people and communities who desperately needed these investments were caught up in a game of brinksmanship and political ideology,” Nelson said. “There are no winners when the needs of real people are used as leverage.”
“I’m proud of our new majority and the quick manner in which we acted to get this critical legislation agreed to and passed. This is the right way to do business. Let’s work together, negotiate through our differences and truly put people first in all the work we do.”
The budget will fund the largest-ever investment in K-12 school construction — about $1 billion. About $861 million will go to higher education projects. About $106 million will go to the Housing Trust Fund, the second highest such investment in state history.
More than $65 million will go to community mental health beds, and about $20 million will go to both Eastern and Western state hospitals for patient safety enhancements and renovations.
About $15 million in the capital budget will fund a dramatic expansion in dental care, benefitting people who previously couldn’t afford treatment.
On Vashon and Maury islands the capital budget will fund:
• $100,000 for the Coldeen Property gas station (a component of the leaking tank model remedies program, which received about $1.1 million statewide)
• $250,000 for the Historic Mukai Farm and Garden restoration project
• $3 million for NeighborCare Health
• $2 million for Maury Island Open Space Remediation

Scholarships now available for Senate Page Program

October 24th, 2017|

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed SB 5346, creating the Gina Grant Bull Memorial Legislative Page Scholarship program. The scholarship’s goal is to ensure lower income families have the opportunity to participate in the Senate Page Program by helping to offset the expenses of traveling to, and staying in, Olympia the week their child pages. Scholarships are available for the 2018 session.

Who are pages, and what do they do?

Senate pages assist in floor activity, make deliveries around the Capitol campus and go to the Senate Page School where they write bills and participate in mock committee. Pages must be residents of Washington who are at least 14 years of age and have not reached their 17th birthday. Application information can be found here.

Scholarship qualifications:
The scholarship is based on the 2017 federal guidelines for free and reduced lunches. For verification purposes, applicants must supply a copy of the letter of approval issued by the school district when submitting their application. Students in foster care are automatically eligible.

How much is the scholarship amount?
Students selected for a scholarship receive $150 to assist with housing, food, clothing or coverage of daily commuting costs. Additional scholarship funds are available to help defray travel costs; this can range up to $125 depending on where the student lives. Scholarship pages, like all pages, will earn the traditional $35/day stipend.

More details about the scholarship program can be found here. The page scholarship application form can be found here.

Legislative Update: Budget passes, but it’s not over yet

July 10th, 2017|

Nelson banner 2017

Note from Sharon banner

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Budgets show our true values, and the priorities advocated for by the two parties in the budget this year are clear: Democrats committed to fully funding schools and protecting the safety net, Republicans committed to a statewide property tax. In a way both parties got what they were after when the budget passed late last week – a Democratic budget with Republican funding.

In this newsletter I will share with you some details of both the $43.7 billion state operating budget – which I voted for – and the education funding bill, which I unfortunately could not vote for.

Despite the challenges of the session there is undoubtedly a great amount of good that will come from the work done these past months. I am extremely disappointed by the way our schools are funded, but I am encouraged to know that amply funding public education is the best investment we can make in our state’s future. We live to fight another day, and I will not give up working to make our state more affordable and fair for all Washingtonians.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update and stay in touch.

Take care,


Captiol in the evening

A Democratic budget with Republican taxes

Budget highlights include:

  • Additional funding for a number of essential programs that help struggling families, including Working Connections Childcare (which helps low-income parents have affordable care for their children) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
  • Additional funding for mental health and homelessness services.
  • More funding for early childhood education
  • A new department that will better serve foster kids and other vulnerable children and families in our state.

Democratic negotiators were also able to beat back many damaging proposals put forward by Republicans, including devastating cuts to essential services, programs that help homeless youth, veterans and the elderly, and a significant cut to family planning.

I voted for the budget because it reflects the values we hold here in the 34th Legislative District – those of good government and protecting the vulnerable.

School kids

Yes for education, no for regressive funding

I am in strong support of the vast majority of the policy included in the education funding bill, as well as the $7.3 billion of new revenue that will go into Washington schools over the next four years. Unfortunately, I had to vote against it because of the reliance on revenue from a Republican property tax that hits communities like ours especially hard.

Numerous progressive revenue options proposed by Democrats, including a capital gains tax on the sale of high-value stocks and bonds and a progressive real estate excise tax, were flatly refused by Republicans. We managed to close several tax loopholes, including on bottled water, big oil and the out-of-state internet sales tax. But in a state that has the most unfair tax system in the nation these steps forward were simply not enough.

Despite my no vote, the education bill did pass.

Budget graphic

Here are some key things to know:

  • Our district will not receive less funding. Vashon Island School District will get an estimated 33% increase in state funding over the 2016-17 school year by full phase-in of the bill in 2021.
  • High cost-of-living districts, like Vashon, will receive “regionalized” pay. That means base salaries for school staff are allocated at a higher rate.
  • Local levies are still allowed for enhancements to basic education, and changes to levies do not take effect until 2019.
  • More money will go into our schools, but we will see an increase in property taxes. I encourage you to go to the Department of Revenue website as there are a number of property tax reductions and exemptions you may qualify for (here).
Mom and kid

Paid Family and Medical Leave passes!

At the end of session the Legislature passed the nation’s strongest Paid Family and Medical Leave law. Washington is now the 5th state in the nation to pass such a program, but this bill – supported by business, labor and family advocates – will likely serve as a model for other states looking to pass similar legislation. Senate Bill 5975 is a huge win for new parents and those caring for elderly family members.

PFML wins graphic

PFML benefits graphic


High-stakes testing

The Legislature also passed a bill to address high-stakes testing for high school seniors that ensures thousands of hard-working students graduate.

House Bill 2224 delays the use of the state science test as a graduation requirement until the graduating class of 2021 (retroactively applies to class of 2017), and provides an appeal process for graduates of 2014-2018 who failed to pass math or English assessments.

Stop sign Capitol

What is the hold up?

Like many of you, I am frustrated at how long the session is taking and how little public scrutiny was allowed before the final vote on the budget.

Because Senate Republicans refused to come to the negotiating table for two months, they brought our state to the brink of the fiscal cliff and shut the public out in the process. Sadly, this is not the first time – every budget cycle since Republicans took over the Senate has gone down to the wire.

The Legislature remains in session because they continue to obstruct passage of the critical capital budget – which passed the House 92-1 – over their unwillingness to compromise on a water rights issue. This is no way to govern, and a real disservice to the people of this state.

Call lawmakers at


to share your views on the capital budget.

July 10, 2017

Hand with mouse click here

Budget Information

Nonpartisan budget summary here.

State agency detail here.

Property tax impact information here.

Summary of K-12 funding here.

Nelson on floor of the senate applause

Contact Me

Phone: (360) 786-7667

Email: Sharon.Nelson@leg.wa.gov

Website: www.sdc.wastateleg.org/Nelson

Calling all students ages 14-18!

May 23rd, 2017|

Do you know a student who has a passion for politics or an interest in the legislative process? Then I hope you will encourage them to apply to be on the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC)! Applications are now open for all youth (ages 14-18) interested in serving on the 2017-18 council.

LYAC is composed of 22 dedicated young people from across the state. Their mission is to ensure the interests and opinions of Washington teens are heard and considered by state lawmakers.

When the Legislature is not in session, LYAC works as a liaison with youth organizations in Washington communities to educate the public on civic engagement opportunities for young people throughout the state. They are looking for a diverse group of voices to speak on behalf of Washington’s youth.

Applications are due no later than June 1st, 2017 at 11 PM, and can be found by clicking here.

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    Nelson, fellow women legislators celebrate Int’l Women’s Day

Nelson, fellow women legislators celebrate Int’l Women’s Day

March 8th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – A Senate Resolution was offered in the state Senate on Wednesday in honor of International Women’s Day. This year’s International Women’s Day theme was, “Be Bold for Change.” With that in mind, Sen. Christine Rolfes and her fellow women state senators made a short video to mark the day and celebrate women in Washington and throughout the nation and world who are bold for change.

Join Me! For a Telephone Town Hall, March 15

March 2nd, 2017|

Nelson: Senate Democrats resolute against fear and division

November 17th, 2016|

State Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, released the following statement in response to recent actions by members of the Senate Republican Caucus following the presidential election:

“In the last week, we have seen behavior from Senate Republicans that a vast majority of Washington residents would find disturbing. Since the presidential election, members of the Senate Republican Caucus have used words and actions to create division and instill fear among members of our communities.

“We have already seen an unconstitutional proposal that would undermine our right to free speech and heard divisive and false language about immigrants in a Senate committee. At the same time, we are seeing a dramatic and alarming rise in hate crimes and increased fear in our communities of color.

“Senate Republicans may be successful in generating headlines, but they will not be successful in their attempt to bring ugly, Trump-style campaign rhetoric inside the Capitol in Olympia.

“It’s imperative that Senate Republican leaders immediately and forcefully rebuke these actions and statements.

“Washington is known for embracing diversity and rejecting the politics of bigotry and resentment. Senate Democrats will stand by our shared values of fairness and opportunity and lead the fight to resist division and fear.”

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    Nelson: Passing of Sen. Hill a tremendously sad day for our state

Nelson: Passing of Sen. Hill a tremendously sad day for our state

November 1st, 2016|

Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson issued the statement below following the news of the passing of Sen. Andy Hill:

“Today’s news leaves us all with heavy hearts. We are devastated to learn of Senator Hill’s passing. He was a tireless advocate for his community and despite our political differences, I always respected his willingness to work across party lines.

“Throughout his career he stayed focused on serving his district and state and did so with pride and distinction.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. This is a tremendously sad day for our state.”