(360) 786-7667|Joe.Nguyen@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: February 2020

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    Senate passes Nguyen bill to regulate facial recognition technology

Senate passes Nguyen bill to regulate facial recognition technology

February 19th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted 30-18 today to install key safeguards in the use of facial recognition technology by agencies in the public sector.

Senate Bill 6280, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), would prohibit the use of facial recognition technology for ongoing surveillance and limit its use to instances when facial recognition surveillance would provide evidence of serious criminal offense. In these circumstances, a search warrant would be required by law enforcement or other government agencies before using the technology.

As facial recognition technology is already being utilized throughout Washington and online, there are few laws in place to restrict its use. This bill would change that by setting clear standards for the use of the technology by public agencies.

“The companies that are already producing this technology don’t care about the moral implications involved — they care about profit,” Nguyen said. “That’s why we need to take action now to hold these companies accountable and ensure that public agencies don’t keep using this technology without any regulatory checks or balances.”

During a time when many are skeptical of the technology due to reports of bias against women and people of color, Nguyen hopes to establish moral guardrails in Washington state that can be more broadly applied across the country.

“We have an opportunity to look at this technology and figure out how we can make it more equitable for everyone,” said Nguyen. “Now is the time to really work on this and find ways to root out that bias, so people across the country can be protected from unnecessary and intrusive surveillance. This is an issue that we should be leading on.”

The bill would also require agencies using the technology to produce an accountability report outlining their intended use, as well as an annual report disclosing violations to the report and all known uses of the technology. Additionally, the use of facial recognition technology would be subject to meaningful review as a further security net to ensure accurate representation.

“We can’t afford to stand pat and do nothing,” said Nguyen. “We need to regulate facial recognition technology now.”

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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For information: Courtney James, Democratic Caucus Communications, (360)-786-7853

Senate passes Nguyen bill to reform recession-era TANF restrictions

February 18th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Legislation passed today by the Washington State Senate would restore recession-era cuts that have exacerbated a number of the root causes of the state’s growing homelessness crisis.

The past decade saw $286 million in cuts to the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program – a program that helps to alleviate some of the root causes of the housing and homelessness crisis which people have ranked as their top area of concern.

“As someone who grew up in a family that relied on TANF, I know how important this program is to families across Washington,” said Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), the bill’s sponsor. “This bill is an investment in the people of Washington state, and part of a larger effort to alleviate homelessness and ensure we have a stable environment for working families in our state.”

A vital resource for those in need, WorkFirst currently imposes restrictions that require recipients to participate in one or more WorkFirst activities such as job hunting training, career development, and vocational training programs. However, the requirement fails to consider those who are unable to meet this requirement due to barriers outside of their control such as inability to access childcare, family illness, mental health disorders, and homelessness.

The Department of Social and Human Services has found that, of recipients who were cut off from TANF due to noncompliance:

  • 80% did not have childcare,
  • 40% were homeless,
  • 57% were unstably housed in the prior year,
  • 63% needed mental health services, and
  • 33% had a chronic disease or serious disability.

Individuals unable to meet the WorkFirst requirement may lose TANF grants as a consequence. Additionally, because those who depend on TANF grants care for at least one child, a termination of the family’s grant results in a penalty to the child who was at no fault of their own.

Senate Bill 6478, which passed on a 30-18 vote, would reform the penalty to allow those in crisis more time to re-engage in work activities to prevent penalizing the children of those unable to meet WorkFirst requirements.

Under the bill, if a recipient is unable to engage in work activities for two months, their family’s grant would be reduced by either 40% or the recipient’s share of the grant. After 12 months of noncompliance, the family’s grant could then be terminated.

“These important changes work to help families in crisis not fall into homelessness or further poverty,” said Nguyen. “The funding cuts that these programs have seen since the recession have played a massive role in the homelessness crisis we’re seeing today. This bill addresses those inequities and works to restore the program.”

The bill will now move to the House for consideration.

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For information: Courtney James, Senate Democratic Caucus Communications, (360)-786-7853

Town Hall in the 34th LD!

February 14th, 2020|