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

Monthly Archives: March 2020

Governor signs facial recognition regulations into law

March 31st, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed into law comprehensive regulations on the use of facial recognition technology in Washington.

Senate Bill 6280, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), prohibits the use of facial recognition technology for ongoing surveillance and limits its use to acquiring evidence of serious criminal offense following authorization of a search warrant.

“Right now, we have seen this technology already being used without much concern for the moral implications that are associated with it,” said Nguyen. “This bill will change that, and ensure that facial recognition isn’t being used unless there are regulatory checks and balances.”

Given reports of the technology’s bias against women, trans individuals, and people of color, SB 6280 establishes guidelines and oversight to protect against discriminatory applications.

“Now is the time to really work on this and find ways to root out the bias, so people across the country can be protected from unnecessary and intrusive surveillance,” Nguyen said.

The bill requires agencies using the technology to produce an accountability report outlining its intended use. Additionally, the use of facial recognition technology would be subject to formal review to ensure accurate representation.

“This bill begins the process of catching our laws up to where our technology is at,” said Nguyen. “I’m proud that Washington is the leader on this issue.”

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Coronavirus Resources

March 30th, 2020|

Though this is a period of uncertainty, there are resources available across the state if you find yourself in need of them. Below is a running list of those resources that will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

General information

For any general questions you may have about what’s open and closed, coronavirus testing, and government actions taken so far, visit the general coronavirus website for the state of Washington.

Up-to-date statistics

If you are searching for current statistics about the number of individuals infected and their locations, visit the Department of Health website. You can also view this data on an interactive map here.

Information in other languages

The Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance has compiled a list of information available in 73 languages, available here.

Small business support

Small businesses seeking support during this crisis can find the application for the small business disaster loan assistance from the US Small Business Administration here.

The Federal Coronavirus Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources page includes information on debt relief, an Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program, and more.

The Small Business Administration has opened a new loan program called the Paycheck Protection Program. This is designed specifically to keep the small business workforce employed. Read more about the program here.

Unemployment resources

As many people have been impacted by this through job loss, there are increased resources available. If you have lost your source of income as a result of coronavirus, you are likely eligible for unemployment benefits through the Employment Security Department. You can find information about how to apply directly on their website.

Federal aid

The federal government recently passed a stimulus package that aims to alleviate some of the impact of coronavirus. That includes a one-time $1,200 payment to qualifying people who earn lower to middle incomes, increased compensation added to unemployment benefits, and an extension of benefits for up to 13 weeks. You can read more about those specifics on the Employment Security Department website.

Resources for students

Updates on school closures can be found on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s website. There, you can also find resources to help with remote learning.

Information in multiple languages

The general Department of Health website includes informational flyers in many different languages, which are available here.

Cultural Relief Fund for the arts sector

4Culture is starting a Cultural Relief Fund for those in the arts sector impacted by coronavirus. The first round of funding will be distributed between April 1 – May 15, and you can apply at any time in that window. If you have questions or would like to apply, visit the website for resources.

Restaurants open for take-out

If you want to support a local business by ordering a take-out meal, you can find lists of restaurants still open in Seattle in general, and in South Seattle.

Resources for those looking to help

If you have a supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), want to donate blood, or are otherwise looking for a way to help out, visit this page for more information about who to contact.

In general, the most helpful thing you can do right now is to stay home and follow the instructions of Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order

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    Governor approves legislation to increase availability of ZEVs

Governor approves legislation to increase availability of ZEVs

March 25th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law today a bill that will create a pathway for more zero emissions vehicles to be sold in Washington State.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), Senate Bill 5811 requires auto dealerships to stock a set percentage of zero emissions cars for sale on their lots.

“This is an important step in giving more people access to environmentally sustainable modes of transportation,” said Nguyen. “We need to be actively considering how to make our air cleaner and decrease our emissions, and this is a step towards that goal.”

In 2017, about 45% of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the transportation sector. SB 5811 would work to reduce emissions by spurring automakers to sell about 25,000 electronic vehicles per year by 2025. That number is roughly double the amount sold in 2019, and would make a difference of more than 100,000 tons of carbon pollution annually.

The process of applying California’s nation-leading clean air standards in Washington began in 2005, when the Legislature adopted all standards except for zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) standards. This bill remedies the difference by allowing Washington to join California and nine other states in the country as a certified ZEV state.

The bill is just one step of many taken by Senate Democrats to protect Washington’s natural environment this legislative session. Other bills include a ban on single-use plastic bags, increased access to solar projects for lower-income communities, and a commitment to being carbon neutral by 2050.

“As we face an existential threat to our climate, we can’t afford to sit idly by and watch our planet keep degrading,” said Nguyen. “Now is the time to act so that more generations can have a future like ours.”

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Coronavirus funding in the Legislature

March 14th, 2020|

Neighbors in the 34th,

We set off this session with the goal to pass a strong supplemental budget tackling homelessness, transportation, and countless community works projects in our communities. While these goals were all still met, the increasing public health crisis threatened by the coronavirus pandemic demanded an urgent response as well. In the final accounting, we appropriated $200 million.

$175 million of this aid will go to local and state response, with the remaining $25 million funding a coronavirus unemployment account and small business support. This is a scary and uncertain time, and we need to be looking out for our neighbors.

One thing is clear: hourly and lower wage workers will be hurt more by business closures and a lack of available shifts in the face of a struggling economy. These are the people that we were considering most when deciding how to respond. And this is reflected strongly in the final budget.

We also gave leeway to the State Board of Education to adjust graduation requirements for the class of 2020 so that this pandemic does not prevent a whole class of students from graduating.

This is a constantly changing situation, and I will work to keep you as up to date as possible throughout the weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the King County coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 or the Washington State Department of Health coronavirus call center at 1-800-525-0127.

Take care of yourselves and your families, and follow the advice of health officials and Governor Inslee.

In solidarity,

Sen. Joe Nguyen
34th Legislative District

 

Response to developing coronavirus concerns in the 34th District

March 4th, 2020|

Neighbors in the 34th Legislative District,

As many of you are aware by now, King County has chosen to place a quarantine facility for those ill with the novel coronavirus in White Center. This decision was made following an increasing number of confirmed cases of the illness in the region throughout the week.

Being someone with family and history in White Center, I understand the concern that many of us feel regarding the placement of this facility. It is important during this time of uncertainty, however, to understand that a quarantine facility will not necessarily mean the surrounding area is more prone to infections. These sites are a vital part of the statewide response to the virus, and provide an opportunity for those who have become sick to recover without posing a risk to their surrounding population. Our issue is not that this decision puts the public at additional risk, but rather ensuring that the community is consulted before such a decision is made.

Additional quarantine facilities will be introduced throughout the County in the coming weeks on top of the one in White Center and the preexisting Department of Health facility in Shoreline. I have been in contact with King County throughout the day to discuss the logistics of this decision, and will be working with them even more as the situation continues to play out. Additionally, the County has been reaching out to members of the White Center community to ensure this process has as minimal of an impact on the neighborhood as possible.

Considering the severity and constantly developing nature of this health crisis, communication between varying levels of government can be difficult. However, we are all working to ensure a coordinated response to the crisis.

While there are still many unknowns with this virus, what we do know is that our government is working overtime to provide the resources we need going forward. Here in Olympia, we passed a $100 million funding package to ensure a comprehensive response from state and local public health organizations. Governor Inslee has declared a state of emergency as well, and I’m sure we can expect more precautionary measures at every level as this situation develops.

Though many of us are understandably nervous about this situation, we need to be sure we’re reducing stigma as much as possible. Only share information you know to be true, such as from the Seattle & King County Public Health website, the Washington Department of Health twitter, and the Centers for Disease Control website.

Seattle & King County Public Health have updated their recommendations to slow the spread of coronavirus in our community and reduce the number of people infected. These include:

  • Working from home if you’re able to.
  • Considering postponing large gatherings and group events.
  • Staying home and out of the public when sick.
  • Frequently washing your hands with warm soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Calling the King County novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 if you are in the county and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case, or if you are a health care provider with questions about the outbreak.

We must work together as a community in our response to this health crisis. Testing will be amped up in the coming weeks in order to provide those who have been diagnosed with the proper care they need to both recover and prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

Sincerely,

Sen. Joe Nguyen

34th Legislative District.