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

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    Senate passes Nguyen bill to regulate facial recognition technology

Senate passes Nguyen bill to regulate facial recognition technology

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

February 19th, 2020|News Release|

Senate passes Nguyen bill to reform recession-era TANF restrictions

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

February 18th, 2020|News Release|

Town Hall in the 34th LD!

February 14th, 2020|Uncategorized|
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    Nguyen: House excise tax bill ‘one step closer’ to much-needed tax reform

Nguyen: House excise tax bill ‘one step closer’ to much-needed tax reform

OLYMPIA — A bill introduced today in the House which would allow counties with populations of more than 2 million to impose an excise tax on business is a valuable step in reforming the state’s upside-down tax system, Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) said.

“In one of the richest cities in the richest country in the world, we shouldn’t be seeing our communities struggle so much,” Nguyen said. “Washington State has the most regressive tax code in the entire country, and it’s unacceptable that our laws trap those with the smallest incomes at the bottom while the richest keep moving up.”

House Bill 2907 would impose a 0.1% to 0.2% tax on companies that pay their employees more than $150,000 per year. Seattle city officials estimate that the tax could raise up to $120 million a year to be used to address the homelessness crisis in King County. The money would be used to build more affordable housing and fund programs that aim to prevent homelessness.

“This is one step closer to the progressive tax reform we need in Washington,” said Nguyen. “We aren’t all the way there yet, but I’m optimistic to see the pathway forward that this bill offers.”

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

January 29th, 2020|Uncategorized|

Senate passes bill on zero emissions vehicles

The Washington State Senate voted today to provide a more direct pathway for zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) production in the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), Senate Bill 5811 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to adopt California’s ZEV regulations and includes medium-duty vehicles in ZEV standards.

“As we look across the world and see the devastating effects of a changing climate, it’s important to understand that this is a crisis affecting us today,” said Nguyen. “We should be using every tool we have to reduce the harm we are experiencing and to protect our future generations. Devastating events like the wildfires raging in Australia are warning of a future that we should be working to prevent now.”

Building off work accomplished in the past two years that Democrats have controlled the state Legislature, the bill is another step forward in advancing environmental goals in Washington. Last session, Democrats passed a sweeping range of bills to protect environmental health, including orca recovery, toxic cleanup investments and 100% clean energy by 2045.

“This is a common-sense solution to address an ongoing problem,” said Nguyen. “Creating a clear path for zero emissions vehicles in Washington state is a step towards lowering the greenhouse gas emissions produced by our transportation sector and reducing air pollution.”

Having passed the Senate on a 26-23 vote, 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

January 15th, 2020|News Release|
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    Senate passes real estate excise tax reform, reducing rates for majority of Washingtonians

Senate passes real estate excise tax reform, reducing rates for majority of Washingtonians

Eighty percent of Washingtonians would receive a tax cut on the sale of real estate thanks to legislation passed Thursday by the state Senate. Senate Bill 5998 would reform real estate excise taxes (REET) to a graduated scale, in which property sales under $500,000 are reduced to a 1.1 percent rate while the highest tier of properties, those sold for more than $3 million, would be taxed at three percent.

Anyone who sells a house for less than $1.5 million would receive a tax cut on that sale.

“You’ve heard it a million times before: Washington state’s tax code is completely upside down, favoring those at the top end while punishing those struggling to get by,” said bill sponsor Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center). “With this legislation, we are taking a major step toward fixing our broken tax code. The simple truth is that no one selling a property for $3 million is struggling to make ends meet.”

The current rate on Washington’s REET is a flat 1.28 percent. The new graduated rates would bring in an additional $600 million dollars over the next four years, all of which would be dedicated to the Education Legacy Trust Account.

“Making our tax code fairer while dedicating additional funds to education are mutually attainable goals that we achieve through this bill,” said Nguyen. “Only about two-percent of sellers, the wealthiest among us, would see their taxes increased. It’s time we ask those wealthy few to pay their fair share to build a Washington that works for all.”

The graduated REET scale under SB 5998 would implement the following:

  • 1.1-percent if the selling price is equal to or less than $500,000
  • 1.28-percent on the portion of the selling price that is greater than $500,000 but equal to or less than $1,500,000
  • 2.75-percent on the portion of the selling price that is greater than the $1,500,000 but equal to or less than $3,000,000
  • 3-percent on the portion of the selling price that is greater than $3,000,000

SB 5998 passed the Senate on a vote of 26-22 and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

April 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Prepaid postage on ballots passes Senate

The Washington State Senate voted today to increase access to democracy by requiring prepaid postage for ballot envelopes during all elections. Sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center), Senate Bill 5063 is the latest effort to eliminate barriers to participation in Washington elections.

“This bill is a huge step forward in making Washington elections fairer and more accessible for everyone in the state,” said Nguyen. “For most people, the idea that you would have to pay to return your ballot, even if that only means a stamp, just doesn’t sit right. Passing this legislation removes that question and brings everyone to the table.”

While both ballot drop boxes and prepaid postage are crucial to voter participation, an analysis by the King County Elections department found that more voters took advantage of prepaid postage in 2018. The digital age has dramatically reduced, and even eliminated, the need for postage stamps for many Washingtonians.

By removing this barrier to democracy, prepaid postage will allow everyone an equal and easy means of submitting their vote by Election Day.

Washington authorized prepaid postage on a one time basis for the 2018 midterm elections and Nguyen is optimistic that expanding the practice statewide on a permanent basis will increase participation

“I think we are stronger as individuals and communities when we all have access to voting and are a part of the process,” Nguyen said. “I also want to thank Sen. Bob Hasegawa for his years championing this legislation. We could not have accomplished this without his leadership and vision.”

Having passed the Senate on a 42-3 vote, the bill moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.  

March 5th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Nguyen sworn in, will bring new perspectives to Senate

Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-White Center) was sworn in today to serve Washington’s 34th Legislative District, which includes West Seattle, White Center, Vashon Island and parts of Burien.

As the Senate’s first member of Vietnamese descent and part of a wave of new millennial leadership, Nguyen is intent on elevating voices and ideas that have, in the past, been left out of the conversation.

“The constituents of the 34th district sent me to Olympia because we have grown weary of seeing our families, our communities, and our fellow Washingtonians left out or left behind despite the strength of our state’s economy,” said Nguyen. “My constituents are working harder and for longer hours just to get by, so I will be working just as hard to ensure their vision for an inclusive and just Washington becomes a reality.”

Nguyen was selected by his colleagues in the Senate Democratic Caucus to serve as Vice Chair of the Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee and as a member of the Energy, Environment & Technology, Transportation, and Rules committees. He will bring expertise as a job trainer in the tech sector, as a community advocate for individuals experiencing homelessness, and as a father of two young children, to help guide policy making toward compassion and accountability.

“We’re going to push the difficult conversations and work tirelessly, because that is what our political moment requires,” said Nguyen.  “Washington is changing. It’s time for our government to do the same.”

Sen. Nguyen can be reached by phone at 360-786-7667 or by email at joe.nguyen@leg.wa.gov.

January 14th, 2019|Uncategorized|