Monthly Archives: February 2018

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    Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: Education funding and abolishing the death penalty

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: Education funding and abolishing the death penalty

February 16th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors:
The 60-day session in Olympia is flying by and our Democratic majority in the Senate continues to make exciting progress. This week we faced an important deadline to move bills out of the Senate and over to the House for consideration. I wanted to provide a brief update some of the issues on which I am focusing.

Reminder: Town Hall on Saturday

I hope that you will join House Speaker Frank Chopp, Representative Nicole Macri, and me for our town hall meeting this Saturday, February 17, at 1:30 p.m. at Seattle First Baptist Church at 1111 Harvard Avenue in Seattle.

Improving K-12 education

On Wednesday the Senate passed legislation (E2SSB 6362) that will at long last bring the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to provide ample funding for public schools. Seattle legislators have worked closely with Seattle Public Schools to make sure the legislation starts to address systemic problems in last year’s education funding compromise by increasing funding for special education and moving up the timeline for full state funding of educator salaries.

I am also thrilled to report that the Senate passed SB 6531, which is my bill to modernize the state’s school construction assistance program. The proposed changes should bring more money to Seattle to relieve the overcrowding that many of the schools in our district are experiencing. The bill will have a public hearing next week in the House Capital Budget Committee.

I was proud to stand with my colleague Reuven Carlyle as we voted to abolish the death penalty.

Senate votes to abolish the death penalty

With just minutes remaining to pass Senate bills off the floor, we took a historic vote to abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. This is an emotional subject, but I believe SB 6502 is the right direction for our state. We have overwhelming evidence that the death penalty is unfairly administered, expensive, and inconsistently applied across our state.

I recorded a brief video with my colleague Sen. Reuven Carlyle shortly after the vote.

Wrongful death

Another major issue before the Senate Law& Justice Committee and the legislature this year involves legislation to correct defects in our wrongful death statutes. The Ride the Ducks crash on the Aurora provided a clear example of these shortcomings. The parents of the students who were killed were not allowed to sue the operator for damages because they were not US residents and because the kids were over age 18.  2SSB 6015 will correct this injustice and make sure that those who cause damages to others do not escape responsibility just because of the identity of the victims.

Reducing Gun Violence

As the father of four kids in public school, I find the news of the shooting in Florida devastating. It serves as a grim reminder that we must continue to demand action on reducing gun violence. We have taken several important steps in the Senate this year, including:

  • Senate Bill 5992, which would ban bump stocks, the trigger modification device that allowed the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre to transform semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.
  • Senate Bill 5553, which would prevent suicides by allowing people who realize they are experiencing periods of extreme depression or stress to voluntarily waive their firearm rights.
  • Senate Bill 6298, which would keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence harassment.
    We know that we must do more and will keep working to make our people and communities safer.

Stay in touch

With only three weeks remaining in this session, we will now be racing through consideration of supplemental operating, transportation, and capital budgets and several hundred House bills. Our new majority is firmly committed to working with the House to complete our work and adjourn on time no later than March 8.

I hope to see you on Saturday for the town hall! Please contact me with any questions about issues before the Legislature this year.

Best wishes,
Senator Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
(360) 786-7628

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    Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: Reducing gun violence and improving education

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update: Reducing gun violence and improving education

February 8th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors:

We have reached the midpoint of the 60-day legislative session. Our Democratic majority in the Senate continues to work closely with the House to advance bills and budget priorities that will improve the lives of people in our state. Over the next eight days, each chamber will consider several hundred bills before the February 14 deadline to pass bills to the other chamber.

Reducing class sizes

For the past several years, I have been working with our capital budget writers and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to increase state funding of school construction. Both the Supreme Court and voters have directed the state to reduce class sizes. To achieve this mandate and to relieve the overcrowding in Seattle Public Schools and many other districts around the state, the state needs to revise the formula for school construction funding.

Earlier this week, the Senate Ways & Means Committee passed SSB 6531, my bill to fix flaws in the school construction assistance program. I am working hard to get the bill passed this year.

Abolishing the death penalty

For the first time in state history, a legislative committee (the Senate Law & Justice Committee) has passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in Washington, SB 6052. Legislators have debated the death penalty for decades in Olympia and people of good faith have come to different conclusions. I think that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg put it best, though, in saying that the death penalty is broken, cannot be fixed, and should be abolished.  It is unfairly administered; expensive, and unavailable in wide swaths of our state.  Those convicted of aggravated first-degree murder should die in prison with no hope of parole. The taxpayers do not need to spend millions of dollars to hasten that death.

Reducing gun violence

The Senate has taken action on several bills to reduce gun violence in our state. I was proud to see a unanimous vote in support of SB 5553, which allows people struggling with mental illness or crisis to place themselves on a firearms do-not-purchase list. We know 80 percent of gun deaths in Washington stem from suicide. This is a positive step toward prevention and public safety. The Senate also passed SB 5992, which bans bump stocks, devices that transform rifles into machine guns. The Las Vegas shooter’s use of a bump stock led to a dramatic increase in the number of victims.

Several other measures related to gun violence have passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, including measures to restrict possession of firearms by people who have been convicted of domestic violence harassment or found incompetent to stand trial for a violent offense. I look forward to Senate action on those bills in the next week.

Protecting and improving women’s health

One of our top priorities this year is improving health care services for women and protecting access to affordable health care. Last week, the Senate passed three bills with bipartisan support to help achieve these goals.

  • The Reproductive Parity Act: Senate Bill 5554 ensures women have access to contraceptive drugs, products and services needed for reproductive health.
  • 3D mammography coverage: Senate Bill 5912 mandates insurance that carriers cover three-dimensional mammography so women have access to potentially life-saving information about their health.
  • Breast density notification: Senate Bill 5084 requires radiologists to include information about a woman’s breast density in a post-mammogram letter. This brings our state law in line with 27 other states that share this important information.

Reducing carbon pollution

Late last week, we saw another exciting milestone in our state’s progress toward cleaner air and a healthier environment. The Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee passed SB 6203, which will put a price on carbon pollution in our state. There are many hurdles yet to clear for this legislation, but it’s exciting progress for those of us concerned about the quality of the air we breathe and the future of our fragile ecosystems here in the Northwest.

Town hall coming up Feb. 17

I hope that you will join Speaker Frank Chopp, Rep. Nicole Macri, and me for our town hall meeting on Saturday, February 17, at 1:30 p.m. at Seattle First Baptist Church. In the meantime, I encourage you to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns you have about matters before the legislature this session.

Best wishes,

State Sen. Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District
(360) 786-7628