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Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update

February 3rd, 2017|

Greetings from Olympia!

We are now a month into the 105-day legislative session. We have spent most of our time so far in committee, reviewing over 1,700 bills introduced so far. Our first major cutoff will come two weeks from today, giving us a much better idea of which ideas actually have support to proceed this year.

Amply Funding Public Schools

I continue to focus my energy on our top priority this session – increasing funding for our public schools. Senate Republicans finally released their education plan last Saturday. Although it makes major policy changes to how we run and fund public schools, they held no public hearing in the K-12 Education Committee. Instead, they held a Ways & Means Committee hearing on the 130-page bill Monday, passed the bill out of committee Tuesday, and passed it out of the Senate Wednesday on a 25-24 party-line vote. I spoke against the plan in committee and on the Senate floor. Here is why:

  • Compared to current school funding levels, families will pay significantly more in property taxes and in return, our schools would receive very modest funding increases.
  • The plan would result in larger class sizes, fewer school resources, lower teaching standards and a loss of local control.
  • The Republican plan fails to meet the Supreme Court’s order to provide ample funding for schools – the main objective of our work in Olympia this year.

House and Senate Democrats have released a plan that would lower class sizes, improve teacher compensation, and increase services offered to our students. Our plan will receive a public hearing on Monday in House Appropriations Committee at 3:30 p.m.

Hope for terminally ill patients

I am also working on legislation that would give patients who are facing life-threatening diseases the ability to access investigational medications that have cleared initial safety testing. Similar “right to try” laws have already been enacted in 33 other states.

This bill gives hope to those who have run out of options. One of our neighbors on Capitol Hill brought the issue to my attention. She is a courageous mother of two elementary school kids, battling an aggressive form of breast cancer that has spread to her brain. After being told she had just months to live and facing numerous barriers to trying medicines that are still in development but could save her life, she has put her energy into making sure that she and others have access to those drugs. The bill (SSB 5035) was unanimously approved by the Health Care Committee on Thursday and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Town Hall coming up March 11

I hope you will be able to join us for the 43rd District Town Hall on March 11 at Seattle First Baptist Church. I will join House Speaker Frank Chopp and Rep. Nicole Macri to provide an update on the legislative session and take your questions. The event runs from 1 p.m to 2:30 p.m. Click here for more information.

Please feel free to contact my office anytime about issues before the legislature. I am grateful for your support.

Best wishes, Jamie

  • Permalink Gallery

    VIDEO: Pedersen speaks against Senate Republican education proposal

VIDEO: Pedersen speaks against Senate Republican education proposal

February 2nd, 2017|

Sen. Jamie Pedersen spoke out against the Senate Republican education funding proposal Thursday during the floor debate on the bill. Pedersen, a parent with four children in Seattle Public Schools, highlighted how Senate Bill 5607 would cause real harm for the 53,000 students in Seattle. Families will pay $174 million more in property taxes and in return, schools would receive a $30 million cut. The bill passed on a party-line 25-24 vote.

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update

January 13th, 2017|

Greetings from Olympia!

We are wrapping up the first week of the 2017 legislative session. I continue to serve as ranking member on the Senate Law & Justice Committee, which has jurisdiction over civil and criminal law issues such as gun regulation, the death penalty, and police use of deadly force.  I also continue to serve on the Ways & Means Committee, which writes the state’s operating and capital budgets and reviews every bill with a fiscal impact.

Earlier this week, I was pleased to hear Gov. Inslee share his strong commitment for ample funding of our public schools during his second inaugural address. The governor also spoke forcefully about our state’s commitment to equal rights and human dignity. I have heard from many constituents who are concerned and frightened following the national election. I will work tirelessly to safeguard Washington’s strong tradition of protecting civil and human rights and to fight discriminatory laws introduced in the Legislature.

Funding Public Education

As the father of three students at Stevens Elementary and one at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, I care deeply about public schools. The Supreme Court has ordered the state to provide ample funding for the schools and reduce its reliance on local property tax levies to fund teacher pay and other aspects of basic education. For the past seven months, a bipartisan group of legislators has been meeting to develop a plan to provide sustainable school funding. Democrats released a plan before the statutory deadline, but we have yet to see a plan from Senate Republicans. I’m hoping the 25 members of their caucus will release a plan soon so we can start negotiating a solution that will reduce class sizes, increase teacher salaries, and give us the ability to build or renovate schools.

The most pressing concern for Seattle Public Schools is a $74 million shortfall facing the district next school year. A large part of that shortfall is created by the so-called “levy cliff,” which is an artificial limitation in state law on local districts’ ability to collect money that has been approved by district voters.  Just this week the Seattle school board met to approve a “worst-case scenario” budget that would cut programs, reduce staff and increase class sizes.

I’m working with our local school leaders and my colleagues in the Legislature to remedy this situation by allowing districts to continue to collect the full levies approved by voters through the end of 2018. I am a co-sponsor of the Senate bill (SB 5023) and strongly support the House companion, which we expect will be the first bill passed out of the House this session. This would give school officials in Seattle and across the state the certainty they need to plan for the 2017-18 school year and forgo the painful exercise of sending layoff notices to hundreds of teachers and staff.

Because we continue to see rapid enrollment growth in Seattle Public Schools, I’m also working closely with our capital budget leads and the Superintendent of Public Instruction on increasing state support for 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 that many of the schools in our district are experiencing, the state needs to revise the formula for school construction funding. I will again sponsor legislation to address overcrowding and fix the flawed formula that disadvantages Seattle Public Schools and others throughout the state.

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. I welcome your comments and questions anytime.

Best wishes, Jamie

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

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update

February 5th, 2016|


Greetings from Olympia!

We are wrapping up the fourth week of the 2016 legislative session. Most of our time so far has been spent in committee, reviewing the 2,000 or so bills that legislators have introduced this session (and some left over from 2015). This year I serve as ranking member on the Senate Law & Justice Committee, and also serve on the Ways & Means Committee and the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee. Today is our first big cutoff, when bills that have not passed out of committee will die for this year. I wanted to update you on some issues that I have been working on. I also wanted to invite you to attend our 43rd District Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Erickson Theater at Seattle Central College. House Speaker Frank Chopp and I will discuss the legislature’s work and answer your questions on various issues before the state.

Pedersen Family

Funding Public Education

My top priority this year, as usual, is increasing funding for our public schools. As the father of four students at Stevens Elementary on north Capitol Hill, this issue is personal to me. The Supreme Court has directed the state to reduce its reliance on local property tax levies to fund teacher pay and other aspects of basic education. At the request of the Gov. Inslee, a small group of legislators worked to develop a bipartisan plan to address this issue. The House has already passed the plan; Senate Republicans, unfortunately, have amended the bill to remove our deadline for compliance and disclaim responsibility for school construction. Although disappointing, that is not surprising — 19 of the 26 members of that caucus signed a letter last summer urging the legislature to commence federal litigation to overturn the McCleary decision. I fear that we will resolve this issue only with a change in control of the Senate or a more drastic intervention by the Supreme Court.

Because of the rapid enrollment growth in Seattle Public Schools and direction from the Supreme Court and the voters to reduce class sizes, we also need to increase state support for school construction. I am proud to have introduced SB 5859, which would revise the formula for state school construction funding. For many years, the formula has underfunded school construction across the state; it especially disadvantages Seattle Public Schools. Last year, I helped lead efforts by the Seattle delegation to secure $25 million in extra funding that will help to reopen two closed elementary schools to address overcrowding. This year, we are working together again to request about $7 million to expand West Woodland Elementary School. Both of these items await action by the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which handles the operating and capital budgets for the state.

Transgender Discrimination

Although Senate Democrats have tried to focus this year on education funding, mental health, and homelessness, others have been intent instead on occupying our limited time with divisive policies attacking our clean energy initiative; rolling back abortion rights for women by prohibiting “sex-selection abortions”; and preventing transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity. I have been fighting all of these bills, and wanted to take a moment to write in particular about civil rights protections in our state for transgender people. Bills seeking to roll back these protections have been before me on the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

As you may know, Washington passed a law in 2006 that provides protection for transgender people against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. I am proud that that landmark law was the product of decades of work by two of my predecessors in this seat, Senators Cal Anderson and Ed Murray. Since that law was passed 10 years ago, transgender people in Washington have been able to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. Nothing in Washington’s 2006 law changed the fact that separate facilities exist for men and women. The law allows a person who has undergone or is undergoing gender transition to use the restroom or locker room that matches the gender they live every day. Nothing in the law or in the adopted rules changes the fact that it is illegal to enter a restroom or locker room to harm or sexually harass people, or to invade their privacy.

In November 2015, the Washington Human Rights Commission adopted rules to clarify how Washington schools and businesses should implement the Law Against Discrimination to protect transgender people. Those who have consistently opposed our progress on LGBT issues thought that they had a chance to roll back these protections and have filed multiple bills to attempt to do so.

All of us, including transgender people, care about safety and privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms. I understand that there has been confusion and concern recently about what implementation of these non-discrimination regulations means. However, the experience that we’ve had over the past 10 years in Washington, as well as the experiences in many other places, show that non-discrimination laws and policies can be successfully implemented while upholding the safety of everyone.

I am therefore proud to support the rules implementing our hard-won anti-discrimination law. I have led the fight against bills seeking to overturn the rules in the Senate Law & Justice Committee and will continue strongly opposing efforts by legislators to reverse them or partially repeal our law.

My Bills

In addition to my work on the school construction funding formula, I have been working on several other issues that I wanted to mention briefly.

SB 6550 would allow terminally ill patients to access drugs that have passed initial testing but have not yet been approved by the FDA. Many potentially lifesaving medications and treatments in the long testing and approval process could potentially save the life of someone who has only months, weeks or days to live. “Right to try” laws have passed in more than 20 states and give hope to people who are fighting for their lives. This bill has passed out of the Senate Health Care Committee and awaits action in the Senate Rules Committee.

SB 5029 concerns “digital assets” – which could be anything from your photos stored in the cloud and e-mail correspondence to online banking and health records. Under an antiquated federal law, these assets can be stranded if you die or become incapacitated. SB 5029 would allow you to decide whether you would like would your fiduciaries (such as a guardian or the personal representative of your estate) to have access to your digital assets. The bill passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and is currently on the Senate floor calendar awaiting a vote.

SB 5635 would enact a Washington version of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. This bill is the product of many years of work by the national Uniform Law Commission (on which I also serve) and several sections of the Washington State Bar Association. It would modernize our power of attorney statute, clarifying for everyone the uses to which a power of attorney may be put and protecting principals against potential abuse. This bill also passed out of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. I welcome your comments and questions anytime.

Best wishes, Jamie

Senator Jamie Pedersen

43rd Legislative District

(360) 786-7628

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    Pedersen: Supreme Court ruling affirms the promise of equality for all

Pedersen: Supreme Court ruling affirms the promise of equality for all

June 26th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Today the United States Supreme Court issued its much-awaited ruling on marriage equality across the country.

In a landmark decision that will finally secure marriage rights for all couples, the Court ruled state bans on same-sex marriages across the country unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, effectively granting couples in all 50 states the right to marry.

Washington voters approved marriage equality in 2012.

In response, Sen. Jamie Pedersen issued following statement:

“Because of today’s decision, the relationships of couples and families all across our country will now be legally protected and respected. I am proud of the role that Washington’s legislature and voters played in the rapid and dramatic progress that our country has made toward the promise of equality for all. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support that allowed our Legislature to become the first in the country to repeal a state instituted Defense of Marriage Act.””

In recognition of today’s decision, the Tacoma and Seattle communities are hosting events and discussions on marriage equality.


Rainbow Center and Oasis at 5:00 p.m.

March to Union Station Federal Court House

2215 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402


United States District Court at 5:00 p.m.

700 Stewart St, Seattle, WA 98101

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    Video: Pedersen speaks on resolution recognizing National Day of Silence

Video: Pedersen speaks on resolution recognizing National Day of Silence

April 17th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, sponsored Senate Resolution 8669  on Friday to recognize thousands of Washington state students who are raising awareness of anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools on the National Day of Silence.

Sen. Pedersen’s legislative update

January 30th, 2015|

Dear neighbors:

Greetings from Olympia! We are wrapping up the third week of the 2015 legislative session, hard at work on funding our public schools, funding mental health services, and crafting a package of transportation infrastructure investments and the revenue to pay for them.  Already, legislators have introduced more than 1,300 bills on a wide variety of subjects. Between studying and refining those proposals and drafting a budget for the next two years for our state, we have a lot of work ahead of us.  I am honored to represent you in that process. This is the first of several updates I will be sending you this session on the work I am doing on your behalf. 

New committee assignments


This session I am serving as the Democratic leader (called the “ranking member”) on the Law & Justice Committee, which handles a broad range of civil, criminal, and family law issues. I’m also excited to join the Transportation Committee this year, where I will be working to fund a variety of infrastructure investments. I’m also on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee (which handles banks, insurance and housing issues).

Video Update


I shot my first video update of the session this week. In the update, I discuss my new roles in the Senate and talk about my top legislative priorities. Take a look!


Securing adequate funding for our public schools is my top priority this legislative session. In Seattle, enrollment has grown to more than 52,000 students in the 2014-15 school year, an increase of 7,000 students in the past five years. These students are running out of space to learn. I plan to continue work this session to revise the outdated formula by which the state matches local capital levy money and help provide resources to make sure that kids have classrooms to learn in. I will also be working with my colleagues to advocate for new revenue so that we can amply fund our schools without compromising our investments in higher education or the safety net.



I am working hard with my colleagues in the Senate to craft and pass a transportation revenue package this session. Passage will allow Washington to make major infrastructure improvements, including projects to make streets safer for kids, reduce pollution, and give people convenient alternatives to sitting in traffic. The city of Seattle has done great work in the last year on resolving the remaining design issues with the west side of the SR 520 bridge; now the legislature must fully fund the long-promised improvements.  We will also be working to give the people of the Puget Sound area the right to decide whether to make a large additional investment in Sound Transit.

Improving the Initiative Process

I have been working with Republican Senator Joe Fain on a proposed constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 8201) that would require initiatives with significant fiscal effects – whether cutting taxes or increasing services – to identify a way to pay for those changes. I believe that voters’ choices are much more likely to be put into effect if they are funded.  When the legislature suspends or repeals initiatives that are impossible to reconcile with our budget commitments, it creates a cycle of mistrust and cynicism. This amendment would help to break that cycle and treat voters as adults who can be trusted to consider the tradeoffs that are inherent in financial decisions.

Thank you for the privilege of representing you here in Olympia. I welcome your comments and questions anytime.


Senator Jamie Pedersen

  • Permalink Gallery

    Pedersen chosen as top Democrat on Senate Law and Justice Committee

Pedersen chosen as top Democrat on Senate Law and Justice Committee

December 18th, 2014|

Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, will take over as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Law and Justice Committee as the legislature convenes the 2015 session.

“We will have a lot of important issues to consider in 2015. I am excited to get to work with my colleagues on the committee as we face another challenging legislative session,” Pedersen said.

The committee considers issues in both civil and criminal law.

Pedersen, who represents the 43rd Legislative District, served as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee for five years before his appointment to the Senate in 2013. He was re-elected to the Senate in November.

The Senate Democratic Caucus announced committee changes for the session, which starts Jan. 12 and is expected to last 105 days.

Pedersen will also serve on the Senate Transportation and the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee.