Friends, neighbors—

As the cherry trees bloom in Olympia, we are in the thick of floor action: all bills must have passed both houses by next Wednesday at 5 p.m. That means we’re on the floor of the Senate all day every day taking votes on bills that have come over to us from the House. We’ve passed bills that will make a difference—bills that will strengthen Washington’s hate crimes statues, enhance the safety of domestic violence victims and police officers, end the backlog on the testing of sexual assault kits, and protect patients from surprise bills for out-of-network services.

Opening doors to higher education

As a state, we’ve taken important steps to support young students experiencing homelessness while in our K-12 system, but once they get to college, they lose that network.

That’s why I’m sponsoring SB 5800, which passed the House of Representatives last night. It creates pilot programs at six public colleges across the state, one four-year and two community and technical colleges (CTCs) on each side of the Cascades. Each institution will provide assistance to students experiencing homelessness and students who were in foster care.

As the national publication CityLab recently wrote, this bill makes Washington a leader nationwide—California is the only other state considering similar legislation this year.

The assistance colleges provide will include access to short-term housing or housing assistance; laundry facilities, storage, and showers; reduced-price meal plans; technology; and case management services. And, crucially, these schools will collect data on their students experiencing homelessness and food insecurity so that we can get a full picture of the scale of this problem and keep improving our services.

I’m a strong believer that those closest to the problem are also closest to the solution. The architect of this bill is Charles Adkins, a student at Evergreen State College who had himself been homeless in high school.  And one of the leaders in our state who has helped push for this legislation and has long been making college a welcoming and stable place for students experiencing homelessness is Marty Cavalluzzi, the President of Olympic College (pictured above).

Behind the scenes at our legislature

One of the great privileges of serving in the Legislature is interacting with all the bright and enthusiastic young people who spend time here learning about our democracy.

It was a blast to speak to the pages during page school last week. I told them my public-service origin story—how my sister and the 1993 legislature inspired me to spend my career advocating for health care access for every single one of us, and eventually to take the plunge and run for office.  They shared the projects they’re doing to learn about how our representative government works. I’m confident that some of them will be my colleagues here someday!

I’ve particularly prized the opportunity to hear the stories of the kids from across our district who have served as pages. You can read more about the terrific pages from the last month at the links below!

My week in Olympia

I believe in transparency, and I want to keep you all informed about what I’m doing on behalf of the 26th District in Olympia. That’s why I’m making a practice of posting my legislative calendar each week on my Facebook page.

Keep in touch

We are all eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what we’re up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at 360-786-7650 or The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.

All my best,