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Friends, neighbors—

First in Bremerton, then in Gig Harbor, next in Port Orchard, and finally on the Key Peninsula. With every stop on last Saturday’s town hall tour – whether we were discussing health and long term care, military and human services, education, or transportation and natural resources – I found myself surrounded by community members who share a love for our home and an excitement for joining forces to make it the best it can be.

I stood shoulder to shoulder with community leaders who work with one another and with the legislature to advocate for our region. I listened to your concerns about developmental disability supports and services, state assistance for veterans and their families, transportation projects in the wake of I-976, and the rising costs of health care. I saw familiar faces and met new neighbors. At the end of the day of town halls, I felt so uplifted and encouraged by the energy and the ideas everyone brought to the table. Thank you for joining me – in person or in spirit.

Here’s a recap:

Brem panel


At the Bremerton town hall on health and long term care, I had the opportunity to share my experience with health care expansion. When my sister Olivia was born with microcephaly, it was only a recent Medicaid expansion by the Washington State Legislature that provided for the equipment and assistance she needed to live a full and happy life at home with my family. Neighbors who attended the Bremerton town hall shared their own stories, similar and unique, about the importance of health care access to them and their families, and asked great questions about what else the legislature is doing – and how it’s joining hands with local leaders – to broaden equity and access in health care. One such question concerned folks struggling with drug dependency, and the availability of the treatment they need to recover. I can confidently say that the legislature is committed to expanding access to community-based care, which has had proven positive impacts on supporting and healing drug-dependent individuals.

PO town hall

Port Orchard

At the Port Orchard town hall on military and human services, community leaders with backgrounds in Department of Human Services work, veteran affairs, and Kitsap Community Resources (among others!) joined me for a conversation about regional opportunities to access care and support of all kinds. Some topics we discussed at length concerned what the legislature is doing to support folks with developmental disabilities, and how we’re helping our neighbors experiencing homelessness. This session, I’m sponsoring SB 6056 to give better access to support for the 14,000 Washingtonians in the DD community waiting on a “No Paid Services Caseload” without a case manager to assess their needs. This will connect families with the services they require. And on the topic of housing, last session saw huge progress toward safe and stable shelter for our unhoused neighbors, thanks to community organizations’ work and support from the state. We still struggle to find locations for shelters and affordable housing, but it’s an issue we’ll be actively working on. Stay tuned!

PO town hall

Gig Harbor

After Port Orchard, we had a stop in Gig Harbor to talk about education – a subject I could talk forever about, as the new chair of Higher Education and Workforce Development! Our conversation wasn’t limited to higher education exclusively – thanks to the community leaders present with backgrounds in K-12 education and special education – so we had a rich discussion about supporting Washington students through every single step of their education journey. One big topic: Washington’s abysmal FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rates. We rank 47th in the country! So we chatted about how we can make the prospect of college-going less intimidating and more attainable for young learners, and I explained how my bill – SB 6141 – aims to encourage FAFSA and WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid) participation, so that students no longer leave money on the table but instead seize the resources available to them to pursue whatever college or career pathway they choose.

KP town hall

Key Peninsula

Wrapping up the day at the Key Peninsula town hall, we discussed transportation and natural resources. Our turnout was incredible – standing room only! – even though it was a dark and cold Saturday evening. There were lots of great questions about how the legislature is going to respond to I-976 this session. The real impact on the state’s budget cannot be understated. We will work hard to do the least amount of damage to transportation projects that serve Washingtonians while we grapple with this new budget deficit. As we work through solutions, I’m thinking about our neighbors with disabilities who depend on special needs transit, the climate impacts of outdated infrastructure, and isolated communities like ours that have real transportation needs.

MHK advocacy group

First week of session!

Immediately after our town hall tour on January 11, we started session 2020 on January 13! Already, I’ve testified on three of my bills in committee (SB 6058SB 6140, and SB 6141), and have visited with dozens of stakeholders and advocates from LD 26 and throughout the state. This awesome group in the photo with me are folks who want to bring up-and-coming entrepreneurs into the local food economy. The neighbor who makes incredible empanadas, lumpia, injera, ravioli – whatever it may be! – could turn those home recipes and love of sharing culturally-significant food into a small local business. We just need a small policy update. Alongside this great team of advocates, we’re going to pass SB 6434.

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

My team and I are 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 Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov. The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.

All my best,