E-News

E-news – Higher Education and COVID-19

May 5th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –  

The COVID-19 crisis has been hard – for all of us. Washingtonians across the state are finding our lives upended; our financial stability disrupted, our loved ones at risk, our friends at a distance. But I have some good news for you regarding our future, current, and former college students (a group of folks who have experienced unique challenges during this time). Washingtonians who are pursuing or who have completed their higher education goals are being looked after by a community – and a Legislature – that wants to see them succeed, no matter what kind of roadblocks COVID-19 puts up. Read on for a comprehensive update about how the higher ed community is adapting to today’s unprecedented challenges in a way that puts students and their families first. 

Oct. 2019 photo with college prez

A few important highlights:

  • Thanks to academic leaders around the state, a COVID-19 FAQ site about public four-year colleges and universities is available.Check it out to get answers to questions like, “How should students approach high school coursework given the transition to remote learning?” and “Is financial aid still available?” 
  • Registrars are continuing to meet end-of-term needs and prepare for summer and fall 2020 registration and deadlines. Information about their process is available on the Washington Student Achievement Council COVID-19 website. 
  • Veteran Center Directors acknowledge the importance of flexibility for veterans who have transitioned to remote learning. The Veterans Affairs Department and the State Approving Agency have committed to allowing accommodations for veterans who are pursuing a higher education degree. 
  • Financial Aid Officers are talking about implementation of and access to emergency grant funds from the federal government. Visit this FAQ site to see how the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is being distributed to colleges in our state. 

College students and access to technology:

The current crisis has underscored inequities and challenges related to broadband connectivity and technology for Washington students. Washington’s colleges and universities are employing a range of approaches and resources to assist students in the transition to remote learning. These include:

  • Increasing the amount of aid to students to reduce financial barriers to accessing broadband services. 
  • Purchasing and lending laptops to students. 
  • Establishing mobile hot spots via public venues (e.g. libraries, etc.), parking lots, and university centers. 
  • Boosting signal strength where possible through a range of access points. 
  • Bolstering student and faculty support services to assist with the transition to remote learning, including advising and technology assistance. 
  • Surveying students to develop proactive responses to emerging issues and challenges. 
  • Supporting and reaching out to state agencies and partners (e.g. K-12 education, libraries, etc.) to provide leadership and assistance through our research and public service missions across the state. 
  • Sharing broadband resources with students and families including, but not limited to, Federal Communication Commission guidance and broadband services and carriers. 
  • Participation in the Washington Internet Access Crisis Team to participate in updates, coordination and prioritization of next steps for addressing digital inclusion gaps. 

Get LIVE updates about Higher Education in our state TOMORROW:

Serving as Chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development is an incredible honor. Something I’d been looking forward to – pre-coronavirus – is the opportunity to tour the state and visit with the students, staff, and faculty of different higher education institutions in Washington. (You might remember that last year I visited roughly half of our 34 community and technical colleges and public universities – in addition to a couple private schools. I had big plans to complete the tour by January!) Since in-person visits aren’t possible for the time being, I’ve been keeping in close contact with different members of the higher ed community through Zoom meetings, conference calls, and Facebook updates. 

I’m super excited to invite you to my sixth Facebook Live Zoom Chat, this time with three panelists from the higher education community: a college president, a college student, and the director of a college access program!

Link to event - click here!

I’m looking forward to this conversation (happening TOMORROW 5/6 at 1:00 pm) and can’t wait to hear from these advocates about how the world of higher education is faring throughout this crisis. Have any questions or thoughts to share? Reply to this email or join live to drop your thoughts into the comments. And, if access to Facebook is a challenge for you, respond to this email and let us know so that we can get you the call-in information to join us by phone! 

Looking forward to hearing from you.

All my best,

Signature

E-news – An update on COVID-19

March 20th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors—

This is a time of uncertainty and worry – for all of us. Together we’re grieving the lives lost to the virus. Together we’re anxious about our own finances, and the future of our economy. Together we’re imagining how kids – and students of all ages – will bounce back after this time out of school.  

But we are also finding creative solutions and comfort together. We are recognizing the power of collective action, and the importance of a strong safety net.  I have so much faith in our families and friends, neighbors and communities, state agencies and local organizations – and in our ability to support one another through this crisis. 

Read on for: 

  1. What our government is doing
  2. What YOU can do
  3. A fun fact (because we all need a little levity!)
Sen Randall and Sen Cleveland

1. This new website will help keep all our communities informed: coronavirus.wa.govHere, you’ll find a frequently-updated compilation of all the coronavirus information from Governor Inslee’s office, our state agencies, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. I encourage you to explore this website and to pass it on to others in our community who have questions. 

Yesterday, the governor issued executive orders to help support Washingtonians impacted by these uncertain times –

  • Assistance for renters: Among the measures announced by the governor is a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for the next 30 days. As Washington faces the economic impacts of COVID-19, no one should be put out of their home as a result. 
  • Utility rate payer assistance: The governor called on all public utilities in our state to ensure the health and safety of their employees and the public by suspending disconnection of services for nonpayment, waiving late fees for customers who are out of work, and expanding bill assistance programs for customers who’ve been economically impacted by this emergency. 
  • Assistance for workers: The governor waived the one week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance, which will get more funds in the pockets of unemployed workers. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8, the day of the governor’s first emergency rule expanding unemployment insurance criteria. 
  • Business assistance: Up to $5 million of the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Funds will be made available as small grants to small business across the state to help prevent closure due to COVID-19. The federal Small Business Administration has also approved the governor’s request for a disaster declaration, which will unlock low-interest loans that help small business meet their financial obligations and cover operating expenses. 
  • Cash assistance to families: Under the governor’s direction, the state Department of Social and Health Services will expand eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children. 
  • Long-term care waivers: The state is doing a number of things to ease pressure on the long-term care system, especially our nursing homes. This involves suspending rules around nursing home assessment requirements to allow for faster admissions, and suspending inspections and surveys on particular timelines. 
  • Supply chain flexibility: To ensure the timely delivery of certain goods that are critical during this crisis, the governor is waiving restrictions on hours worked for delivery drivers carrying groceries, medical supplies and equipment, pharmaceuticals, fuel, and pet food and supplies. Shout out to our amazing delivery drivers and all the hard work they’re doing to help us all maintain access to such important goods and services! 

2. The single most important thing to do right now is limit contact with others.

To stem the spread of the coronavirus, it’s absolutely crucial to change our normal day-to-day behavior and reduce our exposure to other people. We can reduce the numbers of people who will be exposed, which will in turn reduce the numbers who will test positive, which will in turn reduce the numbers who develop life-threatening illness. We can reduce illness and truly save lives – but only if we take the right steps right nowSo: call, FaceTime, or host Zoom get-togethers with friends and family instead of getting together in person. Limiting exposure to others is our responsibility – that’s how we “flatten the curve” (aka keep the number of new cases below hospital and health care worker capacity – here’s a helpful graph to show you what I mean!): 

Flatten the curve graph

Other important things to do: wash your hands! Health experts recommend washing well – being sure to scrub between your fingers and under your nails, and with good antibacterial soap – for at least 20 seconds. It helps to hum the chorus of your favorite song so that you know you’ve washed your hands for the recommended time. No soap and water handy? Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content, and wipe down frequently-touched surfaces with a sanitizing wipe. 

3. And here’s some good news! 

Our community members have pulled together in such an inspiring way during this emergency – making sure people are fed, housed, and cared for. The disruption to our schools’ schedules has had a particularly negative impact on students that previously relied on school to receive a square meal, but our neighbors have stepped in – in a big way – to keep students fed.  

Tacoma Community College, for example, is providing financial, housing, and food support through the TCC Foundation’s student emergency fund and is continuing to operate the Max and Margi Harned Titan Food Pantry so that students aren’t going without basic necessities even as campuses empty and classes shift online. TCC has also done extensive work to provide student access and address equity issues, making sure that students have the equipment for distance learning. 

The efforts of our higher education institutions in particular – to take care of their students, faculty, and staff – are nothing new! When I passed my bill last year to establish programs at certain colleges that would support students experiencing housing and food insecurity, our higher ed institutions advocated for that policy the whole way. I’ve been so encouraged by how they and other community leaders throughout the state have taken it upon themselves to take care of everyone, not only in this time of emergency but all the time. I hope this brightens your day the way it brightened mine! 

All my best,

Signature

E-news – Session 2020: By the numbers

March 16th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors—

As of yesterday, we’ve crossed the finish line of our 60-day legislative session – and there is *so* much to be proud of!

All my colleagues at the Legislature worked together to respond to the needs of Washingtonians. We did that by expanding access to quality health care, opening doors to affordable housing, answering the needs of our kiddos and teachers in K-12 schools, eliminating barriers to higher education, taking care of our small and local business owners, and banding together to support cities statewide as we all combat COVID-19 and take care of one another. Our collaborative, community-oriented work and the investments we made are especially important as we adapt to changing public health guidance that affects Washington families, like we’ve seen with today’s statewide school closures. 

I’m excited to give you a full session report card soon but, for now, here’s a quick look at our amazing 2020 session – by the numbers! 

Sen Randall in higher ed

2020 Session Stats

12 of my bills (plus the House “companion” version of my bills) passed

377 total bills passed the Legislature

$1,318,000 total dollars invested in our district

2,500+ emails we’ve responded to (and we’re still going!)

320+ phone calls with community members

12,230+ views on my most widely-shared Facebook post

210 town hall attendees (including our Facebook Live viewers!)

425 constituents who visited with me this session

10 job shadows and Pages I had the opportunity to host

Spotlight: Capital budget wins 

While my *next* e-newsletter will be a full, in-depth review of our wins this session, I’m so excited about the amazing capital budget investments we won for our district that I want to highlight some of them for you now! We received: 

  • $100,000 for Lakebay Marina Acquisition  
  • $52,000 for the Greater Gig Harbor Community Campus 
  • $250,000 for Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank 
  • $24,000 for South Kitsap High School NJROTC Equipment 
  • $294,000 for the Harbor Hope Center Home for Girls 
  • $309,000 for South Kitsap School District Health Center 
  • $289,000 for Penrose Park Improvements 

These investments in and around our community will go such a long way for our neighbors – bringing people together, supporting programming for our kiddos, and establishing spaces for people to play and be active. 

Good news: Transportation Projects 

Because of the huge funding hole created in our state’s transportation budget by the passage of I-976, the governor had to pause critical projects all over the state until we figured out ways to fund them. We also started this session worried about potential cuts to key services like State Patrol, Washington State Ferries, and special needs transportation. Luckily both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Transportation Committee were committed to doing the least damage to our communities as possible. We worked together to comb though the budget and find efficiencies, ensuring that our transit-dependent and rural Washingtonians would not be disproportionately disadvantaged by this abrupt lack of funding. The budget we passed should allow projects that were paused by the governor after the passage of I-976 to be un-paused. Last stop: the governor’s desk. 

Sen Randall and Sen Sheldon

Overview: Statewide operating budget investments 

I’m thrilled to say that we worked hard to pass a supplemental operating budget that keeps our four-year budget balanced. It leaves $3 billion in total reserves at the end of the biennium (which is so important in the face of unexpected crises or disasters, like the one we’re all braving right now – we know that we are well-prepared to face challenges head on!). The budget makes big investments in support of working families, and addresses so many of our most urgent needs across the state: public health, housing accessibility, childcare, climate resilience. It does all this while being fiscally responsible and putting both current needs and future needs at the center.  

Looking ahead to interim: coffee hours and community calls 

As much I love being in Olympia and working alongside my colleagues in service of our state, I really love being home with my neighbors – connecting over coffee, buying flowers and veggies at the farmer’s market, strolling the beach in Southworth, shopping in the Harbor, and attending great events on the Key like the Logging Show and Farm Tour. That said, I want to take every possible measure to follow the suggestions of health care professionals encouraging folks to stay home and stay healthy. This means I’m exploring options to continue my weekly coffee hours virtually. Look out for information to come on how we’ll be staying connected while practicing healthy social distancing precautions! 

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 and posting frequent, real-time updates on my Instagram and Twitter pages.

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 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,

Signature

E-news – Special joint e-news on all things health care with Sen. Rolfes!

March 2nd, 2020|

Randall Rolfes banner

Friends, neighbors –  

As state senators representing the Kitsap Peninsula, we wanted to take the opportunity to share news about one of your top areas of concerns: health care. We’ve both heard a lot of feedback from you – our friends and neighbors in our districts – about challenges many households face with access to affordable care. We thought it might be helpful to sum up the ways in which we’ve taken huge strides and continue to make progress toward greater accessibility and affordability in the world of health care.

In 2018, the Legislature passed policy that:

  • Requires health plans sold in Washington state to cover, with no cost sharing, all preventive services required under federal law as of Dec. 31, 2016.
  • Prohibits the sale of firefighting foam that contains chemicals that were found in well water and pose a health threat to the public.
  • Requires health plans in our state to cover all types of contraception without cost sharing.
  • Requires health care providers to cover the cost of 3-D mammograms, which are superior to traditional mammograms at detecting early stages of cancer than and ensures doctors inform and assist patients with high breast density, a condition that can make it harder to detect early stages of cancer.
Randall green dress Rolfes

In 2019, we passed legislation that:

  • Addressed the opioid crisis on multiple fronts and directed state agencies to collaborate on a comprehensive, statewide strategy for treating and preventing opioid use disorder.
  • Created the Long-Term Care Trust Act, a program to help families cover some of the costs of long-term care.
  • Created a work group to identify and recommend how the state can achieve universal health care.
  • Established the nation’s first public option – Cascade Care – an important step in ensuring that all Washingtonians (especially those who don’t have coverage through their employer) can access an affordable coverage option.
  • Protected people’s right to certain levels of essential health coverage on any plan under the Affordable Care Act by codifying them into state law.
  • Protected patients from surprise medical bills by requiring providers to negotiate and absorb differences in costs between themselves when using out-of-network services.

While we’ve not quite finished session 2020, we’ve heard and voted on great legislation to:

  • Control the cost of insulin for Washington families by capping monthly out-of-pocket costs, creating a central purchasing process, and even exploring “pharma tourism” to take advantage of lower prices in Canada.
  • Create the Washington Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help curb excessive price spikes in prescription drugs and ensure that they are priced affordably.
  • Support nursing home patients and reduce the potential for nursing home closures by increasing skilled nursing Medicaid reimbursement rates.
  • Keep premiums stable and health care more affordable by allowing the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to consider an insurance carrier’s surplus money when an insurance carrier applies to raise its premiums.
  • Create greater transparency in health care by regulating benefits managers (aka the mysterious middlemen that health insurance companies contract with to reduce costs) while also giving consumers some recourse when they’re having trouble.
  • Extend Medicaid coverage to new moms from a meager 60 days to a full year post-partum, strengthening families and ensuring better long-term health for new parents and babies.
  • Strengthen local access to health care and support the doctors who provide it by increasing Medicaid primary care reimbursement rates.

Rolfes pink blazer Randall

As you can see, we’ve been busy working to dismantle barriers and simplify unnecessarily complicated health care access. We are also working to strengthen our foundational public health infrastructure to respond to emerging public health threats, including an additional $10 million to help support local health officials as they plan how to protect the public in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. We are committed to staying at the forefront of quality, accessible health care so that all Washingtonians and their families can flourish.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

All our best,

Emily and Christine

SignatureRolfes signature

E-news – Washingtonians working hand in hand

February 24th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –  

I’m here to solve problems for our communities. I’m here to break through partisan gridlock. I’m here to work with and for my neighbors, colleagues, teachers, doctors, laborers, and Washingtonians across our state on our collective march toward a better future for all of us. This past week, we passed four of my bills on a unanimous or nearly unanimous vote because folks on both sides of the aisle put the needs of Washingtonians first. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together, and even though I’m still here in Olympia, I want to give you an up-close look at what we’re up to! 

That’s why I’m hosting a Mid-Session Facebook Live Chat on Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 7 pm – 7:30 pm. Tune in on my Facebook page to join the conversation and ask questions, make comments and hear all about what I’ve been working on. Want a reminder about my Mid-Session Chat when we go live? Head to my event on Facebook by clicking here or by clicking on the photo below, and hit the “GOING” or “INTERESTED” button. That way, you’ll get a notification on Tuesday evening that we’re live – and it’ll be super easy to click on a link and join us! 

P.S. If you have an Instagram account, we’ll also be live-streaming my chat on Instagram Live. That’ll be another good way to tune in on Tuesday.

live chat

As a teaser, here’s an overview of unanimously-approved bills: 

SB 6128  – This bill extends Medicaid coverage during the postpartum period from the current 60 days to a *full year* post-pregnancy. I’m thrilled that we passed this, because the positive impact it will have on people’s lives will extend far beyond that initial year. One full year of Medicaid coverage means that more parents who have just given birth will be able to spend that precious and critical period of time with their newest family member – the time they need to heal and bond. 

This investment in the first 365 days of life for an infant and the first 365 days post-pregnancy for a new parent is an investment in the whole family’s well-being. We know that future health outcomes, housing stability, financial security, and family cohesion improve when an individual’s first year of life – and their parent’s first year of parenthood – is secure. Everybody wins when parents have the breathing room to focus on their health and the health of their baby. 

SB 6141 – This bill nearly passed unanimously (47 to 1) and is an exciting step to address our state’s severely low FAFSA completion rates. FAFSA/WASFA (aka the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Washington Application for Student Financial Aid) is a way for students to find out what kind of financial support they will receive to pursue the higher education option that works best for them and their goals.

When students don’t finish their FAFSA/WASFA applications, don’t know how to start their FAFSA/WASFA applications, or don’t know that FAFSA/WASFA exists to serve them in the first place, we know that they’re far less likely to pursue further education after high school. We want to launch our students into the careers of tomorrow and into the workforce that we so desperately need to thrive as a state. My bill – to give students a financial aid calculator, dedicate a day to FAFSA/WASFA completion in schools, and simplify the financial aid award comparison process – will help us better support our students and grow our diverse, bustling workforce. 

floor

SB 6565 – This bill has a personal story behind it. My dad used to drive me to t-ball practice on the back of his Harley, which is a memory I cherish – and which showed me how pragmatic motorcycles are as a form of transportation! I was eager to help when bikers from my district brought forward a suggestion about how to make their lives a little easier as motorcycle-riders in a way that is both simple and common-sense. My bill would allow motorcyclists to park multiple to a car space in parking lots, as well as diagonally to the curb (instead of requiring them to park parallel). This is good policy for both motorcycle-owners and car-owners who will now have more lot space and more street-parking space for their vehicles – and every single senator agreed! 

SB 6358 – This bill expands the availability of affordable care to communities like ours – rural or geographically isolated areas – and supports the providers who are caring for us. Currently, when a regular health care provider is temporarily absent (think maternity leave, or when someone is trying to scale back or retire) hospitals and health clinics often use substitute providers to fill in. There have been some barriers to those substitute providers being reimbursed for that work by Medicaid Managed Care Organizations – or MCOs. This common sense clean-up bill fixes the problem! 

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 calendar here each week on Facebook, and have launched an Instagram account (@senatoremilyrandall) and a Twitter account (practically the same handle – @SenEmilyRandall) to give you more in-the-moment updates.

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 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,

Signature

E-news – Shout out to our youngest community members!

February 10th, 2020|

Randall 2019 banner

Friends, neighbors— 

As of today, we have hit our first important deadline: policy cutoff. That means that we’ve introduced the last new bills of the 2020 session, and now we’ll begin to move the best of these bills along in the process. I’m excited that we’re going to be able to keep discussing and moving so many important pieces of legislation to remove barriers to higher education, cut costs in health care, make life easier for our military members and their families, and promote the well-being of our K-12 kiddos. 

Speaking of kiddos—I had so many fun visits from our young activists and advocates this week, and I want to highlight them and their priorities today. After all, these young people are tomorrow’s leaders, teachers, healers, peace-keepers. I love seeing them at the legislature using their voices, plugging their communities, and building a movement. This one’s for them! 

kiddo asking q

Kiddos tackle the capitol

A handful of school groups from schools in my district – like East Port Orchard Elementary, Hidden Creek Elementary, and a Puget Sound-wide group of homeschoolers – have visited Olympia on field trips, and I always try to duck off the floor or out of committee to swing by and chat with them. Our students are so eager to learn – and brimming with excellent questions! The educators and parents chaperoning my young constituents watch with pride and encouragement as students share their policy concerns and ask questions about the legislative process. It’s clear that these caring adults are doing an amazing job stoking their curiosity and empowering them to love learning. No matter where I am or what I’m doing during session, I will always do my very best to come visit these kiddos during their field trips! 

PP teen council

Teens tellin’ it like it is

A couple impressive students from South Kitsap High School and Central Kitsap High School – two fantastic schools in Kitsap County – visited me as advocates with Planned Parenthood Teen Council. These brave students shared why they support comprehensive sexual health education to help young people make the best decisions possible about their bodies, their relationships, and their futures. I’m happy to say the Senate passed the bill these students were advocating for (SB 5395) to empower and equip students with the information they need. Next step: action in the House! 

tooth fairy constituent

Tooth fairies speaking the truth

This smart cookie came to my office to voice her support for SB 5392, allowing dental therapists to train and practice across Washington. This legislation is so important because it makes things easier for highly qualified professionals in the dental profession to provide dental care, especially in areas – like ours! – where adequate dental care may be far out of reach, or too expensive. I was so proud of this tooth fairy activist for using her time and her voice to speak out for her community on this issue! 

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 calendar here and a week-in-review video here each week on Facebook. 

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 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,

Signature

E-news – 12 Highlights of Christmas

December 23rd, 2019|

Friends, neighbors—

We’re rounding out the year of 2019 and what an incredible year it has been. You and I have worked so hard together – through conversations, coffee hours, letters, emails, phone calls, rallies – to make the 26th legislative district and the state of Washington a better place for all of us. We expanded access and pathways to health care, we better supported our seniors and veterans and lower-income neighbors, we made it easier for students of every age and in every stage of life to fulfill their dreams through higher education, and we ensured our community got the state investments we deserve. 

As we enter the holiday season of thankfulness and reflection on the year behind us and look forward to the year ahead  it’s important to celebrate our victories. Here are a few of my favorite highlights from 2019 and hopes for 2020: 

12.23 1

#1: I gave my first speech on the floor of the Senate to advocate for military families! The policy is about ensuring that we serve the families that serve us – it allows the children of service members to enroll in school using their new base as their address (before they find their new home). This will make the transition to a new school for the kids, for their families, and for their school districts just a little easier. (A little inside baseball: the version that the Governor signed is a little different than my version SB 5603, so it doesn’t show up as a “companion bill,” but I worked closely with Rep. Christine Kilduff in the House to get this important policy to home plate.) 

#2: We passed my Reproductive Health Access for All Act! This bill prohibits health care discrimination based on gender identity.  Our neighbors have faced continued discrimination and barriers to care. This bill protects Washingtonians who are often ignored, and provides access to the essential health care they need and deserve. Along the way to the Governor’s desk we also added other important protections: ensuring hospitals are clear about what sort of reproductive health care they offer, and ensuring college student health plans cover the health care needs of survivors of sexual assault. This bill was one of my priorities last session, and we got it done! 

#3: We got the state to invest $29 million of capital budget funds in our community! This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some highlights: 

  • $10.1 million for Olympic College’s Innovation & Technology Learning Center and the renovation of the Shop Building 
  • $4 million for construction work atRetsilVeterans Home 
  • $2.3 million for Minter Hatchery Intakes 
  • $2 million for Peninsula Community Health Services Behavioral Expansion and Mobile Dental Clinic 
  • $1.2 million for Kopachuck Beach Area improvements 
  • $1 million for the Mustard Seed Project, which promotes independent living for seniors on Key Peninsula 

12.23 3

#4:My caucus chose me to be the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee chair! I have been so honored and humbled to be trusted by my colleagues to lead this important committee. This is a rare opportunity for first-year legislators, and I do not take it for granted. I’m eager to lead this team forward as we make higher education more accessible and affordable for all students, engage adult learners, give first-generation students the support they need to navigate these systems, and continue building a strong workforce through education. 

#5:We made our roads safer for folks on bikes, on foot, and in wheelchairs! We did this through my bill, SB 5723, which creates clearer right-of-way rules to better protect vulnerable road-users. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I care not only about alleviating congestion and making sure our region gets the transportation investments we deserve, but also about making road travel safer for all of us. Transportation will continue to be a priority this year as we determine Washington’s best path forward in the wake of I-976, so stay tuned as we work on this.

#6:We took bold action to mitigate the damaging impacts of climate change! More than 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from our transportation sector alone. As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, I care about how we cut commutes and make our roads safer, while working hand-in-hand with efforts to develop a more sustainable transportation sector. I’m proud that last session we passed HB 1512, providing municipal electric utilities with greater authority to make investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Not only that, but we set groundbreaking new clean energy standards to cut greenhouse gas emissions in buildings as well as appliances and cars. We owe this to future generations. 

#7:We’ll be supporting Fire Stations who want to provide on-site health care! Just a few weeks ago, I dropped a bill that will expand the authority of fire protection districts to establish and provide health clinic services. This amazing idea was brought to the table by the Key Peninsula Fire District. It’s going to be another critical step in making sure health care is accessible to everyone who needs it. I am so excited to partner with our amazing fire fighters to see this through. Read more about this on my Facebook page

RHAA

#8: We’ll fix our Caseload Forecasting system! Currently, the Caseload Forecast Council provides the state of Washington with a projection of the number of people who need services from different entitlement programs, but right now, DD services aren’t included in caseload forecasting. This makes things hard for families that qualify for services based on disability but end up on what’s called the “No Paid Services Caseload” (which is a massive 14,000+ person wait list). I want to fix this. We need to fix this. My bill will give people on the No Paid Services Caseload a case manager to assess their needs and help them find supports. 

#9: We’ll take important steps to protect the health of new parents!  The United States – including Washington – reports shocking numbers of high-risk pregnancies, post-partum complications, and maternal mortality, despite our wealth and medical advancement. The numbers are especially stark for women of color. All Washingtonians deserve safety and comfort after they welcome a new little family member into the world – it should be one of the happiest moments of their lives, not one of the most stressful. That’s why I’ll be sponsoring a bill to improve maternal health outcomes by extending Medicaid coverage to one year post-partum. 

#10: We will encourage more entrepreneurs into the food economy! I plan to propose legislation that will bring more entrepreneurs – especially women, people of color, and immigrants – into the formal system and provide them with better education and training about public and environmental health. You may hear about it as a “Microenterprise Home Kitchens bill.” It will encourage more entrepreneurs with very small food businesses (think: the neighbor who makes amazing lumpia or tamales!) to expand into a more traditional food business model with micro-scale enterprises. 

#11: We will promote access to earned benefits and services for our LGBTQ+ military veterans! Last session, I sponsored a bill (SB 5900) that would create the position of LGBTQ Coordinator within the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. That bill didn’t make it out of committee last year, but the path to the Governor’s desk looks good for 2020. LGBTQ veterans experience higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation, loneliness, and isolation. This new position will connect with our brave veterans and ensure we’re serving them in their time of need. 

#12: We’ll work to expand access to school based health care – supporting student success and long term health outcomes! Too many children struggle in school and in life because they aren’t getting the health care they need – for colds and flus, and for depression and substance abuse. Maybe it’s because parents are working multiple jobs and can’t take time off work for a doctor’s appointment, maybe it’s because the students aren’t comfortable opening up about their needs, maybe it’s because the nearest clinic is an hour or more away on public transit. Washington State has a number of School Based Health Centers – partnerships between school districts and health clinics – that are meeting students where they are, and helping them get healthy and stay healthy. In 2020, I’m going to work to expand School Based Health Centers into more districts! 

Lovelett and Randall

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,

Signature

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    E-News – Applications, financial aid, and all things higher ed

E-News – Applications, financial aid, and all things higher ed

November 1st, 2019|

Friends, neighbors—

ICYMI (in case you missed it!): Having served as Acting Chair of Higher Education and Workforce Development for most of this interim, I received the unanimous support of my caucus to officially chair the (best!) committee next session. It will be official official when the full Senate votes on January 13th, but I haven’t wasted a minute getting to work.

Over the spring, summer, and fall I have visited 19 campuses in our incredible higher education system — from community and technical colleges to big state universities and independent colleges. Each visit has been a blast! I’ve focused on meeting passionate students doing ground-breaking work, and talking with faculty and staff about the cutting-edge educational opportunities they offer. Our higher education system is preparing tomorrow’s engineers, teachers and health care providers, electricians and welders, sculptors and builders, activists and legislators, ministers and CEOs — as well as the thought leaders who will work in careers we haven’t yet considered.

On every campus visit, and in so many other conversations this interim, one thing has been on my mind: higher education doesn’t do someone much good if they don’t know how to pay for it. Because I was the first in my family to graduate from college, I know how daunting and inaccessible the system of higher education may seem. That’s why I’m devoting this newsletter to the resources that may help you or the young student in your life considering postsecondary education.

In the time that has passed since I was a high school student seeking scholarships, the Washington State Legislature has made significant investments in creating more pathways to prepare and access higher education opportunities — including the 2019 session’s landmark Workforce Education Investment Act which created the Washington College Grant (more on that below!).

These opportunities can be hard to navigate —  especially if you’re a #firstgen student, a single mom looking to re-enter the workforce, or someone looking to make a big, bold mid-career shift like my favorite mechanic-turned-doctor. In Washington, very few high school students — much less adults on the fence about enrolling in college — even complete the FAFSA or WAFSA to know if they qualify for financial aid.

I hope this newsletter is helpful for you, or for the folks in your life contemplating college. Please feel free to share it with a neighbor, and reach out to my office with questions!

 

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#1: In middle school, enroll in the College Bound Scholarship Program (if eligible).

Seventh and eighth grade students in low-income households or in foster care can apply for the College Bound Scholarship. They must apply by the end of their eighth grade year, commit to graduate from high school with a GPA of at least 2.0, and have no felony convictions. This four-year scholarship covers tuition at public college rates, books, and certain fees at more than 60 eligible institutions in Washington State. For more information, visit: https://readysetgrad.wa.gov/college/college-bound-scholarship-program.

#2: In high school, enroll in dual-credit courses.

Dual-credit courses allow you to take college-level courses while you are in high school, with free or low-cost tuition for college credit. Dual-credit opportunities offered by Bremerton School DistrictPeninsula School District, and South Kitsap School District include:

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • College in the High School
  • Tech Prep/Career & Technical Education (CTE)
  • Running Start

For more information, visit: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/support-programs/dual-credit-programs.

#3: Apply for need-based state scholarships/grants.

Applying for most state-funded scholarships and grants is usually as easy as completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) if you aren’t eligible for federal aid due to your immigration status. Always follow up with the financial aid office at the school you’re planning to attend.

  • Washington College Grant: This year the Legislature replaced the State Need Grant with the Washington College Grant, making more families eligible for assistance in paying for education and training beyond high school while also including more higher education programs across the state. This grant provides financial aid to income-eligible students to study at eligible institutions, which include all public and some private colleges, universities, and career training schools statewide. The amount of funds a student will receive will depend on income, family size, and the school or program attended. For more information, visit: https://readysetgrad.wa.gov/college/washington-college-grant.
  • Opportunity Grant: The Opportunity Grant helps low-income adults at community colleges or technical schools earn 45 credits, receive a credential, and increase job skills and knowledge. Eligible students on approved career pathways may receive funds to cover tuition and fees up to 45 credits, as well as an allowance for books and supplies, and individual support services that can include tutoring, career advising, college success education, emergency child care and more. For more information, visit the website of the community college or technical school you plan to attend.
  • Washington State Opportunity Scholarship: The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship is offered to eligible low- and middle-income students in Washington pursuing either: a bachelor’s degree in a STEM or health care field, or a certificate or degree in a high-demand trade, STEM or health care field. These funds can be used to cover tuition and fees, or other costs like transportation, housing, food, and more. For eligibility requirements and more information, visit: https://www.waopportunityscholarship.org/students/applicants/.

#4: Look into other scholarship opportunities.

#5: Obtain a State Work Study position.

Qualifying students from low- and middle- income households can get approved for on-campus or off-campus jobs to support higher education. Work study can build your skills, increase your earnings and reduce your reliance on student loans.

#6: Financial Aid for DREAMers and Other Undocumented Residents

State law allows undocumented, noncitizen residents who cannot complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) due to their immigration status to instead apply for state financial aid through the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA). Some benefits you could be eligible for include in-state tuition rates, the Washington College Grant, and the College Bound Scholarship. Students who have DACA status (expired or unexpired) may be eligible for other state financial aid as well.

 

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Community Coffee Hours

There are only a couple of our 1st Monday coffee hours left in 2019! Please join me at Whiskey Gulch in Port Orchard next Monday 11/4Kimball Coffee in Gig Harbor on Monday 11/11, and the Kitsap Regional Library in Bremerton on 11/25. We will not have one in Key Peninsula on 11/18 due to Senate Committee Assembly that week.

My week in service

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. During session I made a practice of posting my legislative calendar each week on my Facebook page.

Keep in touch

I’m eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what my team and I are up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at (360) 627-7610 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,

Signature

E-News – So that all may play – or work!

August 16th, 2019|

Friends, neighbors—

Those of you who know me know that I’m passionate about expanding access to ALL in our communities, especially folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

I’m proud of the progress we made this year. We barred state agencies from paying less than minimum wage, increased the rate of pay for community respite providers, expanded social and emotional learning, and increased the special education funding multiplier.

But there’s more to do. Right now, Washington is 41st in the nation in investment in our developmentally disabled community. There are 14,000 Washingtonians who qualify for DD services who can’t access them because of lack of funding. We have a complex system that’s hard for families to navigate, and we need to fix that. To that end we brought together a group of parents, self-advocates, organizations, and agencies to talk through challenges and work on potential solutions.

More to come soon on that path forward! In the meantime, I wanted to share two great success stories from our community.

The playground at Evergreen Rotary Park in Bremerton was the dream of a group of moms who called themselves Beyond Accessible. They knew that the bare minimum of ADA accessibility for playgrounds still excluded many kids who had greater needs. And they worked for years to garner support from the community, the city, and the state.

Now on a beautiful summer day, you can see kids of all abilities running or wheeling across the turf, learning at the Braille clock, or playing in any of a million creative ways in this rich, stimulating environment. It’s truly a place where ALL may play.

Second, supported employment programs are making great job matches, and recently, I got to see the tremendous work that Trillium Employment Services is doing in Kitsap County — with employer partners like Silverdale Beach Hotel, Hops n Drops, and Whiskey Gulch CoffeePub.

So many individuals with I/DD have heard over and over what they can’t do, when the reality is that there is a world of possibilities out there just waiting to be discovered.

Around the 26th

I hope you can join me at one of my coffee hours around the district: 1st Mondays in Port Orchard, 2nd Mondays in Gig Harbor, 3rd Mondays on the Key Peninsula, and 4th Mondays in Bremerton. You can see the details about the upcoming schedule on my website or Facebook.

My week in service

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 Facebook. You can see this week’s here.

Keep in touch

I’m eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what my team and I are up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at (360) 627-7610 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,

E-news – An exciting new position

August 2nd, 2019|

Friends, neighbors—

What’s my favorite part of my job as a Senator? It’s now, during the interim. Not because I don’t like working for you in Olympia (I do!), but because being in our community full time, staying in close touch with you and all our neighbors in the 26th District reaffirms why I do this work.

Since the end of session I’ve held coffee hours in all four corners of our district, reported on the session to community groups, attended neighborhood events, visited classes from Purdy Elementary to Marcus Whitman Middle School to Olympic College—and so many in between. I’ve served salmon at the Manchester Salmon Bake alongside Congressman Kilmer, marched in several parades, and co-hosted a low tide beach walk at Kopachuck State Park. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the summer!

I’m also honored be serving as Acting Chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee. This opportunity was certainly unexpected for a first term legislator, but I’m ready. As the first in my family to graduate from college, I know how crucial higher education—whether a certificate or a degree—can be in shaping our future. Now as Acting Chair, I’ve visited our local dynamos, Olympic College and Tacoma Community College, and seen the innovative work they’re doing on workforce preparation and integrating students facing extraordinary barriers, such as homelessness. (Their work is one of the inspirations for my bill SB 5800)

I’ve also led a legislative tour of colleges across our state, including Columbia Basin College, WSU Tri-Cities, and Walla Walla Community College, where I got to meet students learning to install, operate, and maintain wind turbines, our wine-scientists in training, and others who are enrolled in the John Deere Training Program, keeping Washington’s agricultural economy humming.

Soon, these colleges will be getting additional support from the landmark Workforce Education Investment Act that we passed this year, which dramatically increased foundational support for community and technical colleges and created the Washington College Grant Program, a statewide program making college affordable—in some cases free—for low income students. Quite simply, it’s the most generous need-based aid program in the nation.

I’m committed to continuing to learn on the ground about the next generation of cutting-edge educational opportunities and how we can support them!

Around the 26th

I loved the chance to dive into my first legislative session with Kitsap Daily News reporter Bob Smith! We talked about bipartisan cooperation, learning-by-doing alongside other new members, how a fast-paced campaign prepares you for the sprint of legislative session, and getting work done for our neighbors. You can read the full interview here.

This moon snail was a big hit with the kids at a Low Tide Beach Walk at Kopachuck State Park!  Thanks to the staff, biologists, and volunteer naturalists of Harbor WildWatch for introducing us to the fascinating critters in our beautiful natural world. This year, the legislature allocated $1.2 million to Kopachuck to build facilities that will improve access to the beach. I’m proud to support our State Parks!

I also had the chance to tour the Port of Tacoma with the Legislative Rail Caucus! Thanks to Tacoma Rail and The Northwest Seaport Alliance, along with ILWU and SMART-TD, for the tour. We heard about the rail line’s long history, the safety protocol, environmental regulations, and the present and future for trade in our region. Every train that pulls out of their on-dock rail yard takes 300 trucks off the road. More than $75 billion in trade goes through Puget Sound ports each year. That’s good for our economy, for our environment, and for family-wage jobs.

Community Coffee Hours

I hope you can join me at one of my coffee hours around the district: 1st Mondays in Port Orchard, 2nd Mondays in Gig Harbor, 3rd Mondays on the Key Peninsula, and 4th Mondays in Bremerton. You can see the details about the upcoming month’s schedule here.

My week in service

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. During session I made a practice of posting my legislative calendar each week on my Facebook page–after a little vacation, we’re picking the habit back up!

Keep in touch

I’m eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what my team and I are up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at (360) 627-7610 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,