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E-news – Celebrating ADA 30, self-advocates, and allies!

August 5th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –  

Congratulations! On July 26, we celebrated together the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a huge milestone in the civil rights journey toward full equity and inclusion for our family, friends, and neighbors with disabilities. Because of it, the disability community has seen improvements in accessibility of the built environment, increased access to health care, and an expansion of political participation over the past 30 years. Though this work to build a more inclusive society began far earlier than July 26, 1990, and is an ongoing movement that continues to demand needed change, it’s so important that we celebrate how far we’ve come together – led by self-advocates and allies. 

A brief overview of the ADA 

The passage of the ADA prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability – in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunication. It gave people with disabilities and their families the legal mechanism to challenge the exclusion, segregation, and institutionalization that had kept them out of their communities for so long. The work to expand disability rights continues, but we have come a long way: toward celebrating and empowering people with disabilities, toward equitable transportation and housing, toward a stronger and more comprehensive health care infrastructure that gives people with disabilities control over their own health care decisions. 

2.25.20 - ADA celebration

Working alongside the disability community 

In partnership with self-advocates, their families, and allies, I sponsored and passed a bill relating to health care for working individuals with disabilities during the 2019 legislative session. We fought hard for this because people with disabilities had to navigate a complicated system in order to stay eligible for Medicaid while still working. Working people shouldn’t have to say no to working more hours – or accepting a promotion – in order to afford healthcareEspecially in light of COVID-19, it’s so clear how important it is that as many people as possible are covered and can get the healthcare they need when they need it. I am proud that we passed this bill to improve people’s health, keep folks covered, and alleviate the numerous restrictions placed on people with disabilities so that they can work without jeopardizing their health care.  

Last session, we also formally recognized the groundbreaking accomplishments of the disability community with my resolution to honor the 30th anniversary of the ADA. We had such a joyful day celebrating this landmark legislation with disabled Washingtonians and their friends and family from all over the state. You can watch the resolution here, read the resolution here, and see my Facebook post about our day of celebrating the ADA on the Senate floor here. 

ADA celebration 2.25.20 guests

The work continues 

ICYMI, I had a fantastic conversation with disability community advocates over Facebook Live a few weeks ago. We discussed the challenges facing students with special needs (and their teachers and families) in the midst of remote learning, which continues to be a crucial conversation as more and more Washington schools decide to proceed with 100% online learning in the fall. You can watch that conversation here 

On the subject of Facebook Live chats, don’t forget to tune in TODAY at 1:00 pm (in an hour!) for a live conversation with our very own mayor of Bremerton, our Bremerton fire chief, and our superintendent of Bremerton School District. We’ll be discussing all things local – challenges, opportunities, and ways to help. And if you don’t have access to Facebook, just reply to this email so we can get you the call-in info. Talk to you soon! 

Click here!

 All my best,

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E-news – Thirteen weeks of virtual coffee hours + another live chat at 1pm today!

July 13th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –  

Sipping coffee with neighbors at Kimball Coffee House, navigating walls of books at Bremerton Regional Library, gathering around a table at The Mustard Seed – I had so looked forward to another year of meeting with neighbors in the community. Continuing my weekly Coffee Hours with neighbors in our district (after taking a brief hiatus for legislative session down in Olympia!) was something I planned to do again this summer. But as has been the case for nearly every Washingtonian, the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in my plans. 

Taking a cue from resilient neighbors like you – I adapted! Nearly every Wednesday since April, Ive had weekly virtual coffee hours (13 total!) with community leaders and advocates about everything under the sun: support for students and faculty at colleges and universitiesracial equity in systems of education, state support for public health expertshow high schoolers are handling distance learning – and so much more. 

Read on for a few highlights from some of these conversations – and hit the images and links below to watch the chats and see the resources that were brought up by our neighbors to help us all persist through this hard time. 

Week 1 + Week 2 

Our very first live conversations featured Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young, followed by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. We focused on how each county was taking their first steps to respond to the crisis – making sure folks had rent and mortgage support, helping individuals navigate unemployment insurance, and aid for food banks doing crucial work to keep our neighbors fed. Click here to watch the conversation with Commissioner Garrido, and hit the image below to tune in for the conversation with Councilmember Young! 

Derek young

Image from January 30, 2020 – students testifying in committee

Week 5 

For one of our biggest community conversations yet, I was joined by Sen. Claire Wilson leaders from the disability rights community – including parent advocates. We had a much-needed conversation about resources for students and families with special education needs – all of whom are adapting to this challenging time of distance learning and remote work without the same education support and childcare support that they often need. We had over 145 comments from community members who joined us to watch this chat – many of whom shared incredible resources like this guide for parents and educators to develop a continuous learning plan together, and this Wellness Recovery Action Plan for individual empowerment and self-determination. Click the image below to hear more about what we discussed, and to see what other excellent tools parents and activists dropped in the comments to help Washington families get through this. 

special ed chat

Week 7 

I had such a fun and uplifting conversation with six smallbusiness owners to talk about how they’re faring during this major economic slowdown. We talked about how they’re navigating applications for the Payroll Protection Program and other small business loans, and how they’ve pivoted during this crisis to adjust their business model and ensure that they can keep their staff and clientele safe. Part of what made this conversation so encouraging was hearing how these small businesses – which are already the backbone of our communities in so many ways – are continuing to serve the people who come to them no matter the obstacles they face. 

small biz owners

Week 13 

Skipping ahead to our most recent virtual coffee hour just this past Wednesday, I want to highlight the amazing scholars who joined me for a conversation about advancing racial equity in our systems of education: why equity matters, how we can make our schools places where all of our students have a fair shot at opportunity, and what happens to our collective future when all students are given the tools they need to thrive and to contribute. Interested in this topic? Hit the image below to watch the conversation, and check out the Race and Pedagogy Institute (founded and run by Dr. Dexter Gordon, who joined me for this call!) for resources. 

equity in ed

Click here to get a reminder about this town hall when we go live!

And this week!

I can’t wait to see you all in person again, but until then, I am so enjoying these virtual opportunities to connect with people in our region who are hard at work, advocating for a better Washington for all of us. It’s my deepest honor to stand alongside you in this work as a lawmaker, and I’m grateful for your continual input to help me advocate well. Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch – and tune into our live conversation today about LGBTQ healthcare at 1:00 pm today! Just click on the image below to join us. 

And if you have ideas for conversations you’d like to see our take part in, please shoot me an email or reach out anytime at 360-742-2539 / Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov

7.8 flz

Looking forward to talking with you soon.

 All my best,

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    VIRTUAL GRADUATION CELEBRATION for the Class of 2020 – June 6!

VIRTUAL GRADUATION CELEBRATION for the Class of 2020 – June 6!

May 20th, 2020|

Class of 2020: We are excited to invite you to join Senator Emily Randall – and students, staff, faculty, and community leaders, athletes, and artists from around the state – for a Virtual Graduation Celebration TODAY, JUNE 6… to celebrate YOU! As chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Senator Randall has had the honor and privilege of working with college students all over the state and knows exactly how hard you’ve worked to get here.

For the virtual celebration, we collected video submissions from incredible Washingtonians who all want to honor your hard work and this amazing victory: graduation!

Tune in by clicking here!

 

E-news – !! UPDATE about the Employment Security Department and unemployment benefits

April 20th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –  

Our community has shown truly astounding resiliency in the face of loss, instability, and uncertainty. Every day, I am inspired and encouraged by you. I am also eager to share with you some crucial information from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) about expanded benefits and increased capacity to provide aid after April 18 – this weekend!  

There’s a lot you should know and a lot that you should prepare if you plan to take advantage of this aid. We all want every Washingtonian in need to receive help as quickly and efficiently as possible so we can get our families and our neighbors through this together. Read on for updated information and resources about the upcoming expansion of unemployment benefits and, as always, feel free to reach out to my office if there’s anything I can clarify for you. 

Background

During the week of April 5-11, there were 143,241 initial and 585,983 total claims for unemployment benefits, according to ESD. While initial claims declined 16% from the previous week, it was still the third highest weekly number on record and five times more claims than the peak week during the Great Recession. Total weekly claims are now the highest on record. 

ESD Graph

ESD has been working hard around the clock to help folks get their benefits. One of the upcoming steps is a rollout of the new federal CARES Act provisions that expand eligibility for unemployment assistance, increase the weekly benefit amount by $600, and extend the time available for unemployment assistance by 13 weeks.

ESD will be updating their system to enable that expansion so that individuals such as self-employed workers, independent contractors and other workers who are not traditionally eligible can apply for unemployment benefits. The updates will take the system down most of the day on the 18th, and all staff will be involved in the process. Therefore the call center and site will be closed on Saturday but will reopen on Sunday, 4/19In the meantime, you can get ready with the information below. ↓↓↓↓ 

Your unemployment application toolkit 

While ESD works hard to update their system and provide guidance for Washington workers, these are four actions you can take right away to get prepared:  

  1. Stay up to date. If you haven’t already, please sign up for ESD’s COVID-19 action alerts. You can do so on the agency’s COVID page (esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19). 
  2. Check your eligibility. Learn more about your eligibility and when to apply for benefits using the new eligibility checker 
  3. Get ready to apply. Download the application checklist. 
  4. Set up your account. Watch the tutorial video to set up your account correctly. It is nine minutes long but will likely save a lot of time. 

ESD toolkit graphic

Other next-week news: 

Have you participated in our weekly Live Zoom Chats on Wednesdays? I’ve loved the opportunity to stay connected with neighbors and share information from local leaders! So far I’ve talked to: Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young and Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido about COVID-19 resources in our region, as well as Jaime Forsyth from Kitsap’s Small Business Development Center about support for businesses during this tough time. Next week, I’m so excited to say we’ll have Dr. Nathan Schlicher from Team Health on our call to give us the health expert perspective on today’s health crisis. 

Join us at 3:00 pm (not 1:00 pm as in past weeks – we’re trying to accommodate Dr. Schlicher’s busy schedule!) for our fourth weekly Live Zoom Chat on Wednesday, 4/22. Respond to this email with your questions or comments, or hop on to Facebook at 3:00 pm and drop your questions and thoughts in the comments. Click on the image below to get a reminder and share the link with your friends and neighbors. 

Don’t have Facebook? Don’t worry! We can give you call-in information so you can join by phone.

Live Zoom Chat on 4/22 at 3:00 pm

Looking forward to chatting with you soon, and please feel free to reach out anytime at 360-742-2539 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,

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A letter to our congressional delegation

April 9th, 2020|

Sen. Emily Randall, D-26

On April 7, I authored a letter asking my colleagues in Washington state’s congressional delegation to advocate for loan forgiveness for our health care workers on the front-lines of the coronavirus crisis. Click on the link below to read the letter:

Health Care Workers Loan Forgiveness Letter to Congressional Delegation 4-7-20 (002)

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    E-news – A COVID-19 update about the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order

E-news – A COVID-19 update about the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order

March 25th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –

On Monday evening March 23, Governor Inslee signed a two-week “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation in Washington state, similar to orders you may have heard about in other states that are also battling coronavirus outbreaks. This decision was not made lightly — it is essential to our ability to control the virus and prevent the number of cases from overwhelming our healthcare system.  Here’s what yesterday’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order means: 

We are ALLOWED to: 

  • Leave the house for essential activities, like grocery shopping and medical care. 
  • Get takeout food from your favorite local restaurants. 
  • Go to work at an essential business, like post offices and pharmacies. 

With modifications, we are ALLOWED to: 

  • Go outside for walks and exercise (because taking care of your mental and physical health, and the health of your furry friend, is absolutely an essential activity!) – as long as you stay six feet away from others. 

We are NOT ALLOWED to: 

  • Gather in groups for social, spiritual, and recreational purposes. 
  • Host or join in-person visits with family and friends. 
  • Camp on state lands. 
  • Go to work at a non-essential business beginning TOMORROW March 26th. 
Stay Home Stay Healthy

These measures are so crucial for protecting health care workers, first responders, and current patients. We’ll be able to slow the spread of the virus so that everyone can give and receive the health care they need, with an adequate amount of supplies – like personal protective equipment and ventilators – available for that care. I know it’s tough to stay home so much more than we’re used to, but staying home is about staying healthy – and keeping others healthy, too! I have been so encouraged and inspired by the way our community members have banded together to help each other through this, and I know we’ll continue to rise to the occasion. 

All my best,

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P.S. If you have questions or information about donations of much needed PPE (personal protective equipment) for health care workers who are in short supply, please email PPEDonation@des.wa.gov. You can find a list of needed items here

E-news – Spotlight: All our great work for our K-12 kiddos!

March 9th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors— 

Our short 2020 legislative session is nearing its end. There is so much to be proud of – especially all the work we’ve done to give all of our kiddos every opportunity to succeed. As chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee, I spend a lot of time opening doors for students after K-12, but setting people up for success in college and careers means supporting kiddos long before their senior year. Investments in early learning, supporting students struggling with homelessness, improving social-emotional learning standards, and bolstering graduation pathways are all parts of building a well-prepared workforce. And we have so many education and career wins to celebrate this year! 

Randall and kiddo

Spotlight: K-12 Education

*FYI most of these bills have passed the House and the Senate. Final stop: the governor’s office! 

HB 2455 allows parents who are attending high school or who are working toward completing a high school equivalency certificate to qualify for Working Connections Child Care, a federal- and state-funded program. Parents in high school would be able to take care of their little one and focus on their education, and schools will even provide transportation to both parent and baby. We know earning a high school degree is critical for future job success. This bill will help alleviate the burden of child care on parenting teens so they can earn their degree, pursue their dreams, and take care of their family. 

HB 2660 helps feed kiddos who struggle with food insecurity. It increases the availability of school meals provided to public school students at 18 lower income school districts. This program provides all students with no-cost lunch which eliminates stigma and meal debt, and we know that kids do better in school when they’re well-nourished. 

SB 6117 would increase the funding for students enrolled in special education who are in the general education classroom. This would help us support our students in special education programs at schools throughout the state, something that para-educators and teachers have been asking for. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach to education – especially for our young learners with special learning needs – doesn’t work. With this bill we can work to accommodate all of our students. This bill hasn’t made it to the House floor yet, so if it’s something you’re excited about, I encourage you to reach out to your representatives in the House and urge them to help us get this bill to the governor’s desk this session! 

Sen. Randall and group photo with visiting class

HB 1660 helps close the current opportunity gaps in extracurricular participation at high school. It also directs school boards to adopt a policy to waive fees for students who are low-income.  Participation and success should never be limited by socioeconomic status. This bill will help schools examine what they can do to help more of their students pursue soccer, marching band, theatre, debate – whatever they love and whatever they want to try! I am so excited this bill has passed both chambers this week with bipartisan support. 

Besides voting on great bills for kids, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting with students from Lighthouse Christian School, East Port Orchard, Hidden Creek Elementary, Libert-T School, Discovery Elementary, and Mullenix Ridge Elementary – and heard great ideas from our youngest neighbors. I love how much they care about their classmates and their siblings in different grades, and how excited they are to do everything they can to help make the world a better place. Chatting with our young neighbors gives me so much hope, and reminds me why we do the work to support our students. Keep an eye on my FacebookInstagram, and Twitter accounts  I’ll be answering questions from these kiddos in the weeks to come! 

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) 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,

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Update #2: Information and resource on COVID-19 in Pierce County

March 7th, 2020|

As you may have heard, health officials have confirmed Pierce County’s first case of COVID-19. The patient is in stable condition and is improving, and my sincere well-wishes are with him and his family and friends. 

The health and safety of Washingtonians is my number one priority – as a lawmaker and as the Vice Chair of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, as a longtime health advocate and as a member of my community. Keeping our community safe and healthy in the face of a health emergency like COVID-19 takes strong communication and cooperation between health officers and elected officials of all levels, and I am proud to have worked with my House and Senate colleagues to allocate funding as swiftly as possible, and with our State Department of Health and County Public Health Officers who are doing the frontline work. Special thanks to Congressman Derek Kilmer and Councilmember Derek Young for their strong partnership and commitment to caring for our neighbors in this uncertain time. 

I have faith that the $100 million that the Legislature has fast-tracked will immediately and directly support our collective response to COVID-19. I also have faith in – and deep, deep appreciation for – our health care professionals, who have been working around the clock to treat patients who have been affected and prevent further spread of the virus. It is my honor to do everything I can in support of our “boots on the ground:” first responders and health care providers who are tireless in their diligent care of our neighbors. 

I will be closely monitoring updates from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department – as well as the Kitsap Public Health Districts where we’ve recently learned of four negative test results – on COVID-19 in our region as I receive them. You can find resources on my website here, or call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127. If you have any questions or comments for me, please do not hesitate to reach me at Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov or at (360) 786-7650. 

Update: Information and resources on COVID-19

March 3rd, 2020|

Friends, neighbors –

It’s so important to me that my community (and all Washingtonians!) feel safe and healthy, *and* know that their elected officials and public health officials are working tirelessly on their behalf. Given rising concerns about COVID-19, I want to make sure you have access to all the info you need to take the best care of yourself and your family, friends, and neighbors.

The House and Senate are both working hard on bills that will allocate increased funds to state agencies and local governments so that they have the resources they need to respond to COVID-19. These would give the Department of Social and Health Services funding to increase nursing staff to help address this growing need. We’ll continue to work with DOH, DSHS, and other state agencies to identify what the Legislature can do to ensure we have the necessary resources. Senators will also get an official briefing tomorrow (3/4) and I’d be happy to share with you what I learn. But the real experts (and heroes) here are the medical professionals working so hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to help anyone affected get better as soon as possible. That’s why I wanted to post a list of helpful links and other words of wisdom from health experts here on my website.

  • Here’s a link to the Center for Disease Control‘s page on COVID-19. Information straight from medical experts is available there.
  • You can also head to the Washington State Department of Health‘s site for thorough and updated information on all the steps being taken in Washington to keep Washingtonians healthy.
  • The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is another great place to go for information. Head to their page for a comprehensive list of hotlines you can call, FAQs, and brochures available in 7 different languages.
  • Kitsap Public Health District also has a wonderful, recently-updated page packed with information about best practices and what to do if you feel sick.
  • Other best practices: wash your hands frequently and well (and sing the chorus of your favorite song while you scrub so that you wash them long enough!), stay home if you’re feeling sick, and show compassion and support for those who have been directly impacted by this disease. Now’s the time to take care of each other!
  • Still have questions? You can call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

Please share any and all of this page with your neighbors. I am always happy to connect you to resources and information, and if you have thoughts about how our community can best prepare and what we can do to take care of one another better, please don’t hesitate to email me at Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov or call me at (360) 786-7650.

All my best,

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E-news – Lights, camera, floor action

February 17th, 2020|

Friends, neighbors— 

Having completed week number five of session, we’re officially more than halfway to the finish line of our 60-day short session! This week, the House and Senate were both on the floor full-time, debating bills and sending them to the other chamber to start working their way through the process over there. It’s been a full, wonderful week of work, so here are five highlights from every day of the week to show you what we’ve been up to: 

skhs flag

On Monday…

I was visited by some #wolves from South Kitsap High School, my very own alma mater! School board directors from the Peninsula, Bremerton, and South Kitsap School Districts dropped by my office to talk about how the legislature can work with high schools in the state to make sure every student has the support and access to resources that they need to finish high school strong. Extra credit goes to SKSD Director Eric Gattenby for bringing along the famous SKHS flag, which has traveled the globe with him to places like South Africa, China, and Washington, D.C.! This flag has now added the Washington State Capitol to its ranks, and if you’d like to see the most well-traveled flag in the state, drop by my office – I have it on our wall! 

united way pierce

On Tuesday…

An awesome group of advocates from the United Way of Pierce County stopped in. I have so much admiration for these folks – they dedicate their time and energy to tackling our community’s toughest challenges, and they came to talk to me about how the state can support struggling families in Pierce County with more readily available resources, including South Sound 211, a free community hotline that connects folks to critical services related to everything from rent assistance to tax preparation services. I love getting to meet up with constituents doing such good work. It’s an honor to stand alongside them in partnership against poverty, working toward a shared value: helping people thrive. 

wilson randall hug

On Wednesday…

Full-time floor action started! I am absolutely thrilled to share that my bill to establish an LGBTQ veteran coordinator passed with incredible bipartisan support. This piece of legislation has been over a year in the making. It’s something I have been committed to since I joined the Senate. This bill is a product of dozens of conversations with military friends, family, and neighbors who’ve been asking for a veteran coordinator that is dedicated to connecting LGBTQ vets to the resources they deserve, and so often go without. Read more about it here! 

darneille lovelett randall suffrage flag

On Thursday…

We celebrated the powerful, lasting legacy of women who fought for suffrage. Because of those who made their voices loud and clear to advocate for the right to vote, women now have a seat at the policymaking table. Though it took decades for women – all women – to receive this precious right, we honor the movement of inclusion and equity that paved the way for us. It was my privilege to hold the symbol of the women’s suffrage flag alongside my friends Sen. Darneille and Sen. Lovelett as we celebrated the steps toward a more robust democracy that we’ve made – and continue to make – as a state and as a nation. 

Sen Randall in wings

On Friday…

We were debating bills on the floor nearly all day, which meant we got to send some amazing legislation over to the House. One of the highlights included a data privacy bill (SB 6281) that bolsters consumers’ access to and control over their personal data held by companies. It gives Washingtonians the tools to determine how their personal data is used and shared. That includes the right to know who is using their data and why,  the right to delete certain personal data, and the right to opt out of the processing of data. The act also requires companies – like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook – to disclose data management policies in order to increase transparency and establishes limits on the commercial use of facial recognition technology. I was proud to support a bill that puts Washingtonians and their right to their own data first!

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) 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,

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