We are more than two-thirds of the way through the 60-day legislative session in Olympia and I wanted to provide a brief update. As the Senate’s primary budget writer, I’ve been busy preparing our supplemental operating budget, which will make important adjustments to the two-year budget we passed last April.

I’m happy to report the Senate approved the budget yesterday on a bipartisan vote. It makes additional investments in homelessness, natural resources, climate resilience, and behavioral health. After the House passes its budget, we’ll negotiate a final budget over the next few weeks – and I’ll provide a more comprehensive update. I also want to share a few of the bills I’m sponsoring that I believe will help people here in Kitsap and across the state. Please stay in touch with any questions or concerns.

Protecting the public from pesticides

For the last decade, I’ve focused on ways to turn the tide on the scourge of toxic chemicals found in our water, wildlife, and even our own bodies. Two of the measures I am sponsoring this year address the use of pesticides. Senate Bill 6518 would ban the use of chlorpyrifos with the exception of limited use for a handful of crops. The chemical has been linked to serious health problems in children and has been banned in Europe, California and Hawaii. Senate Bill 6488 would continue the work we started last year to assess threats to public health and the overall environment from pesticides sprayed above forestlands.

Working to lower health care costs

I’m also focused on giving working households much-needed relief from the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs. Senate Bill 6097 would give our state’s Insurance Commissioner the tools to factor in an insurance company’s surplus funds when deciding if a proposed rate increase is reasonable. Please look for another newsletter today from myself and Sen. Emily Randall of Bremerton outlining some of the other exciting progress we are making on health care.

Supporting domestic violence victims

Last year my office was contacted by a constituent who felt helpless in face of harassing, nonstop litigation from an abusive former husband. After reaching out to domestic violence advocates across the state, we found that there is no redress for stalking victims who are harassed by endless and unnecessary legal action. Senate Bill 6268 would give victims hope by providing our courts the tools to close this dangerous loophole.

Protecting our coastline

I sponsored Senate Bill 6432 to make sure our incredible coastline here in Washington is protected from oil drilling. The vast majority of the public opposes offshore drilling and wants to protect the health of our coastal waters. This law would add another important layer of protection.

Expanding dental care for kids

The popular Access to Baby and Child Dentistry program (ABCD) puts young children on a lifelong path to good oral health. Senate Bill 5976 will expand ABCD so more families will be able to connect with dentists who know how to care for younger kids, preventing tooth decay early and educating parents about how to take good care of their children’s teeth.

I’m pleased to report that all of these bills are still moving through the legislative process and I hope to see Gov. Inslee sign them into law as the session comes to an end on March 12.