Monthly Archives: January 2017

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    Legislative Update: Levy cliff, Ban the Box & Resources for Immigrants and Refugees

Legislative Update: Levy cliff, Ban the Box & Resources for Immigrants and Refugees

January 30th, 2017|

                                                                                                                      Levy cliff bannerLet me know banner

A significant issue facing the Legislature this year is addressing something called the levy cliff. If the Legislature fails to act by April, school districts in every county of our state will get a massive budget cut, totaling $358 million. Although the bill to avoid going over the levy cliff passed with strong bipartisan support last week in the House and had bipartisan support in the Senate last year, Senate Republicans have locked up against it this year. They say it is to keep the pressure on to fully fund schools, but in reality it only holds their own school districts hostage. 

If we go over the levy cliff, it will be the largest cut to schools in our state’s history. Seattle Public Schools will lose tens of millions of dollars, while Renton will also lose millions (for an interactive map for cuts to districts statewide, please click here). This is unacceptable. Democrats are doing everything we can to get the bill through the Senate before districts have to start sending out layoff notices to teachers and cutting programs for students. 

Ban the Box banner

I co-sponsored Senate Bill 5312, a bill to “Ban the Box” and prohibit the inclusion of a check-box for criminal records on job applications. A public hearing will be held on the bill this Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 4. Come to Olympia to testify on the bill, or follow along online by clicking here.206 Youth Advocates w/frame

The City of Seattle enacted a similar measure, known as the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance, which went into effect on Nov. 1, 2013. Dozens of other cities and a number of states have also passed Ban the Box measures. More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record, and studies show individuals who have been incarcerated are much less likely to re-offend if they have steady employment. Data also shows people of color are disproportionately affected by these vetting practices.

People are suffering now. People need jobs, and employers need qualified employees. This bill gives those who have paid their debt to society a chance to get a job, support their families and rebuild their lives. Another version of the bill is working its way through the House, sponsored by Rep. Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo (House Bill 1298) and I am hopeful one of the bills will pass and become law this session.

Refugees and Immigrants banner

The President’s Executive Orders last Friday is an affront to everyone that lives in our district. If you or someone you know has been affected by the recent executive action against immigrants and refugees, please seek support. Below is a list of local resources:Womens march with frame

  • City of Seattle has a long list of resources here
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • American Civil Liberties Union-Seattle
  • OneAmerica
  • City of Seattle’s Immigrant and Refugee Commission

To read a statement of principle from the Senate Members of Color Caucus, please click here.

To read the Attorney General of Washington’s statement regarding his lawsuit against the Trump Administration, please click here.

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    Saldaña on Real ID: Two-tier system fosters division when we most need unity

Saldaña on Real ID: Two-tier system fosters division when we most need unity

January 24th, 2017|

Olympia – Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, released the following statement after the Senate Transportation Committee moved Senate Bill 5008, regarding Real ID, out of committee:

“We already have other options for compliance, including enhanced drivers’ licenses. Marking standard licenses so citizenship is unclear leads to a number of issues, including the possibility people will simply drive without licenses or without insurance.

“I offered an amendment that would have helped ensure Department of Licensing staff were better trained and supported to deal with new policies, and data was kept secure – something more important if the bill passes. The amendment was voted down.

“I greatly appreciate the years of stakeholder engagement and our state’s long-term commitment to ensuring the safety and inclusion of all our residents. However, in light of what is coming out of the other Washington, a two-tier system may divide our residents at a time when we most need to be united.”

 

Saldaña co-sponsors ‘Ban the Box’ legislation

January 18th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – A bipartisan bill to prohibit employers from requiring disclosure of past arrests or convictions on job applications was introduced today in the state Senate.

“While the other Washington is gridlocked, it is more important than ever to find ways to make a positive and immediate difference in the lives of the people in our state,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 5312. “People are suffering now. People need jobs, and employers need qualified employees. This bill gives those who have paid their debt to society a chance to get a job, support their families and rebuild their lives. This helps kids and families, and prevents recidivism. This is common-sense legislation that makes all of us better off.”

The City of Seattle enacted a similar measure, known as the Fair Chance Employment Ordinance, which went into effect on Nov. 1, 2013. Dozens of cities and a number of states have passed “Ban the Box” legislation, as it is commonly known. Many employers already opt to not include the check-box, recognizing it may limit the pool of qualified applicants.

More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record, and studies show individuals who have been incarcerated are much less likely to re-offend if they have steady employment. Data also shows people of color are disproportionately affected by these hiring practices. “Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men, and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men,” according to The Sentencing Project. It has also been found that those who report a criminal record are 50 percent less likely to get a call back or job offer.

A stronger version of the bill is working its way through the House, sponsored by Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo (House Bill 1298).

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    Bill to help survivors of trafficking is first for new senator

Bill to help survivors of trafficking is first for new senator

January 17th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – A bill to help survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation was introduced to the state Senate on Tuesday by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, the first bill for the new senator.

“Everyone deserves a fair chance and everyone deserves justice,” Saldaña said. “This is a simple bill that can have significant and positive impacts on the lives of girls, boys, women and men who have survived trafficking and sexual exploitation. We need to seize every chance to make sure that you have the opportunity to make your own life better, regardless of what may have happened to you in the past.”

Senate Bill 5272 allows a person to vacate a conviction for prostitution even if he or she has committed other crimes since the date of conviction, provided those crimes were the result of being a victim of a trafficking or a prostitution-related offense. This bill clarifies steps to vacate a conviction not made plain in previous legislation.

Criminal records, even for those who have been exploited or trafficked, can often make it difficult to find a job, rent an apartment or apply for essential services. More than a quarter of trafficking victims globally are children, and roughly 55 percent are women and girls. Data shows most individuals involved in prostitution start as teenagers, some estimates as young as 13.

The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines (House Bill 1112).

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    Saldaña on Dr. King: Leading with love means better outcomes for all

Saldaña on Dr. King: Leading with love means better outcomes for all

January 17th, 2017|

Thank you, Mr. President.

Although I am one of the newest members of the Senate, I am already creating a tradition for this esteemed body. I am now the second incoming senator from the 37th legislative district to speak on Martin Luther King day without it counting as their first official speech. Thank you, Mr. President, and my colleagues from the 47th and 21st districts for allowing me to stand up and speak today, and my colleague from the 12th for offering the resolution.

As you know, the 37th district is one of the most diverse in the state, and is at the heart of the county named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. My district reflects the Dr. King’s dream where people of all skin colors, religions and backgrounds live side-by-side. I am grateful to be here with you all today to honor the legacy of an incredible human being.

While Dr. King‘s legacy means a little something different to each of us, we all find inspiration and meaning from his life—whether it was his profound faith, his prophetic words, or his non-violent pursuit for racial equality. He was a father and a husband who set an example of service to others; he was selfless, patriotic and paid the ultimate sacrifice for standing up for what is right. He unapologetically called us to value all lives, by truly valuing the lives of black children, men and women.
The resolution points too, to Dr. King’s gift and skill of oratory. So many of his words ring as true today for American as they did fifty years ago. In his “I have a dream” speech, he proclaims:

“We have all come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”
These are words to live by today. There is an urgent need in this nation for more understanding, more equity and more unity. And in this body, there is a fierce urgency to finally fund education fairly and fully this session.

“Now is the time to make real the promise” we have made to our students. “Now is the time to make real the promise” to uphold our paramount duty. “Now is the time to make real the promise” to fully and fairly fund education, and lift our state and our students out of the quicksands of racial injustice and economic disparities so they do not become indicators of their futures.

Currently only some children in our school system leave high school ready for career or college. Only some believe they can do anything they put their minds to. Many struggle just to make it through the day. The kids who are more likely to drop out, to not go to college or to arrive at school hungry are children of color. This is unacceptable, and I know we can do better.

There are so many bright spots in our state funded schools, including Rainier Beach High School in my district. It is a living example of what students can do when they are given chances, resources and a dream to believe in. Rainier Beach went from the school many tried to avoid to a school that offered all students the chance to take International Baccalaureate classes – some of the most rigorous academic classes in the country. Their enrollment doubled. Their attendance increased. Their drop-out rate plummeted.

Parents, teachers and principals put faith in those students. They saw them as individuals with dreams, and knowledge and drive – not as a statistic. The adults in those kids’ lives lead with love – and whenever we lead with love – whenever we legislate with love – the outcome is going to be different. It is going bring us closer to our American dream.

Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that. Our Washington families, teachers, and students visiting us today in our state capitol embody his teachings, and now we here in this chamber have an opportunity to fulfill the promise by legislating with love.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Legislative Update: Greetings from your new state Senator

January 13th, 2017|

Dear Neighbors,Saldana swearing in

Greetings! Let me introduce myself. My name is Rebecca Saldaña, and I am honored to serve as your new state Senator for the 37th legislative district. I know you expect a lot from your leaders, and from me as I assume the position left vacant when Pramila Jayapal won the 7th U.S. Congressional District seat. She fought for the people of this district and our progressive values during her time in the Legislature, and I am looking forward to continuing to give you a strong voice in the state Senate.

There is no doubt we live in uncertain times – where working families, people of color, and the very safety, health and affordability of our communities is under attack. But as one of the most diverse districts in the state, both economically and racially, we have an opportunity to lead on some of today’s biggest challenges.

Saldana Senate floor with frameI have dedicated my career to standing up for black lives, immigrant and refugee rights and social and racial justice. Working alongside others in our community and through my work at Puget Sound Sage, I have fought for housing affordability, transit access, fair labor standards and environmental justice. As your state senator, I will continue working for policies and revenue so that we may have healthy, affordable and thriving communities now and into the future. I will also stand firmly against the hostilities and threatened violence coming out of Washington D.C.

While passing quality policy in the minority will be an uphill battle with a Republican majority, I understand well what it means to be in the “minority.” Being outnumbered has never stopped me from standing up for what is right.

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter. I hope you will e-mail, call or come visit me in Olympia to discuss your priorities, ideas and concerns. Together, we will bring the 37th Legislative District’s values of fairness, equity, multiculturalism and mutual respect to the state Capitol.

Sincerely,

Signature

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MLK day announcement

A resolution honoring Dr. King will be read at noon in the Senate, and I will be delivering a speech. If you can’t make it to Olympia, watch on www.tvw.org.

MLK quote

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Top priorities 2017

 

Saldaña sworn in at state Capitol

January 13th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, was sworn in at the state Capitol this week. She was appointed to the office on Dec. 12 following Pramila Jayapal’s election to Congress.

“Protecting workers, their families and ensuring justice and sustainability in our transportation system are at the heart of healthy Washington communities,” Saldaña said today. “I am looking forward to serving on both fiscal and policy committees that are so vital to the needs of the 37th Legislative District.”

Saldaña is a longtime community leader and the executive director of Puget Sound Sage, an organization committed to fostering sustainable, healthy and affordable communities. She has expertise in a variety of areas including worker and immigrant advocacy, transit equity, women’s rights, social and racial justice, civic engagement, affordable housing and sustainable community development.

Saldaña has been selected for the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports committee and the Senate Transportation committee, and was elected to serve as caucus whip. As caucus whip, Saldaña will serve on the leadership team and play a key role in promoting Democratic bills in the Senate.

For the full list of committee and leadership appointments, please click here.

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    Saldaña: State Senate’s Only Woman of Color Sets Big Agenda for Her Freshman Year

Saldaña: State Senate’s Only Woman of Color Sets Big Agenda for Her Freshman Year

January 6th, 2017|

Guest opinion from Sen. Saldaña, published in PubliCola.

State Senate’s Only Woman of Color Sets Big Agenda for Her Freshman Year

By Rebecca Saldaña 12/30/2016 at 4:54pm

Not only did Puget Sound Sage’s executive director Rebecca Saldaña win the appointment to the state senate in Southeast Seattle’s majority minority district to replace Pramila Jayapal (Jayapal is going to D.C. to serve in the U.S. house), but Sage itself took center stage this year.

Screen shot 2016 12 30 at 4.14.04 pm kmhiag

 

The people of Southeast Seattle’s 37th  legislative district expect a lot from this newbie who’s taking outgoing state senator, now U.S. Rep-elect, Pramila Jayapal’s shoes. They want their state senator to stand up for black lives, immigrant rights, a fair economy, a clean environment, housing justice, local labor standards, increased revenue to serve community priorities, and protecting our populations from our president-elect’s hostilities and threatened violence. I’m ready to do that, and I’m going to Olympia to deliver strategic wins for the people of Renton, Skyway (currently unincorporated King County) and Central and South Seattle.

It won’t be easy in a Republican-controlled state senate, but as a woman of color growing up in Seattle, I have lots of experience being in the “minority.” Now, as the newly elected minority whip, and as the only Latina and woman of color, I’m ready to bring the 37th Legislative District’s values of fairness, equity, multiculturalism and mutual respect to the state senate.

1. Advance our local wins for equitable development and transportation equity. It’s time to build on Jayapal’s past win to secure $3 million for the Economic Opportunity Center, and Puget Sound Sage’s most recent win to secure a $16 million city investment toward Equitable Development Initiatives in the 37th District.  Continuing the last five years of work with a coalition of diverse partners through Puget Sound Sage, we can leverage the wins of Sound Transit 3 to ensure new growth prevents displacement and improves opportunities for housing, high roads employment, and an improved environment for the enjoyment of everyone in Washington State.

2. Fund public education to give all students an opportunity to thrive. As a daughter of a public school employee, and now as a parent, I know schools and teachers are doing the best they can with limited resources in a state with the most regressive tax structure in the nation, but we all need to do better to close the education equity gap. Giving the very rich the opportunity to pay their fair share through a capital gains tax and closing the tax loopholes for big corporations are key to the funding solution.

3. Defending our transgender and gender-diverse family members, friends, and neighbors from discrimination. Last year a bipartisan coalition in the state senate narrowly defeated a bill, similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB 2, intended to roll back our state’s decade-old non-discrimination protections for transgender people. This year one of the first pre-filed bills, HB 1011, would write discrimination into state law by allowing transgender people to be prohibited from using the restroom consistent with who they are. We cannot, and will not, allow our state to fall for the scare tactics and hate behind this effort.

No, it won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to fighting for the future of our state and the 37th District. .

Rebecca Saldaña is the incoming state senator for the 37th Legislative District which represents Rainier Valley, Rainier Beach, Columbia City, North Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker, Leschi, Madrona, Skyway and part of Beacon Hill and Renton  

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    Saldaña to serve in leadership, key committees in state Senate

Saldaña to serve in leadership, key committees in state Senate

January 6th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Newly appointed Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle, has been selected for the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports committee and the Senate Transportation committee, and was elected to serve as caucus whip.

“Protecting workers, their families and ensuring justice and sustainability in our transportation system are at the heart of healthy Washington communities,” Saldaña said today. “I am looking forward to serving on both fiscal and policy committees that are so vital to the needs of the 37th Legislative District.”

Saldaña is a longtime community leader and the executive director of Puget Sound Sage, an organization committed to fostering sustainable, healthy and affordable communities. She has expertise in a variety of areas including worker and immigrant advocacy, transit equity, women’s rights, social and racial justice, civic engagement, affordable housing and sustainable community development. She was sworn into office on Dec. 12 following outgoing Sen. Pramila Jayapal’s election to Congress.

As caucus whip, Saldaña will serve on the leadership team and play a key role in promoting Democratic bills in the Senate.

For the full list of committee and leadership appointments, please click here.