Monthly Archives: February 2018

Legislative Update from Sen. Saldaña

February 27th, 2018|

The last several days have been a whirlwind! I can’t believe that it was just over a week ago that we hosted our town hall. We had a great turnout, and folks asked robust and thoughtful questions about carbon, the social safety net, gun responsibility and public safety, economic development, taxes, environment, and civil rights.

Sen. Saldaña with constituent AFSCME representatives at the 37th Legislative District town hall meeting on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.

I love seeing constituents in Olympia who visit to advocate for their priorities. Last week residents of the 37th turned out in large numbers for the annual African-American Advocacy Day, Catholic, Jewish, and Interfaith Lobby Day, and Senior Lobby Day. Residents advocated on issues ranging from repealing I-200, to health care, to safe schools, to addressing homelessness.

Sen. Saldaña with constituents from the 37th Legislative District in her Olympia office on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018.

This week our three supplemental budgets were released and passed. Washington state budgets provide funding on a two-year (biennial) cycle.

Supplemental budgets are passed in even years and allow the Legislature to make mid-course corrections on the two-year budget. It gives the state the opportunity to make critical new investments that keep families safe, provide high-quality teachers, and address other emergent needs like mental health care.

2018 supplemental budgets

Operating budget

This budget helps fund the day-to-day operations of state government such as schools and universities, state parks, teacher salaries and other state services and programs.

On Friday, the Senate passed the 2018 supplemental operating budget plan — a budget that will fully fund education and provide adequate support for those in our society who need mental health treatment.

This budget makes targeted investments in key areas, including:

  • Education: Brings the state into compliance with its constitutional obligation to amply fund our public schools. Includes an additional $1 billion to fully fund teacher and staff salaries as directed by the state Supreme Court.
  • Mental health: Invests nearly $300 million more over the next four years for state hospitals, mental health treatment and addressing the opioid crisis.

Capital budget

On Friday, the Senate also passed $334.7 million in new construction funding for Washington communities. The budget invests in public schools, higher education, behavioral health and local community infrastructure.

The proposal would provide an additional $66.2 million for K-12 school construction statewide. Of that sum, funding would be allocated as follows:

  • $51.3 million to the School Construction Assistance Program
  • $9 million for distressed schools
  • $6 million in rural school modernization grants

Transportation budget

As vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I was part of a team that negotiated the budget that passed on Friday. The transportation budget sees an increase of $826 million over the enacted 2017-19 transportation budget. Much of the increase is a result of re-appropriated funds to continue Connecting Washington projects passed in 2015 that include investments in ferries, environmental protections, and the Washington State Patrol.

Stay in touch!

Thank you for contacting us on what matters to you. Your participation is making a difference and helping to improve our communities! Follow my official Facebook page for updates and remember to stay in touch by calling or emailing my office.

Legislative Update from Sen. Saldaña

February 13th, 2018|

We are more than halfway through the 2018 Legislative Session. In the Senate, we are still working in a bipartisan way to pass long-awaited priorities. Last week, we passed Senate Bill 5407, which would prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants based on the source of their income. Homelessness is a crisis in Washington, and we have limited tools to solve this problem. One of those tools is housing assistance. But that only works if people are able to rent homes using that source of income. I was proud to support this legislation.

Join us for a town hall meeting!

I am co-hosting a town hall with Rep. Santos and Rep. Pettigrew. We hope you can join us! This will be good opportunity for us to hear directly from you and answer your questions. All are encouraged to attend. Childcare will be available. You can also find event details on my Facebook page.

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 from 10:00 – 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Ethiopian Community Center, Multipurpose room, 8323 Rainier Avenue S. Seattle, WA 98118

My recently passed legislation

Three of my bills passed recently, each with strong bipartisan support!

Senate Bill 5683Expanding access to health care for Pacific Islanders living in Washington State: The Senate passed legislation I was proud to introduce that creates a statewide premium assistance program for Washington residents from Compact of Free Association (COFA) nations. Under COFA, citizens of Palau, The Marshall Islands, and Micronesia are free to live and work in the United States. While they are eligible for federal tax credits through the Affordable Care Act, they do not qualify for Medicaid since the federal government revoked eligibility in the 1990s.  This bill fixes that. These residents work in our state and serve in our military, and they need the same access to health care. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 46-2.

Senate Bill 6245Empowering spoken language interpreters: This bill will streamline how the state procures interpreter services and give interpreters a voice in their work. I was proud to bring this bill forward because it will help our state work smarter while also giving an immigrant workforce the opportunity to have greater dignity and respect in their profession. It passed by a vote of 31-16.

Senate Bill 6529Protecting people from harmful pesticide drift:  Every year, people in Washington, especially agricultural workers, are exposed to harmful pesticides through something called “pesticide drift,” which is when the pesticides are blown beyond their targets. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reports those most harmed are workers on neighboring farms and children in nearby schools. This bill establishes a pesticide application safety workgroup to develop recommendations for improving the safety of pesticide applications. The workgroup will provide a report on their findings, recommendations, and draft legislation by this November. This bill will help us make informed decisions during next year’s legislative session to better protect our kids and public health. The bill does not prevent farmers from doing their work. It passed by a vote of 45-2.

Addressing health care

We also passed legislation to protect access to reproductive health care, require insurers to cover 3D mammograms, and direct physicians to report on breast density to better identify and treat breast cancer and more.

Access to Democracy

This weekend the Senate passed Senate Bill 6353, to implement Automatic Voter Registration at Washington state agencies starting in 2019. Automatic voter registration will increase the opportunity to register and vote without endangering the security of the election process.

In addition to automatic voter registration, the Senate passed legislation to strengthen campaign finance laws to clearly show who pays for political advertising on every ad. These bills are part of the Senate’s Access to Democracy package that also includes the Washington Voting Rights Act, Same Day Voter Registration, and the DISCLOSE Act.