Monthly Archives: April 2019

  • Washington State Senators working on the Senate floor.
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    State senators comment on federal changes to Coastal Zone Management Act

State senators comment on federal changes to Coastal Zone Management Act

April 24th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — In an April 22 letter to the Office for Coastal Management at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 21 Washington Democrats voiced concerns over proposed procedural changes to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) federal consistency review process.

The state senators expressed concern that the proposed changes would reduce the voice of coastal communities in decisions on offshore leasing, resource exploration and development, and weaken the state’s ability to exercise its right to object to offshore activity. They urge NOAA to halt efforts to implement the proposed procedural change, saying it would undermine Washington’s legal authority under the CZMA to protect the coastal management and well-being of Washington communities.

The full letter is posted below.

Update from Olympia

April 19th, 2019|

Olympia, April 19, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

In the Senate we are making significant progress in advancing progressive legislation to improve the quality of life in Washington. Today I’m happy to talk about some bills that I sponsored this year that have passed both chambers and continue to advance through the legislative process as the session comes to a close.

Prioritizing Worker Protections

I introduced SB 5035 to combat wage theft or delay by contractors fulfilling public works contracts, all of whom are required to pay workers prevailing wages. This legislation will increase penalties for failing to pay prevailing wages, and extend the time period for filing complaints. It will also close a loophole that previously allowed an employer to avoid penalties by returning wages before the state could take action. This will protect workers, support the businesses who pay quality wages to workers on time, and hold accountable the bad actors who fail to do so.

Two House bills whose companion bills I introduced in the Senate are also making progress in the name of protecting workers. HB 1568 expands opportunities for port district worker development and occupational programs. HB 1756 protects adult entertainers by requiring education about worker rights and safety, reporting and record-keeping of harassment and abuse, and the installation of panic buttons in key areas of clubs to prevent assaults on workers.

Finding Solutions to Provide Accessible and Affordable Housing

Access to affordable housing is an ongoing challenge for us here in Washington. For families who have had a child removed from their homes, this challenge can result in children staying in foster care for months longer than necessary, and often the primary barrier to family reunification is the lack of appropriate housing. SB 5718 creates a pilot program to provide housing assistance to parents in this situation to reduce the adverse impacts of separation on kids’ health.

Another House bill whose Senate companion I sponsored, HB 1377, would empower faith communities to increase the supply of affordable housing by adjusting zoning to allow increased density on property owned by religious organizations. 

Safeguarding Health and Wellness

To address health disparities, the shortage of physicians, and the lack of access to culturally competent medical care, I sponsored SB 5846. This legislation establishes a work group to develop strategies to reduce professional barriers for qualified medical providers from other countries living in Washington, many of whom are unable to access the residency programs necessary to meet licensing requirements.

With the goal of protecting community and worker health and safety, SB 5550 will establish a Pesticide Application Safety Committee to improve the collection and tracking of pesticide application information among state agencies, and to make policy recommendations for improving safety and communication to the agricultural community about pesticide application.

SB 5558 fixes an unintended consequence of legislation passed last year, and restores the authority of the state Department of Social and Health Services and the state Health Care Authority to contract interpreter services for individuals with sensory impairments.

Celebrating and Protecting Diversity in Our Government

This session, I sponsored SB 5266 to help implement the Washington Voting Rights Act by requiring timely elections for governing body positions after districting plans are modified.

I also sponsored the Senate companion legislation to HB 1906, which designates April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day. This bill recognizes the work of the civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 and was instrumental in California’s adoption of a law granting collective bargaining rights to farm workers. We were blessed to have Ms. Huerta join us at the Capitol on the day the Senate passed this bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Inslee on March 21.

Moving Forward

We have now entered the concurrence phase of session, where bills that were amended and passed by the opposite chamber return to their chamber of origin for a concurrence vote before they can be sent to the Governor’s Office to be signed into law.

Remember, we rely on your continued support to move these bills to the finish line!

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Stay in touch

Please let us know what matters to you. Your participation makes a difference and helps improve our communities! Stay in touch by calling or emailing my office. 

  • Sen. Saldaña Speaks on Senate Floor
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    Saldaña supports nurses’ collective bargaining choices, not 8-hour shifts

Saldaña supports nurses’ collective bargaining choices, not 8-hour shifts

April 19th, 2019|


OLYMPIA – Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) issued this statement today regarding the passage of House Bill 1155:

“I do not support eight-hour work days for nurses. I support the flexible work schedule choices nurses make through collective bargaining to suit what works best for them and their families as well as for their patients’ needs.

“I believe all frontline workers doing patient care deserve regular and consistent breaks. This is essential to patient safety and a matter of respect for a workforce that has historically been and continues to be predominantly women.

“What was before us on the Senate floor gutted the original bill. My vote on the amendment regarding eight-hour work days was procedural, and does not reflect my desire for the final outcome of the bill.

“I will not support the bill in its current form, but will push for a conference with the House of Representatives to resolve these issues.”

  • Photo Credit: Boxed Water is Better on Unsplash
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    House passes Saldaña bill to reunify children and families faster

House passes Saldaña bill to reunify children and families faster

April 12th, 2019|


OLYMPIA – Yesterday the House passed legislation on an overwhelming 92-5 vote to shorten the time that children remain in out-of-home care by establishing a child welfare housing assistance program.

Senate Bill 5718, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), creates a Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) pilot program to provide housing assistance to parents whose lack of appropriate housing is the primary barrier to reunification with a child who has been removed from their care.  

“We know that when possible, keeping families together is best for kids,” said Saldaña.  “But when they have to be separated, reuniting kids with their families sooner reduces the adverse impacts of separation on kids’ health.”

“We heard of situations where children were staying in foster care for months because their parents lacked appropriate housing,” said Laurie Lippold, Public Policy Director at Partners for Our Children.  “This adds to the trauma children have already experienced and places an unnecessary financial burden on the state.  We need to do everything we can to safely reunify children with their parents and minimize the negative impact being separated can have.”

Keeping families together is the first priority; however, when this isn’t possible, safely reunifying parents and children who have been placed in out of home care becomes the number one goal.

It is not uncommon, however, for parents to lose their housing assistance when their children are removed.  That can lead to unstable housing situations and in some cases, homelessness.  Parents generally have a number of issues to address in order to have their children returned home, and in far too many cases the inability to find appropriate, affordable housing leads to lengthier stays for children in out-of-home care.

Under this legislation, DCYF would consult with a stakeholder group made up of parent allies, parent attorneys and social workers, housing organizations, behavioral health providers, and others, to determine the program’s details, such as eligibility requirements and equitable distribution.

Having been amended by the House, the bill now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Update from Olympia

April 3rd, 2019|

Olympia, April 3, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Here in the Senate we are working hard to move forward progressive legislation that prioritizes improvements to quality of life for all who live in Washington. Addressing the lack of accessible and affordable housing is a major focus of the Legislature this session. I’d love to tell you about several key pieces of legislation to ease this crisis that are now under consideration as we move into this phase of session.

Increasing the supply of affordable housing

In all parts of our state, we need a lot more affordable housing to address the housing stability crisis. We can build it by investing more in programs we already know work well, as well as new innovative approaches to increasing the supply.

  • HB 1406 encourages investment in affordable and supportive housing by authorizing sales tax bonding to fund programs to address these needs. These bonds would come at no cost to homeowners, renters, property owners or developers—an all-around win.
  • SB 5812 would enable property owners to increase the housing supply by requiring local authorities to permit accessory dwelling units—such as backyard cottages and in-law units—in urban growth areas.
  • SB 5334 encourages the development of condominiums by addressing current barriers to their expanded use as a supply of accessible homeownership opportunities.
  • HB 1219 would authorize local governments to use existing Real Estate Excise Tax revenue for homelessness services and to build affordable housing.
  • HB 1377, the companion to a bill I introduced this session, would empower faith communities to contribute to housing stability by adjusting zoning to allow increased density on property owned by religious organizations

Protecting tenants’ rights and dignity

Problems like inflexible eviction policies and unexpected rent increases are a major source of housing instability. While we address the current homelessness crisis, we must also work to prevent these crises in the future through long-term prevention strategies.

SB 5600 and HB 1453 would both add numerous protections to residential tenants. They would increase the time tenants are given to comply with a notice to pay rent or vacate to 14 days (up from three days), helping tenants whose finances are temporarily exhausted by a sudden expense like a major car repair or serious illness.

They would also allow courts to use discretion in unlawful detainer cases, and allow some landlords to recover unpaid judgments through the Landlord Mitigation Program Account.  

Another key bill, HB 1440, would require landlords to provide at least 60 days prior written notice of a rent increase in rental agreements that are not subsidized tenancies. This doubles the notice period currently required, and would help tenants prepare for increases and assess their options for addressing them.

Remember! We rely on your continued support to move these and other essential progressive bills forward through the legislative process.

Get more updates!

Follow me on Facebook to get the latest updates on what’s going on at the Senate, like our fight against hate crimes and discrimination.

Stay in touch

Please let us know what matters to you. Your participation makes a difference and helps improve our communities! Stay in touch by calling or emailing my office.