Monthly Archives: September 2019

  • Members of the Senate Members of Color Caucus stand behind a podium on the Senate floor.
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    House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses receive social justice award

House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses receive social justice award

September 23rd, 2019|

OLYMPIA – On Friday, Rep. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) and Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) accepted the Social Justice Champion Award from SEIU 775 on behalf of the Member of Color Caucuses (MOCC) of both chambers of the Washington State Legislature.

“We are thrilled to award the House and Senate Members of Color Caucuses the SEIU 775 Social Justice Champion Award for their work to transform Washington State into a more equitable and inclusive state for all,” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders. 

“In 2019, these legislators fought to ensure working people are paid enough to support themselves and their family and to have the opportunity to join a union, to end discrimination, and to protect the rights of immigrants and refugees to live and work in Washington,” she said. “Our state is stronger because of this work and caregivers look forward to continuing the fight for equity fighting alongside these women and men.”

In accepting the award on behalf of the Senate MOCC, Saldaña said, “It’s an honor for us to receive this award. The members of SEIU 775 have been among the first to support non-traditional politicians, and with support like this, the Members of Color Caucuses continue to grow.  Not only does this growth help us prioritize key legislation that puts people first, it also provides us with more people to help keep this legislation front and center throughout the legislative process.”

Valdez, who accepted the award on behalf of the House MOCC as its Chair said, “The 2019 session was a landmark one for social justice legislation, from prioritizing and advocating for critical bills, to fighting for budget dollars to assist underrepresented communities. The Members of Color Caucus was proud to champion these policies on behalf of all people in our state. We know the work continues, and together with allies like SEIU 775 we will keep standing up for Washington’s working families and diverse communities.”

2019 Session Recap Series: Issue 4

September 5th, 2019|

Issue 4: Expanding Education and Equity

Olympia, September 5, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

This is the fourth issue of my summer e-newsletter series, which gives an overview of some key policies we passed into law this year. This issue focuses on educational systems as well as equity legislation.

Remember, you can also find information about successful bills I sponsored this year in my April 19 Update from Olympia. All the bills discussed there passed and will become law.

Higher Education

House Bill 2158, the Workforce Education Investment Act, brings into reach the possibility of earning a family wage, by making college and apprenticeships accessible.  It establishes a dedicated source of funding to allow students whose household earnings fall below 55% of the state’s median family income (approximately $50,000 per year) to study at public colleges tuition-free, and provides for partial tuition scholarships for students whose households earn up to 100% of the median family income (approximately $88,000 for a family of four).

The act also expands the Guided Pathways program at state community colleges and technical schools and will grow high-demand degree programs like nursing, engineering, and computer science.

Additionally, House Bill 1303 improves access to higher education by making it easier for full-time students in certain fields to qualify for state child care benefits.

Funding K-12 Education

After the court found in the McCleary lawsuit that the state was permitting inequitable funding for basic education across different school districts, lawmakers in 2017 raised property taxes to fund school districts more evenly. To limit the cost to taxpayers, the amount districts could raise locally through levies was reduced, but this shift created budget shortfalls in some districts.

This year, the state’s budget increased funding for K-12 education by $4.5 billion dollars over the last biennial budget. At the same time, Senate Bill 5313 increased the amount local districts can raise through voter-approved levies for public education, relieving some — but not all — of the shortfalls in local districts.

Gender Equity in Schools

Senate Bill 5689 requires school districts to adopt policies and procedures that protect transgender students from discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying.

House Bill 1577 will help close the gender gap in tech jobs by ensuring that our public schools identify and track how female-identified students are doing in computer science courses in order to identify inequities and successes. This will shed light on what’s working, what isn’t working, and what changes are needed.

Race and Gender Equity Statewide

SB 5356 establishes the Washington State LGBTQ Commission in the Office of the Governor to monitor relevant legislation and state policies to eliminate barriers to economic and health equity for LGBTQ people.

I-1000, an important ballot initiative that voters put before the Legislature, was passed this year. It creates the Governor’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and allows the state to remedy discrimination and underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups with affirmative action policies that do not use quotas and do not constitute preferential treatment.

What I’m up to this month

9/9 Labor & Commerce Committee CannaBusiness Facility Tour, Renton

9/11 Transportation Committee Tour, Shoreline

9/16 Labor & Commerce Committee Work Session

9/18 Filipino Community Village Groundbreaking

9/19 Joint Transportation Committee Meeting

9/24 National Voter Registration Day Event

9/25 Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee Meeting

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