• Sen. Rebecca Saldaña receives the Joaquin G. Avila award.
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    Saldaña receives Municipal League award for voting rights legislation

Saldaña receives Municipal League award for voting rights legislation

May 21st, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that will implement the 2018 Washington Voting Rights Act by requiring timely elections for governing body positions after districting plans are modified.

This comes shortly after the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), was awarded the King County Municipal League’s Joaquin G. Avila award, which honors those who have made significant contributions toward full and fair civic engagement.

Last year, Saldaña sponsored the 2018 Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA), which established rules to ensure the fairness of elections and removed barriers to fair representation by empowering local communities and their elected leaders to voluntarily change their election systems to ones that allow every community to be fairly represented in local government.

Today the governor signed into law Senate Bill 5266, also sponsored by Saldaña. This law will expedite implementation of the WVRA by requiring jurisdictions to hold timely elections for all positions under the new election system, rather than allowing those elected under the old system to serve out their entire terms.

“Voting rights should not wait for the convenience of those holding power,” said Saldaña. “These timely elections are needed to ensure local governments will represent every community. The new election systems under the WVRA will improve representation of our historically underrepresented communities. Fair representation is too important to wait for election schedules convenient to those in power.”

Saldaña received the Joaquin G. Avila award at the Municipal League’s 60th Annual Civic Awards, which recognize “elected officials, public employees, other citizen groups, the news media, and individual citizens who make outstanding contributions to the community and to better government.”

Over the course of his career as a civil rights attorney, Joaquin G. Avila, former president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, fought to protect voting rights from discrimination, participating in the litigation of over 70 voting rights cases.

Governor approves committee to ensure pesticide safety

May 10th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Yesterday Gov. Jay Inslee approved the creation of a committee to address safety in the application of pesticides in Washington.

Senate Bill 5550, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), will establish a Pesticide Application Safety Committee to examine how state agencies collect and track data related to the application of pesticides, and evaluate how the development of a shared database would improve the display of this data. The committee will also explore policy recommendations for related issues such as improving the safety of pesticide application and the communication of information to the agricultural community.

The committee established by this legislation will contain representatives from the Legislature, state agencies that oversee pesticide application, and agricultural experts from Washington State University and the University of Washington.

“This legislation is the result of a lot of hard work done during the interim by a bipartisan work group of stakeholders and legislators from both chambers,” said Saldaña. “This committee will help us to use new technology and farming methods to promote best practices and training to achieve as close to zero pesticide drift as possible, protecting workers and surrounding communities from exposure.”

The committee’s initial report to the Legislature will be submitted in January 2020, and it will subsequently submit yearly reports.

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    Governor signs Saldaña bill to clear barriers for international medical graduates

Governor signs Saldaña bill to clear barriers for international medical graduates

May 10th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Yesterday Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation establishing a work group that will develop recommendations for a program to aid international medical graduates in overcoming barriers to professional careers in Washington state.

The work group established by Senate Bill 5846 will recommend strategies to reduce barriers for graduates of medical programs at institutions outside the U.S. and Canada but then struggle to gain access to residency programs necessary for licensing in Washington.

“As we address health disparities, physician shortages, and a lack of access to culturally competent medical care, we need to eliminate the barriers for these providers,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). “This workforce is an untapped resource that could provide more accessible, quality care to our vulnerable communities.”

The work group will bring together representatives from state medical schools as well as hospitals, international medical graduate organizations, migrant health centers, the state Department of Health, and others.

“This impacts the real lives of some of our community members who have dreamed of an equal opportunity to practice medicine in the professions they spent decades pursuing,” said Ahmed Ali, executive director of the Somali Health Board. “This bill gives them a window of hope to further their practice in medicine, and the implementation of a program for international medical graduates would significantly help in addressing health disparities in low income, underserved communities throughout the state.” 

The work group must report its recommendations to the governor and the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2019.    

  • Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill 5035
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    Governor signs law to crack down on prevailing wage violations

Governor signs law to crack down on prevailing wage violations

May 7th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law today a bill applying stricter penalties to public works contractors who violate prevailing wage laws.

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) sponsored Senate Bill 5035 at the request of the state attorney general to combat wage theft and delay by contractors on public works contracts, all of whom are required by state law to pay workers prevailing wages. To ensure that workers receive fair wages, the Department of Labor and Industries establishes prevailing wages for each county based on the hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime paid in that county’s largest city to the majority of workers.

This legislation increases penalties for failing to pay prevailing wages, plus interest. Notably, this is the first increase for these penalties since 1985, according to the attorney general’s office.

The new law also extends the time period for filing prevailing wage complaints, and closes a loophole that previously allowed employers to avoid penalties by returning wages prior to any action by the state.

“Wage theft and delay of pay cause real harm to workers and their families, who are often struggling to make ends meet,” said Saldaña. “This bill will protect workers, ensure a level playing field for businesses that play by the rules and pay quality wages to workers on time, and hold accountable the bad actors who fail to do so.”

Saldaña partnered with House companion bill sponsor Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett), Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and industry stakeholders to move this legislation forward.

“This bill is about holding those responsible for wage theft accountable,” said Sells. “We give too many violators an escape route. This beefs up the enforcement, so people can expect to get the pay for which they worked.”

“This bill ensures that employers who cheat their workers out of hard-earned pay will face consequences, the same as you or I would face if we stole something,” said Ferguson.

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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.

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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.”

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 is makes a difference and helps improve our communities! Stay in touch by calling or emailing my office.

Update from Olympia

March 21st, 2019|

Olympia, March 21, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

My colleagues and I in the Senate continue to advance progressive legislation to improve the quality of life in Washington. Don’t miss our district’s town hall this weekend, where your House representatives and I will chat with you about the issues that matter most.

I’m especially excited this week to share our recent progress with health and wellness legislation.

Access to health care is a right, and last week the Senate passed numerous bills that get us closer to affordable, quality healthcare for all.  SB 5822 would initiate the process of finding the best way to provide universal health care in Washington. In the meantime, SB 5526 would increase the availability of quality, affordable health coverage in the individual market by developing standardized health plans and premium subsidies for individuals who purchase insurance on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

We are also working hard to get critical health care to some of the most marginalized communities in our state. SB 5602 would expand access to family planning programs regardless of immigration status, and would protect transgender folks from discrimination in receiving reproductive health care services. In addition, SB 5274 would extend health care programs for Washington residents who are citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia or Palau to include dental care services.

All of these bills passed the Senate last week, and now we need your help to make sure they get through the House as well. Make your voice heard by contacting legislators about the issues that are important to you.

Get More Updates

Follow me on Facebook to get the latest updates on what’s going on at the Senate, like this week’s visit from civil rights leader and labor organizer Dolores Huerta.

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.

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    Proyecto de ley honrando a la activista de derechos civiles, Dolores Huerta, es aprobado por la Legislatura

Proyecto de ley honrando a la activista de derechos civiles, Dolores Huerta, es aprobado por la Legislatura

March 19th, 2019|

18 de marzo, 2019

Source information in English

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OLYMPIA – Hoy el Senado aprobó una legislación histórica para designar el 10 de abril como Día de Dolores Huerta en la presencia de la misma Sra. Huerta.

El Proyecto de Ley de la Cámara de Representantes HB 1906, patrocinado por la Representante Lillian Ortiz-Self, Demócrata de Mukilteo, honra a Dolores Huerta, feminista, activista de los derechos civiles y líder laboral que cofundó la Asociación Nacional de Campesinos en 1962 y contribuyó decisivamente a la adopción, en California, de la Ley de Relaciones Laborales Agrícolas de California de 1975, que otorgó derechos de negociación colectiva a los trabajadores agrícolas.

Huerta estuvo hoy en el Capitolio para participar en las actividades del Día Legislativo Latino con la Alianza Cívica Latina. Mientras miraba desde la galería del Senado, varios senadores se levantaron para apoyar el proyecto de ley, que fue aprobado por un voto de 44-0.


De origen humilde, y como madre soltera, Huerta se buscó una educación, y se convirtió en maestra. Desanimada por los efectos de la pobreza en sus estudiantes, hijos de campesinos, se unió a los movimientos para mejorar las condiciones de vida y de trabajo de los trabajadores agrícolas y también desafió la discriminación de género dentro de esos movimientos.

Como líder y organizadora clave del movimiento por los derechos de los campesinos, luchó contra la discriminación, defendió los derechos de las mujeres, abogó por brindar dignidad a los trabajadores agrícolas y enfatizó la importancia de construir una comunidad. A lo largo de los años, ella ha trabajado en muchos asuntos, como la reforma migratoria integral, la desigualdad de ingresos, los derechos de las mujeres y de los miembros de la comunidad latina.

“El Mes de la Historia de la Mujer celebra el papel vital de las mujeres en la historia de Estados Unidos, y Dolores Huerta es una de esas mujeres que reconocemos como instrumentales en la lucha por los derechos de los trabajadores agrícolas,” dijo la Senadora Rebecca Saldaña, Demócrata de Seattle. “Su historia resuena con muchas mujeres de grupos subrepresentados, y su trabajo ha pavimentado el camino para que mujeres como yo asumamos roles de liderazgo en nuestras comunidades. Este reconocimiento envía un mensaje sobre la importancia del liderazgo de las mujeres y las personas de color.”

“Estoy orgullosa de que Washington ahora honrará el legado y reconocerá la extraordinaria vida de una trabajadora incansable, una defensora apasionada y una verdadera luchadora. Una guerrera cuya búsqueda inquebrantable por los derechos civiles, la igualdad y la justicia continúa haciendo de nuestra nación una unión más perfecta,” dijo la representante principal de la medida, Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, quien de manera efectiva llevó su proyecto de ley a través del proceso legislativo hasta sacarlo de la Cámara de Representantes la primera semana de marzo. “Una mujer que desafiante miró a la opresión a los ojos y dijo, suficiente. Una latina que empujó a otras latinas a buscar posiciones de liderazgo. Una americana que nos enseñó que juntos podemos hacer grandes cosas. Sí se puede! ”

“Dolores Huerta es un verdadero ícono estadounidense,” dijo el Senador Sam Hunt, Demócrata de Olympia. “Su liderazgo en el establecimiento del Sindicato de Campesinos  Unidos ayudó a elevar a algunos de los trabajadores peor pagados, que se ganan la vida en trabajos agotadores cosechando nuestros cultivos.”

Esta es la segunda vez que la Legislatura del estado de Washington designa, en estatuto, un día honrando a una mujer. La primera fue en 1999, estableciendo el 16 de abril como el Día de la Madre Joseph.

La propuesta HB 1906 fue aprobada por la Cámara de Representantes el 4 de marzo y ahora va a la oficina del gobernador para que se convierta en ley.

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    Bill honoring civil rights activist Dolores Huerta passes Legislature

Bill honoring civil rights activist Dolores Huerta passes Legislature

March 18th, 2019|

Versión en español aquí.

OLYMPIA – Today the Senate passed historic legislation to designate April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day as Ms. Huerta herself looked on.

House Bill 1906, sponsored by Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, honors Dolores Huerta, a feminist, civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 and was instrumental in California’s adoption of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted farmworkers collective bargaining rights.

Huerta was at the Capitol today to participate in Latino Legislative Day activities with the Latino Civic Alliance. As she looked on from the gallery, several senators rose in support of the bill, which passed on a 44-0 vote. 

From a humble background, Huerta pursued an education as a single mom and became a teacher. Dismayed by the poor living conditions of her students, the children of farm workers, she joined movements to improve living and working conditions of farm workers, and also challenged gender discrimination within those movements.

As a key leader and organizer of the farm worker’s rights movement, she fought against discrimination, stood up for the rights of women, advocated to bring dignity to farm workers, and emphasized the importance of building community. Over the years, she has worked on many issues, such as comprehensive immigration reform, income inequality, and the rights of women and those in the Latino community.

“Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role of women in American history, and Dolores Huerta is one of those women we recognize as instrumental in the fight for farm workers’ rights,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). “Her story resonates with many women from underrepresented groups, and her work has paved the way for women like me in assuming leadership roles in their communities. This recognition sends a message about the importance of the leadership of women and people of color.”

“I am proud that Washington will now honor the legacy and recognize the remarkable life of a tireless worker, a passionate advocate and a true fighter,” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, who prime-sponsored the measure and effectively steered it through the legislative process to get it out of the House the first week of March. “A warrior whose unwavering quest for civil rights, equality and justice continue to make our nation a more perfect union. A woman who defiantly looked oppression in the eye and said, enough. A Latina who pushed other Latinas to seek positions of leadership. An American who taught us that together we can do great things. ¡Sí se puede!

“Dolores Huerta is a true American icon,” said Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia). “Her leadership in establishing the United Farmworkers Union helped to lift up some of the lowest-paid workers, who make their living in backbreaking jobs harvesting our crops.”

HB 1906 passed the House on March 4 and now goes to the governor’s office to be signed into law.