E-News

2019 Session Recap Series: Issue 3

August 1st, 2019|

Issue 3: Providing Housing Accessibility and Stability

Olympia, August 1, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

This is Issue 3 of my summer e-newsletter series, which gives an overview of some key policies we worked to pass into law this year. This issue focuses on legislation that will address our ongoing crisis involving housing accessibility and stability.

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

Access to Housing

We took action to increase access to housing services and to build up the supply of accessible and affordable housing.

Housing assistance

We expanded services for homeless youth and unaccompanied young adults (HB 1657) and approved a pilot program to provide housing vouchers to families in the child welfare system whose main barrier to reunification is the lack of appropriate housing (SB 5718).

Increasing the supply of accessible housing

We passed legislation like HB 1219 and HB 1406, which grant authority to cities and counties to use funds from certain local taxes for affordable housing projects and to combat homelessness. Fortunately, the Seattle City Council and our mayor are leading efforts to take advantage of this authority to access more immediate funding to build local housing.

We also empowered faith communities to contribute to housing stability by adjusting zoning to allow increased density to build affordable housing on property owned by religious organizations (HB 1377).

Additionally, the capital budget added $175 million in affordable housing loans and grants through the Housing Trust Fund, including:

  • $10 million for high-quality modular housing to transition people out of homelessness quickly
  • $35 million for supportive housing and case management services for people living with behavioral health disorders
  • $10 million for competitively awarded grants for state matches on private contributions to fund affordable housing
  • $10 million for housing preservation grants
  • $5 million for housing veterans
  • $5 million for housing to serve people with disabilities

Keeping People in Their Homes

In combating homelessness, keeping people in their existing homes is just as important as building new housing. We passed several bills this session that will do just that.

Property taxes

SB 5160 gives a property tax break to seniors, people, with disabilities and veterans on limited incomes.  This will prevent people from being priced out of their homes as property taxes rise along with property values.

Tenant protections

Eviction reform legislation, SB 5600, was enacted to extend the notice time for evictions from 3 to 14 days, aligning our state with national norms and giving tenants time to find money to pay their rent.  When people are living paycheck to paycheck, this extended notice period could mean the difference between staying in their home or being out on the street. This legislation also allows judges to use their discretion in nonpayment of rent cases to consider factors beyond the tenants’ control and allows landlords to access a mitigation fund in some cases.

HB 1440 doubled the number of days in advance that landlords of non-subsidized tenancies must notify tenants of rent increases. This will help tenants prepare for rent increases and assess their options for addressing them. The notice period increased from 30 to 60 days, but remains 30 days for subsidized tenancies where rent is based on household-specific circumstances.

Manufactured/mobile homes

HB 1582 added tenant protections to the Manufactured and Mobile
Home Landlord Tenant Act, like increasing the notice to pay or vacate period from 5 to 14 days and allowing a court to limit the sharing of information about an eviction notice.

SB 5183 expanded eligibility for the Manufactured and Mobile Home Relocation Assistance program, which helps with the costs of relocating and securing other housing when a mobile home park closes.

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2019 Session Recap Series: Issue 2

June 28th, 2019|

Issue 2: Prioritizing Community Health and Wellness

Olympia, June 28, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Welcome to Issue 2 of my summer e-newsletter series, which gives an overview of some key policies we worked to pass into law this year. This issue will focus on legislation that will promote health and wellness in our communities.

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

Health Care Equity

This year, the Legislature continued to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to protect and expand access to quality, affordable health care.

HB 1870 protects the gains we’ve made in access to healthcare coverage in recent years thanks to the Affordable Care Act, such as prohibiting pre-existing condition exemptions and the lifetime benefits caps. At the same time, we’re expanding options for healthcare coverage for those who are struggling in our current system.

SB 5526 creates Cascade Care, the first public healthcare option in the country, which will decrease the cost of premiums, copays, and other out-of-pocket expenses for those who purchase coverage on the individual health insurance market. This will be available to all Washingtonians who are not covered through an employer, regardless of income.

The budget we passed this year even includes funding for a Pathway to Universal Coverage, which will join stakeholder groups to prepare a plan for implementing a universal healthcare system in Washington.

HB 1087 establishes the first long term care benefit in the nation. This will help families mitigate the high costs of the care our aging community members need.

SB 5602 removes barriers to reproductive health care on the basis of gender identity and expands access for our trans neighbors. The operating budget takes that one step further by funding a program to provide access to reproductive health care for immigrants, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status.

We also took steps to reverse health disparities and expand access to health care for Native Americans (SB 5415), Pacific Islanders (SB 5274), immigrant communities (SB 5846) and underrepresented communities at risk of maternal mortality (SB 5425).

Advancing Public Health in Community & Workplace

Nurse Rest Breaks

After many years of trying, this year we finally passed HB 1155, adding new requirements for uninterrupted rest periods for nurses and techs, and closing the loophole that employers previously used to get around the ban on mandatory overtime by regularly relying on prescheduled on-call shifts. Frontline workers doing patient care deserve regular and consistent breaks. This is essential to patient safety, and it’s a matter of respect for a workforce that has historically been and continues to be predominantly women. I’m proud that this year we worked with both healthcare workers and their employers to develop a policy that will ensure protections for patients and workers in a manner that is feasible for employers, too.

Vaccines

The recent measles outbreak in our state caused a lot of concern, and we heard from constituents about the risks posed by the growing number of unvaccinated children attending our schools. Children too young to be vaccinated and individuals with compromised immune systems will be better protected from serious preventable diseases thanks to HB 1638, which removes the personal belief exemption from the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination requirements. The measure still allows for medical and religious exemptions to the MMR requirement.

Environmental Justice

My HEAL Act bill (SB 5489) did not become law, but with a bi-partisan effort led by women of color in the House and Senate, we obtained a budget proviso that funds an environmental justice task force, which will be co-chaired by environmental justice community leadership. The purpose will be to identify health disparities from environmental impacts and determine how state agencies can incorporate environmental justice principles into their work.

Worker Health and Safety

HB 1817 ensures the workforce in our high hazard facilities is skilled and properly trained.

HB 1756 adds heightened protections for the safety and security of adult entertainers and requires that workers receive worker rights and safety training.

SB 5550 will establish a Pesticide Application Safety Committee to help us 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.

SB 5258 requires employers of certain isolated workers, such as janitors, housekeepers, and security guards, to provide extra protection to prevent sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace.

SB 5035 provides workers on public works contracts protections against violations of prevailing wage laws and wage theft.

HB 1568 expands opportunities for port district worker development and occupational programs.

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2019 Session Recap Series: Issue 1

May 28th, 2019|

Issue 1: Protecting Our Environment from Climate Change

Olympia, May 28, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

Welcome to my summer e-newsletter series. Now that the 2019 legislative session has come to a close, I’ll give you an overview of some key policies we worked to get passed into law this year, spread over several segments in this series.

You can also find information about successful bills I sponsored this year in my April 19th Update from Olympia. I’m happy to report that all of the bills discussed there made the final passage deadline and will become law.

It has been an honor to serve you by representing the 37th Legislative District in the Senate. I’ll be reporting back to the district this Saturday, and you’re invited!

Green Transportation

House Bill 2042 facilitates the transition to vehicles with cleaner fuels with. It increases access to electric vehicle (EV) incentives, creates an EV car share program, and improves incentives for commercial fleet conversion, making it a more viable option. Importantly, this legislation makes incentives accessible even to lower-income drivers and riders.

We can’t make the transition to green transportation without addressing other modes of transportation, such as buses, trucks, ferries and ships. That’s why House Bill 1512 provides for assistance in the electrification of these vehicles and vessels, aiding the collaboration of ports with utilities to create the infrastructure necessary for the transition.

Moving forward, green transportation legislation should focus on relieving the harm caused by our existing system, such as salmon-blocking culverts under our roads and stormwater runoff pollution.

Reducing Emissions

Legislation we passed this year makes our state one of the first to commit broadly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity while adopting a precise action plan to do so. It will take innovation and cooperation from all sectors throughout Washington to make this transition possible.


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  • Sen. Rebecca Saldaña receives the Joaquin G. Avila award.
    Permalink Sen. Rebecca Saldaña receives the Joaquin G. Avila award.Gallery

    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.

  • Governor Inslee Signs SB 5846
    Permalink Governor Inslee Signs SB 5846Gallery

    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
    Permalink Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill 5035Gallery

    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.

  • Washington State Senators working on the Senate floor.
    Permalink Washington State Senators working on the Senate floor.Gallery

    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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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
    Permalink Sen. Saldaña Speaks on Senate FloorGallery

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

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

April 19th, 2019|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —April 19, 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.”