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  • Governor Inslee Signs SB 5718
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    Governor approves measures to accelerate family reunification

Governor approves measures to accelerate family reunification

May 9th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – A law approved by Gov. Jay Inslee today establishes a child welfare housing assistance program to shorten the time that children remain in out-of-home care.

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 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.”

“We know that, whenever possible, keeping families together is best for kids,” said Saldaña. “But when they have to be separated, safely reuniting kids with their families becomes the top priority. Doing this sooner cuts down on the adverse impacts of separation on children’s health.”

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. In far too many cases, parents who have addressed the issues necessary to have their children returned home are then unable to find appropriate, affordable housing. The result is lengthier stays for children in out-of-home care.

DCYF will 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 pilot program’s details, such as eligibility requirements and equitable distribution.

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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|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 12, 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.

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    Senate unanimously passes legislation to help human trafficking victims

Senate unanimously passes legislation to help human trafficking victims

March 7th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Senate unanimously passed legislation today to provide public assistance to certain victims of human trafficking by expanding eligibility for state food assistance, family assistance, and medical care services programs.

Under Senate Bill 5164, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), noncitizens would be able to access these programs if they have taken steps to obtain status under federal laws that protect victims of human trafficking and serious crimes. Qualifying family members would also be eligible for assistance.

“While we would like to think human trafficking does not exist in our state, it does. Trafficked women, men, and children seeking to free themselves often face losing their housing and employment, which is tied up with their trafficker,” said Saldaña. “This legislation removes the barriers to critical life-saving services when people are in their most vulnerable moment and most need them.  I am proud to have worked with API-CHAYA, Seattle Against Slavery, and Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who are the frontline leaders in eliminating trafficking in Washington State.”

This legislation builds on a law that passed in the 2018 legislative session, HB 1022, which addressed law enforcement agency certifications for noncitizens who qualify for visas for victims of human trafficking and other serious crimes. SB 5164 gives victims access to services while they are in the process of obtaining visas.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

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    Senate votes to prohibit citizenship/immigration status discrimination

Senate votes to prohibit citizenship/immigration status discrimination

February 26th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate today voted 29-20 to prohibit discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status.

Senate Bill 5165, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), adds citizenship or immigration status to the list of characteristics protected by Washington’s Law against Discrimination. The change prohibits discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status unless a distinction or differential treatment is required by a state or federal law, regulation, or government contract.

This type of discrimination is experienced by documented and undocumented immigrants alike, including people living and working in Washington with authorization. This bill protects anyone perceived to be a noncitizen, regardless of their actual immigration status, and would help prevent discrimination in various settings such as education, housing, public accommodations and employment.

“We’re hearing from communities that people are not at ease; they live in fear and sometimes are even afraid to bring their kids to school,” said Saldaña. “By clarifying our law against discrimination, we hope people will feel more secure participating fully in their communities.”

The bill will now be considered in the House of Representatives.

Update from Olympia

February 25th, 2019|

Olympia, February 22, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

We hit the ground running this legislative session to advance our district priorities around homelessness and housing affordability, social justice for immigrants, youth, and workers, and healthy and safe communities.  This Friday is cut off for policy bills to be heard in committee. A huge highlight from last week: My Senate colleagues and I passed Senate Bill 5339, which would end the use of the death penalty in Washington State.  In October, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty as it was being applied in our state was unconstitutional because it was “imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”  This important bill will bring our state’s laws into compliance with the Constitution.

Protections for Workers and Immigrants

This year I’ve sponsored some critical legislation in response to the needs of Washington’s workers:

  • Senate Bill 5156 would add citizenship or immigration status to the list of characteristics protected by Washington’s Law against Discrimination. This will help prevent landlords from refusing to rent to families for no valid reason, and provide a path to recourse for renters who are taken advantage of because of their immigration status. It will also prevent discrimination in other settings, such as real estate transactions, public accommodations, and employment.
  •  Senate Bill 5693 addresses human trafficking and related employment violations by requiring transparency in agricultural supply chains. This bill focuses on the largest corporate sellers and end users—those with annual gross receipts of over $200 million. Consumers have a right to know whether a company they purchase from is following through on its commitment to product integrity.
  • Senate Bill 5717 provides protections for workers, such as requiring employers to give workers 14 days’ notice of their work schedules and to grant worker requests for schedule changes under certain conditions. It would also require employers to offer more hours to existing workers before hiring more employees.
  • Senate Bill 5846 creates pathways for international medical graduates who live in Washington to help us address our shortage of culturally competent and bilingual medical professionals and improve public health .

Coming Up

The Senate State Government Committee will soon hear the Washington State Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Act, also known as I-1000. This initiative submitted to the government by the people of Washington seeks to guarantee fairness and equality, eliminate discrimination, and establish a governor’s commission on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Meet My Staff

As we enter the next phase of this legislative session, I will continue to work hard on behalf of our state’s working families.  My efforts could not be possible without the help of my amazing staff!

Ayla Kadah, Legislative Aide

Ayla Kadah is a proud Syrian, Muslim, Arab-American woman. Her deep-rooted passion for racial, economic, and social justice stems from her early organizing days in her hometown of Damascus, Syria – particularly around causes like poverty alleviation, education for children with disabilities, and support for victims of war. After moving to the US to attend the University of Washington — where she graduated with degrees in Psychology and Political Communication — Ayla expanded her skills into the realm of grassroots political organizing, particularly for immigration reform and refugee resettlement. In 2016, she served as an elected National Delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Through working for two women of color and activists-turned-elected officials, she was able to witness firsthand the power of activism in the legislative process. She hopes to one day write laws that bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice, and to help build a pipeline that elevates historically underrepresented communities into government spaces.

Joyce Bruce, Session Aide

Joyce is a Seattle native, born and raised in the 37th District. She is an alum of the University Of Washington and Seattle University School of Law. Prior to working in the Washington State Senate, she worked in regulatory compliance and externed at the state Department of Financial Institutions. She hopes to use her background and legal knowledge to make policy that will correct unjust laws that disproportionately impact under-served communities. In her free time she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and empowering youth through mentorship.

David Pham, Intern

Born and raised in the district, David is the first child in his family to attend college after his parents emigrated from Vietnam in the late 1980s. David currently attends the University of Washington in Seattle studying Political Science and plans to pursue law school and becoming a public defender. Prior to working in Sen. Saldaña’s office, David interned for the City of Seattle in the Legislative Department and worked in the Seattle Public Libraries as a library associate. He is passionate about empowering and mentoring students in underrepresented communities. In his free time, he loves to spend his time hiking, camping and traveling.

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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For alerts about specific issues, click here.

Saldaña bill honors civil rights activist Dolores Huerta

February 15th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Senate State Government will hear testimony today at 1:30 p.m. on legislation to recognize April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day.

Dolores Huerta, a feminist, civil rights activist and labor leader, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association and was instrumental in California’s adoption of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted farmworkers collective bargaining rights.

Senate Bill 5868 is one of two bills sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) that focus on farmworkers’ concerns. The other bill, Senate Bill 5693, addresses human trafficking and related employment violations by requiring transparency in agricultural supply chains. (Watch the hearing here.)

“Consumers in our state who want to buy products that reflect their values have a right to know whether a company they purchase from is following through on its commitment to production integrity,” Saldaña said.

SB 5693 focuses on the largest corporate sellers and end users, including those who claim to have responsible standards for their suppliers. The bill would increase transparency and accountability for retail sellers and manufacturers of agricultural products with annual gross receipts of $100 million or more.

The companies would be required to obtain reports from suppliers about violations of employment laws including human trafficking, sexual harassment, or labor violations, and to disclose the information annually and post it on their company websites.

The bill is scheduled for executive session in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee next Thursday.

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    Sen. Saldaña to play key role in housing affordability, transportation

Sen. Saldaña to play key role in housing affordability, transportation

December 5th, 2018|

RENTON – Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) said that she is looking forward to addressing housing affordability and transportation issues as one the Senate Democrats’ new deputy leaders.

Saldaña, who Senate Democrats chose to be part of the most diverse leadership team in the history of the Washington State Legislature, will join the newly created Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee when lawmakers return to Olympia in January for the 2019 legislative session.

She also will continue to serve as vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and as a member of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

“Addressing housing and transportation is core to quality of life and access to economic prosperity, not only to my district but across Washington State,” Saldaña said. “We can’t do well unless we all do well, and we can’t solve housing affordability without work at the regional and state levels to make sure that Washington works for everyone. I’m excited to serve on these committees and in a leadership role. It’s an honor to get to work to deliver solutions for Washington residents.”

Sen. Saldaña Seeking 2019 Session Aides

November 29th, 2018|

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña is currently accepting applications for session aides for the 2019 legislative session, which begins in January.

Session aides provide a variety of support services to help senators and their legislative assistants successfully fulfill the obligations of the senators’ elected position.

We are looking for highly motivated individuals interested in public service who enjoy working in a fast-paced environment.

If you would like to serve as Sen. Saldaña’s session aide and you are committed to upholding the values of justice, dignity and inclusion for all, take a look at the job announcement for more information about the position and how to apply.

The Washington State Senate is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons over 40 years of age, disabled and Vietnam era veterans and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application process or this announcement in an alternative format may contact Sen. Saldaña’s office at (360) 786-7688.

Sen. Saldaña Legislative Update

May 11th, 2018|

Sen. Saldaña Legislative Update

Dear Neighbors,

We had a historically productive and progressive session this year. We passed a package of legislation to make voting easier and fairer in our state, setting a national example for other states to follow. We also passed several bills that put people first and which will have an immediate impact on communities, including expanding access to financial aid for Dreamers, banning the cruel practice known as “conversion therapy” on LGBTQ youth, advancing equal pay and preventing gun violence.

The Senate passed 308 bills, 98 percent of which received bipartisan support, and finished its work in just 60 days – the first time since 2014 that the Legislature has ended session on time. That work included a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 72,000 teachers and public employees in the PERS and TRS Plan 1 retirement programs, the first since 2010, and a health care insurance subsidy for retired or disabled teachers and public employees.

This session’s achievements reflect the hard work, grit and determination of the people of Washington. Our work in Olympia depends on the input of advocates and constituents who bring their perspective and expertise to the table as we shape policies that affect everyone.

I hope you will continue to reach out to my office with questions, suggestions or ideas for next year. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work together to achieve progress for the 37th District and the State of Washington.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Saldaña

Equal Pay

This year we took steps to end gender wage discrimination by passing House Bill 1506, which modifies the Equal Pay Act to provide a range of remedies addressing unfair pay disparity.

DREAM Act 2.0

We passed the “DREAM Act 2.0,” expanding state financial aid resources to undocumented students (“Dreamers”). It builds on the 2014 Real Hope Act, which widened access to the State Need Grant and enabled Dreamers to pay in-state tuition at our colleges and universities.

Initiative 940, De-Escalate Washington

We took a huge step forward in improving relationships between law enforcement and our communities with an agreement to meaningfully address police use of deadly force. Although a court challenge has left the status of the agreement unclear, I stand behind it and I am committed to working to ensure that it becomes law.

My Legislation

I sponsored a dozen bills this year, six of which became law; so did three House bills containing the same language as my bills:

  • Senate Bill 6002, the Washington Voting Rights Act, removes legal barriers to ensure fair representation in cities and local jurisdictions
  • Senate Bill 5683 rights a historic wrong by extending health care coverage to certain Pacific Islanders living in Washington
  • Senate Bill 6245 empowers spoken language interpreters
  • Senate Bill 6529 establishes a work group to find ways to address harmful “pesticide drift”
  • Senate Bill 6145 lets law enforcement and firefighting agencies hire any legal residents
  • Senate Bill 6126 helps create a regional workforce of quality electricians

Gun Responsibility

News stories about gun violence and mass shootings have inundated our communities, schools and homes. Enough is enough. As legislators, we have an obligation to keep our communities safe. This session, we passed bills that:

  • Ban bump stocks (Senate Bill 5992)
  • Let those experiencing extreme depression or stress waive their firearm rights (Senate Bill 5553)
  • Keep guns away from those convicted of domestic violence harassment (Senate Bill 6298)
  • Ensure that concealed pistol licenses are taken from people subject to protective orders for stalking and other crimes (House Bill 2519)
  • We also allocated $382,000 to clear the state’s backlog of 478,000 firearm transfer and sale records.

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 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.