Sen. Rebecca Saldaña Newsroom

  • 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

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.

May 21st, 2019|E-News|

Governor approves committee to ensure pesticide safety

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.

May 10th, 2019|E-News|
  • 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

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.    

May 10th, 2019|E-News|
  • Governor Inslee Signs SB 5718
    Permalink Governor Inslee Signs SB 5718Gallery

    Governor approves measures to accelerate family reunification

Governor approves measures to accelerate family reunification

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.

May 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|
  • 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

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.

May 7th, 2019|E-News|
  • 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

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.

April 24th, 2019|E-News|
  • 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

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.”

April 19th, 2019|E-News|
  • Photo Credit: Boxed Water is Better on Unsplash
    Permalink Photo Credit: Boxed Water is Better on UnsplashGallery

    House passes Saldaña bill to reunify children and families faster

House passes Saldaña bill to reunify children and families faster

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.

April 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Update from Olympia

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.

April 3rd, 2019|E-News|

Update from Olympia

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.

March 21st, 2019|E-News|