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    Senate passes bill to focus agencies on people’s needs – not immigration

Senate passes bill to focus agencies on people’s needs – not immigration

March 7th, 2019|

A bill passed today by the Washington State Senate would ensure that state and local agencies focus on the needs of Washingtonians instead of doing the work of federal immigration officials. The bill passed on a vote of 30 to 16.

Senate Bill 5497, the Keep Washington Working Act, would limit the amount of information that state and local agencies share with federal immigration officials, and joint immigration enforcement activities. It is sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island).

 “We’re a nation of immigrants; that is the foundation that the United States was built on,” Wellman said. “Our country thrives when we welcome the hard-working people who come to our country and boost our economy. Agencies must do their part in safeguarding the rights of our immigrants.”

“This bill also ensures that our tax money pays for Washington services and Washington values,” she added.

Wellman worked with state agencies and law enforcement while crafting the bill. It is supported by Gov. Jay Inslee and by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, whose letter of support can be found here.

In addition to imposing limits on information sharing and joint immigration enforcement activities, the Keep Washington Working Act requires that state agencies provide services regardless of a person’s citizenship or immigration status. Agencies would develop and implement secure information systems to use when storing information about people who use state services and facilities.

A statewide Keep Washington Working workgroup would work within the state Department of Commerce to develop strategies to expand immigrants’ career pathways within Washington state.

“We need local law enforcement to do its job effectively. That means keeping communities safe, and we need all Washington residents to feel safe so they can focus on school and work,” said Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, who introduced the House companion bill. “This legislation helps students do better in school and workers do their jobs knowing they are valued and respected. The result will be communities that flourish and businesses that grow.”

SB 5497 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Bill to expand broadband service passes state Senate

March 6th, 2019|

A bill passed today by the Washington State Senate would expand broadband access to underserved communities. Senate Bill 5511 is sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), and was requested by Gov. Jay Inslee.

“I want every school child to be able to go on the internet and have the richness that exists in that world available to them,” Wellman said. “So many children in Washington’s rural communities are falling behind because they don’t have access to this critical modern infrastructure. This bill is truly about equity.”

The bill would establish the Governor’s Statewide Broadband Office. This office previously existed in Washington state but was eliminated in 2014. It would also require the Public Works Board to establish a competitive grant and loan program to provide broadband service to unserved or underserved areas.

Some public utility districts would temporarily be allowed to provide retail telecommunications services, and port districts would be able to provide telecommunications services within and outside of their district limits, as a result of the bill.

“Broadband is also a necessary tool for participation in the modern economy,” Wellman said. “Access to internet will do wonders for small businesses throughout Washington state.”

SB 5511 now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

School safety bills pass state Senate

March 6th, 2019|

A package of bills to make Washington schools safer passed the state Senate today.

Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) prioritized the comprehensive and bipartisan list of legislation following a statewide Educational Service District tour and after reviewing recommendations by the state’s Mass Shooting Workgroup.

“Students, teachers, parents and school administrators throughout the state are coming to us with one common message,” said Wellman. “They want our schools to be safe and be a place where they can focus on quality education. These bills are the first part of our safety package worked with partners in the House of Representatives. ”

Wellman chairs the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, which many of the bills passed through.

Senate Bill 5027 would amend Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order statute so that it applies to minors. The bill is sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). The bill came at the recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim, and is designed to keep guns out of the hands of minors who could pose a danger to themselves or others.

Senate Bill 5141 would make training on de-escalation, mental illness and other topics mandatory for school resource officers. The bill, sponsored by Wellman, would also require districts with school resource officers to adopt agreements with law enforcement agencies, including parents, students and community members in the process.

Senate Bill 5514 would require law enforcement agencies to inform all known local schools, including private schools, if any circumstances in the area could require a lockdown or evacuation. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley).

“These bills are reasonable, and I am convinced they will make a difference for the safety of our schools,” Wellman said. “One bill alone cannot solve this problem. We must take a holistic systems approach.”

The Senate also previously passed several bills that would improve student safety:

Senate Bill 5689, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo), would protect transgender students from bullying. The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 27.

Senate Bill 5395, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), would require schools to teach comprehensive sexual health education. The curriculum would teach students about consent, decreasing sexual violence and promoting healthier relationships. The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 27.

These bills now head to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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    Senate passes bill for comprehensive sexuality health education

Senate passes bill for comprehensive sexuality health education

February 27th, 2019|

Science-based, comprehensive sexuality health education would become a required component of public school curriculums, under legislation passed today by the Senate on a 28-21 vote.

“Many students are sexually assaulted or coerced into having sex, or find themselves in abusive relationships,” said Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), who chairs the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “At its core, this bill is about safety. It’s about making sure that students have a safe place to ask questions, fully understand consent, and have the information they need to make safe decisions.”

Wellman co-sponsored the legislation.

Senate Bill 5395 would require public schools to provide evidence-based, sexual health education curricula from a list developed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) or from other sources that satisfy OSPI guidelines.

Among other things, the curricula must:

  • encourage healthy relationships based on mutual respect and free from violence, coercion, and intimidation;
  • teach how to identify and respond to sexually violent attitudes or behaviors; and
  • emphasize the importance of affirmative consent before engaging in sexual activity.

“People call this sex education, but it’s about much more than sex,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the bill’s sponsor. “It’s about personal health, it’s about important life decisions, it’s about medical and economic consequences — all the things we want our young scholars to understand so that they can make the best choices for their health and their future.”

Wilson, who is vice chair of the committee, said the curriculum does not direct teachers to instruct students on how to have sex, as has been incorrectly alleged by some; to the contrary, it is proven to reduce unintended pregnancy and STDs.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans, including parents and young people themselves, believe students should have access to comprehensive sexuality health education in middle school and high school and developmentally,” Wilson said. “Information is power. It’s time we do a better job of sharing it.”

SB 5395 would require schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 6-12 by Sept. 1, 2020, and to students in grades K-5 by Sept. 1, 2021.

Having passed the Senate, SB 5395 now goes to the House for consideration in that chamber.

Why we must Keep Washington Working

February 13th, 2019|

Sen. Lisa Wellman gave the following speech on Feb. 12 in the Senate Law & Justice Committee regarding Senate Bill 5497, the Keep Washington Working Act:

America is a nation of immigrants. Indeed, with the exception of our tribal nations, that IS our heritage. And it has served our country well.

I think of the challenges so many faced leaving their homelands and facing the uncertainty of coming to a foreign country to build a life. I love that that’s who we are.

That’s the story I heard from my aunts around the kitchen table. Of my grandma from the Ukraine who decided there was no future there and took six children and a reluctant husband with her to found a dairy in New Haven. Or my grandfather from Austria who came as a young man to build a life in the garment district of New York. And where many of his descendants helped build an industry.

That energy, that drive for a better future, has fueled the United States, making us a nation of pioneers, of entrepreneurs, of dreamers and builders envied around the world.

We see that in our Washington state economy. We rely on that influx of drive and ambition. Today nearly one million Washingtonians — that’s almost one in seven — is an immigrant.

But, due to the lack of a comprehensive, rational immigration policy on the part of our federal government, our state and our economy has challenges.

Although this has been going on for many years, for many of us the issue became visible one evening at SeaTac Airport. Executives returning from business trips abroad, were stopped at SeaTac and held. Those images of Governor Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson rushing to the airport to intervene stay with many of us. Far from feeling safe and welcomed home, those businessmen were threatened. As a former business executive myself I can tell you that creating a positive business environment is essential to keeping the business thriving and keeping your workforce happy. A hostile one – drives people away.

And that’s what this bill is about. Immigrants and our economy. Keeping Washington a great place to do business, invest, start a company that changes the world — entrepreneurship is what we’re about.

Almost one third of workers at Microsoft are here on visas. They come to work at a company that HAS changed the world. They buy homes in our communities, give their children music lessons, support the Arts and nonprofits, and, when the grandparents come to visit (sometimes for a month at a time) spoil their grandchildren outrageously as is the right of all grandparents.

Those employees don’t have to stay in Washington to stay with Microsoft — they can move to offices in BC – Canada would have them in a minute.

But this isn’t just about tech workers. You can’t run a hospital without immigrants providing services. The medical sector depends on them.

Or run a hotel without immigrants in the back of house. The hospitality industry depends on them.

Or harvest the apples that we’re known around the world for.

We need to support our thriving economy by keeping that welcoming, safe business environment that brought us here — that brought them here.

Our state, county and city agencies, the ones WE fund with OUR taxpayer dollars, need to work for Washingtonians.

Our safety officers — policemen, firemen, state patrolmen (and women) that we pay with our tax dollars need to work for Washingtonians.

This bill mandates that they will.

It does not prevent federal employees from doing the jobs the Federal government employs them to do.

Keep Washington Working puts our resources where we want them — building safer, healthy, communities and a thriving economy.

I commend this bill to you and ask for your support.

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    News Tribune: Kids are hurting. The Legislature needs to do away with the onerous ‘supermajority’ rule

News Tribune: Kids are hurting. The Legislature needs to do away with the onerous ‘supermajority’ rule

January 21st, 2019|

Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) spoke with the News Tribune about legislation that would allow school bonds to pass with a simple majority. The article focuses on Bethel High School and the myriad capital updates needed in the aging building.

“There are districts that haven’t been able to get bonds passed to do anything for years. It’s heartbreaking at times,” Wellman acknowledged.

You can read the full article here.

Wellman to lead Senate Education Committee in 2019

November 28th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island) will retain her role as chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee when the Senate convenes for the 2019 legislative session.

Wellman, a former educator, was first chosen by her colleagues in 2018 to lead the committee responsible for crafting policy that affects more than 1.1 million school-aged children in the state.

“We need to focus on the entire education continuum and I am excited to be part of an effort to re-structure education from the inside out so it aligns with our 21st Century economy,” Wellman said. “We need to make sure we are integrating new career pathways for our kids to succeed and prosper right here in Washington state. I also look forward to working with our state’s dedicated educators to make progress on school safety, student mental health, and support for our students with special needs.”

For the past eight months, Wellman has served with the state task force responsible for recommending policies to increase the career and college readiness of public school students: Career Connect Washington. This summer she visited all nine Educational Service Districts across the state to meet with educators and discuss strategies to improve school safety, student outcomes and digital parity.

Wellman, a former Apple executive, will also serve on the Higher Education & Workforce Development and Labor & Commerce Committees.

“We need think about the whole system and integrate that learning continuum from birth through to career. We need to review every touchpoint and make sure it’s working,” Wellman said.

Democrats will likely hold a 28-21 majority in the Washington State Senate next year, giving Senate Democrats the power to set the agendas of Senate committees and floor action, determining which bills will be heard and brought up for votes. Wellman will also continue on the Energy, Climate and Technology committee.

The 2019 Legislature convenes on Jan. 14.

Wellman honored for her work supporting the arts

November 16th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – State Senator Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, has been recognized for her leadership and support of arts and cultural heritage in Washington state.

Wellman received the 2018 Cultural Advocacy Award from the Washington State Arts Alliance in Olympia this week as senators returned to the capitol for Assembly Committee Days.

During her tech career, Lisa headed the creative markets for Apple worldwide and has developed her own art as a photographer. She is a longtime supporter of regional arts and culture in Washington.

“Arts and culture have always been an essential part of my life. We have a talented and dedicated arts community here in the Northwest and with our focus on STEM, it’s ever more important that we recognize and foster creativity,” Wellman said.

Wellman was appointed to serve as a commissioner on the Washington State Arts Commission in 2017. Created in 1961 to promote the public value of art, the commission focuses on nurturing new leaders, strengthening arts education, and building community participation.

“We know how beneficial arts education can be for our students and in our communities,” Wellman said. “I’m so proud to be on a team dedicated to such a worthy goal. We must continue to remind each other of the power of art, especially for young developing minds.”

Wellman will likely return as chair of the Senate Education Committee when the 2019 legislative session begins Jan. 14.

Wellman honored by state’s principals

November 2nd, 2018|

Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, was honored by the state’s school principals for her leadership at the state level. The Torch of Leadership Award honors individuals serving in the Washington state government who have demonstrated outstanding support of principals. The award was
established in 2009.

Senator Lisa Wellman is the winner of AWSP’s 2018 Torch of Leadership Award. Senator Wellman is a Democrat representing the 41st Legislative District which serves Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle and parts of Issaquah. Each year, AWSP’s Advocacy Committee has the opportunity to select a state-level public servant who has demonstrated support of principals and the principalship in the education of all students.
Senator Wellman’s commitment to education is reflected in her connection to her local school districts as well as to the attention she pays to issues across our state.
Senator Wellman serves as the chair of the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee as well as on the Economic Development & Trade Committee; Energy, Environment & Technology Committee; and the Transportation Committee. She gets high marks from her community for being supportive of her schools and programs since she regularly attends district events and legislative linkage sessions with the School Board. Senator Wellman stays in touch with her constituents and uses social media to provide others with an inside view of what’s going on in Olympia. This spring and summer, she has been on a listening tour around the state on the topic of school safety.
Prior to her work as a legislator and as an executive in technology and marketing, Senator Wellman was a public school teacher. She is a thoughtful, kind, and dynamic person to work with as well as a passionate advocate for students.

Wellman speaks in support of Career Connect Washington

October 25th, 2018|

Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, spoke at the Career Connect Washington kickoff in Renton on Thursday.

Wellman, chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, voiced her support for connecting Washington’s 1.1 million students with real work experience.

Career Connect Washington is an initiative that brings government and the private sector together to offer programs that allow students to explore and discover jobs and careers that inspire them to grow and succeed. Learn more about CCW here.

Sen. Wellman’s full remarks:

The state of Washington has long recognized the value of “hands on” education of “work integrated learning”. We’ve had Skill Centers since the 1970’s and have an established program of registered apprenticeships.

But these have been targeted initiatives and localized programs.

Now to respond to the needs of the 1.1 million students in our elementary schools, the time has come of invest in operationalizing these avenues to participation in a 21st Century economy. We need to build a new integrated SYSTEM from within our current education system.

I’ve visited a number of career connected operations and have seen the buy-in by parents, educators and especially students.

The work that Maud and her team have done is exceptional. They listened.

I particularly commend them on paying attention to those barriers that affect our rural students and making sure this effort is directed at and will make a difference for those across our state for whom it is most needed and will be most significant.