Monthly Archives: February 2020

Luis Carrera-Lara serves as page in Washington State Senate

February 25th, 2020|

Luis Carrera-Lara, 16, served as a page in the Washington State Senate during the week of Feb. 17.

Pages are typically sponsored by the senator from their legislative district. Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) sponsored Carrera-Lara’s week in the Legislature.

“Seeing my senator, getting to meet her and seeing her values made me feel like she values me and all my fellow constituents,” Carrera-Lara said. “What really surprised me was seeing how much time senators take out of their day to meet with the people of their districts and actually listen to them — and make sure the bills that they are passing not only benefit their community but benefit as many as they can.”

For her part, Wilson said Carrera-Lara impressed everyone in her office and appeared to make the absolute most of his various opportunities as a page, including participating in the lieutenant governor’s World Fellows Program.

“When you page in the Senate, you really get an eyeful, and Luis soaked it all in like a sponge,” Wilson said. “By taking part in World Fellows, he saw a lot more than most pages get to see.”

The page program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works. The interactive learning experience includes classes focused on topics like budget writing and how a bill becomes a law, which culminates in pages creating their own bills in a mock committee setting. Carrera-Lara wrote and passed a bill providing overtime compensation for agricultural workers and is looking forward to advancing this legislation in Washington State.

“Seeing that most of these bills come from the people, it’s nice to see that we’re getting heard,” he said. “Now I really want to be an intern here, and hopefully pursue a political career at some point.”

Pages also have the opportunity to work on the Senate floor. Their maroon coats and credentials allow them access to all parts of the Capitol Campus. The educational experience is furthered by guest speakers.

Carrera-Lara is in 11th grade at Todd Beamer High School, where he is vice president of DECA, plays varsity track and cross country, and is active in MESA@HighlineCollege.

For more information about the Senate Page Program, contact SenatePageProgram@leg.wa.gov.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to improve childcare learning, development

Senate passes Wilson bill to improve childcare learning, development

February 19th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would give childcare providers additional time to make remedial improvements that improve their quality of care.

Senate Bill 6483, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), would update the state’s Early Achievers rating requirements to allow certain childcare providers 12 months instead of 6 to complete remedial activities necessary to satisfy requirements. The goal of Early Achievers is to make sure childcare providers are effectively and adequately addressing children’s learning and development needs.

“We rate the providers because we want to make sure kids’ needs are met,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “The goal isn’t to penalize providers, it’s to improve the level of care. If a provider needs a little longer to meet requirements, that’s an investment worth making on behalf of our kids.”

The ratings apply to providers who receive subsidies through the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance program and Working Connections childcare program. Wilson’s bill would also allow providers to continue to receive the subsidies while completing their remedial improvements.

“Children are better served when we help providers correct substandard practices and improve care,” Wilson said. “Healthier, more capable children get off to a better start in life and invariably evolve into healthier, more capable adults — they live better lives, and our communities are stronger for it.”

Having passed on a 45-3 vote, SB 6483 now goes to the House for consideration.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to allow diplomas for deceased students

Senate passes Wilson bill to allow diplomas for deceased students

February 19th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would allow school districts to issue a diploma for a student who has earned 75 percent of the credits needed to graduate but dies after completing the 11th grade.

“This is a simple way to recognize a student’s academic achievement on behalf of a family that is suffering a tragic loss,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the bill’s sponsor. “This can help a family find some solace and closure if they lose a child tragically early.”

For a student who is fighting a terminal illness, Wilson added, the promise of diploma might provide comfort in the face of death or even an uplifting goal on which to focus during a time of little hope.

Senate Bill 6092 — named Evitan’s Law after a deceased student whose family suggested the legislation — requires school districts to award such diplomas if requested by the student’s family, provided the student had completed the 11th grade and was meeting requirements for graduation. The diploma may not be issued before the graduation date of the student’s class, and districts are not required to award the diploma at the same ceremony or event as other students.

“As a former school board director, I often had sad conversations with families who lost children prior to graduating and crossing that stage, which we know is a milestone for many young people and their families,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “When a young student suffers an untimely death, families are often left wondering how they can celebrate and remember their loved one.”

Having passed on a 47-1 vote, SB 6092 now goes to the House for consideration.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to improve chances of successful reentry

Senate passes Wilson bill to improve chances of successful reentry

February 18th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would extend support services that improve the chances of someone trying to reenter the community following incarceration.

“Reintegration into a community can be daunting for many reasons, but it’s even more difficult if someone abruptly loses services for mental health, substance abuse, anger management or other critical needs,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn). “Someone who needs help in those areas doesn’t suddenly stop needing help upon release from prison, juvenile rehabilitation, or other state institutions.”

Senate Bill 6638 would allow the Health Care Authority (HCA) to restore suspended Medicaid services up to 90 days before an incarcerated or civilly committed person is released from custody. The bill also adds reentry services as an optional medical assistance benefit for Medicaid recipients within the state behavioral health plan and requires the HCA to apply for a waiver to provide reentry services currently excluded from Medicaid to Medicaid clients using federal matching funds.

“When someone returns to a community, successful reentry is in everyone’s best interest,” Wilson said. “The alternative is a struggling individual who is more likely to make the kinds of decision that led to incarceration in the first place.”

Wilson’s bill also would broaden the availability of certain services regionally and would require community behavioral health agencies to offer people who are on conditional release for a crime linked to mental illness the same services offered to people on less restrictive treatment orders.

Having passed on a 36-12 vote, SB 6638 now goes to the House for consideration.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to prohibit solitary confinement of youths

Senate passes Wilson bill to prohibit solitary confinement of youths

February 17th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would bar juvenile holding facilities from subjecting teens to solitary confinement.

“Studies show that using solitary confinement to improve behavior accomplishes exactly the opposite, and is especially damaging to youths,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn). “Instead of reducing violence and assaults on staff and youth, solitary confinement makes things worse.”

Wilson’s Senate Bill 6112 would:

  • Limit the use of isolation to only emergency conditions, with strict guidelines for time and placement;
  • Require institutions to document any use of isolation or room confinement; and
  • Establish a process for the creation of model policies to follow when the use of isolation, room confinement, or less restrictive alternatives is deemed appropriate.

A study of suicides in juvenile facilities revealed half of all suicides occurred while in isolation and 62 percent of the youth had experienced solitary confinement, Wilson said.

“Solitary confinement is emotionally and psychologically damaging, particularly to young people, who are less developed and more vulnerable,” Wilson said. “It is an outdated practice that inflicts serious, lasting harm.”

This legislation would align Washington with 10 states — including two of the nation’s largest, California and Texas — that have passed laws to ban or limit solitary confinement for juveniles. When the state of Ohio reduced the use of solitary confinement by more than 88 percent in 2015, institutional violence decreased by more than 20 percent.

Having passed on a 38-10 vote, SB 6112 now goes to the House for consideration.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to correct timetable for childcare payments

Senate passes Wilson bill to correct timetable for childcare payments

February 17th, 2020|

Legislation passed unanimously today by the Senate would ensure that a child who qualifies for 12 months of Working Connections childcare receives the full 12-month benefit.

“Right now, the 12-month window for childcare begins as soon as a parent’s application is processed and the parent is working — even if the parent has not been able to locate a childcare provider,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of Senate Bill 6540. “If it takes several weeks or months to line up childcare, the subsidy will expire before the child receives 12 months of childcare.”

Delaying the start of the clock until the child is in care will ensure that the parent and child receive the full 12-month benefit to which they are entitled.

“Just because a household qualifies for childcare, that doesn’t mean they can immediately access it,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “With demand for childcare exceeding availability, it may take some time for a parent to find an appropriate facility that is locally accessible.”

Having passed the Senate, SB 6540 now goes to the House for consideration.

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    Senate passes Wilson bill to make childcare facilities gun-free zones

Senate passes Wilson bill to make childcare facilities gun-free zones

February 13th, 2020|

Childcare facilities would carry the same prohibitions on deadly weapons as K-12 schools under legislation passed today by the Senate.

“When parents send their kids off to school, they expect these facilities and grounds to be safe and secure,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the bill’s sponsor. “The state already prohibits people from possessing firearms on K-12 school campuses. This bill simply extends that same common-sense policy to childcare facilities.”

Wilson, the vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, said Senate Bill 5434 would help keep younger children safe from the deadly shootings that are spilling into public venues with increasing frequency.

“We should take all reasonable steps to promote safety at facilities where children learn or are cared for,” said Wilson who is vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “Parents deserve some assurance their children will be safe from deadly gun violence in venues where children congregate.”

Wilson’s bill prohibits the possession of firearms on the premises of any licensed childcare center, childcare center provided-transportation, or other childcare center facility. The bill would also require family day care providers to keep any firearm on premises in a locked gun safe or unloaded in a locked room with a trigger lock or other disabling device.

Having passed the Senate for the second year in a row, the bill again goes to the House for consideration there.

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