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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 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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    Senate passes Wilson’s comprehensive sexual health education bill

Senate passes Wilson’s comprehensive sexual health education bill

January 22nd, 2020|

The teaching of science-based, age-appropriate sexual health education would be expanded to more school districts and grade levels, under legislation passed today by the Senate.

“Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the vice chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. “This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others.”

Among other things, Wilson’s Senate Bill 5395 would:

  • Expand comprehensive sexual health education curriculum to all grade 6-12 schools across the state, phased in over several years;
  • Phase in age-appropriate curriculum for K-5 grades; and
  • Allow parents to exempt children from sexual health education classes on request.

“Students need a safe place to ask questions, to fully understand consent, and to have the information they need to make safe decisions,” Wilson said. “There are children who will be targeted for molestation in the coming year, there are young women who may face sexual coercion or assault. They need access to information and lessons that will enable them to make decisions to ensure their health and safety.”

The Senate passed SB 5395 during the 2019 legislative session, but the House failed to act on it. Outside parties have tried to stir opposition to the bill by circulating misleading and often false depictions of the sexual health curriculum.

Wilson said the curriculum does not promote sex or direct teachers to instruct students on how to have sex, one of a number of claims that have been incorrectly alleged. To the contrary, the curriculum focuses on health and safety, emphasizes the importance of consent, and is proven to reduce unintended pregnancy and STIs.

The bill has earned the support of King County prosecutors who wrote in a recent op-ed in the Seattle Times that the curriculum would help prevent sexual abuse and violence by teaching healthier behaviors.

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

What I’ve been up to during the legislative interim

November 14th, 2019|

The time between sessions, interim, is the time when deeper learning can happen around issues and concerns of importance to constituents and the state. This interim my focus has been to deepen my learning around things new to me, and deepen my listening around things I know more about. Areas of learning this interim included:

  • NW Seaport Alliance in Tacoma
  • Pierce Transit
  • Industrial mitigation and salmon restoration sites
  • Coca Cola
  • CannaBusiness
  • Port of Tacoma
  • Starbucks
  • Port of Seattle/ WA Maritime Federation
  • Puget Sound Pilots
  • West Hylebos Wetlands Park with the City of Federal Way & the Washington Wildlife Recreation Coalition

Senate workgroup/steering committee/commission appointments included:

  • Child Support Schedule Work Group
  • Early Learning Strategic Plan Steering Committee
  • LGBTQ Commission
  • Early Learning Advisory Council
  • Child Care Collaborative Task Force

Stakeholder/advocate conversations included:

  • Reach Out & Read
  • United Way of King County
  • Arc of King County
  • Washington Business Roundtable
  • WA School Nurses Association
  • WA School Counselors Association
  • School’s Out Washington
  • Washington State Head Start & ECEAP Association
  • Ironworkers Local 86
  • Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness
  • Trillium Employment Services
  • Alliance for Gun Responsibility
  • Treehouse
  • Credible Messengers
  • Paros Los Niño’s
  • NW Filmworks
  • MultiCultural Family Hope Center
  • Children’s Alliance
  • Within Reach
  • Mujer al Volante
  • South King County LGBTQ Housing Committee
  • Alvin Ailey Dance /Seattle Theatre Guild

These interim efforts will continue until the first day of the 2020 session on Monday, Jan. 13. I am thankful for your support and look forward to continuing to serve and represent you and everyone else in our 30th Legislative District.

Early learning grant applications open Oct. 1

September 12th, 2019|

Organizations may apply as early as Oct. 1 for competitive grants through the state Early Learning Facilities (ELF) program, Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) said today.

“The Legislature invested $18 million in ELF this year because we see a critical need to increase access to high-quality child care and early learning, particularly for children from low-income and at-risk households,” Wilson said. “No child should have their academic success undermined by developmental and environmental risk factors that are within our power to address.”

The ELF grants provide support to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program and to Working Connections Child Care providers to expand, remodel, purchase or construct early learning facilities and classrooms.

The application for the grants, administered by the state Department of Commerce in partnership with the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families, will be available online beginning Oct. 1 on the Commerce website, where guidelines for eligible organizations are already posted. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Dec. 2. Applications must be submitted electronically through ZoomGrants.

For any ELF grant program related questions, please email earlylearningfacilities@commerce.wa.gov.

Wilson opens district office to improve access

July 15th, 2019|

Having been entrusted by you to represent one of the most diverse districts in the state, I consider it my responsibility as your state senator to make sure all communities feel their voices are heard — and to make sure I am easily accessible.

To that end, we have opened a district office in Federal Way in the Chamber of Commerce Building at 31919 1st Ave S., Suite 207. This office is staffed during the legislative interim and can be reached by calling 206-592-2738.

I hope you will find that this makes it easier to contact my office with any questions about community needs or legislative policies. Bring me your thoughts, your ideas — if you have a concern, I want to hear it.

My goal is a Washington where all can enjoy equitable access to education, health, security and prosperity. That won’t happen overnight. But by working together, I know we can get there.

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    First legislative session prioritized education, health care and transportation

First legislative session prioritized education, health care and transportation

July 8th, 2019|

My first year as 30th District state senator has focused on three priorities: the education of our children, access to adequate health care, and transportation in and around our 30th District communities. Here are highlights of those efforts during the 2019 legislative session. (For more information on a topic, simply click on the bill number)

We improved educational opportunities at all levels

  • Increased K-12 funding and local levy flexibility (SB 5313)
  • Passed anti-bullying legislation to keep kids safe (SB 5689)
  • Expanded access to child care and early learning (HB 1344, SB 5437, SB 5089 , HB 1391)
  • Improved student learning and pathways to graduation (HB 1599)
  • Expanded tuition grants for limited-income households. (SB 2158)
  • Explored educational options to reduce recidivism. (SB 5433)

We addressed people’s primary concern: health care

  • Created a public option for health care insurance (SB 5526).
  • Protected Washingtonians against federal health cuts (HB 1870)
  • Created nation’s first long-term health care program (HB 1087)
  • Passed multiple strategies to address the opioid crisis (SB 5380)
  • Created Indian Health Advisory Council (SB 5415).
  • Protected patients from “surprise billing” fees (SB 1065)
  • Required transparency in prescription drug costs (HB 1224)
  • Improved care by ensuring nurses receive rest breaks (SB 1155)
  • Protected public against measles outbreaks (HB 1638)

We funded transportation projects and airport research

  • Accelerated Gateway project on SR 509 and SR 167 (SB 5825).
  • Adding lanes to I-405, extending express lanes on SR 167 south.
  • Studying lower toll rate options along SR 509 and I-405.
  • Created a commission to find site for a new airport (SB 5370)

Numbers help shed light on first legislative session

July 1st, 2019|

Throughout the 2019 legislative session, and even since the session finished in the wee hours of April 28, folks have asked me what my first session as a state senator felt like. In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington State Wire, I said it was “like jumping on a hamster wheel and drinking out of two fire hoses at the same time,” among other things. You can read the interview here.

My main impression is that the Legislature is a very, very different environment and one that most people never see or experience. So I’ve made it a point, through Facebook posts and tweets, to share insights and examples that “open the doors” of your Legislature and let you see what it looks like on the inside. Another way to open those doors, now that session has concluded, is by looking at the numbers.

For instance:

97 — the number of visits my Olympia office received from constituents.

19 — the number of meetings I had on the key topics of early learning and childcare.

209 — the number of handwritten letters or postcards my office received.

888 — the number of phone calls to my office.

6,826 — the number of emails to my office.

61 — the number of Senate committee hearings I participated in.

4 — the number of visits from elementary schools.

32 — the number of times Bill the bird visited outside my office window. Bill, in case you didn’t know, is a seagull who apparently took up residence on the ledges of the Legislative Building and was a regular visitor outside my office window, brightening my days with his chirps and general presence. (CAPITOL HUMOR: In answer to a question posed earlier in session, Bill never did quite become a law.) Anyway, I hope this gives you a little different view of your Capitol.