Sen. Claire Wilson Newsroom

Wilson opens district office to improve access

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.

July 15th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    First legislative session prioritized education, health care and transportation

First legislative session prioritized education, health care and transportation

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)
July 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Numbers help shed light on first legislative session

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.

Cheers,

July 1st, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Wilson strives to ‘open those doors’ for people who have felt ignored

Wilson strives to ‘open those doors’ for people who have felt ignored

In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington State Wire, Sen. Claire Wilson discussed everything from her career in education, to being a freshman in the Senate, to fighting for legislation on consent and healthy relationships, to making sure all Washingtonians have a chance to be heard. You can read the interview here.

June 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Governor signs bill creating commission on LGBTQ inequities

The state’s newly created state LGBTQ Commission will meet Saturday with stakeholders to discuss the commission’s initial steps, Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) said today.

Wilson’s Senate Bill 5356 was signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Jay Inslee, establishing a commission to identify concerns specific to LGBTQ individuals and apply those concerns to inform practices and policies at state agencies.

“Our state constitution promises to protect us against discrimination in its many forms, but not everyone receives those protections,” Wilson said. “Many people regularly experience discrimination and other challenges, including physical violence, based merely on their identity or someone else’s perception of their identity.”

The LGBTQ Commission will be responsible for ensuring that state policies reflect a balanced and diverse respect for race and ethnicity, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and occupation. To that end, Wilson said the makeup of the commission is crucial.

“It is essential that the governor appoint members who understand the varied challenges and inequities faced by others,” she said. “There are times when our state policies, however well-intended, fail to account for members of our community whose needs may not be as obvious or universally shared. At other times, policies intended to help and serve a particular community end up doing the opposite.”

Among other things, the commission will consult with state agencies about the effects of agency policies and practices on the unique problems and needs of LGBTQ people, and advise agencies on the development and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies, plans and programs to address those needs.

May 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Governor signs bill to improve educational opportunities in prisons

Governor signs bill to improve educational opportunities in prisons

The state will explore ways to improve educational opportunities for incarcerated Washingtonians, as a result of legislation signed into law this month by Gov. Jay Inslee.

“It’s critical that people receive the resources necessary for successful re-entry into the community once they have paid their debt,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of SB 5433. “Leaving prison without a support network or a job, but with a criminal record, multiplies the difficulty of re-entry exponentially.”

Lacking training or education, those trying to re-enter society often have limited options beyond the criminal practices that got them incarcerated in the first place, Wilson said, so it makes sense to improve inmates’ skill sets.

“Re-entry into society is all about second chances and public safety,” she said. “Anyone who has paid their debt to society has earned a second chance, and successful re-entry is in everyone’s best interest. Successful re-entry equals lower recidivism. It’s that simple.”

Wilson’s legislation expands the types of educational programs accessible by the incarcerated to include postsecondary education and training programs, in addition to associate degrees, and directs state agencies to study implementation of secure internet access at correctional facilities to increase access to postsecondary education programs. 

“The choice before us is not whether someone who has committed a crime deserves assistance,” she said. “The question is whether we want to send someone back into society in a position to become productive and successful, or whether we want to send them back into society to commit more crimes.”

May 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Bills expanding eligibility for early learning programs signed into law

Bills expanding eligibility for early learning programs signed into law

A pair of bills to expand access to early learning programs critical to student success were signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Senate Bill 5437, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), makes more students eligible for the state’s early childhood education and assistance program (ECEAP) by increasing the income-level of households from which students can qualify. The legislation also directs the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families to consult with tribes and develop recommendations for closing the ECEAP opportunity gap for tribal children.

“We know ECEAP works, and works very effectively, to help children of color and from low-income homes access the critical early learning skills they need to keep up with their more-advantaged peers,” said Wilson, who is the vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “We also know that a child whose family is a dollar above the 110 percent federal poverty limit is just as vulnerable as a child whose family is a dollar below it. This much-needed change will bring lasting change to the lives of children across our state.”

Senate Bill 5089, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), eliminates an eligibility gap for children who turn three years old during the school year. In past years, children who completed the state’s Early Support for Infants and Toddlers had to wait until age three to qualify for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance program. This bill eliminates that gap by extending eligibility to students who are not yet three years old when the school year begins.

“To improve outcomes for children with developmental delays or disabilities, it’s imperative that we give them continual access to quality early learning programs,” said Wellman, who chairs of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “These programs can make an enormous difference for these kids’ future success.”

The Legislature also prioritized early learning programs through budget investments. The biennial capital construction budget provides $28.5 million for early learning facility grants, while the operating budget invests $35 million to expand the ECEAP program. Inslee signed both of those budgets into law today as well.

May 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|

Wilson urges students to apply for youth advisory council

With applications now open for the 2019-2021 cycle of the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC), Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) is encouraging students from the 30th Legislative District to apply.

Established in 2005, the council consists of 22 students who serve as the official voice of Washington youth to the Washington State Legislature.

“This is a rare and exciting opportunity to develop a valuable understanding of public policy issues and legislative strategy, and I highly recommend it,” Wilson said. “The councilors get to personally lobby legislators, testify before the Legislature, organize civic engagement events for peers throughout the state, and lots more.”

Each year, 11 new students are selected to serve a two-year term on the council, working with mentors who advise them on how to advocate for meaningful policy changes. The program is fully youth-led, overseen by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Applicants must be 14 to 18 years old and in the 8th, 9th, or 10th grade. They must submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, coach, mentor or community leader along with a letter of application by June 3. For more information, visit the LYAC Website, email ryan.jackson@ltgov.wa.gov, or call the Office of the Lieutenant Governor at 360-786-7746.

April 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Estevan Garcia, Alexis ‘Blu’ Warner serve as Senate pages

Estevan Garcia, Alexis ‘Blu’ Warner serve as Senate pages

Estevan Garcia and Alexis “Blu” Warner served as pages in the Washington State Senate during the first week of April.

Pages are sponsored by the senator from their legislative district. Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn) sponsored their week at the Legislature.

“Our office had a great time hosting Estevan and Blu for their week at the Capitol,” Wilson said. “I hope they enjoyed their time here. I know they saw and learned a lot.”

The page program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to find out how state government works. The educational experience is enhanced by guest speakers and includes classes with topics such as budget writing and how a bill becomes a law — which culminates in pages creating their own bills in a mock committee setting.

Garcia, 15, and Warner, 16, worked together on a bill aimed at increasing the orca population in Washington. The bill would provide more funding to salmon hatcheries to increase the population of salmon, and thereby increase the population of orcas that feed off the salmon. 

Both pages said they valued their interactions with senators and staff.

“I enjoyed talking to the security guards and hearing all their stories,” Garcia said. “I really liked watching the floor action and listening to senators talk about their bills.”

“It was go great to work with Sen. Wilson and have lunch with her,” Warner said. “She listened to my ideas and has helped me a lot this week to understand how a state government functions.”

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.

Garcia is in the 9th grade at West Auburn High School. In his free time, he enjoys crafting and making things from scratch. Warner is a 10th grader at Decatur High School in Federal Way. In her free time, she works on short animation films. She produces and directs movies for film festivals and for school.

April 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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    Legislature passes Wilson bill creating commission on LGBTQ inequities

Legislature passes Wilson bill creating commission on LGBTQ inequities

Legislation to establish a state commission to identify concerns specific to LGBTQ individuals and apply those concerns to inform practices and policies at state agencies is on its way to the governor to be signed into law.

“Our state constitution promises to protect us against discrimination in its many forms, but not everyone receives those protections,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of Senate Bill 5356. “Many people regularly experience discrimination and other challenges, including physical violence, based merely on their identity or someone else’s perception of their identity.”

Wilson’s legislation will establish a state LGBTQ Commission to ensure state policies reflect a balanced and diverse respect for race and ethnicity, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and occupation. After first passing the Senate, the bill was amended and passed by the House and had to be passed a final time today in its amended form by the Senate.

 “The makeup of the commission will be key,” Wilson said. “It is critical that the governor appoint members who understand the varied challenges and inequities faced by others and make sure those challenges inform public policy.”

Among other things, the commission will consult with state agencies about the effects of agency policies and practices on the unique problems and needs of LGBTQ people, and advise agencies on the development and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies, plans and programs to address those needs.

“There are times when our state policies, however well-intended, fail to account for members of our community whose needs may not be as obvious or universally shared,” Wilson said. “At other times, policies intended to help and serve a particular community end up doing the opposite. This commission will be a valuable resource to the public and to our state agencies that serve us.”

April 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|