Dear friends and neighbors,
This week we have been back in committee hearing the bills that have come over from the House of Representatives. The next committee cutoff deadline is on April 1, so we have a little more time to hear testimony on bills before we are back voting on the Senate floor. Legislative deadlines help move bills through the process and can act as a barrier to both good and bad legislative proposals.
Structured settlements bill passes Senate despite concerns for injured workers
During floor debate the Senate considered and passed Senate Bill 5513 – a bill that removes protections for younger workers who are injured on the job, many of whom may have young families. These workers may not have the resources to weather a sudden loss of income and may be forced to accept a lump-sum settlement to pay for immediate needs to the detriment of a longer-term solution that offers sound financial security and reliable wage-replacement.
When I was a child, my family could have been greatly impacted by this legislation. My father was working one night loading lumber onto ships with his crew when an accident happened. A hook holding the lumber broke free and knocked off my father’s hard hat and threw him 40 feet into the hold of the ship. With the injuries he sustained and with the existing protections in place as he recovered, my family was able to get by and survive. These important protections need to remain. We need to make sure that we are protecting our workers today from the accidents that could happen tomorrow. (Please click the photo to hear my floor speech).
Legislative deadlines weed out bad bills that would harm our community in particular
One bill I was pleased to see not advance to the Senate floor for consideration was Senate Bill 5197 – a bill that would allow entities who have applied for project permits to circumvent the permitting system if a permit is not issued after 90 days and could allow entities to go directly to the Superior Courts in their county for project approval. Many very large and complex projects involve extensive permitting review and analysis that requires more than 90 days, while often smaller projects take much less than 90 days for a permit to be issued. For the larger projects, this bill could, in effect, substitute our already overburdened courts for the agencies in reviewing and issuing permit decisions.
In our community, this bill could have had the potential to sidestep the current Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) process for making decisions around the proposed oil-by-rail facility. We need to allow that process the chance to have all of our input and hear our concerns. I respect the process and its integrity. This bill would have potentially circumvented the current process in our state and allowed the courts to decide the future of many communities across Washington, including ours.
Equal Pay Opportunity Act advances through the House and comes to the Senate
I am proud to be the sponsor of the Equal Opportunity Pay Act in the Senate. The House version of this bill, House Bill 1646, passed through the chamber and has made its way to the Senate. When our state recognizes that equal pay should be given for equal work and when employees are not afraid of retribution for asking questions about their wages, we will have made significant progress in our state. Fairness and justice for equal pay for equal work will help all Washington families thrive. I look forward to actively advancing this bill in the Senate and would welcome your help in contacting the Chair of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, (Committee information, click here) to ask that this important bill be heard. I will be sure to update you on this bill’s progress.
Thank you for listening in and participating in our telephone town hall meeting!
Last Thursday night, Reps. Sharon Wylie and Jim Moeller joined me in hosting a telephone town hall. It is a great and convenient way to connect and speak directly to many of you! We covered a number of topics including: oil transportation safety, the proposed oil facility, education funding, reducing class sizes, how to get more people involved in the political process, and protecting our social safety net to name just a few. I encourage you to check my website soon for the full audio recording of the telephone town hall.
I always enjoy when constituents come to visit me in Olympia. Last week, I met with many constituents including a wonderful group of young people from the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Until next time,