Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Legislature has now entered the second half of session, with only 37 days left. March 11 was the deadline for House bills to be passed out of the House, and vice versa in the Senate, in order to progress further this session. However, this deadline does not apply to bills with a fiscal component deemed “necessary to implement the budget.” In total, the House passed 327 bills.
This week, regular committee schedules resumed to begin the process of hearing the more than 300 bills sent over from the Senate.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me this session to express their views and provide their feedback. If there is an issue before the Legislature you have a question about, or if you have a comment or concern, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at (360) 786-7836. I always appreciate hearing from you.
The House passes bills to help families, children
During our marathon of floor sessions the last week and a half, the House passed two bills that will provide necessary assistance and services to families and individuals in need.
House Bill 1491 would improve early learning and child care requirements and objectives, while increasing transparency between providers, families and the state. It passed the House with a bipartisan 67-to-31 vote and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee March 23 at 1:30 p.m.
House Bill 1875 would increase the amount of time allowed for participants in Washington's WorkFirst program (part of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)) to attend a vocational education program. Under current law, WorkFirst participants' vocational education may not exceed 12 months. However, only 15 percent of WorkFirst participants are successful in earning a degree or a certificate within one year. By increasing this education allowances to 24 months, we increase the number of participants obtaining meaningful degrees and certificates to help them transition from state assistance to self-sufficiency. This bill gained overwhelming bipartisan support with a 90-6 vote. You can read my recent op-ed about this bill by clicking here.
In my last update, I briefly shared with you the passage of the Senate's $15 billion transportation revenue package. Along with that package is a series of eight reform bills to address some of the expensive mistakes made by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) in recent years. Reform at WSDOT to reduce wasteful spending of your tax dollars is going to be a critical component for any transportation package. Adequate revenue is essential to fund important projects across the state, but I do not want to put more money into a broken system. Now is the time to address inefficiencies at the department to make sure we are all getting the most for our transportation tax dollars.
As the package currently stands, these are the projects to be funded in the 16th District:
- I-82 West Richland Red Mountain Interchange highway improvements
- Completion of phase 7, Highway 12 project between Lowden and Nine Mile Hill
- Lewis Street Overpass in Pasco
Earlier this month, students participating in the Latino/a Educational Achievement Project (LEAP) visited Olympia as part of their annual conference. This conference, and the program, is designed to encourage students to succeed in high school and pursue postsecondary education.
I enjoy meeting with these students each year, and am so proud of what the program has helped accomplish for students in the 16th District and throughout Washington state!
420 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000