Legislative Work 

During the 2018 session I had the opportunity to either prime sponsor or work closely in shaping the following bills:

Civics Education bill (HB 1896) - I was the prime sponsor of the new Civics Education bill that will require each of our high school students to complete a semester of civics education as part of their already required 3 credits of social studies.  Bringing this bill to fruition involved working with a team of dedicated stakeholders from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Thurston County League of Women Voters and the Council on Legal Public Education. 

“Same Day Voter Registration” (HB 2297) - The companion bill (SB 6021) to my Same Day Voter Registration bill makes it possible to actually register and vote until 8:00 pm on election day.  This policy has been implemented in many other states, and it increases voter turn-out tremendously, particularly among younger voters.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam Credit Policies (HB 2252) - Working with IB teachers, students and OSPI I was able to help pass legislation that will give our IB students equal advantage as our AP students in turning test scores into college credit.  Although my bill did not become the final vehicle, the policy in my bill shaped the final legislation (SB 5917).

PERS 1 and TRS 1 COLAs and PEBB Subsidies (HB 2452) – For two years I have worked hard to once again fund pensions and PEBB subsidies for our TRS 1 and PERS 1 retirees who have not received a COLA since 2011.  The big win of the 2018 session is that these critical COLAs and PEBB prescription drug subsidies are once again in the state budget.  The amount of the COLA is not what we had hoped to achieve, but rest assured I will drop a new bill for 2019 to keep bringing the COLAs up to par.

K-12 Funding (SB 6362) - The day before the session ended, I was asked to help negotiate the final language for the critical “fixes” to the K-12 funding bill that was passed last year.  When we passed HB 2242 last year, we knew that it would take several more steps to get it right.  After spending hundreds of hours the past year listening to educators explain the “fixes” that needed to be put in place in the 2018 session, I was delighted to be part of the final refining process, which keeps me in close contact with our local school districts and the great people who educate our students.

During the 2017 session I had the opportunity to prime sponsor several bills:

HB 1344 - Extending the period for which a bond levy may be increased.
This bill was signed by the Governor on May 16, 2017.  If the voters of Thurston County decide to build a new county court house, this new law will allow us to finance bond levies over 25 years instead of the current 9 years, making it financially feasible.

SHB 1521 - Removing the requirement that an employee must work at least six months before taking vacation leave.
This bill became law on July 1, 2017.  Our state employees are the backbone of Thurston County.  When the recession hit back in 2008, our state employees took cuts in pay, furloughs, and lay-offs in order to make the state budget balance. Since 2008, they have never gotten their salaries back to par, and continue to lag behind other public and private sector jobs. The contracts that we approved during the 2017 session make strides in improving salaries, but we also need to improve other working conditions.  SHB 1521 is part of that goal by allowing new employees to use vacation time during the first few months of employment.  Let's face it, life doesn't always wait to happen until you have been in a new job for six months. If you have earned the vacation time, you ought to be able to use it.  Washington State wants to be the employer of choice.

EHB 1913 - Creating a leasehold excise tax exemption for certain leasehold interests in facilities owned or used by schools, colleges, or universities.

EHB 1913 actually became part of the final SSB 5977 (Relating to Revenue) which was signed by the Governor on July 7, 2017, becoming law on October 19, 2017.  This legislation will exempt community and technical college bookstores and food service operations from paying excise taxes on the sale of books, supplies and food to our community college students, easing the financial burden of getting through school.

HB 1533 - Addressing wage and salary information.
This was a progressive bill that I was proud to introduce for the first time.  It passed through the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards on January 30th, but died in Rules. Why is this bill important to pursue? Research shows that women in Washington get paid 80 cents to the dollar for the same job as men in Washington.  Minority women get paid 46 cents on the dollar.  Asking for salary history sounds neutral, but it is not, since the previous salary was probably not fair.  When women (or men) step out of the workforce to spend a few years raising children, asking the previous salary sets an even worse precedent.  Employers should be asking about education, work experience  and job skills rather than previous salary. In the professional world, employers and employees often don't even have a salary discussion until a job offer is made.  The potential employee hoping to make a good enough impression that the new job will bring a substantial increase in salary, and the employer wanting to get a better idea of how much the potential employee is worth.

HB 1896 - Expanding civics education in public schools.
There are few among us this year who do not see the need for better civics education in our schools.  Working with the League of Women Voters I sponsored HB1896 which would expand civics education teacher training program within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to select a team of social studies teachers who will develop teacher training materials, provide teacher training across the state, and develop a process for sustaining and building teacher capacity.  Although the bill got off to a late start, it received a warm response.  Since this is only the first year of a two-year session, I will continue moving this bill forward in January.

HB 1484 - Providing an enhanced retirement benefit for public employees' and teachers' retirement system plans 1.
Along with Representative Norm Johnson, and Senator Sam Hunt, I worked on taking steps to bring PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees back into the COLA process. In 2011, the legislature made the unconscionable decision to stop COLA payments to our oldest, most vulnerable retirees. These same retirees also had their monthly medical benefit cut.  It is our goal to right this wrong.  We have two new concurrent bills ready to drop.





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