Vote Yes on Referendum 90 - Support Medically Accurate Sex Ed

VOTE YES ON REFERENDUM 90SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING & COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION NOTE: To keep this safe and sane law on the books and provide this essential education to our students, vote YES on Referendum 90. Mention the word sex, and people’s attention immediately perks up.  A new law to mandate comprehensive sex and social-emotional education in our public schools has drawn such attention, especially from very conservative groups such as the Family Policy Institute (FPI).  One issue on the ballot this year is Referendum 90, which would repeal the state’s new comprehensive sex education law. Opponents are running a sensationalistic and very dishonest attack on the law. The referendum would approve SB 5395, which was passed by the Legislature in 2020 and signed into law by the Governor. If one reads or listens to the opponents’ arguments, it would appear that legislators who voted for the bill must have been out or their minds. However, the law is not about teaching graphic sex to kindergarten and elementary school students, as FPI and others allege. It is not about normalizing deviant sexual behaviors. It is about teaching medically accurate and appropriate social-emotional behavior and age-appropriate sex education to students. (If you’d like more specifics about how these claims are inaccurate, I recommend this article.) Continue reading

We Can't Afford to Ignore These Fires

The West is covered in clouds of smoke and haze. Wildfires across the West Coast are devastating and difficult to watch. More than 697,000 acres have been burned in Washington, and over four million acres in Oregon and California. Families are losing their homes. Animals are dying and losing critical habitats. Our places of respite are being destroyed. We’re losing so many of the trees that form the background of our lives, and provide the air we breathe.  The Golden Gate Bridge is shrouded in an orange smoky haze. While our hearts are with the families who have been evacuated, those who have lost their homes, those who are dealing with the loss of family members and friends, and the brave firefighters battling these blazes, we must do more than simply send our thoughts and prayers. Continue reading

Thank You - Voting by Mail Works!

First off – as of tonight, the returns in the 22nd Legislative District have me in the lead with 59.31 percent of the vote. Thank you to everyone who cast a ballot – and thank you in particular to everyone who voted for me. I appreciate your support! Last week, President Trump used his Twitter account to suggest that the November election be delayed. This continues his ongoing attack on our voting rights. Despite plans to vote by absentee himself, the President has also suggested that vote-by-mail, his also continues to impugn vote-by-mail as unsecure and is working hard to prevent other Americans from using the Postal Service to send in their ballots during a worldwide pandemic. I’m particularly disappointed President Trump chose the day the nation is honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, an icon for voting rights, to make these outrageous assertions. Continue reading

My Accomplishments

2019-20 ACCOMPLISHMENTS As Chair of the State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee and a member of the Ways and Means (Budget) and Early Learning and K-12 Education Committees, I deal with the issues that have the biggest impact on the 22nd District. My accomplishments include Advocating for cost of living allowances (COLAs) and health benefits for state employees and educators; Gaining long-denied COLAs for PLAN 1 retirees; Passage of the most progressive package of election laws in the nation, laws that ensure access to voting with security and transparency; Working for passage of strong environmental laws, including limits on greenhouse gases; Continued efforts for adequate funding for our public schools and postsecondary institutions; Funding for transportation funding in Thurston County and a feasibility study for passenger ferry service from Olympia to Seattle; Advocating family leave for new parents and those with family health emergencies; Voting to cap the monthly out-of-pocket expenses for insulin at $100; Supporting establishment of the new Office of Equity. And please vote for Sam Hunt for State Senate.  Thank you.

Ballots are in the Mail!

Ballots for the August 4 primary election are going into the mail this week. You should receive yours soon. If you are not registered to vote, you can do so up to, and including election day. Voters can register by any means, including online at www.voter.votewa.gov up to 8 days before the election. During the last 8 days one must register in person at the Thurston County Auditor’s office. Any young voter who will be 18 years old by the November 4 election may register and vote in the August 2 primary election. Continue reading

Our Fourth of July is different this year

Last year, my daughter took this photo at the City of Lacey’s annual Fourth of July celebration in Rainier Vista Park. Like many of you, my family is sad that we won’t have the opportunity to gather with our friends, family and our larger community to celebrate this holiday. Instead of mourning what we aren’t doing, I’m spending the Fourth of July taking a moment to reflect on the changes happening in our country. The United States has a long, dark history of racism. While we’ve addressed some of the more blatant instances in our country, we have yet to successfully root out the systematic racism that prevents Americans from truly experiencing freedom for all. Continue reading

Protecting the Civil Rights of our LGBTQ community members

Two weeks ago, I was delighted to wake up to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. LGBTQ people in the United States need no longer fear that their employers can fire them simply for who they are. Washington State has been a leader in the fight to protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ community. Much of this progress would not have been possible without the advocacy and hard work by the late Senator Cal Anderson who blazed the trail for LGBTQ rights in Washington.  I was proud to call Cal a friend.  Continue reading

Voting Rights

Voting and elections are important issue we face this year.  As chair of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee, it has been an honor to lead the campaign to pass the Access to Democracy package in 2018-20. Enactment of this group of laws made Washington the nation’s leader in voting and elections. The new laws that make up the Access to Democracy package include: Election Day voter registration Automatic voter registration 16-17 year-old preregistration Voting centers on college campuses Prepaid return postage on ballot envelopes Requiring ballot drop boxes in each incorporated city or town Controlling third party campaign contributions Washington Voting Rights Act Native American Voting Rights Act Continue reading

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter.  This should not be controversial.  Saying “Black lives matter” should be the bare minimum of what we say in this country. Black lives helped build our nation, much of the time with little or no reward. Black lives have fought for American freedom and for the freedom of people around the world.  Black scientists and engineers have contributed to the world’s knowledge of science.  Black entertainers enrich lives through their writing, music, and film. Many of us spend hours watching Black athletes compete in college and professional sports and cheering them on them while they are playing.  Black medical workers care for our country’s sick and help those of us who are healthy to stay that way.  Black educators prepare the next generation to lead our nation. Black lives are important. Black lives are vital. Black lives are precious. Continue reading

A Thank You to Workers

In March we never, never imagined we would be in this situation! Please remember the people in both the private and public sectors who are working extra days and hours to help meet our needs. Think of the teachers who, on a moment’s notice had to switch to online learning or preparing special sessions for students without Internet access. Think of the Employment Security staff working six day 10+ hour days processing the largest number of unemployment claims in state history while trying to protect against scams and fraudulent claims. Think of health care workers who face totally new challenges. Think of postal workers struggling to stay ahead of the increases in mail deliveries. Think of Department of Natural Resource staff who face fire season with the uncertainty of having adequate numbers of firefighters. Think of restaurants, retail stores, and small businesses that have ben forced to close or provide very limited services, And think of the many others I am sure were left out of the list. Please bring your patience and kindness when you're out running errands or doing other activities. I want to thank everyone who is working hard to help us all get through these challenging times. Whether you're working, doing volunteer work like making masks or helping at the food bank, or doing your part by staying home and practicing social distancing to protect yourself and others. Thank you. Like so many others, I long for a turn toward what we considered normal. It is going to be a long road back, and we need to stick together.