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.
Filing for offices ended Friday, and I have two opponents, one Democrat and one Republican. So now the campaign switches into a higher gear. Washington's primary is August 4 and the general election is on November 3; ballots must be postmarked or placed in a drop box by 8 PM on Election Day. I've lead the way on protecting the right of citizens to participate in our elections. Some of the bills I've worked to pass went into effect last year, but this is be the first major election using the new rules. They include: Election Day Registration—voters will be able to register to vote up to, and including Election Day Automatic voter registration—when a person does business with a state agency program that requires proof of citizenship, the person will have the opportunity to automatically be registered to vote; 16-17 year-olds who get a driver’s license or state ID card will have the option to automatically pre-register to vote 17 year-olds who will be 18 on or before Election Day will be able to vote in the August primary. I'm proud of my work to protect one of the most fundamental rights of our nation: the right to vote. I look forward to casting my vote in our elections and I'll hope you'll join me (and cast a vote to re-elect me to represent LD in the Senate!
Last week, I posted about my wife; today I'm sharing that my 99 year old mother is in a group home here in Olympia. She and housemates are on lockdown; they are all at extreme risk from COVID 19. One of the hardest parts of this experience is being unable to visit her and comfort her. Like mom, I'm staying home because I'm in a risk group. I'm sharing this because I want folks who are in risk groups because of autoimmune diseases, age, or other complications to know your struggles are shared. This experience is tough. It's harder without having our loved ones close. It's the hardest for folks like my mom who don't have access to the internet and have limited ways for friends and family to reach to them. That's why I've encouraged my children and my grandson to make sure they're using this time to write letters and draw pictures to send to their grandma/great-grandma. I hope if it's possible, some of you will take the take to write letters to your loved ones today as well.
I struggle to write this. Almost three years ago I lost my wife, and mother of my children, to a 13 year battle with ovarian cancer. Daily I think what it would be like for her with her fragile immune system to be facing this pandemic. Would have even the most stringent isolation have saved her from this? How much additional stress would this place on her family and friends? She was a fighter; she had to be to battle ovarian cancer and go through annual sessions of chemotherapy and almost monthly blood transfusions while fighting the beast. Yet, in the words of Elizabeth warren, “She persisted.” I think of a person the three 22nd district legislators have been helping. She needs cancer surgery, installation of a port for chemo, and then chemo. Alas, someone at St.Peter determined that cancer surgery was an elective procedure and denied the process. She is closer to surgery, and it appears she will soon get it. She is also a fighter, refusing to take no for an answer and seeking every avenue possible to take care of herself. I hope that she will prove to be a long term fighter and cancer survivor—in spite of this pandemic. So when you think of the inconveniences you face due to Stay Home, Stay Safe, please remember these two strong women and their fighting spirits. Stay strong, and we will beat this thing.
The 2020 Legislative session started out with the biggest news being the election of a new Speaker of the House, Representative Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, who became the first woman Speaker in state history. She replaced Representative Frank Chopp who had served as Democratic Leader and Speaker since 1995. We had a very productive session and ended the 60 day session on time March 12, just as the COVID19 pandemic was rapidly gaining steam. And each and every one of our lives changed, almost overnight! NOTE: Obviously the pandemic could have a negative impact on any legislation we passed this year. Only time will tell how deep and severe its impact on state government is. Continue reading
Last Thursday, Governor Inslee signed SHB 2859 into law. Starting in January of 2017, parents will be able to freeze their children's credit until they turn 16. It will provide Washington's parents with a vital tool to protect their children from identity theft. This bill was inspired by my daughter and my grandson, after their personal information was comprised in a series of data hackings two years ago. Thousands of families in Washington have been affected by similar data thefts and I'm pleased that my bill will give these parents a way to protect their children until they turn 16. King 5 ran a story on the bill, which you can watch here.