Homelessness

EVICTION PREVENTION

The current state of tents and RV's randomly distributed is not a solution. As we manage our way through the COVID-19 crisis, it is important that we support people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. I am very concerned that the economic shutdown will ultimately lead to a dramatic increase in evictions once the eviction moratorium is removed. The moratorium cannot last forever because owners need to be able to collect rent or the private rental market will collapse and drive rental costs even higher. I am proud that we have provided over $1 billion in rental subsidies to prevent Covid-based homelessness.

IMPROVING SERVICE COORDINATION

We spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars and charitable contributions to fight homelessness in the region. Unfortunately, there is a lack of coordination between programs which lead to inefficiencies and duplication of services. I support audits that require coordination between all levels of government and a focus on moving people into stable housing and mental health care rather than keeping people in long-term homeless encampments.

A FOCUS ON HOUSING FIRST

In high cost areas I support rapid rehousing subsidies to prevent people from becoming homeless due to rising rent. I also support increasing living facilities for those with alcoholism and experiencing homelessness, who stress our medical system with high rates of calls and costly emergency room visits. Supervised by case managers, this type of housing allows residents to drink alcohol in their apartments rather than on the street, which decreases cost to taxpayers.

 

Education

Making sure our schools are training students for jobs of the future.

PREPARING OUR STUDENTS TO COMPETE FOR LOCAL JOBS

With the explosion of tech jobs in our area, Amazon and too many other companies are recruiting from outside our state. Washington's public education system should be the envy of the nation and we should be training students for the jobs in demand! Instead, our high school graduation rate of 79 percent lags behind the national average of 83 percent. We must improve our education system and ensure our students are prepared for the workforce.

 

MAKING SMART INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION

I support the Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which required the legislature to provide additional funding for K-12 education.  I also believe we need to be vigilant about how these hard-earned tax dollars are spent. We must track our outcomes to ensure that the money leads to actual and significant improvements and is not wasted. We can and should implement thoughtful accountability measures that do not stifle teachers' creativity.

I also support evidence-based investments in education. There is a lot of research showing which types of educational investments work best for our kids.  Studies show that the quality of a teacher is the main factor in how well a child learns. Other successful interventions include class size reductions, better programs for high performing students, one-on-one tutoring for struggling students, free breakfast for students at low-income schools, and developmentally-appropriate school start times. 

INVESTING IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Few policies have as much consensus as the benefits of early childhood education. Early education levels the playing field.

Currently, the legislature does not consider this basic education. We need to change that. Research shows that lack of family wealth is largely correlated with early academic struggles. Worse yet, educational achievement gaps at kindergarten generally persist throughout a child’s education. 

That is why I am proud to have cosponsored Senate bill 5237 which passed into law in 2021 and provides hundreds of millions of dollars in early education and childcare funding for needy families. This will be funded by a capital gains tax on the wealthiest one-quarter of one percent which I also supported.

PROMOTING VOCATIONAL TRAINING

With the increasing complexity of our manufacturing, building, and construction jobs, we need better vocational training during high school so students who choose this career path can graduate ready for a job.  Many employers in our area complain that they cannot find locally trained skilled workers to fill their positions.  We do not need everyone to have a 4-year university degree, and there is great value in vocational or technical training.  

I also support internship and mentorship programs to connect employers and students early in their lives.  This will encourage students to stick with their program and understand there are high paying job opportunities at the end of their training.

I also believe Washington’s technical and community colleges need to work with local trade unions to enhance apprenticeship programs for those who choose to enter a career as an electrician, plumber, construction worker, or other trades.

 

Safety & Inclusion

All people should be protected from discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin, and religion.

 

CRACKING DOWN ON HATE CRIMES AND HATE RELATED DOMESTIC TERRORISM

Since Donald Trump’s election, bigotry and racism have been increasingly used as political tools and many Washingtonians are less safe because of it.  

In 2019, I helped legislation adding sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of groups protected against hate crimes and authorized punitive damages of up to $100,000 against perpetrators of those crimes.  As a result of the task force against hate crimes that was created by the bill, we are discussing additional legislation for this session to crack down on hate crimes and racial violence.

In the wake of armed marches on state capitals protesting COVID-19 related safety measures, the forcible armed takeover of federal facilities by militia men, and deadly violence against Black Lives Matters protestors, I plan to re-introduce my bill in the coming session to authorize punitive damages for anyone who commits or helps to plan acts of domestic terrorism.

 

ANTI-SWATTING BILL

Across the country we have been experiencing a disturbing pattern of people maliciously calling in fake hostage situations to draw police swat teams to the homes of people they are targeting, including people of color.  While the motivation for this can vary, racism and targeting political activists has been a factor.  Unfortunately, this has led to police accidentally shooting and even killing the targets of these malicious pranks. I was the lead sponsor of a bill passed into law as HB ___ making it a felony to call in a fake emergency to generate a police or swat team response.

 

Fiscal Responsibility

We must use people’s hard-earned tax dollars wisely and effectively, with clear goals and accountability.

 

KEEP SPENDING IN CHECK 

Serving on the Shoreline City Council I have found that city departments always ask for more money every year and often get it.  This is the nature of how government departments operate. It is the responsibility of the legislature to make sure the State doesn’t expand budgets indefinitely. Fruit trees produce the best fruit with regular pruning. Departments need similar pruning.

 

ENSURING THE PROGRAMS WE FUND ACTUALLY WORK

We need to verify that tax dollars are being put to good use. There is ever more research available on which programs are effective and which programs are not making good use of tax dollars. We need to expand the auditor's office and routinely measure program outcomes to identify successful programs and cut the ones that aren't providing a public benefit. Lobbyists push for continuing spending on almost every program, but that is not always in the taxpayers’ best interests.

I have a track record of commitment to budget scrutiny and fiscal responsibility on the City Council and I will bring this perspective to Olympia.

 

Environment and Climate Change

TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Fighting climate change is one of the major challenges of our time. The science tells us that if we do not take effective action now, it will be exceedingly difficult or impossible to fix later. Rather than wait for others to act, Washington State should put a price on pollution to mitigate the effects of human induced climate change. 

We all deserve to live in a healthy environment and enjoy the Pacific Northwest's abundant natural resources and wildlife. 

 

I am proud to be a leader in the Senate on environmental issues. I am not just “interested” in helping the environment. I feel deeply and emotionally tied to its health.  I worry, and at times despair, over the future of climate change and its effects on wildlife, the marine environment and a likely climate-related refugee crisis.  I spend as much of my free time as I can boating in our mountains and I see the negative changes already afoot. But we cannot be discouraged.  I am 100 percent committed to using my role in the state Senate to improve the environment and help people realize we must transition to clean energy right away or face devastating consequences for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

In my role as a State Senator, and Vice Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, Parks, and Water Committee, I am dedicated to protecting our state’s natural environment and have had significant successes. In 2019, I successfully sponsored a bill that makes fracking illegal in the State of Washington. As Vice Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks, I fought for our Puget Sound orcas and salmon population with legislation that would remove or diminish shoreline destroying seawalls that rob our forage fish and salmon of vital habitat they need to survive. This bill passed out of the Senate, but it did not make it to the Governor’s desk. I will try again.

 

Concerned about the prospect of wall street firms buying up water rights, I wrote and introduced a bill to stop wall street investment firms and hedge funds from buying and hoarding water rights.

 

SUCTION DREDGE MINING BAN

I am also proud to have been the lead sponsor and help pass HB XXX a law to end the use of motorized mining in salmon streams. The banned practice consisted of using motorized pumps to suck out the bottom of rivers to find gold, laying waste to fish and wildlife habitat in the process.

6335 and 6453 climate change In the Growth Management Act

The way we plan our cities and towns contributes to the growth or reduction in climate warming emissions.  I prime sponsored a bill to make fighting climate change a goal and element of the Growth Management Act such that local governments must plan their development with the climate in mind.  The bill will be under consideration in the 2021 session.

 

6454 SALMON HABITAT PLANNING

Similar to the climate change issue, the way we plan our growth also affects, generally negatively, the viability of salmon habitat. I drafted and introduced a bill that adds language to the Growth Management Act such that local governments must plan their development in a way that doesn’t harm salmon.  This bill will also be under consideration in the 2021 session.

 

WILDERNESS THERAPY SB 6637

Recognizing that the natural environment is great for mental health and that we need to promote the value of environmental preservation to our youth, I drafted and introduced a bill to create insurance coverage for wilderness-based mental health therapy programs. I plan to reintroduce the bill next session.

 

INCENTIVIZING CLEAN ENERGY FOR OUR HOMES, BUSINESSES,  AND CARS

We need laws that incentivize non-polluting energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal power. Developing a clean energy infrastructure will also create jobs.

We should also look for opportunities to reduce food waste because food production accounts for nine percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S., due to diesel fuel used for tractors, fertilizer production, etc.[1] Less food wasted means less carbon emitted per person.

Transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.[2] Efficient public transit can reduce emissions (see web page labeled ‘Transportation’). We must also make it easier for people to drive and recharge electric vehicles. We should encourage gas stations to have battery exchanges or rapid charging stations so that drivers can travel long distances without undue delay. As the technology becomes more mainstream, the cost of electric vehicles will go down significantly.

 

PROTECTING OUR MOUNTAIN RANGES AND OUTDOOR RECREATION

 

Our urban area reaches to the foothills of the Cascades in the east and the Puget Sound in the west.  We need to leave the mountains to nature so we can enjoy the very things many of us love about the Pacific Northwest – hiking, skiing, hunting, birdwatching, and fishing.  We need to adequately fund fish hatcheries and make sure we maintain our trail system, so that we can continue to enjoy our world-class outdoor activities.

 

DECREASING HARMFUL TOXINS IN PUGET SOUND BY ADDRESSING STORM WATER RUNOFF

 

The Puget Sound is in danger because of pollution and overdevelopment. Our stormwater infrastructure is outdated and unable to effectively filter toxins when it rains. The good news is that filtering water through soil and beneficial plants can go a long way in neutralizing toxic chemicals. We just need to construct infrastructure that promotes this.[4] We also need effective regulations to preserve and enhance critical habitat areas.

 

THE FACTS

 

Climate change is affecting our Pacific Northwest. Oil companies and corporations have spent billions lying to convince us that the threat is not real. This lie they have perpetrated is criminal.  By delaying solutions, we have already guaranteed that the earth’s temperature will rise.  We are already experiencing heat waves, droughts, changes in ocean conditions, and extinctions of animal species.  In the Puget Sound, salmon and Orca whales are in danger of extinction. Our own Washington State oyster growers are having trouble raising oysters because of changes in water chemistry resulting from climate change, and the crabbing industry may be next.  Failing to address climate change is costing us jobs.

 

Criminal Justice

We must work to make the criminal justice system more sensitive to issues of disproportionate racial impact while still ensuring it maintains its crime-fighting function. Police will continue to serve valued crime-fighting role in our society, but abusive policing practices must end.

REDUCING BARRIERS TO SUCCESS

I have introduced and am working to pass SB 5328, which eliminates suspensions of driver’s licenses for failure to pay traffic fines. Suspensions should be based on bad driving not poverty. Taking away a license can lead to an inability to get to work, take kids to childcare and trap people into a cycle of poverty. The current policy has a severely disproportionate racial impact. 

JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM

Until the practice is phased out by 2022, those under 18 years of age who run away from home are often placed in juvenile detention with others charged with murder, burglary, and other criminal offenses.  Many of these runaway youth are experiencing mental health and addiction issues and would do better in a more therapeutic setting.  I wrote an amendment that passed as part of bill XXX to end the practice of jailing runaway kids and instead placing them in secured and completely separate treatment facilities focused on helping them recover and solve their family problems.

 

RESERVING JAILS AND PRISONS FOR VIOLENT CRIMINALS

Jail is too expensive and there are better approaches to reduce crime while saving taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. Some individuals should be incarcerated, but the United States imprisons more people per capita than any other developed nation.[1] There are obvious racial imbalances as well. Over 1 in 40 African Americans in Washington are in jail or prison, which is six times the rate for Caucasian Washingtonians.[2] This is very expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We will be better off spending hard earned taxpayer money on improving schools, closing the class and race-based achievement gap in education and preventing crime through providing healthy child supports.

As a public defense attorney since 2007, I have represented many people who are in jail for a variety of minor crimes. While a handful of those people are truly dangerous, mostly they are people who have experienced significant trauma, have a mental illness, or have other issues that could benefit from therapeutic courts and treatment and investment in early childhood education.

INVESTING IN DRUG TREATMENT

A significant number of crimes are committed so the offender can get money for drugs or alcohol. Access to drug and alcohol treatment significantly reduces criminal behavior. One study showed that taxpayers saved $2-$2.50 for every $1 spent on treatment, largely because of avoided jail costs. Long term studies show those who participate in drug abuse treatment programs commit fewer crimes than those who don’t.

EXPANDING SPECIALTY COURTS

We should expand use of specialized courts focusing on mental health, Veterans' needs, drug addiction, and family reconciliation.

As an attorney, I defended veterans who served in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were suffering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and addiction. Veteran's courts connect offending veterans to peer mentors while holding them accountable through probation monitoring.

I have also represented hundreds of clients diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Our system does a very poor job treating mentally ill people who commit crimes. Rather than treating the underlying illness, we often incarcerate them. This is inhumane and wastes taxpayer dollars. Mental health courts offer an option for closely supervised probation and mandated mental health treatment rather than jail time for mentally ill people accused of low-level crimes. This is not only more humane, it also saves taxpayer dollars. Studies also show that mental health court participants do not pose a higher risk to public safety when they are diverted from traditional courts.

 

REFORMING POLICING

https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/a-reform-agenda-to-end-police-brutality/

 

Our police officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe and the majority deserve our respect and honor. But too often we see shootings of unarmed civilians, disproportionately people of color. We need all of our communities to feel like police are here to protect us.

America was shaken on May 25, 2020 by the brutal killing of George Floyd and the calm, complacent look on the face of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes — all while Floyd cried “I can’t breathe” and called out for his mother. 

Even though Chauvin could see that he was being filmed in front of a crowd, the smug look on his face seemed to convey a belief that he would face no accountability.

Why? Because the unfortunate reality is that even when police kill unarmed people, disproportionately Black men, they rarely suffer serious consequences. This is one of the many reasons why the U.S. has the highest rate of police-caused fatalities in the developed world by far.

Lawmakers are listening to communities of color and public policy experts about the best ways to stop police brutality.

There are several recommendations currently in the public dialogue, such as prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from acquiring surplus military equipment, banning chokeholds and no-knock searches, mandating the use of body cameras, investing in mental-health-crisis response, and improving de-escalation and anti-bias training. I support these much-needed reforms.

I am particularly focused on increasing accountability measures that have been far too lax for too long. Those include:

  • Partnering with the ACLU to fight for revoking state-issued certificates of officers who are fired for abusive use of force;

  • Stopping the revolving door that allows fired officers to be reinstated through the police union appeal process;

  • Making public all misconduct records so that officers can’t just resign and then go to work for another police department.

 

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

There are innovative and community supportive ways of policing that can be increased. As a Shoreline City Councilmember, I supported Shoreline's innovative RADAR program –– Risk Assessment, Deterrence, and Referral. Under RADAR, officers get to know mentally ill community members with a history of police interactions so they are prepared to de-escalate situations when responding to future 911 calls. I also support expansion of Listen and Explain with Equity and Dignity (LEED) training for officers, which is used in Shoreline and should be expanded statewide.

 

INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN

Long-term research has shown that early investments in children’s wellbeing saves an incredible amount of money by preventing future jail costs and increasing productivity and wages. This is one of the most humane, nurturing, and cost effective investments governments can make. 

 

Transportation

Traffic is getting worse every year and housing is becoming less affordable. We need to expand light rail now, and create affordable housing options.

 

INVESTING TO REPIDLY EXPAND LIGHT RAIL 

Our hot job market and beautiful region are leading to rapid population growth with no end in sight. These jobs help our economy, but also bring more traffic and a tighter, more expensive housing market. We need more transit options ASAP to get our region mobile again and reduce congestion.

 

Cars and buses too often get stuck in gridlock. Most major cities have light rail, subway, or other transportation systems that run on their own dedicated route and have traffic signal priority. We need to complete our light rail system as soon as possible and add bus rapid transit service to high commuter locations not served by light rail. 

 

Health Care

FURTHERING HEALTH CARE REFORM IN WASHINGTON STATE

Rather than repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), we should work to improve it. If Trump does manage to repeal it, Washington State should stay committed to offering health insurance through Apple Health, our subsidized health care exchange. We should continue to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

 

PAYING FOR PERFORMANCE

Historically, we have paid for healthcare with a "fee for service" model. This means consumers pay for each health care visit, procedure, and laboratory test. Washington State is moving to a "Pay for Performance" model, which pushes hospitals and clinics to focus on achieving the best health outcomes for their patients rather than charging them for unnecessary services. We should continue to support this new payment model because it is better for consumers and is more cost-effective.

 

EXPANDING INSURANCE AVAILABILITY

We need affordable health insurance options that are not tied to employer plans. Right now, health insurance is still very expensive for middle class people unless they work for large companies. We need to stop penalizing people for starting a new business, working for a small company, getting laid off, or becoming disabled.

 

People without health insurance often delay doctor's visits and wind up in the emergency room. These e.r. bills are often passed on to taxpayers, hospitals and privately insured patients through higher rates. This is no way to run a health care system and is yet another reason why people should be covered by insurance.

 

PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

I am pro-choice and I support access across the economic spectrum to culturally competent, gender-affirming reproductive health care, as well as birth control and breast feeding care and supplies. We need laws to protect providers who offer these services, and ensure employee reproductive choice.

 

Affordable Housing

PASSING LAWS TO CREATE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

To solve our traffic problem, policymakers must think about transportation and housing together. The way we use our land in relation to our transportation systems is critically important. Apartments and condos should be built near efficient transportation routes, and we should make sure these housing options are affordable, not all luxury condos.


The legislature should adopt successful models for creating affordable housing. For example, Shoreline requires that 20 percent of new apartment units be rented at below market rates. This policy has created over 313 new affordable apartments since 2012.

 

Transparency and Openness in Government

Transparency and openness are fundamental to democracy and the public deserves the chance to give input on new laws and budgets.

In 2018, the legislature rushed through and passed SB 6617 designed to keep numerous legislative records secret. This was done in response to a judge interpreting the law, that was current at the time, as requiring the legislature to open their records.

I disagreed with that bill, and when I joined the legislature in 2019, I immediately set procedures in my office to make records open and provided them to those who requested them.  The state Supreme Court later ruled that the Public Records Act does not exempt legislators, making that practice mandatory. 

Gun Safety

I prime sponsored SB 6294 which requires people to complete firearms training before they can get a concealed pistol license. It is a commonsense measure that is law in places like Texas. It passed out of the Law and Justice Committee during the 2019 session but did not receive a vote on the Senate floor.  I will work for its passage in the 2021 session.

 

Reproductive Rights

I strongly believe decisions on reproductive rights should be left to a pregnant person, their doctor, and others that person may seek for advice. I strongly condemn the US Supreme Court's draft opinion to overturn Roe V. Wade and will fight for a pregnant person's right to choose. Fortunately, if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion will remain legal in the State of Washington.  I will oppose any efforts in the legislature to restrict those rights and will fight to expand access.