Jesse strongly believes decisions on reproductive rights should be left to a pregnant person, their doctor, and others that person may seek for advice. He strongly condemns the US Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Jesse is 100 percent pro-choice and supports 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. With the recent ill-advised Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Jesse and his Democratic colleagues will be looking for ways to support women / pregnant people in this state and beyond. Proposals will include liability protection for providers, non-extradition laws for people that come to this state to seek abortion care, increased funding for those in need of care and more. While Jesse believes abortion access will remain legal in Washington for the foreseeable future, he is interested in the Governor's proposal to include a right to abortion care in our state constitution
Jesse is the prime sponsor of SB 6294 which requires people to complete firearms training before they can get a concealed pistol license. It is a commonsense measure that was, for a long time, the law in places like Texas. He plans to reintroduce the bill in 2023. Jesse was also proud to have supported the successful push to limit high-capacity magazines, background check enhancements, open carry restrictions at school board meetings and protests, red flag laws and more.
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
Jesse supports the Supreme Court's McCleary decision, which required the legislature to provide additional funding for K-12 education. He also believes 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. Jesse supports 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. 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.
Jesse is 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. In fact, funding for early childhood education increased 700 percent during his term! This increase will be funded by a capital gains tax on the wealthiest one-quarter of one percent.
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.
Jesse also supports 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.
Jesse also believes 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.
We must use people’s hard-earned tax dollars wisely and effectively, with clear goals and accountability.
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 continue to 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.
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. That is why Jesse was a sponsor of the Climate Commitment Act, which established a carbon cap and trade program in Washington State.
We all deserve to live in a healthy environment and enjoy the Pacific Northwest's abundant natural resources and wildlife.
Jesse is proud to be a leader in the Senate on environmental issues. Jesse states:
"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 and hiking 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 his role as Vice Chair of Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, Parks, and Water Committee, he is dedicated to protecting our state's natural environment and has had significant successes. In 2019, Jesse successfully sponsored a bill that made fracking illegal in the State of Washington, and wrote and passed SB 5273 which reduces the amount of shoreline destroying seawalls that rob our forage fish and salmon of vital habitat they need to survive.
Concerned about the prospect of wall street firms buying up water rights, Jesse also introduced a bill to stop wall street investment firms and hedge funds from buying and hoarding water rights.
SUCTION DREDGE MINING BAN
Jesse is also proud to have been the lead sponsor of SB 6148, which passed into law as an identical House bill. It ends 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.
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. Jesse 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 failed to pass but will likely be re-introduced next session.
CLOSING A LOOPHOLE ON URBAN SPRAWL
In 2022, Jesse introduced and passed SB 5042, closing a loophole that allowed developers to build urban sprawl even when the permits were later found to have been issued illegally.
SALMON HABITAT PLANNING
Similar to the climate change issue, the way we plan our growth also affects, generally negatively, the viability of salmon habitat. Jesse 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 2023 session.
INCENTIVIZING CLEAN ENERGY FOR OUR HOMES, BUSINESSES, AND CARS
Jesse is proud to have voted for a bill to move us to 100 percent clean electricity that will
increase non-polluting energy sources such as wind, solar and perhaps tidal power and
other innovations. 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. Less food wasted means less carbon emitted per
Transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Efficient public transit
can reduce emissions. 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.
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.
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 Jesse helped to secure $500 million in the 2022 transportation package to do just that. He is also exploring ways to eliminate 6ppd, a tire preservative that kills fish when it
leeches off tires and is carried into streams by untreated stormwater.
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. We must continue to focus on the fight against climate change, including mitigating its effects.
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
Jesse introduced and passed SB5226, which eliminates suspensions of driver’s licenses for failure to pay traffic fines and instead suspends a license for 60 days as a result of three moving violations in a year. 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 old policy had 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 sometimes 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 could do better in a more therapeutic setting. Jesse wrote an amendment that passed in the House as part of SB5290 to end the practice of jailing runaway kids and instead placing them in secured crisis residential centers focused on helping them recover and solve their family problems.
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.
In part due to a recent State Supreme Court ruling in State v. Blake, criminal enforcement of drug possession laws is much more lax. Because we still need accountability for people using drugs in public, Jesse introduced SB5976 which would require those caught with illegal drugs to undergo a substance use assessment and to complete treatment if indicated. Enforcement and compliance would be through use of civil contempt of court powers, which can include short stays in jail at the judge’s discretion, rather than criminal charges.
EXPANDING SPECIALTY COURTS
We should expand use of specialized courts focusing on mental health, veterans needs, drug addiction, and family reconciliation.
As an attorney, Jesse defended veterans who served in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were suffering from traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and addiction. Veteran courts connect offending veterans to peer mentors while holding them accountable through probation monitoring.
Jesse has 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. Studies also show that mental health court participants do not pose a higher risk to public safety when they are diverted from traditional courts.
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. Washington led on many police reforms in 2021. But rather than tie the hands of all police officers we should focus more on correcting the actions of particular officers who commit public offenses or violate police department policies. To that end Jesse has introduced SB5677 aimed at arbitration reform to change the private arbitration process that often leads to overturning police accountability.
There are innovative and community supportive ways of policing that can be increased. As a Shoreline City Council member, Jesse 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.
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.
Traffic is a huge challenge to our region and housing is becoming less affordable. We need to expand light rail now and create affordable housing options.
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. In 2022, Jesse is proud to have helped pass a $16 billion transportation package that is the greenest, most transit friendly package in Washington State history to solve our mobility problems.
FURTHERING HEALTH CARE REFORM IN WASHINGTON STATE
Jesse was happy to support passage of Cascade Care which moves us towards a public option insurance program in Washington State. He looks forward to building upon that.
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 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
Jesse is 100 percent pro-choice and supports 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. With the recent ill-advised Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Jesse and his Democratic colleagues will be looking for ways to support women / pregnant people in this state and beyond. Proposals will include liability protection for providers, non-extradition laws for people that come to this state to seek abortion care, increased funding for those in need of care and more. While Jesse believes abortion access will remain legal in Washington for the foreseeable future, he is interested in the Governor’s proposal to include a right to abortion care in our state constitution.
PASSING LAWS TO CREATE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The cost of housing is driving staggeringly unequal outcomes in people's quality of life. So many people are working full time just to pay rent while the dream of home ownership remains out of reach. Jesse has focused on increasing the supply of rental units, condos, cottage housing and smaller "starter" homes as these have been missing from the housing market. Jesse grew up in Seattle and watched over the years as modest houses on his block were torn down one by one and replaced with huge McMansions.
Jesse is proud to have written and passed SB 5818, which makes it easier to build rental units, condos, cottage housing and smaller "starter" homes in urban areas by repealing red tape. He has also supported condo liability reform that was passed during his term that will increase the number of condos being built.
Jesse supported SB5160 that increased support for renters and helped create a dispute resolution process where state funds helped resolve eviction moratorium based back rent disputes. This bill, and funding to support the policy, helped make landlords whole and prevented evictions when the moratorium was lifted.
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, Jesse introduced legislation, which later passed as a House bill, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to a list of personal characteristics protected against hate crimes and authorized punitive damages of up to $100,000 against perpetrators of those crimes. A task force created by the law has identified additional protections he is working on passing.
The current state of tents and RV's randomly distributed is not a solution. We need to support people in crisis through mental health and housing investments while simultaneously enforcing community standards. We must focus on moving people into stable housing and mental health care rather than keeping people in long-term homelessness encampments.
As we managed our way through the COVID-19 crisis, Jesse understood that we must support people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. His office became a hub for service and help for constituents whose unemployment benefits had been held up by red tape.
Concerned that the economic impacts of COVID would lead to a dramatic increase in evictions once the eviction moratorium was removed, he advocated early on for finding federal COVID relief dollars to help unwind back rent issues for renters who were laid off. He helped steer almost $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. We need to better coordinate programs to prevent inefficiencies and duplication of services.
A FOCUS ON HOUSING FIRST
Jesse supports rapid rehousing subsidies to prevent people from becoming homeless due to rising rent. To help people chronically addicted to alcohol and experiencing homelessness, Jesse also supports increasing "wet house" living facilities. 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 by reducing frequent emergency room visits during chronic homelessness.