It's easy to say you stand for the needs of middle-class Washingtonians, but nothing speaks louder than actions. Democrats fought hard to pass scores of common-sense bills out of the Senate this session, only to be blocked by a Republican majority that voted in lockstep, often when just a single vote would have made the difference.
We won some and we lost some, but we never stopped fighting for smart legislation to address middle-class priorities.
Here’s a look at the victories, casualties and where we held our ground and we never gave up.
It wasn’t all bad news for Washington’s middle class families. We fought for our state’s values successfully.
SB 5595 – Improving the Working Connections Child Care Program by streamlining child care for low income families.
SB 5603 – Giving the interests of the men and women who rely on the Washington coastline for their living a better voice in Olympia by writing the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council into state law.
SB 5330 – Investing in successful education programs with proven results.
SB 5100 – Allowing prosecutors to pursue more child sex abuse cases and prevent more people from becoming victims.
SB 5053 – Increase penalties for car prowlers.
SB 5195 – Expanding the state need to include online students.
SB 5216 – Requiring long-term care insurance claims to be resolved in 30 days instead of 60.
SB 5480 – Helping the mentally ill receive the treatment they need.
SB 5153 – Bringing mental health patients closer to relatives or other strong personal supports.
Here’s the bad news. Despite the Republican majority’s rhetoric about bipartisanship and collaboration, they voted to kill these Democratic efforts that would have kept our communities safe and affordable, including:
SB 5420 – Freezing tuition rates at four-year public institutions for the next two years.
SB 5292 – Expanding Family Medical Leave Insurance to make it easier for families to take care of newborn babies.
SB 5711 – Closing the gun show loophole by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases.
SB 5798 – Bringing the state in line with the Affordable Care Act and protecting the rights of women by maintaining abortion coverage in state health insurance plans.
SB 5479 – Allowing voluntary storage of a firearm with a local law enforcement agency for temporary safekeeping in times of concern.
SB 5592 – Keeping down tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge by streamlining administration and oversight.
SB 5635 – Tightening the process to restore gun rights to someone found not guilty by reason of insanity or who voluntarily committed themselves for mental health evaluations.
SB 5710 – Improving the unsafe storage of firearms in places where unsupervised children can easily access them.
A number of these bills had strong bipartisan support in committees, only to be voted against in lockstep by the Republican majority when it came time to vote them out of the Senate. It’s a sad day when political games take precedence over the everyday needs of Washingtonians in every community across our state.
HOW WE STOOD OUR GROUND
Republicans talked a lot about making jobs and education their priorities this session, only to push bills that would roll back wages, benefits and protections for injured workers across the state. Here are examples of bills there were bad for middle-class Washingtonians that we were able to block:
SB 5159 – Would have repealed the Family Leave Act.
SB 5275 – Would have lowered the $9.19 hourly state minimum wage to the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25) or 75 percent of the state minimum wage, whichever is higher, for an employee’s first 680 hours on the job. Seventy-five percent of the current state minimum wage would be $6.89.
SB 5124 – Would have reduced benefits for workers injured on the job.
SB 5727 – would have reduced wages to workers on public works projects in already distressed counties.