The following newsletter was sent to subscribers to Sen. Walsh’s Report from Olympia March 3, 2017. To subscribe to Sen. Walsh’s newsletter, click here.
Dear friends and neighbors,
One of the big-picture proposals before this year’s Legislature is the creation of a new Department of Children, Youth and Families. This agency would bring together existing state programs that aim to improve the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
I am a strong supporter of this proposal. Last year I served on a blue-ribbon commission that studied this idea, which already has been implemented in six other states. This department would allow us to shift our emphasis from intervening when problems occur to preventing them from happening in the first place. When we empower families to raise their own children, we reduce the burden on social services – and we save money in the long run.
You can see last week’s hearing on Senate Bill 5498 above. Although the bill did not pass the Senate Ways and Means Committee before last week’s deadline, a companion version of the bill awaits action in the House, and the new department is sure to be a topic of discussion when we consider the state budget this year.
Voting rights act debate
On Thursday, I spoke in favor of the Voting Rights Act, SB 5068, and ultimately voted for the bill. But I noted that the bill raises important points. All of us who serve do our best to represent our constituents, regardless of race or ethnic background. And we Americans should all exercise our right to vote. You can see my speech by clicking here or on the video.
Meeting with home-care workers
Senate takes action to protect rural wells
We’re at the point of our legislative session when action moves to the Senate floor. We’ll be working into the evenings to pass the hundreds of bills that survived last week’s committee cutoff. We face another deadline next Friday to pass all the bills that originated in the Senate.
Among the dozens of bills we have passed so far is an important measure that protects the right of rural property owners to drill wells and obtain building permits. I am a co-sponsor of SB 5239, which fixes a problem created last fall by a Supreme Court decision requiring rural landowners to obtain costly water studies.
Also passing the Senate this week was my oral health bill, SB 5540, which creates a dental program for pregnant women and diabetics who are Medicaid recipients. The program will save the state money in the long run, by encouraging preventive care. You can read about it here.
Paying tribute to Gina Grant Bull
Last week the House and Senate paid tribute to the late Gina Grant Bull, the Walla Walla native who spent a career at the statehouse, and served as page supervisor in the House of Representatives. Gina was the daughter of the late Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla. Her death reminds us of the relationships that bind together the legislative family. We hope to honor her memory this year by creating a legislative page scholarship in her name. SB 5346, which I am sponsoring, won unanimous approval in the Senate Friday, 44-0. You can read about it here.
Meeting with Early Learning Coalition
If you have questions about bills being considered by the Legislature, or general questions about state government, I encourage you to get in touch with me. You can do so using the contact information below.
I look forward to hearing from you.