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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We've reached the end of the regularly scheduled 2020 session. For the past several days my colleagues and I have been deliberating and voting on bills. The amount of work that has been accomplished is staggering. I'd like to thank all the people back home that called or emailed me with their concerns or support for many of these measures. Your input provides the basis for all of my decisions in Olympia.
The Comprehensive Sex Education bill
Parents from across the state came to Olympia this week to protest the recently approved sex education bill. As a member of the House Education Committee, I had a front-row seat to the debate on this bill. I voted “no” on the measure in committee and on the House floor.
Part of the responsibilities of the Comprehensive Sexual Health Education workgroup (CSHE) created in 2019 was to conduct a survey. Nearly 10,000 respondents, three-quarters of them women, were questioned—58% said K-12 sexual health education should NOT be required by the state. The CSHE group flatly rejected this input from the public and moved forward with the bill.
Senate Bill 5395 would require every public school in Washington to provide comprehensive sex education in all grades by the 2022-23 school year. Many parents believe the state-mandated standards are too graphic for young children. I agree.
I'm also concerned that the bill erodes local control. Instead of locally elected school boards determining what's best for their students, state bureaucrats will make those decisions. While it's true school districts can choose their own curriculum—under this bill it must meet OSPI's standards. This is more stringent than any curricula selection process currently in place for other subjects like math, literature or science.
Unfortunately, after receiving the majority party's approval in both the House and Senate, the bill now heads to the governor for signature. At this point, we can only hope he vetoes the measure.
Washington's emerging space economy
Washington state has a big stake in the emerging space economy. As a former engineer for military and aerospace products, I was happy to support House Bill 2596, which would bolster efforts to expand the space business sector in Washington state. According to a study by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the industry contributes $1.8 billion to our state's economy and employs 6,200 people. The bill was unanimously approved in the House, but it stalled in the Senate. During the interim, I'll be working with my colleagues to see this bill gets reintroduced next year.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources
Several of you have reached out to my office for additional information on the spread and treatment for COVID-19. We are fortunate in Washington to have expert public health officials with experience in responding to these types of situations. Although the immediate risk to the general public remains low, this is an incredibly fluid situation.
If someone believes they are showing symptoms:
Call your doctor—do not go to the hospital. The doctor will make an assessment about next steps. If it requires a COVID-19 test, the doctor will then contact public health officials and they will arrange a test. The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.
For more information:
- DOH Coronavirus Resource page
- CDC Coronavirus Information
- Local Public Health Offices around WA
- Public Health – Seattle & King County Coronavirus Updates
Staying in touch
I'll be sending additional information in the days to come on the results of this year's legislative session. As always, if you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office.
It's an honor to serve you!
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7808 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000