Submitted by Senator Steve O’Ban, 28th Legislative District.
I read with disappointment John Alessio’s one-sided, letter, “Look at His Record-Not At What He Writes,” about my motives and legislative record concerning minorities and the disadvantaged. I’ve never met Mr. Alessio and would have appreciated the chance to discuss my legislation and votes with him personally before he wrote his letter. It would have given me an opportunity to provide him with a more fully informed understanding of my record on these topics. One of hardest realities of political discourse these days is how quickly political opponents, on both sides, feel free to attribute to others the worst motives and mischaracterize their actions.
Here are just some of the bills I authored to help the disadvantaged and minority communities:
- ended fines on non-violent youth offenders (disproportionately kids of color) that kept them from getting their records cleared and getting jobs and housing;
- pays for an advocate for every kid in foster care, (also disproportionately kids of color) which accelerated by 21% getting them into permanent homes;
- empowers parents to get critical mental health treatment for their children when denied care by the state;
- created the new Office of Youth Homelessness;
- created the new Dept. of Children, Youth, and Families because the state was failing kids of color and others stuck in foster care;
- to try to cut the regressive Sound Transit car tabs, sales tax and property tax that especially impacts the working poor and disadvantaged,
- that builds a new mental health and addiction center for those in crisis here in Pierce County;
- that closes the $160 million gap between the cost of operating skilled nursing facilities for low income seniors; and
- created an innovative mental health program for those who need structure and accountability to get the treatment that they need.
I also supported legislation to create new investments in affordable housing (HB 1406, HB 1570) and invested $160 million for grants for shelters and affordable housing.
And I voted for legislation to drive down the cost of health care:
- Balanced Billing-Protects patients from surprise bills- HB 1065
- Requires drug pricing transparency to drive down drug costs
- Other drug cost reduction bills: SB 6088, SB 6087, SB 5601
- Extended health care coverage for poor pregnant moms to reduce post-partum depression- a recommendation of the Maternal Mortality Panel I created 4 years ago.
I have a pretty good record helping the disadvantaged, low income, and minority communities.
Mr. Alessio and I can agree on at least one thing and that is that actions matter more than words. But sometimes it is better to talk first before going on the attack. It may not change minds but talking together may narrow the debate and keep the discourse from challenging motives and mischaracterizing records.