State Representative Mari Leavitt (D-University Place) announced her legislative priorities on Tuesday after returning to Olympia to approve new rules to allow for a remote session. Her legislative agenda is largely focused on economic recovery, supporting businesses, and providing relief for people most impacted by COVID-19.
“Before COVID-19, I heard from constituents who struggled every day with rising costs and a lack of opportunity to get ahead. Now, with ten months of restrictions and shutdowns, people are feeling the disproportionate impact more than ever. I am committed to dedicating my time this session to removing barriers, boosting support services, and aiding small businesses as we all navigate this pandemic together,” said Leavitt.
Leavitt has introduced multiple bills so far this session, including an expansion of a small business tax credit program that also supports WA manufacturers a, a Department of Defense priority bill to remove barriers to occupational licensing, and expanded assistance to families in need. Rail safety, in light of the accident in 2017 in DuPont and recent derailments, also continues to be a matter of focus.
HB 1033 extends a tax credit program for small businesses and Washington manufacturers working with students in customized training programs.
HB 1043 improves access to audiology and speech-language pathology services by streamlining licenses. This bill, a Department of Defense priority, aims to help service members and their spouses, as well as other residents, with licenses in other states who want to pursue their career in Washington state.
HB 1044 creates pathways from prison to postsecondary education. More than 90% of people in prisons will be released at some point, and educational programs are a proven way to reduce recidivism, set individuals up for success by gaining an employable skill, and increase public safety.
HB 1151 bolsters economic recovery by providing critical assistance to low-income households in need and sets the stage for the state Department of Social and Health Services to update the “standard of need” that was last updated in 1991.
HB 1242 provides paid administrative leave for health care workers in time of declared public emergencies. Front-line workers deserve fair pay, particularly during COVID-19, due to the risks they take for themselves and their families.
Additionally, Leavitt has introduced HB 1161, which creates a pilot program to serve homeless and foster care college students who are at high-risk of dropping out of postsecondary programs. That means they wouldn’t finish their certificate or degree and could lose out on jobs that could sustain them and their families. Similar programs have shown success at helping students in need.
“While I know this is a strange time for lawmakers as most of us work from home or district offices, I am excited for the work we will do to help small businesses, working families, military service members, veterans, and enhancing public health so that we can get past this pandemic together,” said Leavitt. “I want all of my constituents to know that I am still available and accessible to them and I look forward to advocating for them.”
Constituents interested in learning how to access the legislature remotely should visit leg.wa.gov/.