Legislative Accomplishments

Since I was first elected in 2006, the Legislature has made great progress on health care (providing for health coverage for all Washington kids, mental health parity, and expanding Medicaid); public education (passing simple majority approval for school levies and redefining and dramatically increasing funding for K-12 "basic education", which now makes up over 50% of the operating budget); the environment (including significant funding for the cleanup of Puget Sound, a plan to free our entire electric grid from any connection to fossil fuels, and bans on toxic flame retardants, toxic toys, bisphenol A, copper brake pads, and phosphorus in fertilizer); and civil rights (including parentage rights for same-sex couples and the historic passage of marriage equality in the 2012 session, as well as the DREAM Act, Voting Rights Act, and a legal defense fund for immigrants).

In the 2019 session, I focused on making sure that Seattle Public Schools and Seattle taxpayers would be treated fairly. I continued to advocate for construction money for Seattle Public Schools to address the dramatic enrollment growth of the last few years, securing over $20 million in the capital budget. I also worked hard on gun safety; abolition of the death penalty; reform of our wrongful death statutes; reform of our condo liability laws; and reform of the guardianship system.

I am proud to have been the prime sponsor of 66 bills that have been signed into law by the Governor in my seven sessions in the House and six in the Senate. Those included:

  • Giving grandparents and other relatives the right to petition a court for visitation with a child;
  • Giving Washington patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness the right to try investigational medical products;
  • Permitting disposition of human remains through natural organic reduction or alkaline hydrolysis;
  • Creating a first-in-the nation program for people with mental health challenges to waive their firearm rights voluntarily;
  • Reforming our guardianship laws to protect children whose parents cannot care for them and vulnerable adults, including people with developmental disabilities;
  • Establishing a housing voucher program for foster youth when they turn 18 to make sure they do not become homeless;
  • Updating our parentage law to protect same-sex couples and their children and replace our criminal prohibition on compensated surrogacy with a regulated structure to protect kids, intended parents, and women acting as surrogates;
  • Revising our involuntary commitment laws to make it easier for violent mentally ill offenders to be kept off of the streets and given the treatment that they need;
  • Establishing a new set of rules for condo associations, homeowners associations, and cooperatives to protect homeowners and their investments in their homes;
  • Creating a new type of corporation, the "social purpose corporation," to allow for-profit businesses to consider social or environmental good, and not just profit, in corporate decisions;
  • Protecting victims of domestic violence from contact with their abusers;
  • Recognizing Juneteenth, the day on which the last slaves in the United States were freed, as a statewide day of remembrance;
  • Modernizing the rules regarding the investment and spending of endowment funds by nonprofits and educational institutions; and
  • Protecting our unique and historic houseboat communities.

For five years, I served as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over family law issues such as marriage, adoption and child support; commercial law; landlord/tenant issues; real estate; intellectual property; domestic violence; consumer protection; constitutional rights; and the court system.  In January 2018, I became the chair of Senate Law & Justice Committee], which has jurisdiction over gun issues; family law; commercial law; adult criminal law; real estate issues; constitutional rights; and the court system. I also serve on the Senate Ways & Means Committee, the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, and the Senate Rules Committee, as well as the Legislative Ethics Board , the Office of Public Defense Advisory Committee , and the Statute Law Committee. I was appointed by Governor Gregoire in 2010 to serve on the Uniform Law Commission.

I have also been working hard to change the conversation in our state about tax reform. In 2011, I helped organize and was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to overturn the two-thirds supermajority requirement for increasing taxes imposed by Tim Eyman's Initiatives 960, 1053 and 1185. On February 28, 2013, the Washington Supreme Court struck down the supermajority requirement and reinstated majority rule on tax policy in the Washington Legislature. This was a tremendous victory for the citizens of our state. We put the decision to immediate use in passing over $300 million in new revenue for the 2013-15 budget. The change was also critical to the success in 2016 of the transportation funding package and our education funding increases in 2017. In the longer term, I look forward to having a fair chance to enact significant and progressive tax reform, including taxing capital gains.

You can visit my homepage on the Senate Democrats site at and look at a list of bills that I have sponsored to benefit the 43rd district and our state.

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The artwork on this page is by Seattle artist Matt Bazemore and is used with permission. If you like his work, please visit www.mattbazemore.com