Washington Governor calls on lawmakers for “bold” action
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday called on state lawmakers to take action on a host of issues during their 60-day legislative session, including addressing the homelessness crisis, helping affected children by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and by taking more action to combat climate change. cash.
In his annual state-of-state address, the Democratic governor said “It may be a ‘short session’, but it is unlike any in our history.”
“We must act according to what this moment demands,” he said in his written remarks. “We have to be big. We must be bold. We must act on a scale commensurate with our challenges due to the multiple and urgent crises facing our state. “
Inslee gave the speech in the State Capitol reception hall, which was limited to a handful of attendees and media who had passed COVID-19 tests, and it was broadcast by TVW, the business channel state governments.
In the pre-pandemic period, the speech is delivered during a joint session of the House and the Senate in the chamber of the House. But amid the increase in virus cases, the House and Senate have each reduced their operational procedures on the ground, allowing only a limited number of lawmakers in each chamber and holding all committee hearings remotely. As of Friday, at least five lawmakers have tested positive, and last month Republican Senator Doug Ericksen died after contracting COVID-19 in November.
Inslee said more than 10,000 people in the state have died from the virus, “every life of which matters.”
Inslee said as the state increases access to testing and masking and helps educators navigate the pandemic, lawmakers “must take action today to maintain and strengthen our commitments to those in need now. and in the future ”.
Inslee highlighted proposals in his $ 62 billion supplemental budget plan he released last month that aims to increase the number of nurses, social workers, counselors and school psychologists in Kindergarten to Grade 12. year.
“Students have lost opportunities during distance learning despite the best efforts of our educators,” Inslee said. “To keep schools open, we need to invest more to tackle COVID and tackle the loss of learning opportunities. We are committed to opening our schools this year, but the impacts of the necessary closures persist. “
The governor also wants $ 815 million to be spent on homelessness efforts, including acquiring housing ranging from tiny houses to improved emergency shelters, and increasing the capacity of homeless shelters. -shelter. He also wants to expand treatment beds for chronic behavioral health issues and increase access to supportive housing and employment, and help people maintain both even during behavioral health crises.
Inslee is also keen to see a policy change on so-called “mid-level housing” and has called on lawmakers to adopt a new statewide policy to expand the supply of housing such as duplexes, triplexes and quads.
“Listen, we can’t tell our constituents that we are tackling homelessness without providing them with the means to build more housing,” he said. “This means we need to enable homes that respond to the realities of our tremendous demographic and economic growth this century. ”
Inslee is also pushing to spend $ 626 million on its climate proposals, which include tax cuts on electric vehicles and increased clean building requirements, including the requirement that all new construction that begins in 2034. reduce energy consumption by 80% and use fully electric equipment and household appliances.
“Climate change isn’t just a graphic on a slide deck with an arrow pointing towards calamity,” Inslee said. “It is found in the eyes of people who have seen flooding go through their windows in Everson; the evacuees who returned to see the charred ruins of their homes in Malden; or the Colville tribes who lost 600,000 acres of timber to forest fires. ”
Inslee also reiterated her call for legislation that would make it illegal for politicians to knowingly spread lies about elections that result in violence, “violence that we have already seen in state and country capitals.”
The Washington State Supreme Court has in the past rejected efforts to ban lies by political candidates.