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06/11/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
06/11/2021   Department of Homeland Security

Biden Administration Reaffirms Commitment to Serious Policy Solutions for Border Management

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the agency’s plan for funds the previous administration was planning to use for construction of a border wall at the Southwest border of the United States. The plan fulfills a requirement of President Biden’s Proclamation ending the diversion of funds for border wall, and outlines steps DHS will take to end wall expansion to the extent permitted by law and address life, safety, and environmental concerns.  

The prior administration planned to spend over $15 billion on wall construction, and diverted over $10 billion of those funds from military projects and other sources. The Department of Defense is terminating all border wall projects using the diverted funds, and returning the remaining, unobligated funds to their original sources.

Congress provided DHS with some funding for border barrier projects, which the agency is legally required to use consistent with their appropriated purpose. In doing so, DHS will prioritize the remaining border barrier funds to address and remediate urgent life, safety, and environmental issues resulting from the previous administration’s border wall construction.

For instance, DHS has started repair projects to:

  • Close Breaches in the Rio Grande Valley Levee System. Low-lying regions in Hidalgo County, Texas face threats of serious flooding after the previous administration excavated the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system to make way for the border wall. DHS has authorized work to close the breaches in the levee system.
     
  • Remediate Soil Erosion in San Diego. Improper compaction of soil and construction materials along a wall segment constructed under the previous administration are causing dangerous erosion in San Diego. DHS has authorized necessary backfill projects to ensure the safety of nearby border communities.

DHS will also prioritize using the remaining funds consistent with their appropriated purposes for necessary clean-up of construction sites previously funded by the Department of Defense, including drainage, erosion control, site remediation, and material disposal. Appropriated funds may also be used for mitigating some environmental damage caused by border wall construction.

For those projects that are not urgently needed to avert immediate physical dangers, DHS will first engage in a comprehensive review that includes detailed environmental impact analysis and remediation and robust and substantive engagement with relevant stakeholders, including border community residents, their elected representatives, tribal communities, and environmental and other interested non-governmental organizations and advocates.  

The administration also continues to call on Congress to cancel funds it previously appropriated for border barrier projects so that these resources can instead be used for modern, effective border measures to improve safety and security.

Keywords: Border Wall
Topics:
06/11/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER ‘It’s going to be a difficult year’: Local dryland farmers struggling with severe drought conditions (KXLY) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR U.S. unemployment claims fall to 376,000, sixth straight drop (AP/The Columbian) Washington state again will require active job search for people collecting unemployment benefits (The Seattle Times) Amazon shifts return-to-office stance, says... Read more »

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06/11/2021   Department of Homeland Security

LOS ANGELES – Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti visited the Los Angeles Cyber Lab and received a briefing on its operational capabilities. The Cyber Lab is a prime example of how a public-private partnership can shore up our cyber defenses across every level of government as called for by President Biden.

“As cyber threats continue to evolve, we must adapt to ensure the resilience of our nation’s institutions and critical infrastructure,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “The federal government cannot do this alone. DHS is committed to strengthening its partnerships with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and private sector entities across the country. The LA Cyber Lab is a tremendous example of how public-private partnerships can make us all safer.”

“Cybersecurity threats are becoming more dangerous in cities across America, and thanks to Secretary Mayorkas and the Department of Homeland Security’s partnership, Los Angeles has created a national model for protecting infrastructure and supporting private business,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “It was a privilege to host the Secretary at our Integrated Security Operations Center today and show him how L.A. is leading the way on this critical issue, and I look forward to continuing our work together.”

Established by the Mayor’s Office in 2017, the LA Cyber Lab’s mission is to bring together public and private sector organizations to better protect communities against malicious cyber actors. In 2018, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) awarded the LA Cyber Lab a $3 million grant to provide training on cyber hygiene best practices and increase cybersecurity awareness across the greater LA business community and local government organizations. The LA Cyber Lab works with community stakeholders to increase economic prosperity, including through partnerships with academia that provide technical skills training for those seeking careers in cybersecurity.

Through CISA and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), DHS works closely with public and private sector organizations of all sizes to manage cyber risk. Since 2014, CISA and USSS have provided cybersecurity support to the City of LA and its 44 departments, which serve more than four million residents, including through cyber threat information sharing, skills training, cybersecurity assessments, network defense services, comprehensive full-day cyber exercises, and other resources.

Secretary Mayorkas and Mayor Garcetti Visit LA Cyber Lab
Secretary Mayorkas and Mayor Garcetti Visit LA Cyber Lab (DHS Photo by Official DHS Photo by Zachary Hupp/Released)View Original

Secretary Mayorkas Visits LA Cyber Lab

Secretary Mayorkas Visits LA Cyber Lab (DHS Photo by Official DHS Photo by Zachary Hupp/Released)

View Original

 

Keywords: Cyber, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Public-Private Partnership, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Secret Service
Topics:
06/10/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
06/10/2021   Washington Attorney General News

Free, comprehensive addiction treatment resources available at findtreatment.gov

OLYMPIA — In light of his office’s investigation into an addiction treatment marketing company, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is urging Washingtonians to be aware of marketing websites that pose as neutral sources of information about addiction treatment facilities.

06/10/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee today named William Kehoe state chief information officer (CIO) with Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech) effective August 1.

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06/10/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Cattlegate: Two land titans vie for massive swath of Easterday Property in Southeast Washington (NW News Network) Clear water: Moses Lake as clean as it’s been in 40 years (Columbia Basin Herald) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Yes, your employer can require you to be vaccinated (The New York Times/The Seattle Times) Job... Read more »

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06/09/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee today named Cami Feek commissioner of the Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD). She was appointed acting commissioner in February after former Commissioner Suzi Levine left to work for the Biden-Harris administration.

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06/09/2021   Washington House Republicans

During the 2021 legislative session, House Republicans did more than fight harmful legislation being pushed through the Legislature by the majority party — we offered real solutions to problems being faced by Washingtonians. House Republicans introduced the REAL Recovery for Washington Act, which proposed strategic COVID-19 relief before House Democrats introduced and passed a much... Read more »

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06/09/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Eastern Washington in first-of-its-kind drought advisory with dry conditions across US (MyNorthwest) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR U.S. job openings surge to record 9.3 million in April (AP/The Columbian) From appetizers to tuition, incentives to job seekers grow (The New York Times/The Seattle Times) Washington hospitality industry staring down shortage of nearly 90,000... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: June 9, 2021 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

06/08/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

My fellow Washingtonians, I come to you today with urgent news. This week we learned that global carbon dioxide levels are now at their highest levels in 4 million years. Climate change is not only manmade through carbon emissions, but its decimation is revving up faster than many expected.

06/08/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter last week to U.S.

06/08/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Department of Ecology issues drought advisory for most of Washington (KEPR) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR ‘Quite the conundrum’ as Washington businesses struggle to find workers (MyNorthwest) Royal Caribbean won’t require vaccinations on U.S. cruises, except in Seattle (Miami Herald/The Seattle Times) Debt collector to return $475,000 to Washington consumers as a result... Read more »

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06/08/2021   Washington Attorney General News

Machol & Johannes must also forgive an additional $250,000 in unlawfully assessed fees and costs

06/08/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – The Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families (Task Force) submitted to President Biden its Initial Progress Report, which details ongoing efforts to identify and reunite children who were unjustly separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border under the prior Administration.

“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to the relentless pursuit of reunifying families who were cruelly separated by the previous Administration,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, who serves as the Chair of the Task Force. “When we reunified the first seven families last month, I said that this was just the beginning. In the coming weeks, we will reunify 29 more families. In close coordination with non-governmental organizations, legal, and interagency partners, the Task Force will continue this critical work.”

The Task Force has also announced in its report the anticipated 29 additional families to be reunified in the United States in the coming weeks. More reunifications are to follow, as nearly 50 requests have been filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Thirty-seven of these requests have already been reviewed and granted humanitarian parole. Once they enter the United States, these individuals will be allowed to remain for an initial 36-month period with the opportunity to apply for work authorization. This includes individuals from the families who were reunited in May as well as the 29 families that will reunite in the weeks ahead.

“For too long, families have been separated under the inhumane policies set in place under the previous Administration,” said Task Force Executive Director Michelle Brané. “In the coming weeks, twenty-nine families who were separated under the previous Administration will be reunified, in addition to the seven families previously reunited in May. We will provide support and services for these families to begin rebuilding their lives.”

In close coordination with NGOs, the Task Force has identified 3,913 children who were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico Border between July 1, 2017 and January 20, 2021, based on the “Zero-Tolerance” policy. Through the support of NGOs, 1,779 children were reunified with their parents in the United States under past court orders. Over the last 30 days, through the Task Force and NGO coordination, 7 additional children were reunited with their parents, bringing the total number of reunified children to 1,786. There are 2,127 children for whom the Task Force does not have a confirmed record of reunification. Additional reunifications are in process and the Task Force expects that the pace will increase as procedures fall into place.

The Department of Homeland Security leads the President’s Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families and is joined by the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice.

Keywords: Family Reunification, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
06/07/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Lewison: Capital gains tax will have a direct impact on Washington farmers (Washington AG Network) Cherry crop estimate remains unchanged (Washington AG Network) What can PNW wheat grower do to overcome the yield gap? (Washington AG Network) Discontent lingers over seasonal overtime pay regulations (Lens) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Where have all... Read more »

The post Capitol Buzz: June 7, 2021 appeared first on Washington State House Republicans.

06/05/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – On Friday, June 4, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas spoke with Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard. They discussed modernization of technology and infrastructure to facilitate lawful trade and travel, COVID-19 related travel restrictions, and enhancing lawful pathways for immigration among other issues. Secretaries Mayorkas and Ebrard agreed to continue their close cooperation and partnership to manage northbound irregular migration flows and address southbound weapons flows to Mexico from the United States.

 

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Keywords: International Activity, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: International Engagement
06/04/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Long, hot summer: Drought looking likely for Columbia Basin (Columbia Basin Herald) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR ‘It’s a nuisance’: Container ships anchored in Puget Sound causing headaches for neighbors (KING TV) CONGRESS House Dems unveil $547B infrastructure bill amid Biden talks (AP/The Seattle Times) CORONAVIRUS Gov. Inslee says Washington will reopen June... Read more »

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06/04/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Robert Jourdan today to the Chelan County Superior Court. He will replace Judge Lesley A. Allan, who is retiring on June 30, after serving over 23 years on the bench.

06/03/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
06/03/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas today announced new efforts to support the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening officer workforce, including expanding collective bargaining at the national level and ensuring that TSA’s standards and processes adhere to the principles applied by the Merit Systems Protection Board.  Secretary Mayorkas also expressed the Department’s commitment to improving pay for the TSA workforce.   

“TSA employees are outstanding public servants who work on the frontlines, including throughout the pandemic, to keep the traveling American public safe,” said Secretary Mayorkas.  “They deserve the empowerment of collective bargaining and a compensation structure that recognizes and rewards them for their contributions to our safety and security.”

Secretary Mayorkas ordered these administrative actions to build upon the meaningful improvements made by TSA leadership to support the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) workforce.  TSA will expand the collective bargaining rights of TSOs consistent with the policy expressed in President Biden’s Executive Order 14025, Worker Organizing and Empowerment.  The expanded scope of bargaining will be similar to bargaining that occurs at other federal agencies while preserving TSA’s ability to meet its critical security mission.  After implementing these changes, TSA will work with the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA’s non-supervisory TSO workforce, to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.   

Today’s announcement also recognized that appropriately compensating TSA employees, including TSOs and Coordination Center Officers, is required to improve the morale and retention of these essential employees.  Secretary Mayorkas directed TSA to prepare a plan that is consistent with providing fair compensation.  

Today’s announcement is an important first step to more closely align the TSA screening personnel system to that of other Federal agencies.  TSA will also continue to evaluate personnel policies, including appeal procedures, for potential changes to better support the workforce.  

Keywords: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
06/03/2021   Washington House Republicans

ABORTION Everett removes barriers at abortion protest site after complaints from pro-life group (KING TV) AGRICULTURE & WATER Stamp of approval | WSDA recruits cherry inspectors as season nears (The Wenatchee World) Doing it fight: New pumping house is the beginning of a wetter future (Columbia Basin Herald) Chelan PUD warns of possible low water... Read more »

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06/02/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
06/02/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER State relaxes some emergency COVID-19 rules for farmworkers (KOMO TV) EDITORIAL: EPA wise to restore say over water protections to states, tribes, local officials (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR Washington businesses prepare for a full reopening at the end of June (KING TV) Washington on track to reopen, but some... Read more »

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06/01/2021   Washington House Republicans

AGRICULTURE & WATER Warnick: Ag overtime hurt workers, needs improvements (Pacific Northwest Ag Network) BUSINESS, ECONOMY & LABOR State Republican leaders decry L&I’s new mask guidance (The Chronicle) The tourists have returned to Washington state — but some areas are recovering more quickly than others (The Seattle Times) Bellevue grabs attention of international investors (KUOW... Read more »

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05/28/2021   Washington State Governor's Information Feed
05/28/2021   Department of Homeland Security

The FY 2022 Budget will strengthen border; restore our immigration system; support efforts to detect, deter, and recover from malicious cyber attacks; and combat climate change

The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2022. As the Administration continues to make progress defeating the pandemic and getting our economy back on track, the Budget makes historic investments that will help the country build back better and lay the foundation for shared growth and prosperity for decades to come.

“The President’s proposed Budget will invest in our broad mission set, including preventing terrorism; keeping our borders secure; repairing our broken immigration system; improving cybersecurity; safeguarding critical infrastructure; and strengthening national preparedness and resilience,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The Budget will provide DHS with the resources we need to keep our country safe, strong, and prosperous.”

The Budget includes the two historic plans the President has already put forward — the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan – and reinvests in education, research, public health, and other foundations of our country’s strength. At the Department of Homeland Security, the Budget:

  • Invests in Effective and Modern Border Management. The Budget provides over $1 billion for border infrastructure including modernization of land ports of entry and investments in modern border security technology and assets – and migrant care. These investments would facilitate more robust and effective security screening to guard against human smuggling, the movement of illicit drugs and weapons, the entry of undocumented migrants, and the import of unlawful goods, as well as provide for migrant care and the more efficient processing of legal trade, travel, and commerce through the Nation’s Land Ports of Entry. The Budget includes no additional funding for border wall construction and proposes the cancellation of prior-year balances that are unobligated at the time Congress takes action on the FY 2022 Budget.
  • Improves Federal Cybersecurity across Government. The Budget provides $2.1 billion, a $110 million increase from the 2021 enacted level, for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which builds on the $650 million provided for CISA in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This funding would allow CISA to enhance its cybersecurity tools, hire highly qualified experts, and obtain support services to protect and defend Federal information technology systems. The Budget also provides $20 million for a new Cyber Response and Recovery Fund.
  • Responds to Domestic Terrorism. The Budget provides a total of $131 million to support diverse, innovative, and community-driven methods to prevent domestic terrorism while respecting civil rights and civil liberties. This funding supports critical research on the root causes of radicalization and enhanced community outreach. The Budget includes $20 million for grants to build local capacity to prevent targeted violence and all forms of terrorism, in addition to a minimum of $77 million available under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Homeland Security Grant Program. These investments complement those that the Budget includes for the Department of Justice.
  • Confronts Climate Change and Other Disasters. The Budget expands DHS’s work with State and local communities to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change. It invests an additional $540 million above the 2021 enacted level to incorporate climate impacts into pre-disaster planning and resilience efforts. This funding level also supports a resilient infrastructure community grant program, which prioritizes climate resilience projects for vulnerable and historically underserved communities. In addition, the Budget continues investments in the disaster workforce to ensure sufficient personnel are trained and available for deployment to help communities respond to and recover from future disasters.

 

For more information on the President’s FY 2022 Budget, please visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/.

 

Keywords: Budget, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
05/28/2021   Department of Homeland Security

INDIANAPOLIS – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) law enforcement agencies to help ensure the safety and security of employees, drivers, crew, and fans during the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500).

“The Department of Homeland Security is proud to join our law enforcement partners at every level of government to secure the Indy 500,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The public also has a role to play. By maintaining awareness, we can all contribute to a safe and secure event. Remember: if you see something, say something.”

The Indy 500 is categorized as Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) 2. SEAR 2 events are significant events with national importance which may require national-level federal support.

  • As the principal federal official for domestic incident management, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas appoints a Federal Coordination Team for all Sear 1 and select Sear 2 events. For the Indy 500, Secretary Mayorkas has appointed U.S. Secret Service Assistant Special Agent in Charge Andrew Campion as the Federal Coordinator.
  • DHS is continuing our partnership with the Indy 500 with the “If You See Something, Say Something®" Campaign. Fans and visitors in the area will see “If You See Something, Say Something®” messages, digital displays, cards, and posters near entrances, exits, and throughout the event. The materials will also be displayed in staff areas. During the event, DHS will share the “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign messaging and encourage the reporting of suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is providing aviation support and response capabilities from the Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch as well as tactical communications support.
  • Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is conducting venue, infrastructure, and cybersecurity assessments, and is providing the Deputy Federal Coordinator for the event.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing a Mobile Emergency Response Support communications capability.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is providing additional support to local law enforcement and security.
  • Office of Operations Coordination (OPS), responsible for leading the Department’s coordination and support efforts for special events, is deploying a support cell to the event and providing field reporting to the National Operations Center.
  • U.S. Secret Service (USSS) is supporting counter-unmanned aircraft system interdiction teams and providing the Federal Coordinator and Assistant Deputy Federal Coordinator for the event.  
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is deploying canine support units and Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams. These specialized VIPR teams enhance the security of any mode of transportation at any location within the United States and its territories.

Additional information about how the Department supports state, local, tribal, and territorial partners for special events can be found here.  

Keywords: If You See Something Say Something, Law Enforcement Partnership, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Law Enforcement Partnerships, Secretary of Homeland Security
05/28/2021   Department of Homeland Security

CBP will detain imports of seafood from Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. due to forced labor indications

WASHINGTON — Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order against Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor in the entity’s fishing operations.

“Companies that exploit their workers have no place doing business in the United States,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “Products made from forced labor not only exploit workers, but hurt American businesses and expose consumers to unethical purchases. This Withhold Release Order will ensure we continue to protect the human rights of those working in the distant water fishing industry, while also upholding safeguarding our national and economic security.”

CBP identified all 11 of the International Labour Organization’s indicators of forced labor during its investigation including physical violence, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions. Effective immediately, the new Withhold Release Order instructs CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to begin detaining tuna, swordfish, and other seafood harvested by vessels owned or operated by the Dalian Ocean Fishing Co., Ltd. This is the first Withhold Release Order CBP has issued against an entire fleet of fishing vessels.

“This Withhold Release Order will help protect vulnerable workers while leveling the playing field for U.S. fisherman and seafood producers,” said CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller. “CBP is a global leader in the forced labor enforcement and we will continue to protect American consumers and businesses from goods made by modern slavery.”

Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. CBP detains shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of this statute. Importers of detained shipments have the opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

The International Labour Organization estimates that 25 million workers suffer under conditions of forced labor worldwide. Some foreign companies exploit forced labor in order to sell goods below market value, hurting law-abiding businesses, threatening American jobs, and leading consumers to making unethical purchases.

The Department of Homeland Security, through its Blue Campaign, continues to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize and report the indicators of human trafficking. The announcement of the Withhold Release Order reiterates CBP’s commitment to combat forced labor.

The distant water fishing industry is at high risk of forced labor as foreign companies often coerce vulnerable migrant workers to perform hazardous labor for little or no pay aboard distant water fishing vessels that may spend months at sea without making port calls.

Forced labor in the distant water fishing industry is often linked to other fisheries abuses. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing threatens the livelihoods of law-abiding American seafood producers and damages ocean ecosystems.

CBP issued earlier Withhold Release Orders on individual distant water fishing vessels, such as the Lien Yi Hsing No. 12, the Da Wang, and the Yu Long No. 2. All Withhold Release Orders are publicly available and listed by country on CBP.gov.

Any person or organization that has reason to believe merchandise produced with the use of forced labor is being, or likely to be, imported into the United States can report detailed allegations by contacting CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.

Keywords: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Secretary of Homeland Security
05/28/2021   Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new Dedicated Docket process to more expeditiously and fairly make decisions in immigration cases of families who arrive between ports of entry at the Southwest Border.  This new process should significantly decrease the amount of time it takes for migrants to have their cases adjudicated while still providing fair hearings for families seeking asylum at the border.

“Families arriving at the border who are placed in immigration proceedings should have their cases decided in an orderly, efficient, and fair manner,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “Families who have recently arrived should not languish in a multi-year backlog; today’s announcement is an important step for both justice and border security.”

“The mission of the Department of Justice’s immigration courts is to decide the cases that come before them promptly and fairly,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “This new program for certain newly arriving families will help achieve that critically important goal.”

Under this new process, certain recently arrived families may be placed on the Dedicated Docket.  Families may qualify if they are apprehended between ports of entry on or after Friday, May 28, 2021, placed in removal proceedings, and enrolled in Alternatives to Detention (ATD).  DHS, in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), will make available information services to help families understand the immigration system and refer families to pro bono legal service providers for possible representation.

EOIR has identified immigration courts in 10 cities with established communities of legal services providers and available judges to handle the cases.  The designated cities are Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.  

Under the Dedicated Docket, EOIR’s immigration judges will work generally to issue a decision within 300 days of the initial master calendar hearing, subject to the unique circumstances of each case including allowing time for families to seek representation where needed.  While the goal of this process is to decide cases expeditiously, fairness will not be compromised.

Keywords: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Topics: Immigration and Customs Enforcement
05/27/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

The Washington State Senate Members of Color Caucus today issued the following statement in response to the Attorney General’s most recent action in the case of Manuel Ellis’ death.

“As the Members of Color Caucus of the Washington State Senate, we send love and solidarity to Manuel Ellis’ loved ones and community. The Attorney General’s decision to charge two of the involved law enforcement officers with murder and one other with manslaughter may be meaningful progress toward justice, but we know the process to get here was a long and painful one for Manny’s friends and family, and for so many others in our community.

We also recognize that this decision is just one step of many – including the community-led, comprehensive police accountability legislation we passed this session – to keep our Black and brown neighbors safe during interactions with the police. And we commit to continuing the work to heal our state and move toward a more just Washington for every single one of us.”

05/27/2021   Washington Attorney General News

Attorney General charges two officers with Second-Degree Murder and a third with First-Degree Manslaughter

05/27/2021   Department of Homeland Security

Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a Security Directive that will enable the Department to better identify, protect against, and respond to threats to critical companies in the pipeline sector.

“The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and we must adapt to address new and emerging threats,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “The recent ransomware attack on a major petroleum pipeline demonstrates that the cybersecurity of pipeline systems is critical to our homeland security. DHS will continue to work closely with our private sector partners to support their operations and increase the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

The Security Directive will require critical pipeline owners and operators to report confirmed and potential cybersecurity incidents to the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and to designate a Cybersecurity Coordinator, to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It will also require critical pipeline owners and operators to review their current practices as well as to identify any gaps and related remediation measures to address cyber-related risks and report the results to TSA and CISA within 30 days.

TSA is also considering follow-on mandatory measures that will further support the pipeline industry in enhancing its cybersecurity and that strengthen the public-private partnership so critical to the cybersecurity of our homeland.

Since 2001, TSA has worked closely with pipeline owners and operators as well as its partners across the federal government to enhance the physical security preparedness of U.S. hazardous liquid and natural gas pipeline systems. As the nation’s lead agency for protecting critical infrastructure against cybersecurity threats, CISA provides cybersecurity resources to mitigate potential risks, including through a dedicated hub that disseminates information to organizations, communities, and individuals about how to better protect against ransomware attacks. 

This new TSA Security Directive also highlights the critical role that CISA plays as the country’s national cyber defense center. Last December, Congress, through the National Defense Authorization Act, empowered CISA to execute its mission to secure federal civilian government networks and our nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.

Keywords: Critical Infrastructure, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Pipeline, Resilience, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Surface Transportation Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Topics: Critical Infrastructure Security, Cybersecurity, Resilience, Secretary of Homeland Security
05/25/2021   Washington Attorney General News

SEATTLE — The Attorney General’s Office will announce a charging decision in its review of the death of Manuel Ellis on Thursday, May 27.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

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05/18/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA — Today the governor signed legislation into law that will establish an advisory group to assist with the design, development, and implementation of a statewide database for police use of force. This database will enable use of force data to be collected and made available to the public, policymakers, researchers, and law enforcement.

Senate Bill 5259, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), maintained strong bipartisan support through the legislative process. Prior to enactment, Washington state operated without a centralized database use-of-force data.

“This is a first step toward collecting data on police uses of force and other interactions between community and law enforcement. Communities of color face disproportionately negative outcomes from interactions with law enforcement,” said Nobles. “As a Black woman, mother, and legislator, this issue is deeply personal. With the signing of this bill, we have the opportunity to begin building trust through transparency. Moreover, having access to a centralized database will enable us to make more informed decisions as policy makers. In order to have effective decisions about accountability, we need data.”

Law enforcement agencies must now collect and report data regarding incidents involving use of force. The publicly accessible online database will have clear, comprehensive and contextual information. The Office of the Attorney General (AGO), who originally requested the legislation, must establish an advisory group to assist with the design, development, and implementation of a statewide use of force data program. The advisory group must submit recommendations to the AGO by April 1, 2022. The data will be housed at a Washington state institution of higher education.

“The Legislature has worked on many reforms regarding police accountability this session. This bill allows us to measure the efficacy of those reforms and effectiveness of trainings that our police force receive,” said Nobles. “Providing the public with access to data will increase transparency, help build trust with communities, and allow us an incredible opportunity to collaboratively develop solutions to reduce crime.”

05/18/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA — Today the governor signed, in full, the most aggressive capital construction budget in state history, which funds $6.3 billion in priority infrastructure across the state, including investments in broadband internet access, affordable housing, behavioral health, natural resources, and projects in underserved communities.

“This budget makes smart, life-changing investments in every corner of our state,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “It is the result of an inclusive process that brought to the table community members, legislators, and stakeholders from every part of Washington. I’m proud that every capital budget since I became the lead writer in 2018 has passed the Senate unanimously, indicating broad bipartisan support.”

The budget puts $411 million toward expanding broadband internet access to rural and underserved areas, one of the key recommendations identified in a January report by the Senate Special Committee on Economic Recovery, which Frockt chaired.

It also includes more than $1.1 billion for environmental health, from recreation to conservation to clean-water efforts.

The budget demonstrates Democrats’ commitment to equity by investing significantly in underserved communities through broadband expansion, affordable housing, and community projects, including a new dedicated Community Relief Fund that invests $13.6 million in projects that invest especially in communities of color.

Another $350 million funds affordable housing grants and loans, including $175 million for the Housing Trust Fund and $120 million for an innovative Rapid Housing Acquisition program to get unsheltered people into housing as quickly as possible.

Behavioral health facilities will receive $428 million, including $200.8 million for the University of Washington’s new Behavioral Health Teaching Facility.

Finally, the budget makes historic investments in Washington’s education system, with $930 million in construction funding for K-12 schools, $531 million for four-year colleges, and $512 million for community and technical colleges.

05/18/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – A package of law enforcement accountability legislation was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today, increasing state oversight of police conduct, banning dangerous and unnecessary police practices, and raising standards for police conduct.

“The public outcry over a series of high-profile deaths of members of Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities has now led to the most significant new accountability measures in our state’s history,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle), chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and bill sponsor. “The killing of George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, Charleena Lyles, John T. Williams and many others compelled us to craft laws to protect our whole community by limiting police use of force, increasing transparency, and improving accountability.”

“We worked closely with communities who have been suffering violence at the hands of the police,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and bill sponsor. “These measures will help keep communities safe by holding officers to the high ethical standards that Washingtonians expect and deserve. They will provide more tools and support to the vast majority of officers who are already living up to these high standards.”

“In some situations, civil liability is a vital avenue for those seeking justice to have their day in court,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), a bill sponsor. “Changes to standards signed into law today will make our law more rational and fair so that the search for truth can be fully realized, wherever its outcomes lead.”

The twelve bills signed by Inslee today were:

  • SB 5051, sponsored by Pedersen, provides timely and effective enforcement of state standards for law enforcement officers, allowing the Criminal Justice Training Commission to discipline officers unfit to carry a badge and gun. It also expands the commission so that a majority of members are from the community and not employed by any law enforcement agency.
  • SB 5066, sponsored by Dhingra, establishes clear standards for police officers to intervene when fellow officers use force unjustly and to report any wrongdoing by fellow officers.
  • HB 1054, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Johnson, bans the use of chokeholds, neck restraints, no-knock warrants, certain military equipment, and the intentional concealment of badges. It also substantially restricts the use of tear gas and high-speed chases.
  • HB 1310, also sponsored by Johnson, establishes a civil standard for peace officer use of force.
  • HB 1267, sponsored by Rep. Debra Entenman, creates a new office to conduct independent investigations of deadly uses of force, custodial deaths, and other officer-involved incidents.
  • HB 1088, sponsored by Rep. John Lovick, sheds light on officers who are not credible witnesses because of their previous conduct.
  • SB 5263, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt, gives families that have had a loved one killed by police a better chance to have their day in court.
  • SB 5259, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles, establishes comprehensive statewide reporting and publication for use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement.
  • HB 1089, sponsored by Rep. Bill Ramos, brings transparency to investigations into police use of deadly force.
  • SB 5353, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, creates a partnership model that facilitates community engagement with law enforcement.
  • HB 1140, sponsored by Johnson, requires juveniles have access to attorneys before waiving their constitutional rights when they have been contacted by law enforcement.
  • HB 1223, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, requires law enforcement to record interrogations at detention centers if the interrogation is of a juvenile or an adult suspected of a felony.

SB 5055, sponsored by Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-West Seattle), improves transparency, professionalism and equity of arbitration for law enforcement collective bargaining. It was signed into law on April 7.

SB 1140 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022; HB 1223 takes effect in part on July 25, 2021, and in part on Jan. 1, 2022; SB 5259 has several effective dates; and all the other bills take effect on July 25, 2021.

05/17/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5022 into law at the Seattle Aquarium, one of only a few bills being signed at in-person events this year. Sponsored by Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), it is the first law in the nation to ban expanded polystyrene food ware, recreational coolers and packing peanuts. It will also require increased recycled content in plastic beverage containers, trash bags and bottles for household products and require that utensils, straws, cup lids and condiments only be provided to customers on request.

SB 5022 is a leading-edge policy in a series of actions that the Washington state Legislature has taken to move toward climate change and pollution mitigation. The legislation builds on a bill Das championed in 2020 that banned thin plastic carry-out bags and required that thicker plastic bags consist of 40% post-consumer recycled content.

“The Washington Legislature has taken groundbreaking steps in recent years to address the problem of plastic, and continuing that progress is vital to the health of our communities and our planet,” said Das. “I am so proud that we’ve passed yet another tool to move us toward a cleaner, greener Washington – and I have been honored to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate, industry leaders, advocates, and community members to get this done.”

Addressing plastic and, especially, expanded polystyrene is popular with the public. A recent Public Policy Polling survey of bipartisan participants in Colorado, Florida, Maine and Washington state found that upwards of 76% would like to see more legislation to reduce plastic and water pollution. A majority (57%) of people surveyed say they support a statewide ban on foam takeout containers. Awareness and concern about the 33 billion pounds of plastic waste that enters the earth’s oceans each year are growing.

“Washington has been a national leader on addressing recycling and plastic pollution,” said Representative Liz Berry (D-Seattle), the sponsor of the House companion bill to SB 5022. “I hear from my constituents, and even my 5-year-old son – who told me that garbage is the biggest threat to our oceans – that we must take urgent action.”

SB 5022 will require beverage manufacturers to meet progressively greater levels of post-consumer recycled content in their plastic containers, which will help drive the market for recycled plastic resin and earned the support of major beverage companies impacted by the policy. The bill also makes Washington the first state to require minimum recycled content for plastic bottles used for household cleaning and personal care products.

“This carefully crafted legislation positions Washington as a national leader in breaking our radical, systemic addiction to single-use plastics,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), another vocal advocate for climate solutions. “I deeply appreciate Sen. Das’ indefatigable efforts with environmental leaders and industry to find a path forward that encourages manufacturers to responsibly embrace greener, more sustainable consumer products.”

In regard to expanded polystyrene, the sale or distribution of packing peanuts will be prohibited beginning June 2023. Most portable coolers, food service ware and containers will be prohibited beginning June 2024. This expanded polystyrene prohibition is very similar to SB 6213, legislation sponsored by Das that passed the Senate in 2020. The bill will also require that food service businesses provide plastic utensils, straws, condiment packaging and cup lids only upon request, beginning in 2022, with some exceptions made for hot beverage lids, drive-throughs and delivery services. This makes Washington the first state to require comprehensive opt-in for plastic utensils, straws, cup lids and condiments.

“We must continue to hold manufacturers responsible for the plastic pollution crisis, and this bill represents another key step in the Legislature’s work to address this threat to public health and our environment,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), who has been a champion for much of the environmental protection legislation that paved the way for SB 5022.

“Requiring plastic products to include recycled content will help create markets for our plastic recyclables,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), one of the House’s champions for bills that build a greener economy and protect the planet. “This virtuous cycle will conserve energy and natural resources. This bill is a major step towards reducing the unnecessary plastic waste that clogs our recycling and waste streams.”

During the signing of SB 5022, part of a suite of environmental policy bills signed today, Inslee said, “Today is a historic day in the state of Washington. Thanks to the work and dedication of so many, Washington will not only be the most beautiful state, the most innovative state. Now, Washington will also have the best climate policies in the United States.”

“I was proud to introduce this bill to tackle the plastics crisis,” Das said. “At this point – in 2021, in a state that has consistently been at the cutting edge of new technology and sustainable development – we should not be manufacturing material that isn’t recyclable, reusable or compostable.”

05/17/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig on Monday released the statement below following Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of a provision of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (HB 1091).

“This veto is an overstep of executive power. The governor has attempted to create a power for his office that simply does not exist. The constitution is clear that the governor is permitted only to veto a full section of a bill. In this case he has vetoed a subsection.

“What’s worse, this is the second time in recent years this governor has attempted to invent such a power. He lost in court then. He will lose again.

“Make no mistake, the Legislature will use every power at its disposal to push back and preserve the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches as prescribed by the Washington State Constitution.

“The partial veto on HB 1091, as well as the partial veto of the Climate Commitment Act, undermine the legislative compromises that allowed these bills to reach the governor’s desk in the first place. A key part of the legislative process is the negotiation and compromise that allow us to arrive at a version of a policy that can earn the votes to pass the Legislature. I agreed to support those compromises in order to pass these bills and I will stay true to my word.

“I am concerned that undoing good faith negotiations will severely hurt our ability to reach agreement on important policies in the future.

“Regardless of the governor’s vetoes of the links to the transportation investment package, we remain committed to passing a plan that will bring transportation improvements to communities across Washington. I will continue to work with my legislative colleagues with an eye toward a possible special session later this year to deliver these investments for the people of Washington state.”

05/17/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

 

OLYMPIA Today Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation that will reduce environmental health disparities and improve the health of all people in Washington state using principles of environmental justice.

Senate Bill 5141, the Healthy Environment for All Act (HEAL Act), addresses the disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards suffered by Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, along with low-income communities in neighborhoods across Washington state, putting them at higher risk of adverse health outcomes. This risk is further amplified for communities with pre-existing economic barriers and environmental risks.

The HEAL Act, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), implements recommendations from the Environmental Justice Task Force – established by the Legislature in 2019 – on how state agencies should incorporate environmental justice principles to reduce health disparities when implementing policies and programs. Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

“This is a monumental step in our movement toward climate and environmental justice,” said Saldaña (D-Seattle). “It acknowledges that current and past policies have disproportionately caused harmful health outcomes in communities of color and low-income communities. But even more importantly, it requires covered agencies to take action with guidance and consultation from impacted communities via an environmental justice council.  Environmental benefits and community engagement will be part of all environmental policies thanks to this bill.””

Saldaña’s bill establishes environmental justice requirements for seven state agencies, an interagency workgroup, and a permanent environmental justice council, the makeup of which includes a majority of representatives from impacted communities. It also sets timelines for guidance, recommendations, and implementation of environmental justice assessments, measurements, and public reporting of progress.

“As we lead the recovery effort in the wake of the pandemic, we must also prioritize the health of our natural environment and address the disparate impacts that climate change has had on low-income people and communities of color,” said Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes) a cosponsor of the bill. “We know that the climate crisis impacts every single Washingtonian, but by looking at solutions and investments through the lens of those most affected, we can develop strong policy that will guide the actions of our state agencies, undo historic and systemic harm, and benefit all of our state’s residents and environment for generations to come.”

“None of this would have been possible without the leadership of environmental justice communities who volunteered their hours and expertise in the development of these policies and in advocating for the bill’s passage,” Saldaña said. She also thanked Sen. Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle), Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), Rep. Debra Lekanoff (D-Bow), and Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley (D-Seattle) for their guidance and support through the legislative process.

05/17/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

 

OLYMPIAGov. Jay Inslee signed two bills Wednesday that will allow more incarcerated individuals to access essential transition services proven to be effective at reducing recidivism.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma) sponsored this legislation to help adults leaving prison and youth exiting juvenile rehabilitation settings succeed when they return to their communities.

“It’s about improving the status of people leaving these settings to give them a chance at making it,” said Darneille. “This means providing assistance for finding sources of income through jobs or education programs, as well as locating affordable housing, and obtaining access to health insurance and medical services, including possible behavioral health treatment.”

Senate Bill 5121, requested by the Department of Corrections (DOC), involves expanding its graduated reentry program, which has operated since 2018. The program allows eligible people to serve the last several months of their sentences in the community under intensive supervision. Participants are given access to programming and treatment in the community to match their needs and are closely supervised by a corrections officer while under electronic home monitoring.

The graduated reentry program has seen excellent results since its inception, with only 4 people out of 500 returning within a year on a new sentence – a recidivism rate of just 0.8%, compared to the 11.2% overall recidivism rate for people exiting DOC custody. SB 5121 creates two expanded eligibility tracks, opening the program to more people and allowing lower-level offenders to serve more of their sentences in the community. The bill provides DOC with the flexibility to make sentences more effective at achieving rehabilitation and allows continued discretion over who can participate in the program.

Expansion of the graduated reentry program is projected to reduce the state’s average daily prison population by up to 20%. Even accounting for the costs of supervision and electronic home monitoring, the state will save millions of dollars while providing better outcomes for individuals and communities.

“The state makes an investment in the rehabilitation of people while they are incarcerated, for the sake of public safety,” said Darneille. “It’s crucial that we apply this in reentry, as well, because programs that support people in reentry reduce recidivism and improve public safety, whereas leaving individuals to figure everything out on their own has proven to be ineffective. SB 5121 and SB 5118 address the root causes of recidivism, giving people the tools they need to transition back into the community safely and successfully.”

Senate Bill 5118 expands programs at the juvenile level that focus on helping youth return to their communities as they are released from juvenile rehabilitation facilities operated by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

Community-based “step-down facilities” for youth have existed for decades, equipping youth to live successfully by providing opportunities to connect with educational and job programs in the community, as well as access to health care (including behavioral health treatment) while remaining in a supportive setting where they learn skills to become self-sufficient. SB 5118 will help establish more step-down facilities in more communities to serve even greater numbers of youth by designating them as essential public facilities for zoning purposes.

Additionally, the bill requires outstanding warrants to be addressed before youth leave the juvenile system to prevent setbacks for positive reentry due to subsequent incarceration. It also requires DCYF to help youth establish a relationship with community health providers prior to leaving the system.

“These services are critical to getting youth back onto the right path and helping them avoid going to prison as adults,” said Darneille. “We all need help from time to time, and these bills articulate precise ways we can offer that help to people we know need it.”

05/14/2021   Washington Attorney General News

OLYMPIA — The Attorney General’s review of the Manuel Ellis case remains on track with the publicly announced timeline, with a charging decision to come later this month.

05/14/2021   Washington Attorney General News

First-ever enforcement of the AG-request Patent Troll Prevention Act

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Landmark Technology A for its predatory “patent troll” practices that harm small businesses. Landmark unlawfully sent threatening letters in bad faith to over a thousand small businesses nationwide. In the letters, it demanded $65,000 in patent licensing fees. When five Washington small businesses refused to pay, Landmark sued them. The businesses settled to avoid the expense of a lawsuit.

05/13/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

OLYMPIA – Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will gain crucial protections and supports, and abusers will be held more accountable, under legislation signed into law by the governor.

“This year, we made our justice system more responsive to the trauma of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, chair of the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee and vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee. “We have a continual duty to help survivors reclaim their lives and move forward in a positive way, to understand that trauma exerts itself as a reaction and not just a memory. This year we prioritized survivors.”

  • SB 5180, sponsored by Dhingra, will make it easier for survivors to vacate sentences they received for offenses that were the result of being a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, or trafficking.
  • HB 1320, sponsored by Roger Goodman, modernizes, harmonizes and improves the efficacy and accessibility of civil protection orders, increasing access to justice for those who are vulnerable.
  • SB 5183, sponsored by T’wina Nobles, helps survivors of domestic violence strangulation get the medical assistance they need, and helps collect evidence for court cases that will avert further abuse and fatalities in the future.
  • SB 5177, sponsored by Annette Cleveland, eliminates marriage as a legal defense for rape—a defense that creates a loophole allowing sex offenders who move into the state to avoid registering here.

One additional bill passed the Senate but not the House. SB 5127, sponsored by Dhingra, would have increased access to therapy dogs that help children and vulnerable adults tell their stories of survival.

Since courthouses are closed because of the pandemic, this bill would have allowed those dogs access to public spaces so they can go to survivors to provide much-needed comfort when recounting their trauma.

Dhingra intends to sponsor SB 5127 again in 2022.

05/13/2021   Washington State Senate Democrats

 

OLYMPIA – Legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee will help kids in foster care stay with family members and in their communities where possible.

Senate Bill 5151, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), also waives licensing fees for childcare providers until 2023 and establishes a permanent program for outdoor, nature-based early learning.

Help for kinship caregivers

Consistent with the state’s goal of enabling family reunification wherever possible within the foster care system, SB 5151 allows DCYF to issue a child-specific license to a relative or other suitable person to provide foster care. This will help the state Department of Children, Youth & Families keep children with relatives and in their own communities while separated from their parents.

Kinship caregivers, such as grandparents who care for grandkids, have been requesting additional resources and support for years. With child-specific foster care licenses available, more caregivers are likely to acquire a foster care license, giving them access to more resources and assistance.

“In light of the tremendous struggle Washingtonians are facing to make ends meet during this historic crisis, this issue is more urgent than ever,” said Wilson. “This new law will help support those who have stepped up to support and care for kids who might otherwise become part of the regular foster care system. With this new access to resources, we hope more potential kindship caregivers will come forward to care for more kids.”

“This bill has been 40 years in the making,” said Sakara Remmu, lead strategist of the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance. “It’s about the whole of Black life. Giving relatives a chance to care for their family members maintains connection, culture and community.”

Compared to children in non-relative care, those in the care of relatives experience more stability and safety, have better behavioral and mental health outcomes, are more likely to stay with siblings, and can better preserve their cultural identity and community connections.

“For every child in formal foster care, there are 11 being raised by grandparents outside the system. Those caregivers deserve the licensing and resources they need to keep Black and Brown families together,” Remmu said. “Black families matter—and providing the support to keep Black families together matters. It’s good for families, it’s good for our communities, and it’s good for Washington state.”

Support for childcare providers

SB 5151 also eliminates license fees for childcare providers through 2023, providing direct and immediate assistance to an industry that was in crisis even before it was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Access to affordable childcare is critical for our state’s economic recovery,” said Wilson. “Steps like this encourage new and returning providers to enter the industry so parents can get back to work.”

Outdoor, nature-based early learning and childcare

In addition, SB 5151 establishes a program for permanent outdoor, nature-based early learning and childcare. Quality outdoor early education and childcare provide proven academic and mental health benefits for children. However, studies show that outdoor pre-schools across the country disproportionately serve white, middle-class households. The expanded licensing for outdoor early learning and childcare means more children across the state will have access this valuable learning opportunity.

“Washington state has been a leader in expanding access to nature-based programs through licensing and subsidies for low-income families,” said Wilson. “This bill furthers our efforts to address inequities in access to education and the outdoors.”