Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since the 2017 legislative session adjourned, I've been back home reconnecting with our communities, meeting with community leaders and members, and spending some time with family. Even when the Legislature is not in session, my job as your state representative continues. Read below for more information on some of the recent work I have been honored to do on your behalf.
Session recap meetings yield great turnouts
Thank you to everyone who joined me for my two-day tour in August as I provided recaps of the 2017 legislative session in all four counties throughout the 14th District. I appreciated all of the questions and positive feedback I received, and I hope everyone who attended left with answers and more information about the work the Legislature did in 2017.
Topics discussed included education funding, the 2017-19 operating budget, the Travis Alert Act, as well as some unfinished business — specifically a fix to the Hirst decision and a capital budget.
Whether you were able to attend these meetings or not, you can contact me anytime with your questions, concerns or bill ideas by calling me at (360) 786-7856 or send an email to Gina.McCabe@leg.wa.gov.
Washington receives $3 million grant to help analyze thousands of untested rape kits
Great news for our state: It was recently announced Washington has received $3 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). This SAKI grant will help us analyze roughly a third of the more than 6,000 untested rape kits throughout the state as well as create a sexual-assault initiative team that will take inventory of the untested kits statewide and help law enforcement prioritize which kits need testing. This new funding will undoubtedly help ease the backlog of untested kits, bringing peace and justice for survivors. You can read more about the grant in this The Seattle Times article here.
Serving as the co-chair of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Best Practices Task Force, I can tell you we have made great strides in addressing the thousands of untested rape kits sitting in police evidence rooms throughout the state: more staff have been hired at the state crime lab to help process new kits, a private lab has begun testing old kits, Washington State Patrol will be launching a tracking system at the end of 2018 for survivors to check the progress of their kit, and much more. However, none of this would have been possible without the tireless work and dedication of my fellow task force members, including my co-chair Rep. Tina Orwall, law enforcement agencies, staff, and, of course, the survivors who courageously shared their stories to help us continue our work toward a survivor-focused system.
There's still more work to do on this issue. A number of SAFE bills were sponsored this past session, including my own to increase the availability of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners statewide and to streamline the insurance process for sexual assault survivors to be tested at no cost to the individual. These bills are priorities for me as we move into the upcoming legislative session. You can read about those bills here. You can also stay up to date on the SAFE Task Force by signing up for meeting updates here.
Open enrollment Nov. 1 – Jan. 15
I've received questions from a number of individuals asking about health care coverage. Open enrollment began on Nov. 1 and will end Jan. 15. Those needing coverage should enroll by Dec. 15 in order to ensure coverage is active by Jan. 1.
You can shop and compare 2018 coverage options by visiting wahealthplanfinder.org.
McCabe recognized for support of legislation helping individuals with disabilities, hospitality industry
It's an honor to be recognized for my support of policies aiding individuals and businesses throughout Washington state.
The Community Employment Alliance recently named me a 2017 Outstanding Legislator for my support for expanding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. You can learn more about the Community Employment Alliance and the work accomplished this session to benefit individuals with special needs in this press release here.
Additionally, the Washington Hospitality Association recognized me for my support of bills that benefit the hospitality industry. As the CEO and general manager of a hotel, I can attest to the impacts these businesses have on a community's economic prosperity as well as how unfriendly business environments can stifle growth.
I'm so thankful for the support I have received from these organizations, and look forward to continuing my work on these issues in the upcoming months.
Talking sustainability in Denmark and Sweden
In September, I joined a bipartisan group of legislators on a study tour of Denmark and Sweden to exchange ideas on sustainable energy and infrastructure. During the tour, we witnessed exceptional innovation in renewable energy and cost savings ideas I hope to introduce and implement in Washington state. From waste management, transportation, alignment of windmills, recycling, district heating, green energy business models, and more, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle walked away with new ideas and perspectives.
The tour was hosted by i-Sustain in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure at The Evergreen State College, and was funded with private dollars.
McCabe selected to participate in NCSL's Emerging Leaders Symposium
This week, I'll be traveling to San Jose, California to participate in the National Conference of State Legislature's (NCSL) Emerging Leaders Symposium, during which state lawmakers from around the country meet to share their approaches to effective leadership. Some of the topics will include successful negotiation, adaptive leadership, and essential traits that make a great leader. At a time when our state Legislature is so narrowly divided, it's crucial strong leadership prevails on both sides of the aisle.
Honored to serve you,