My interest in meeting with my legislators was focused on paid family leave. When I think about the issues facing the State of Washington and downtown Seattle in particular, paid family leave for the birth or placement of a child is central. It relates to the Urban Growth Boundary and desire to focus growth in urban areas, the housing affordability crisis, and the State’s mandate to fully fund public education. As a state, we are trying to focus our growth in urban areas, which are becoming increasingly unaffordable. These areas also typically do not have the best educational options, when compared with suburban areas.
At a time when these issues are permeating our political discussions, our nation is lagging behind most other countries in the provision of paid family leave for both parents. When young families are facing all of the difficulties listed above, how can we ask them start families without providing them the support that they should have? It places our families at a disadvantage from the beginning.
These are the issues that I raised with my Senator, Jamie Pedersen, and Representative, Nicole Macri. I was unable to meet with either of them, but emailed with both of their assistants and met with Senator Pedersen’s Legislative Assistant, Eleanor Comyns, in Olympia.
There are competing bills to address this issue moving through the legislature right now in Washington. Republican Senate Bill 5149 does little to help. It requires individuals to fund their own leave, so on its face it provides a solution, but realistically it does nothing. SB 5032 and its counterpart HB 1116 go further to help working families, but they both still fall short. None of these bills will likely go any further this year, but Senator Pedersen hopes to move his co-sponsored bill through the Legislature next year.