I am fueled by your stories.
I gather these stories at the end of your long, winding driveways; over knitting needles and wine in Key Center; while breaking bread with seniors in Lakebay; and when we share a table and oysters on the far side of the Hood Canal. Through these stories, my community members — you — tell me what matters to you, and what matters to you matters to me.
Since being sworn in as the state senator from the 26th Legislative District in January of 2019, I have advocated for the necessities, hopes and concerns you’ve shared with me: greater access to equitable health care, wider pathways to higher education, better transportation options, improved services and support for our elderly loved ones and those with developmental disabilities. Last session, I fought for these values that we share. Driven by your stories, I am continuing that work this session.
I will continue to focus on health care policy that provides more Washingtonians with better, affordable access to care. I focus on that kind of policy because that’s what served my little sister, Olivia, after she was born with microcephaly. This is my story — the story of a family that received Medicaid coverage to pay for my sister’s extensive needs. It was that coverage, which the state legislature expanded just after Olivia was born, that protected and provided for my family and many like ours.
This year, I will keep advocating for policies that make health care truly more accessible. I’m sponsoring a bill (SB 6128) to extend Medicaid coverage for a full year after a mother has given birth. Ensuring new parents have access to health care saves lives, improves health outcomes for newborns and strengthens communities. I’m expanding access to school-based health centers (SB 6279), which are successfully meeting the needs of students in North Mason, Vancouver, and other school districts around the state. I’m also sponsoring a bill (SB 6058) in partnership with the Key Peninsula Fire District to authorize Washington fire departments and districts to provide some health clinic services — especially in communities where there isn’t good access to non-emergency (or any) care. KP Fire Chief Dustin Morrow and I are excited to better connect our neighbors to health care, rather than rush folks far away to an emergency room — a costlier and less effective alternative.
For nearly three decades, I have heard story after story from neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their caregivers, that the support and service that exists are too few and too hard to access for too many people. Washington is ranked 41st in the country for investments in the disability community. Nearly 14,000 individuals are lingering on what is called the “No Paid Services Caseload” — a queue of folks with disabilities without a caseworker who are waiting to receive services to assess their needs. I’ve introduced a bill (SB 6056) that will require the state to budget for the needs of our community, and to provide case management and assessment to the thousands of folks who’ve been left waiting. Thanks to brave community advocates who shared their stories, we are moving forward.
In addition to strengthening our safety net services, I’m committed to building pathways to economic empowerment and family wage jobs. As the new Chair of Higher Education and Workforce Development, I have the incredible honor of preparing our students for the careers of tomorrow. Last session the Legislature passed a nation-leading investment in financial aid for low and middle-income families — aid that can be used for a bachelor’s degree, at our community and technical colleges, or for certificate programs or apprenticeships. This session I’ll focus on ensuring that students of all ages understand how much aid they qualify for, allowing them to make the best-informed decision about what path to take, and ensuring that we continue to remove barriers to successful degree or credential completion. This work is important not only for the students who will benefit, but for the employers who will have their pick of a well-trained workforce — growing our economy and supporting innovation.
Each of these policies are informed by your stories. Our conversations at community coffee hours, your emails, phone calls, and your trips to Olympia provide the fuel, the motivation and in many cases the critical insight that makes good policy possible. Thank you for entrusting me with your stories. Keep sharing them. Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, represents the 26th Legislative District.
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