Washington State Senate
Washington State Senate
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members reunite with their families
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who served for 10 years mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand, that I first encountered Amerasian children (and descendants) of U.S. sailors and military contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. Many Amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. sailors who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to reunite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. Service members. Today, all John wants is to be reunited with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to reunite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2016 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently reunite with her dad. You can find them in the Amerasian group pages on Facebook. Search angel services are available to both sides.There is a PBS documentary called "Left by the Ship" (2010), the video above, documenting everyday life and their personal struggles as a Filipino Amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers, to bridge the gap between the past and the present. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2016 now!
Justice for Diamond
The innocent animals in our community deserve to be treated like more than a piece of property. They are; living, breathing beings, that have feelings and feel pain. Diamond, the 3 year old pitbull, who was an emotional service dog for an eight year old boy, in Thurston County Washington State did not deserve to be brutally raped and then hung from a tree to take the last breath of her life!!! The horrible man that did this to her made bail today and is back out on the streets in the community, his arraignment is set for 4/26 to see if he'll even go to trial *UPDATE* Trial has been set for July 25th, 2016 @ 8:30am, Thurston County Courthouse. We MUST do something NOW and not wait until it is too late and he does this again. We need to ensure that justice is served for Diamond and her family. This, sadly will not change the outcome, it's not going to bring Diamond back :*( but if we can ensure that something like this will NEVER happen again we will have done our part! And once this trial is over we can't be done we can't be quiet, until we make sure that BOTH our laws and the punishment for the crimes committed against these laws are stricter!! Please come and join this fight with me, I can't do it alone, but together we can take a stand and make a change!! Let's do it for Diamond and all the other innocent animals that have had to endure pain and suffering at the hand of a human being. Let's ride the legislation until laws are passed, with stricter punishments for crimes committed towards the innocent, voiceless animals in this world. Let's help get #justicefordiamond by letting yourself be HEARD - CARE, SIGN & SHARE <3
Save Blanchard State Forest from Clearcutting
Blanchard State Park is a staple of outdoor recreation in Bellingham, WA (Whatcom County), known for it's hiking of Oyster Dome, horse back riding and mountain biking trails. The park is also the only place in Washington state where the Cascade Mountains meet the Salish Sea and is key for habitat connectivity. Locals and tourists from all over the world come to see the spectacular views from Osyter Dome and would also be severely missing out if all the trees around were reduced to stumps. Department of Natural Resources is currently lacking the funds of $7.7 million that it needs in order to protect a 1,600 acre plot of land within the Blanchard State Park which contains Osyter Dome, two backyard ponds, several trails and back country campsites. With the deadline approaching, the DNR is needing that $7.7 million in order to complete the Blanchard Forest Strategy agreement. DNR needs the funds in order to purchase replacement lands or else they will have to log in that special area. We (locals and visitors from around the world) need Washington State Legislation to provide the $7.7 million funding in the 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget Bill in order to preserve such a special part of nature.
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
#ProgressiveDisruption by the States
What happened to make this country the focus of judgment, laughter, and fear from the rest of the world? The industrialized world outside of the United States enjoys a better quality of life and general happiness that most of us can only imagine. First class education, comprehensive health care, clean food/water/air and an overall better relationship with their fellow citizens. And as a country, we have higher mortality rates at younger ages, poorer health, and an impoverished population who can't learn new skills without going deeper into debt. As much as we like to blame Donald Trump for our national problems; these problems were here before him, and they will still be here if Trump is removed from office tomorrow. We have a political system that centralizes power to a consolidated political center in Washington, DC and an economic center in New York City. Our Electoral System will isolate the power to determine the direction of our political system to a very small, easily manipulated portion of the electorate in strategic location. Worst of all, we have a large portion of the population who will empower a mentally unstable man to the highest office in the world; just so they can say “We Won”. This group is constantly complaining about a simple world with plentiful jobs in their communities that are extinct or never really existed. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefitted from and voted against. It's time we said “ENOUGH” and have Progressive States and Communities band together and share resources and ideas to provide a better quality of life for its people, that the Trump Administration wants to take away. And furthermore, we need to ensure that we only support States and Communities who will change their policies for its people. We can no longer provide assistance to Red States, just so they can abuse and neglect their citizens for business interests. For the future of this nation, we need to explore every legal method possible to protect the people from an extremely dangerous President Trump. A Values Based Alliance of the States (VBAS) is one way of resisting this new reality of government, and the dangerous changes that we all know are inevitable. I understand that the constitution will not allow us to directly stop this monstrosity, but it will allows us to devalue it. A VBAS of certain states with similar values and policy preferences can and will use its population centers and economic influence to co-op, share resources, and implement policies with other co-opted states, while not having to depend on or engage the federal government. Examples: There are certain states with a majority of people that believe single payer healthcare system (CA, MA, VT, NY, WA, OR, IL, HI.). If those states passed laws to provide single payer health care for it’s people, a Single Payer Healthcare VBAS organization of those states can share resources to improve efficiencies, expand medical training/education amongst the co-opted states, negotiate pharmaceutical/treatment, amend needed tax policies and petition the US Government. This would also force neighboring states to decide if they want to change their internal policies to provide single payer, so they can join the Health Care VBAS. A resident of Indiana might ask his state to join the VBAS, because he could literally see his next door neigbor in Illinois fully covered, and using a Doctor that just came back from his training at a medical school in California. Although the VBAS states can not legally sign the Paris accords, they can change their internal policies to abide by its recommendations. There could be an environmental protection VBAS, where the states involved agree to abide by the Paris accords, improve safety protocols within its states, take climate change seriously, and provide economic preference to states and nations that do the same. CA, OR, NY, MA, VT, WA HI, and NV could agree to be a preferred customer of states or nations that voluntarily reduces its carbon emissions and address climate change, instead of LA or TX, which most likely will not. Other issues could include minimum wage, education, trade agreements, gun control and virtually every policy not adjudicated solely to the federal government. As more VBASes are organized and more states agree to join them, Donald Trump and the ignorance of future presidents become less and less relevant. Please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as possible.
Trophy Hunting is Senseless and should be Illegal
It is understandable that some people must hunt animals for food. But, the senseless slaughter of animals for trophies, should be illegal in this country. Is it any wonder why people dislike Americans all around the world when it is predominantly us that pay for trophy hunts through organizations such as the Safari Club? These hunts even include endangered species from all around the world. They also sponsor hunts to kill our own animals such as the Alaskan bears and the dwindling California wild cats. We are asking for common sense legislation that would make it illegal for any American to hunt ANY endangered species here or around the world. Americans seeking to adorn their walls with a majestic animal such as an elephant or lion should be prosecuted (read about Cecil the Lion killed in a cowardly way and left to die slowly in pain with an arrow in his side). An American dentist was the last being he saw as he died slowly from his wounds. A minimum of 30 days in jail and a $100,000 fine would be a good start. These fees should be spent on education about the destruction caused by these cowardly hunters in terms of the costs of the animals lost, the perpetuation of hatred of our people from abroad and even the ridiculous amount of money spent by these people to kill defenseless animals in the wild "legally". We are asking that all nature lovers and other fair-minded Americans stand up to these senseless activities which are based on arrogance, ignorance and a lack of compassion. It's time we speak out for those that cannot do so for themselves and ask our federal and state legislatures to condemn these people and pass common sense laws to protect animals here and abroad from these savage activities. As Americans, we are better than this. We share this world with many species that deserve our protection. Let us be an example of compassion and conservation rather than destruction around the world and here at home.
Make Partisan Gerrymandering Illegal.
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." - Abraham Lincoln Whereas: We the PEOPLE are supposed to select our representatives in the government, not the other way around; Whereas: Gerrymandered districts encourage extremism & partisanship to win primaries, and discourage cooperation in the Government; Whereas: The majority of Americans want their voices to be heard accurately, and their parties NOT to be pulled to either wing leaving them with choices that feel like the LEAST BAD or no voting option at all; Whereas: When power is consolidated to a party, it discourages INTERNAL debate and stifles new ideas; Whereas: Gerrymandered districts allow incumbents to show more care for their party or personal position than the people they are supposed to be representing; Whereas: Non-partisan organizations have come up with a variety of ways to draw voting maps fairly and with accurate representations of the population; Whereas: Disenfranchised voters have no recourse when voting maps are skewed based on politics, since it is not illegal; Gerrymandering districts based on political partisanship, to protect incumbents, to consolidate power to ANY party should be illegal. This should cover not just future redistricting, but also all current districts. Any politician who is only keeping their seat because they have gerrymandered a safe voting population does NOT deserve to keep their seat. "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy
Tell Washington State Lawmakers to End Felonies for Personal Cannabis Possession
In Washington the possession of up to 28 grams of cannabis is legal for those 21 and older, due to the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012. However, the possession of just 50% more than this - anything over 40 grams - is a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Shockingly, this is the same charge as many heinous crimes such as Unlawful Imprisonment (RCW 9A.40.040), Rape of a Child in the Third Degree (RCW 9a.44.079) and Reckless Burning in the First Degree (RCW 9A.48.040). The possession threshold for a felony is actually harsher than 32 other states. We are asking lawmakers in the state to pass legislation that would amend the law in order to remove the potential of a felony charge for the personal possession of cannabis; signing this petition will send an e-mail to every member of Washington's Legislature, as well as Governor Jay Inslee, urging them to do just that. If a substance is legal, no one should receive a felony conviction for possessing it.
The Washington Promise Bill: Free Community/Technical College for Washington Residents
Link to PSA Summary: We need help passing a bill that supports free two-year education at community/technical colleges for all Washington residents without a degree. One in four Washingtonian high school graduates actually receive a degree or a certificate within 6 years (based on the high-school class of 2009), and we think some of the causes for such a low ratio lie in the cost of these colleges. If we are able to pass this bill, we can be one-step closer to Washington becoming a state that offers equal opportunities to all. Please support this bill by signing this petition. In one of my essays, I discuss the importance of education. I argue how “there may not be a cure-all, but proper education . . . can quite possibly be an effective remedy for this warped world.” There is no doubt that I am interested in the topic of education, so I wanted to be part of a bill that involved it. This is when I found bill 2820, or the Washington Promise bill, a bill that provides Washington residents free opportunities to educate themselves at community/technical colleges. Education is a powerful tool to change the world because it not only boost the economy but also helps people achieve their dreams. Indeed, education is the solution to most problems in the world, and this bill can help this world become a better place. With the Washington Promise bill, we can close the wealth gap as more residents without money for such education can receive a degree or a certificate, enabling them to apply for jobs that allow a higher income. Some studies show how uneducated people tend to have less income and people with less income are unable to receive higher education as they cannot afford it, thus resulting in a vicious cycle (García). The Washington Promise would improve if not end this vicious cycle in the state of Washington. In the state of Washington, even though a high percentage of Washington residents have college degrees, the percentage of high school graduates going to college is ranked among the bottom states of America. A study from the U.S. Department of Education states how 41.6% of Washingtonians have college degrees while the national average is 38.8% (as of 2009). But, if we take a look at Seattle Times analysis using data from the Washington State Education Research and Data Center, out of the 62810 students who graduated from Washington public high schools in 2009 (about 79000 if dropouts were included), 20744 went to community/technical colleges while 18763 students went to a four-year university. This means that only 63% of the class of 2009 in Washington went to college (Long, Katherine "Trends: Washington State's Higher-education . . . ."). Even more, calculating the completion rates for students at four-year and two-year colleges by using the data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges gives us a staggering 57.4% for the percentage of students graduating from four-year colleges, and similarly, 41% for the percentage of students at two-year colleges receiving an associate degree. This means that only one in four high school students from Washington's high-school class of 2009 will finish college by 2015—excluding private high school students (Long, Katherine "Trends: Washington State's Higher-education . . . .). And data shows how this is a persisting trend, as seen from the consistent estimate of 60% of Washington high-school graduates going to college each year (High School Feedback Reports). Going back to the question, how can such a high percentage of Washington residents have college degrees while such a low percentage of Washington high school graduates finish college? This is because many college graduates come from other states to work in industries such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon. Indeed, the state of Washington harbors many high-tech companies, where many of their workers came from elsewhere—from California, the East Coast, India, China, and South Korea. Even so, we don't think that is the problem here. We need not change these high-tech companies but we need to increase the percentage of Washingtonian high-school graduates going to college and receiving a degree. And to do so, we must help reduce the burden of going to college by making it free (Long, "Why Washington's Kids Aren't . . . .). Student loan debt for community college students in Washington doubled in recent years to average $5,600 per year. While tuition was reduced significantly for students at four-year schools this year, community and technical college students were provided with only a very small reduction. The average community college student in Washington is over 25 years old, and many community and technical college students cannot complete their degrees because of their rent or child care costs ("Free Community College Proposal Gets . . . .). There was a public testimony on February 3rd. At the hearing, North Seattle Community Faline Jett states “If HB 2820 passes, students like me won’t have to choose between food and an education” ("Free Community College Proposal Gets . . . .). There is no doubt that the Washington Promise bill will be able to help students like Faline Jett. We must take part by giving the bill a final push towards a law. Please join us in providing all Washingtonians with free education. Make this happen by signing this petition and spreading the word thereby increasing the awareness of the problem and this possible solution. Sources
Ask WA Lawmakers to Support House Bill 2629 to Legalize Cannabis Cultivation
In Washington State the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is legal for those 21 and older, as is the state-licensed distribution of cannabis and cannabis products. However, the cultivation of any amount of cannabis for personal use remains a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. To fix this disparity, bipartisan legislation - House Bill 2629 - has been introduced in Washington's House of Representatives to legalize the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants for everyone 21 and older, while allowing them to possess up to 24 ounces harvested from those plants. This is a common sense measure that would put Washington in line with Colorado and Oregon, two other states which have legalized cannabis and allow personal cultivation. Washington D.C. has also legalized cultivating cannabis for personal use. Signing this petition will send a letter to every member of Washington's House of Representatives and Senate, as well as Governor Jay Inslee, urging them to support House Bill 2629.