E-News Edition 120

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"We are going to fight like hell” – State leaders vow to protect access to abortion

pro choice rally

Jennifer Martinez, PPAA’s board president who spoke of her experience as a patient and soon-to-be-parent. Hundreds of people attended the press conference and rally at Kerry Park in Seattle

This week a draft decision of the Supreme Court of the United States indicated its intent  to overturn the country’s decades-old constitutional right to an abortion guaranteed by the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

On Tuesday, dozens of state and local leaders attended a press conference and rally with hundreds of community advocates and reproductive care providers. Their shared message was a full-throated affirmation  that Washington state is and will remain a pro-choice state dedicated to serving any person who needs access to a safe, affordable abortion.

As many as 26 states are poised or likely to ban abortion as soon as the court overturns Roe. This includes Washington’s neighboring state of Idaho which has a “trigger law” that would go into effect immediately.

This means patients will have to travel to states like Washington for abortion care. Providers are preparing for a large increase in the number of patients seeking services. Gov. Jay Inslee said during Tuesday’s press conference that state leaders are exploring options for expanding access and legal protections.

Washington state has some of the first and strongest abortion rights in the nation. The state’s voters legalized abortion in 1970 by passing Referendum 20. In 1991, during the lead-up to the first major Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade – a case known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey – Washington voters approved I-120, also known as the Reproductive Privacy Act.

This pending court decision highlights the crucial role governors and state legislatures play in protecting access to such care. Even in Washington state, extremist legislative Republicans have introduced approximately 40 bills in the past six years that would roll back access to abortion and contraception.

But Democratic majorities continue to defend full access to safe and affordable abortion. In 2018 Inslee signed the Reproductive Parity Act, sponsored by the current Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, that requires all health plans that include maternity care services to also cover abortion and contraception. Earlier this year Inslee signed the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act, sponsored by Rep. My-Linh Thai, that better ensures the ability of Washington abortion care providers to serve any person who comes in Washington state seeking an abortion. The access bill was passed on a straight party-line vote in both the House and Senate, and the parity act passed with only a couple Republican votes.

Among the press conference and rally participants were CEO of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Jennifer Allen and Jennifer Martinez, PPAA’s board president who spoke of her experience as a patient and soon-to-be-parent. An array of congressional, state and local leaders attended including Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell, Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, Speaker Laurie Jinkins, Reps. Frank Chopp, Tana Senn, My-Linh Thai, Liz Berry, Noel Frame, Brandy Donaghy, Joe Fitzgibbon and Javier Valdez, and Sens. Joe Nguyen, Patty Kuderer and Yasmin Trudeau.

Honoring, remembering and celebrating fallen law officers

WSP memorial service

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee joined Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste, troopers and family members at the Washington State Patrol Fallen Officer Memorial Service in the courtyard of the Washington State Patrol Academy in Shelton. WSP hosts the annual ceremony to honor and remember the lives of the troopers who have fallen. 

"There is so much honor in this line of work, and it is only matched by the humility of these officers and their families," said Inslee. "A fallen officer’s death is not the end of their story. It is simply the beginning of how we reflect, contextualize and take even greater meaning from what they gave us and how our lives can be a blessing to others by following their example. Their memories will live on alongside the other fallen troopers from 100 years of the agency’s existence."

Learn more about the fallen troopers who gave their lives while serving the citizens of the state of Washington.

medal of honor ceremony

Lacey Police Officer Andrea Moore receiving a Medal of Honor.

On Friday, Inslee also attended the 2022 Law Enforcement Medal of Honor Ceremony, hosted by the Attorney General’s Office in coordination with the Behind the Badge Foundation. The ceremony recognizes members of law enforcement killed in the line of duty or who have distinguished themselves by exceptional meritorious conduct.

In 2022, four Washington state law enforcement officers were killed, including three in the line of duty. The line of duty deaths are: Pierce County Deputy Dominique Calata, Everett Police Officer Dan Rocha, and Vancouver Police Officer Donald Sahota.

Lacey police officer Andrea Moore was awarded the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor. Moore, who was working as a deputy for the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office last year, saved a woman who was being attacked at a home in Yelm. Moore suffered significant injuries that required surgery, but has returned to duty.

"It is always sobering to consider the ultimate sacrifice some have made for their communities, and we can uplift them today by showing our gratitude and respect to those officers’ families," said Inslee. "And we know that the service given each day by law enforcement officers comes with its own sacrifice and challenges to help create the safe communities all Washingtonians deserve."

Watch the ceremony here.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visits Renton High School as part of national vaccination tour

On Friday, First Spouse Trudi Inslee joined Secretary Xavier Becerra and Congresswoman Kim Schrier on a pediatric vaccination tour at Renton High School. Becerra has been visiting schools around the nation to encourage parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.

"Washington continues to do all we can to help young people and their families stay safe, and vaccination is one of the most important parts of that,” Inslee said. “We have done this with an emphasis on community partnerships that have allowed our public health teams to engage with underrepresented communities for equitable distribution of health resources.

Washington legislators more than doubled the investment for school-based health care centers this last session. Renton High School's health clinic, run by HealthPoint, is one of 60 clinics at schools in the state that help treat students so they can easily seek health services, behavioral health needs and ensure they don’t have serious health needs go unmet.

For information about where to get a COVID-19 vaccination, visit the Vaccinate WA website or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

State leaders push back against federal funding cuts for Hanford cleanup

The Hanford Site in southeastern Washington is the most contaminated nuclear waste site in America. It’s also surrounded by thriving communities, farms, sovereign Tribal government, and the Columbia River. Yet the federal government continues to underfund the cleanup by hundreds of millions of dollars. The result is that cleanup at Hanford is now decades behind the schedule called for in legally-binding agreements between Washington and the federal government.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration is fighting for President Biden to propose a significant funding increase at Hanford, rather than the cuts proposed in his 2023 budget.

“We can’t wait until the 22nd century” to clean up Hanford,” Inslee said when the budget was first announced. “It’s time to meet our moral and legal obligations NOW.”

Members of Washington’s congressional delegation, including Senator Patty Murray, drove this message home in hearings this week with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who made clear that the federal government “must fund its commitments” at Hanford

On Thursday, KING 5 spoke with Laura Watson, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology. 

“It's a tremendous risk to human health and environment to continue to kick the can down the road, but there's also just the risk of the cost snowballing,” Watson said.

Watch Watson’s full interview.  

Celebrating educators across Washington for Teacher Appreciation Week

Renton high school students

Students of Renton High School with Gov. Jay Inslee.

To celebrate Teacher and Educator Appreciation Week, Inslee joined dozens of educators and students for a ceremonial proclamation signing at Renton High School on Wednesday.

Washington state has more than 140,000 teachers and school staff who work tirelessly to teach and support students. These include teachers, school counselors, social workers, psychologists, school nurses, paraeducators, maintenance staff, bus drivers, school office staff, principals, and many others.

While meeting with educators and students at the school, the governor learned about Renton High School’s 'Teachers Academy', where they recruit and train their own high school students to become teachers. Since the program began in 2008, nearly 400 students have enrolled and there are currently 15 teachers in the district who completed the program.

"More than 100,000 educators across the state are building up the next generation of Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “To our educators- thank you for the daily work and care you put into educating our students.”

Read more about Inslee's visit to the school and their Teacher Academy program.

May 5 was Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day


May 5 was Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. There are currently 126 Indigenous people considered missing in Washington state today. 

State leaders are committed to the collective work to improve response, awareness and healing for families impacted by this crisis. This past session, the Legislature established the first statewide alert system in the nation for missing Indigenous people. This will provide law enforcement with more assistance in finding these missing women and people. The Legislature also passed a law requiring coroners and medical examiners take steps to identify and notify family members of murdered Indigenous people. This will ensure victims aren’t misidentified so their remains can be returned to families.