Improving state correctional facilities

Legislative update from Olympia

banner new background

Dear Neighbor,

With less than a week to go in the 2020 legislative session, I have spent countless hours on the floor of the Senate, working to protect the values of our district while balancing the needs of our great state. While it has not been easy, with what feels like a constant attack on our rights to protect and provide for our families, our homes and our children, I continue to hold strong to the belief that our struggle will not be in vain.

We are currently in that time of session where we are voting on bills which originated in the House as well as negotiating the supplemental operating, transportation and capital budgets. I continue to hear from hundreds of you daily as you share your concerns about issues we are addressing in Olympia and I can’t tell you how important and appreciated those emails, letters and phone calls are to the work we do here.


Improving state correctional facilities

Two proposals I have been very passionate about this year are still moving through the legislature.

My proposal for prison body scanners is currently included in this year’s supplemental budget. If enacted, a body scanner will be placed at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Additionally, a second body scanner would be placed at the Purdy Women’s Correctional Center.

These scanners, used to detect contraband, will drastically reduce the amount of invasive and humiliating strip searches performed on prisoners at our state’s correctional facilities, increasing the safety of our correctional staff and offenders.

There has been no shortage of stories highlighted in the news of a failure of our system to provide adequate care to offenders across our state, some of them in our own backyard. That is one of the many reasons I introduced Senate Bill 6063.

When people are convicted of felonies in our state, they should expect prison time, but not serious health issues or even death due to a lack of necessary medical care while they are confined.

This bill is meant to guarantee that prison inmates get the medical care they need while incarcerated at a Washington correctional facility. This bipartisan piece of legislation would also establish minimum qualifications for the job of prison medical director – a recent issue at the Monroe Correctional Complex. In addition, SB 6063 would set criteria for transferring a patient to a health-care facility for medical assistance, standardize policies and procedures for offsite medical use and general medical practices.

Offenders deserve an appropriate and humane level of medical care while they are in state custody, medical supervisors deserve proper training, and taxpayers deserve to be protected from financial inefficiency and liability. SB 6063 has passed both the House and the Senate unanimously and now heads to the governor’s desk for further action.


Comprehensive sex education

Last year, Senate Democrats at the request of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, introduced SB 5395, which would mandate the teaching of comprehensive sex education from kindergarten onward under the guise of safety. I did not support this bill when I first heard it in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 committee last year and proposed an amendment which would have allowed parents to opt-in to the curriculum (instead of mandating the curriculum and requiring parents opposing this course to opt their children out) – which was not accepted. After it was passed in the Senate, the bill stalled in the House of Representatives but returned this session. Earlier this year, the Senate debated and passed this bill along party lines -- again.

Last week, the House Education Committee held a public hearing and nearly 800 concerned parents, students and school board members  made the drive to Olympia to express their concerns. Students relayed heart-wrenching stories of harassment and trauma as a result of this curriculum, parents voiced concerns about their ability to control the content and age-appropriateness while school board members discussed the need for local decision making. More than 30 amendments were introduced in an attempt to acknowledge many of the concerns brought forward; however, all but one were turned down by the majority party.

When this bill came to the floor of the House for a vote, House Republicans fought for more than 6 hours against this intrusive and inappropriate legislation, offering more than 200 amendments. But in a rare and often unused procedure, the majority party ruled most of them dilatory.  Unfortunately, after many long hours, the House of Representatives passed this bill at 2 a.m. Thursday morning – along party lines.

Like the hundreds of you who are calling, emailing and writing my office, I do not believe this curriculum is age-appropriate and while there is a proper time to teach about sex and healthy relationships, those decisions and educational materials should and must be made available to the parents with a clear and concise way to remove their child at their discretion. Perhaps even more important is the duty of the state to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment and this one-size-fits-all mandate does not take into account individual needs of a community. Oftentimes legislation is passed in Olympia that seems to overlook the need of the individual and instead promotes the good of the whole but that can lead to laws which do more harm. It is time that our schools be afforded the opportunity to teach, rather than raise, our children.  

town hall flag

Join me for an upcoming town hall

Good news! If you were unable to attend our recent town hall, Representative Eslick, Representative Sutherland and myself will be hosting two more town halls on Saturday, April 4.


9 – 10:30 a.m. at the Startup Event Center located at 14315 366th Ave SE Sultan 98294


3 – 4:30 p.m. at Lyman Old Town Hall located at 8334 S. Main Street Lyman 98263


The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 12th and while I will return to Sedro-Woolley, please know that I am here to serve you all year long. Simply call or email as it is an honor to represent you.



March 6, 2020

Let's Be Social! 

Follow me on Facebook to stay updated on the latest news from Olympia

Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19)

With the recent outbreak of Coronavirus in our state, I wanted to share a link with detailed information from the Washington State Department of Health along with some helpful tips:

• Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
• Stay home when you are sick
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow, sleeve or tissue
• Good personal health habits (diet/exercise) help prevent respiratory infections, including coronaviruses and influenza.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Fun fact…

Each legislative update will highlight a fun fact about your 39th Legislative District State Senator!

Senator Keith Wagoner….

Senator Wagoner was the president of the Naval Academy Trap and Skeet Shooting Team