Lawmakers have repeatedly indicated that addressing homelessness and improving Washington’s mental health system will be top priorities during the upcoming legislative session. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats reinforced the importance of these issues by announcing the creation of two new legislative committees that will specifically focus on behavioral health and housing.
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During the 2019 legislative session, Sen. Patty Kuderer will chair the new Housing Stability & Affordability Committee and Sen. Manka Dhingra will chair the new Behavioral Health Subcommittee.
“I’ve heard from people across the state, and these two issues consistently rise to the top,” said newly-elected Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig in a prepared statement. “Every community, and really every family, has in some way been touched by a mental health crisis and the intersection between that issue and our state’s housing and homelessness crisis is clear as glass. The creation of these new committees will enable us to intensify our efforts to create solutions in these areas while providing Washingtonians more opportunity to articulate their needs.”
The Senate also announced the creation of an additional environmental oversight committee in time for the 2019 legislative session. The new committee, the Senate Environment & Tourism Committee, will be chaired by Sen. Kevin Ranker and will focus on water quality, protecting Washington’s ecosystems, and supporting tourism in the state.
Along with the announcement of the three new committees, Senate Democrats announced the Chairs and democratic members of all of the Senate committees, as well as a majority of their leadership team.
Senate Committee Chairs:
- Kevin Van De Wege: Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks
- Lisa Wellman: Early Learning & K-12 Education
- Reuven Carlyle: Energy, Climate & Technology
- Kevin Ranker: Environment & Tourism
- Mark Mullet: Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade
- Annette Cleveland: Health & Long Term Care
- Manka Dhingra: Behavioral Health Subcommittee
- Guy Palumbo: Higher Education & Workforce Development
- Patty Kuderer: Housing Stability & Affordability
- Jeannie Darneille: Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation
- Karen Keiser: Labor & Commerce
- Jamie Pedersen: Law & Justice
- Dean Takko: Local Government
- Sam Hunt: State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections
- Steve Hobbs: Transportation
- Christine Rolfes: Ways & Means
The full list of all committee members is available here.
The 2019 Legislature will begin January 14th and will run for 105 days.