Plastics, housing, tobacco among priorities | View from Olympia

By Strom Peterson | Mar 02, 2019

Reducing plastic bag pollution

Walk down any beach in Washington state, and chances are good you’ll find plastic bag pollution. In fact, they are one of the most common items found in cleanups along our coast.

And that’s just the plastic pollution that you can see. Plastic is durable, so instead of decomposing, a plastic bag will break into small pieces, contaminating our waters.

These microplastics are harmful when ingested by wildlife, or if they make their way up the food chain, by people like you or me.

Plastic bags also pose problems in the recycling stream and to commercial composters, as well as contributing to the amount of waste we send to landfills.

By reducing our consumption of single-use plastic bags, we can make strides in cleaning up plastic pollution and begin addressing the damages already done to our waterways, our wildlife, and our health.

That's why I've introduced legislation that would encourage the use of reusable bags by restricting retail establishments statewide from providing single-use plastic bags.

Learn more about the harmful effects of plastic bag pollution and my legislation to reduce plastic bag consumption in Washington state in my latest video update (bit.ly/2Np4sXu).

Affordable homes and stable communities for all

Washington is facing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis – every district, every county, every community is experiencing this crisis. Despite recent efforts, we simply do not have adequate housing to keep Washingtonians of all income levels housed.

This crisis doesn’t impact everyone equally, as renters and people of color are more likely to be overburdened by housing costs, and at greater risk for displacement.

Earlier this month, the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee heard three bills aimed at reforming our broken eviction system: House Bill 1453, House Bill 1656, and House Bill 1446.

There is no other situation where a person or family could lose something so critical, so quickly, and evidence shows that evictions are a leading cause of homelessness.

Reforming the eviction system is just one tool to address this crisis, and House Democrats have laid out a blueprint for improving housing affordability and reducing homelessness.

That blueprint includes the introduction of over 30 bills focused on helping Washington state build more, build better, build up, and build stability within the affordable housing market.

Build More: We need affordable housing in ALL parts of the state. A LOT more. One of the ways we can build more is by making additional investments in programs we know work well, like the Housing Trust Fund, sales tax credits, and public works loans.

Build Better: There’s too much red tape that gets in the way of addressing community needs quickly and efficiently. Lawmakers can do more to streamline environmental permitting, make better use of available public land, and expedite lending procedures.

Build Up: We need more density around transit centers. Affordable housing and public transit go hand-in-hand.

Build Stability: Our communities are unstable because our broken eviction system imposes life-shattering consequences in a very short amount of time. We are proposing bold reforms aimed at truly and justly balancing the relationship between tenants and landlords.

We also seek to better support students and children experiencing homelessness, and provide targeted property tax reductions for seniors and veterans.

Preventing our kids from becoming addicted to tobacco

If you’re an adult who smokes, vapes, or chews, that’s your choice and your right.

What we don’t want is young kids – some as young as middle school – getting addicted to tobacco. The younger someone is when they start using tobacco, the greater the impact on brain development and the harder it is to quit.

Research shows 90 percent of adult smokers got started when they were kids, and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Most teens get their tobacco and vapor products from friends and peers who are ages 18 to 20.

That’s why I support House Bill 1074, which would raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.

I’m happy to report that this legislation passed out of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee with bipartisan support.

 

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