Creating Jobs: A Modern and Clean Economy

Gael represents a district with one of the most diverse economies in the state and a 12-mile stretch of waterfront businesses, public agencies, and public parks and beaches from Pier 58 north to Carkeek Park. The biotechnology cluster, cancer research institutes, Amazon, the Gates Foundation, literally thousands of small businesses and fantastic restaurants and hotels keep the local economy humming. Tucked in and around all of these industry sectors is Washington State’s largest maritime and fishing industrial center. The Port of Seattle’s headquarters along with Fishermen’s Terminal, three cruise terminals, public marinas including liveaboards at Shilshole Bay, and one of the largest grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest depend on Puget Sound’s deep-water harbor in Elliott Bay. Lake Union’s western shore host liveaboards, marinas, and more than 100 businesses providing marine services.

Our maritime, fishing, recreational boating, and trade industries play a large role in the economic vitality of the 36th district and Washington State. These industries provide good family-wage jobs, yet they often go unfilled. Gael is working to protect, expand, and sustain the more than 200,000 jobs in Washington that depend on these industries.

  • Gael was named Legislator of the Year in 2017 from WA Business Alliance for her leadership in workforce development. She led the legislative effort to secure $440 million in basic education funding to put shop classes back into middle and high schools. Now, students will have choices to take courses such as welding, woodworking, engine design, robotics, and machining to earn a high school diploma and pursue family-wage jobs in the trades.
  • Gael was also named Legislative Champion of the Year 2015 by the WA Maritime Federation, for her leadership as Co-Chair of the Task Force on the Resilience of Washington’s Maritime and Manufacturing Economy.

Everyone deserves a place and a stable job in our society. When we expand living-wage jobs to more people in our society, we create both a stronger economy and a stronger community. That’s why Gael fought to increase funding and job-training for those struggling with substance abuse, homelessness, mental health conditions, or with a criminal record. Gael has secured millions of dollars to invest in the programs that give the under-served a fair chance at economic opportunity. Some of her recent legislative achievements include:

  • Nearly $150,000 for a commercial kitchen in the Millionair Club Apartments. The Millionair Club helps those experiencing homelessness, unemployment, and underemployment get placed in jobs. They also provide transitional housing and support services to help workers succeed. The installation of a commercial kitchen means an expansion of job training programs that the Millionair Club can provide to workers and residents. Now workers can be trained to go into commercial kitchen or restaurant jobs.
  • Aloha Inn on Aurora Ave provides transitional housing for those moving from homelessness to stable housing. Gael successfully fought for $150,000 to create a commercial kitchen and expand their job-training programs to include restaurant industry work.
  • As a member of the House Higher Education Committee, Gael has sponsored legislation and budget provisos supporting educational initiatives for incarcerated adults, because all the research shows that those who achieve educational goals while in prison are able to find employment upon release and are 65-75% less likely to commit future crimes.


Investing in Our Future: Healthcare and Higher Education


Rep. Gael Tarleton with Children from Boys and Girls Club

Equal access to opportunity begins with access to affordable education and healthcare. Gael knows what this means.  She worked her way through college and took out student loans to pay for tuition, room and board, transportation, and books and fees. Throughout her working life, Gael has changed career fields a half-dozen times. And her number one consideration for all those career moves? Ensuring she and her husband had access to employer-provided health insurance. There were several times she opted for less salary, limited retirement contributions, and fewer hours of sick and vacation leave in order to have a job that provided health insurance. It was terrifying to think that one serious injury or illness combined with no health insurance would wipe out retirement savings and potentially result in losing their home.

  • Gael co-sponsored legislation and voted to expand Medicaid health and adult dental coverage in 2013, guaranteeing access to healthcare for an estimated 1 million Washingtonians under the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. Since October 2013, nearly 500,000 previously uninsured residents of our state now have healthcare. This change is transforming the quality of life of all our people and communities.
  • For some, healthcare starts with treatment for their immediate injuries and needs; for others, it means intensive addiction and mental illness treatment. Gael has been fighting to invest in the solutions for our critical opioid and mental health crises.
    • Gael secured $3 million in the 2018 capital budget for Evergreen Treatment Services, one of the largest treatment centers in the state, serving those struggling with substance abuse and drug addictions in King County, parts of Snohomish and Pierce Counties, and Grays Harbor County. This funding allows Evergreen to buy the building on Airport Way, which the owner has put up for sale, and continue to operate mobile vans that take treatment services directly to the homeless in different parts of King County.
    • Gael passed legislation to establish a free annual health clinic on Key Arena and Seattle Center grounds beginning in 2014. Run by Seattle and King County with Seattle Center staff, the clinic has served more than 15,000 people coming from every corner of Washington State to address the critical needs of the homeless and families and individuals who are struggling to pay the bills and who spend their healthcare benefits on their kids instead of themselves.

Access to quality education can be the starting point for equitable economic opportunity. We must make higher education accessible and affordable for all who wish to attend, at any point in their adult lives. We must support life-long learning opportunities for our residents—without life-long debt repayments. Gael is recognized as a leading champion for equitable and accessible higher education. Her recent legislative victories include:

  • Securing nearly $200 million over the next three years (2018-2020) to fully fund the State Need Grant, providing financial aid to the nearly 25,000 students in our higher educational institutions who qualify for financial assistance to pay for college. This will be the first time since before the great recession that the state will meet the financial needs of every student who qualifies. This removes one enormous barrier to thousands of Washington students and reduces the risk of students taking on crushing student debt. Just ask our Dreamers how much it means to them that they qualify for state financial assistance. The dream of college is still their chance to build a future here in America.
  • Protecting the State’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program, which gives working families a long-term college savings plan. This college savings program is for those families that don’t qualify for financial assistance, but also would never be able to have their kids go to college without taking on crushing student loan debt. Gael serves on the GET Legislative Advisory Committee to make sure GET stays healthy and honors the promise of a college education for these students.
  • As a member of the House Higher Education committee and a former Research Adviser at the University of Washington’s College of Engineering and I-School, Gael is one of the few legislators who has been consistently successful at getting funding into the operating budget to support our university research teams.


Expanding Infrastructure: Safe and Accessible Facilities

Traffic congestion is on everyone’s mind – and it has a real effect on our quality of life. People must be able to get home efficiently to see their families and enjoy their community spaces. Investing in transportation choices and in infrastructure improvements will ensure that people are spending less time in traffic and that our city is on a path to a greener and healthier future. Gael has been a tireless advocate to bring better transit service to the 36th district. Her infrastructure accomplishments include: 

  • Getting $10 million into the 2015 Transportation Revenue Package to expand bus transit on north-south and east-west transit corridors throughout the 36th and 43rd districts, especially to expand access to the highest concentration of low-income housing units along the Greenwood Ave corridor. These routes include Greenwood, to Ballard, Ballard to UW, and Ballard to downtown Seattle and serve more than 2.3 million riders/year.
  • Ensuring that the State Transportation annual budgets have included millions of dollars for expanded King County Metro bus transit on the Viaduct during construction of the tunnel so that we reduce car congestion on Highway 99.
  • Supporting Sound Transit 3’s authority to collect property, MVET, and sales taxes in order build passenger rail throughout the Puget Sound region and into Ballard – at last. To match Seattle’s booming growth, we need a new web of infrastructure to move residents quickly, safely, and efficiently. These are vital investments in our future mobility, livability, and economic vitality.

Our 36th District neighborhoods all have public places where communities gather. Gael has visited with dozens of community members to identify “community infrastructure” that needs State financial support to make these places safe and accessible. She has advocated for capital projects to build and sustain essential community investments, including:

  • Gael secured funding to renovate the Phinney Ridge Community Center. The Center now boasts a new elevator for disabled person access. Now more of our community can more readily participate in community activities hosted at the Center.
    • To protect our salmon and increase public awareness about the life cycle of our wild salmon, Gael worked to renovate the Fish Ladder at Ballard Locks. As part of a $500,000 renovation package with public and private funding, the Visitor’s Center and Fish Ladder Viewing Room are getting a long-overdue remodel to better serve the more than 1.2 million visitors annually that come to watch the boats go through the locks and the salmon climb the fish ladder as they head to their spawning grounds.
    • $1 million for KEXP’s new studio/community gathering space at the northwest corner entrance to the Seattle Center means that world-class music and live productions will be accessible to everyone who passes by. 

Our region is beautiful, but it is also uniquely prone to natural disasters. Gael is a strong and trusted advocate in Olympia to help the public understand these risks, take preparations to mitigate them, and help communities prepare for catastrophic events. She is fighting for funding for the State geologist to assess risks to critical state infrastructure from earthquakes and other natural disasters. Some of her recent successes in protecting our community include:

  • Funding for a new roof, re-wiring and seismic retrofits at Small Faces Childcare Center. The facility is now up to code. We must ensure all our children are safe and protected from buildings at risk to earthquake-related damages.
  • The Washington State Armory building in Interbay may sit on a seismic fault line. Gael initiated and got funding for a two-year community-stakeholder effort – scheduled to start work later in 2018 – to evaluate the risks and investigate a potential move for the Armory. The group will also analyze industrial land use adjacent to the Armory, Port of Seattle, and BNSF rail facilities to ensure that our critical industrial spaces are protected and used efficiently.
  • Gael established the Economic and Community Resilience Caucus with colleagues from the House and Senate, in an effort to develop legislative priorities to protect our communities and accelerate their recovery from disasters.
  • Gael won a coveted appointment to serve on the Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s Advisory Board, where she was elected as Vice President. She continues to strengthen local and state maritime security relationships between the U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian authorities.
  • Gael is the prime sponsor of HB 2580, creating a maritime and manufacturing legislative task force that will assess the resilience of our infrastructure to recover jobs, trade, and economic opportunities.
  • Gael has built lines of communication and coordination with the Washington Emergency Management Association; the Washington Military Department; the U.S. Coast Guard’s Area Maritime Security Committee in Puget Sound; Pacific NW Economic Region; and the University of Washington to build a robust network of maritime security and resilience professionals.
  • During her 5-year tenure as Port Commissioner, Gael’s previous experience protecting our nation’s ports from nuclear, biochemical and natural disasters helped move the Port in a new direction as it dealt with its own long-term goals.  Now, the Port is a regional partner leading the way in protecting our airport and our seaport while also combating national issues like human trafficking.


Safeguarding our Environment


Governor Jay Inslee signs Gael’s bill, HB 2708, expanding qualified alternative energy resources to include liquid and pulp biomass.

Gael takes all her passion to save the salmon and protect our beautiful Puget Sound and natural landscape to her legislative work. Her membership on two key committees – House Technology and Economic Development as well as House Transportation – creates the opportunity to make progress on multiple fronts simultaneously.  We are in a race to break our addiction to fossil fuels. We must transition the transportation sector and our electric grid from dependence on fossil fuels to clean fuels. Carbon emissions and toxic storm water run-off are making certain places unlivable and threatening wildlife habitat as well as forests, agriculture, fish, and aquaculture ecosystems. Through legislation, budget provisos, and the public hearings process, Gael has launched a sustained legislative agenda to tackle climate impacts on all these fronts:

  • Gael is investing in the future of youth and the environment by funding research in our universities. Gael secured $400,000 in the budget to support UW, WSU, and WWU research and community outreach efforts. Students and faculty are investigating climate impacts and advising local officials and communities about land use, building codes, energy infrastructure, and other policy issues related to climate change. Their innovation will propel Washington forward, toward a greener and more sustainable future.
  • Gael is a strong champion for our natural resources, including the species that swim into our district on their way to spawning grounds in rivers and streams throughout Puget Sound. She continues to propose legislation and put pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Commission to address real risks to salmon, steelhead, and bull trout spawning grounds. Gael is determined to eliminate suction dredging—the terrible practice of motorized mining that destroys gravel beds in Eastern Washington streams and creeks. This practice is a violation of the Clean Water Act and it puts fisheries on the Endangered Species List at risk. Our state spends millions to protect our fisheries, and our tribal communities depend on them for survival. We must prevent motorized miners from destroying these precious resources.
  • She introduced legislation to establish laws and policies for I-937 into the next decade, and was the first legislator to introduce legislation so that Seattle City Light can build electric vehicle infrastructure throughout Seattle. She will continue her efforts to create electric vehicle charging stations on the interstate and state highway system.
  • Gael’s legislation defines liquid biomass as a renewable resource eligible for clean energy credits. Liquid biomass derived from woody pulp has been piloted at Seattle Steam, one of the nation’s leading clean-energy adopters to prove the concept of using liquid renewable fuels to generate heat and electricity. This expands the innovation available to Washingtonians to make our state greener. This past year, her 100 percent clean energy legislation, which would have made our electric grid fossil-free by 2045, almost made it to the House floor. There were 50 “yes” votes. The only thing that stopped it is that a Senate rule would have prevented it from getting a hearing before the session clock expired.
  • Gael is a strong supporter of legislation and ballot measures that keep the public fully engaged in the debates and discussions about climate change and carbon emissions reduction. We need to put a price on carbon and generate revenues where we can invest in renewable alternative solutions.
  • Gael vows to continue to advance legislation that she has been prime sponsoring and co-sponsoring for the past six years: identifying new renewable fuels as eligible for state and federal tax credits; pushing towards a clean-energy electric grid by 2045 so our utilities are not using fossil fuels; incentivizing renewable fuels and energy efficiency policies by supporting a carbon tax where those revenues are invested in clean transportation infrastructure; funding our higher education institutions to do research and technology development in engine designs, clean fuel sources, and energy storage and distribution methods that enable renewable energy such as wind and solar to replace fossil fuels as base load for our electric grid; and effective tax policies that support local manufacturing of renewable energy technologies and local service providers with jobs in the clean energy sector.
  • Gael also co-sponsored various pieces of legislation to protect critical habitat areas from invasive species.
  • Joining with her seatmates and many colleagues, Gael is fighting to protect our communities from the risks of oil trains and coal trains. She co-sponsored the Oil Transportation Safety Act and signed onto numerous letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State Department of Ecology requesting a more comprehensive economic impact analysis of proposed environment projects.

     Gael’s commitment to fighting climate change and reducing carbon emissions started early.  When she ran for the Port Commission in 2007, Gael saw the potential of the Port to act as a leader in adopting strong environmental standards for the air, water and land, consistent with the values of the people of her district and all of King County. A few of Gael’s environmental accomplishments as a Port Commissioner include:

  • Gael championed the first-ever grant to support congestion relief, expand safe bike/pedestrian paths and improve air quality in the SODO, South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods. Thanks to Gael’s constant urging, Port staff aggressively pursued environmental federal stimulus dollars resulting in the Port winning more than $30 million in federal grants for port vehicle electrification, shore power hookups, and pre-conditioned air to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by idling planes.
  • Gael pushed for and secured funding for electric car chargers at Sea-Tac airport for hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles.
  • Gael insisted on the completion of the storm-water run-off tank prior to the start of the Sea-Tac Rental Car Facility construction, protecting a salmon-spawning creek nearby. Further, the new rental car facility at the airport uses closed-loop recycling and cleaning of wastewater, further protecting our region from the harmful effects of storm water runoff.
  • Gael pushed for a clean-energy solution for the rental car companies’ shuttle buses and as a result the new Port-owned fleet is 100 percent hybrid and reduces shuttle bus trips by an estimated 30 percent.
  • Gael led the revision of the Memorandum of Understanding with the cruise ship industry to prohibit any ship from dumping waste into Elliot Bay and also require them to use low sulfur fuels and “shore power” to reduce impacts on water and air quality while cruise ships are docked.
  • Gael supported a Lower Duwamish Habitat Restoration Plan where 56 parties have all agreed to allow the Port to create 23 new restored habitat wetlands on privately held land on the river.
  • The Commission unanimously passed Gael’s green-trade initiative in early 2011 that accelerates efforts to meet federal clean air standards two years ahead of schedule. In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency published the results of clean-air initiatives at ports around the country. The Port of Seattle’s programs, conducted jointly with Port of Tacoma and Port of Vancouver, BC, were cited as one of the most successful clean-air efforts in North America. Our ports reduced toxic diesel particulates by an astonishing 97 percent. More than 1,500 metric tons of dirty soot were removed from our port communities.


 Choosing Transparency and Restoring Common Sense

Washingtonians want to know what their government is up to. They want public money being spent in public. The people want their voices heard and they want access to their elected officials.

  • Gael is a relentless advocate for open government. She keeps connected to her constituents and the broader public with community meetings, one-on-one coffees, and social media.  It’s not unusual for her constituents and reporters to see Gael’s tweets or Facebook posts and then have the chance to talk to her in person the next day.
  • From work sessions in district to legislative and telephone town halls, Gael is working hard to ensure that governmental decisions and choices are being made in the view of the public. When constituents can see and participate in the legislative process, we build stronger public policy.
  • Working on complex public policy requires a system where all sides can have a say. No matter the party affiliation, Gael has collaborated with legislators, citizens and residents, businesses, and diverse stakeholders to create sound public policy. Gael is not afraid to work across the aisle to keep good policy the priority. As House Democratic Floor leader, Gael works with her Republican counterpart to get legislation ready for a vote and ensure that all voices are heard.
  • Gael worked with her fellow legislators to resolve confusing and contradictory regulations among four Washington State agencies and local agencies regarding liveaboards, houseboats and on-water dwellings. Her work resulted in new legislation clarifying state regulations and city planning and development rules.
  • During her first term, Gael co-sponsored legislation to require the City of Seattle to notify neighbors when building permits would allow multi-unit, multi-story buildings in previously single-family residential neighborhoods. It just makes sense that public agencies should keep neighborhoods informed about what’s happening on their street.
  • Gael actively participates in the Coalition for Open Government legislative caucus, and has co-sponsored several pieces of legislation directing broader use of web-based information from state agencies.
  • Gael continues to fight for more visibility into funding sources for ballot initiatives and is committed to protecting the public’s access to campaign contributions to candidates for public office.
  • Gael learned from her time as a Port Commissioner that public agencies must work with their neighbors. The Port of Seattle is the second largest public property landowner in King County, and affects the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of King Country residents. Below are a few of Gael’s reforms and common sense accomplishments during her tenure at the Port of Seattle:
  • Thanks to Gael’s leadership, the Port Commission created a Commission Audit Committee. She chaired it in 2010. It includes a volunteer committee member from the public. More than 100 internal audits were completed during her tenure, collecting more than $4 million in fees owed to the Port.
  • Within her first month in office, Gael wrote the “Transparency Code of Conduct” policy that is still in force today, moving the Port away from its history of closed-door meetings.
  • Under Gael’s leadership, the Port staff adopted new policies for small-works contracting and consulting projects, and implemented new community outreach with women- and minority-owned businesses to help more companies qualify for Port contracts and procurement projects.
  • All Port projects and their schedules and budgets – approximately 85 active contracts and more than 600 contractors, tenants or suppliers – were posted online, through Gael’s urging, and accessible to any person who wishes to see how public money is being spent.
  • All Commission and Audit Committee meetings were streamed live on the web and are archived on the Port’s website. 


Protecting Our People and Communities

With more than 30 years as a security and intelligence expert, Gael knows what’s at stake when it comes to maritime security and protecting our people and communities. As a state legislator, Gael has worked to help keep people safe in their own homes and to advance legal protections to victims of sexual harassment, domestic violence and human trafficking.

  • Sexual harassment must never be tolerated in the workplace, least of all in the Legislature. Gael was the prime sponsor of legislation that would have outlined the participants in a joint House-Senate sexual harassment task force to ensure that it includes the voices of all involved stakeholders.
  • Gael has volunteered to serve on the Task Force that writes the new public disclosure policies for the Washington State Legislature.
  • As a Port Commissioner, Gael complied with the Public Records Act. She has directed the House Chief Clerk to provide materials in response to public disclosure requests for her calendar, emails, and phone records – while protecting the identity of her constituents and any of their private data. Additionally:
    • Gael passed legislation defining cyber attacks as catastrophic events. This means that in the case of a devastating cyber attack, Washington State can capitalize on federal emergency aid to respond quickly and effectively.
    • Following the repeal of net neutrality, Gael worked with fellow members of the House Technology & Economic Development Committee to protect open Internet in Washington State.
    • Gael voted to ensure the integrity of our democratic process by strengthening election security practices and auditing technology.
    • Gael has introduced legislation requiring state agencies and the legislature to assess the integrity of our election systems and determine whether any election-related data or systems have been compromised by foreign entities attempting to interfere in our elections. This legislation defines “foreign entities” and establishes appropriate parties to have access to the findings of any investigation.
    • Gael co-sponsored ground-breaking legislation requiring law enforcement to process the backlog of more than 6,000 rape kits to give rape victims a chance to see their attackers brought to justice.
    • Joining with her colleagues in the Senate and House, Gael voted to eliminate the statute of limitations so that victims of domestic violence can have their day in court at any time.
    • Gael’s first piece of legislation, the Safe Keys Act (HB 1647), revised the Landlord-Tenant Act of 1947, holding landlords responsible for protecting tenant keys under the “reasonable care” standard. Because of a very brave woman, who was brutally attacked by a maintenance worker who had access to the master keys to her apartment complex, we now have a law that says people have a right to expect to be safe in their apartments.



Proven Results for All of Us!