Tri-Citians expected to go to Latino Legislative Day in Olympia

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 8, 2014 

OLYMPIA -- About 200 Tri-Citians are expected to participate Monday in Latino Legislative Day at the state capitol.

The annual event organized by the state's Latino Civic Alliance could draw about 1,000 participants, said Nina Martinez, the alliance's vice chairwoman.

Charter buses will bring people to Olympia from several cities, including Pasco and Yakima.

The event gives Latinos the opportunity to meet legislators and attend policy sessions on numerous issues, such as immigration, farmworker rights, education and public safety.

Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver a keynote address in the capitol rotunda at noon, and 25 Latino leaders from various disciplines plan to meet with the governor to discuss the needs of Washington's Latino community, Martinez said.

In addition, Wenatchee High School students plan a mariachi performance.

Martinez said there are several priorities this year, including the Washington Voting Rights Act, which promotes equal voting opportunities through a series of voting reforms.

The act, in the form of House Bill 1413, passed 53-43 on Jan. 27. A companion bill in the Senate has yet to be voted on.

Other legislation includes HB 1680 to close educational opportunity gaps among students of color, and a series of House and Senate bills that deal with human trafficking issues, Martinez said.

Immigration reform also will be addressed in a policy session featuring guest speaker Arnoldo Torres, a national immigration consultant and journalist from California.

Martinez said there's already been progress on Washington's version of the Dream Act, which will help provide financial aid to students who are not legal citizens.

The act passed the House on Jan. 13 on a vote of 71-23.

The Senate version passed 35-10 on Jan. 31.

Martinez said it would be wonderful to see bipartisan efforts in other legislation affecting the Latino community.

With the exception of the governor's speech, all events will be in the auditorium inside the Department of Social and Health Services Office Building 2.

A continental breakfast begins at 8 a.m.

Anyone who wants to attend can register as late as tonight at www.latinocivicalliance.org.

Latino Legislative Day is free to the public.

-- Tri-City Herald intern Matt Benoit is a Washington State University student. 509-947-9277, mbenoit@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Matt_Benoit_

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