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May 8, 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

You will no longer need a stamp to mail your ballot in King County as a result of legislation we passed at the council on Monday, May 7. This is a smart decision that makes fiscal sense while increasing access to the ballot box. People shouldn’t have to pay to vote. It’s the right thing to do.

Prior to our vote, if someone returned a ballot without postage some post offices would forward the ballot along but the county would have to cover the cost – roughly $1.70. That’s more than three times the existing rate! Now with postage covered at a flat rate, the county will be able to budget accordingly.

Perhaps most important, the measure is widely expected to increase voter access and participation. Pilot projects conducted this winter by the County demonstrated increases in voter turnout.

The ordinance passed 7-2. I was pleased to co-sponsor this measure and I’m thankful to King County Elections Director Julie Wise for championing this effort.

Elected officials should do everything in our power to improve access to democracy. I am confident prepaid postage will go a long way towards doing just that. Click here to read more.

Thanks for taking the time to read my e-news. Below you will find more information on important issues I’ve been working on. Stay tuned for more updates!


Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Barón receives MLK Medal of Distinguished Service

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Jorge Baron and his wife Tyler Crone

For his work throughout the region fighting for those who arrive in the U.S. as immigrants, I presented Jorge Barón, Executive Director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), with the District 4 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.

Jorge joined the NWIRP— a nationally-recognized legal services organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees—in 2006 as a staff attorney for two years prior to becoming its director in 2008. NWIRP has been active in the battle to defend the rights of both undocumented residents and those fearing deportation as a result of the efforts of the Trump Administration.

Jorge truly exemplifies what Dr. King stood for by fighting for a world that is inclusive and welcoming to all people regardless of where they were born or how they got here. Click here to read more.

Council recognizes Nordic influence in King County

In early May, I presented the “Nordic Month” proclamation to officials of the Nordic Museum, including Sheila Stickel, Communications; Eric Nelson, CEO; and Jan Colbrese, Director of External Affairs.

Last week, I sponsored a proclamation declaring the month of May “Nordic Month” in King County. This proclamation had special significance because it was presented the same week as the grand opening of the new Nordic Museum in Ballard.

The Nordic Museum was originally housed in the old Webster School building built in 1907 and leased from the Seattle School District since 1980. A fundraising effort spanning nearly two decades raised $52 million to build the new modern 57,000-sq. ft. museum and cultural center on Market Street. I was pleased to help secure funding for the project in several state capital budgets.

Last Tuesday, the museum held a grand opening preview reception for members, board members, volunteers, elected officials and other members of the community. I spoke at the event and delivered some of my remarks in Norwegian having Norwegian ancestry from my maternal grandfather who’d been an immigrant. The museum opened to the public on May 5 at which the Crown Princess of Denmark and the President of Iceland attended.

Our Nordic ancestors have played an enormous role in the development and character of King County This new facility stands as an important reminder of the positive impact immigrants have had and continue to make on our country and community.

Infants at work

Last week, the council unanimously passed legislation I co-sponsored to implement an "Infants at Work" pilot program for King County employees. This would be similar to the "Infants at Work" programs launched at the state-level allowing employees to bring babies – 6 weeks to 6 months – with them to their jobs under certain circumstances.

These programs are not only important because they allow young parents to spend more time with their newborn children, but because they are proven to improve employee retention and satisfaction without sacrificing productivity.

Keep in mind that this is just a pilot program, so I introduced an amendment that was adopted that required an evaluative assessment of the program so we can be sure it is working and can constructively address any issues that may arise.

Special thanks to Councilmember Rod Dembowski for being the prime sponsor.

Email: jeanne.kohl-welles@kingcounty.gov
Website: www.kingcounty.gov/kohl-welles
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CMKohlWelles
Twitter: twitter.com/KCCKohlWelles
Blog: kccjeanneblog.com
Telephone: 206-477-1004
Address: King County Council, 516 Third Ave, Suite 1200, Seattle, WA 98104-3272