Sharon R. Brown was appointed 8th District state senator in February 2013 and was elected by voters later that year to a full four-year term.
In 2014, Sharon was chosen by her colleagues to serve as Vice President Pro Tempore of the Senate, one of two members elected by the Senate to preside over the chamber during the absence of the Lieutenant Governor. She is currently the Deputy Leader of Senate Republican Caucus.
Since her arrival in the Legislature, Sharon has been a vocal advocate for employers and the Senate’s leading voice for regulatory reform, working tirelessly to make it easier for entrepreneurs and small-business owners to grow, expand and hire more workers.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS…
In 2013, she shepherded through the Legislature two bills aimed at improving the regulatory environment for Washington businesses. During the 2014 legislative session, Sharon continued her work on behalf of small business and those Washingtonians looking for work by introducing a bill aimed at increasing transparency and predictability in permitting. The Transparency in Permitting Act received broad bipartisan support and the House version of the bill was signed into law.
More recently, Sharon successfully led her colleagues in passing the Residential Construction Recovery Act, which helps residential builders defer payment of impact fees. She is also the creator of the Invest in Washington Jobs Pilot Program, which provides an incentive for businesses to invest in machinery equipment, and job-force training for manufacturing projects by allowing them to defer taxes and use that money up front when they need it most. The program was enacted and funded through the state’s 2015-17 biennial budget.
ADVOCATE FOR NUCLEAR AND ENERGY INNOVATION
A state and national leader on energy issues, Sharon is the legislature’s top champion for nuclear power. As a member of the Washington State Joint Select Task Force on Nuclear Energy, she introduced several measures aimed at supporting nuclear education and preparing the state to attract more economic development and jobs tied to the nuclear power industry and the growing technology of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
In 2017, the Legislature approved Sharon’s bill to advance research on renewable
energy by improving the permitting process for geothermal exploration. The new law is about streamlining the process to make it easier to explore this new clean-energy
resource and create great jobs in this industry.
ADDRESSING SUICIDE PREVENTION AND WASHINGTON’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
In response to one of the Tri-Cities’ greatest needs, Sharon embraced enhancement of mental health treatment and resources as one of her highest priorities as a legislator during the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.
In 2017, the Legislature passed her Youth Behavioral Health Protection Act (Senate Bill 5779), which streamlines care and better identifies the mental-health needs of children, who often go untreated for serious and even life-threatening behavioral conditions. The innovative measure integrates mental health services with primary pediatric care, and also requires the state Health Care Authority to oversee the coordination of mental-health resources and services for Medicaid-eligible children.
In 2018, Sharon scored several policy and budget victories that help address the state’s mental health needs, including:
- Creation of the PAL for Moms and Kids Pilot Program (Senate Bill 6452), which expands the activities of the children’s mental-health services consultation program and creates a pilot program to specifically address the needs of children, pregnant women and new mothers;
- Passage of Senate Bill 6514, a measure that promotes a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and behavioral health at our higher-education institutions;
- $200,000 in the capital budget for the Benton Franklin Community Health Alliance – Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition to renovate and expand the lobby and interview rooms of Lourdes Crisis Services; and
- $750,000 over four years in the state budget for the Benton-Franklin local health jurisdiction to combat suicide.
PROTECTING THE MOST VULNERABLE
Sharon has made a point of using her position in leadership and on the budget committee to help protect those Washingtonians who are most vulnerable, including:
- Securing $1.5 million in the 2017-19 operating budget to expand the Meals on Wheels program to serve thousands of additional Washingtonians who are 60 or older and unable to cook for themselves;
- Gaining $200,000 in the new state budget that will go toward helping law enforcement officers, medical professionals, first-responders, courts, educators, and others in Benton County identify and fight human trafficking; and
- And making support for those with developmental-disabilities and their families and care-workers a priority in budgeting.
Prior to joining the Legislature, Sharon served 22 years as a business attorney. She also served as a Kennewick City Councilwoman and the former Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Kennewick.