Rivers hosts student from district who spurred new legislation proposal

Rivers and ElleIt isn’t every day that a sixth-grader gets the opportunity to help her idea take a step toward becoming law. For Elle Winn, that chance came today.

During today’s Senate Law and Justice Committee meeting Sen. Ann Rivers had the unique privilege of introducing Elle as the inspiration for Rivers’ proposal to hire military veterans to keep schools safe.

In 2013 the Brush Prairie student had sent a handwritten letter to Rivers, her senator, explaining why schools should hire veterans to protect students and staff.

“Elle, even at such a young age, has the rare gift of being able to outline both a problem and a solution,” said Rivers, R-La Center. “Her idea would not only benefit schools across the state, but it would also give a hiring preference to veterans.”

In her public testimony to the committee, Elle said the idea came to her after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Because she has many family members who are veterans, including her dad who accompanied her to the bill hearing, she knew firsthand that the presence of veterans would increase students’ sense of security while at school.

“It’s important that our kids feel safe while they are at school,” Rivers continued. “We know that about 43 percent of schools nationwide use security personnel at their school at least once a week during the school year. The measure addresses a realistic issue schools are faced with today.

“It’s been a real pleasure working with Elle throughout this process and I appreciate her willingness to contact me with her idea. Some of the best ideas for legislation come from constituents, regardless of their age! It’s important that district residents understand how important their voice and involvement is in the legislative process.”

Rivers also arranged for Elle and her parents to be introduced to the full Senate earlier today, as the three were seated in the Senate chamber’s public gallery.

Senate Bill 6466 now awaits approval from the law and justice committee.