On Thursday March 18th the Farm Workforce Modernization Act passed the house with a 247-172 vote; the majority of votes in favor coming from Democrats. C2C and Farmworker organizations nationally have opposed this legislation since it was introduced in 2019 during the Trump administration. We are deeply concerned that Democrats are giving in to political pressure to move quickly on immigration bills; with a dangerous tradeoff that will set in place the long-term implications of the FWMA. We remain opposed to the FWMA as it is written. We urge our supporters to reach out to your senators and tell them to vote “NO” on this bill. While it is being touted as a bipartisan effort to attain a path for citizenship, what is being left out of the conversation is that this bill’s “path” sets up an 8-year period of exploitation that farmworkers have to survive in order to eventually qualify for citizenship. Workers who are injured during the eight-year process will be disqualified. The ultimate recommendation for citizenship will have to come from employers, which further entrenches the longstanding power imbalance between workers and farm owners. Two dangerous long-term mandates in this bill are forcing agricultural employers to use E-Verify, the faulty audit system that has resulted in massive detention and deportation. This will put millions of undocumented people living and working in the United States at risk. The other mandate is linking legalization to the exploitative federal H2A (guest worker) program, and permanently expanding it, making it harder for workers to organize and easier for corporate agriculture to obtain and exploit cheap labor, instead of hiring farmworkers already living in the U.S. Read our joint statement with the Food Chain Workers Alliance here. Sign on to Oppose FWMA Here! Call and write your senators THIS WEEK and ask them to vote NO on the FWMA. Find your senator’s contact info here!
Tom White, one of the lead authors of the Amtrak Cascades LRP, and Solutionary Rail Project Lead Bill Moyer, wrote this article about the future of rail in our State:
by Thomas White and Bill Moyer
Washington state has two potential tracks toward a 21st century rail future, with starkly different outcomes.
One provides higher speed, climate-friendly passenger service linking as many as 13 communities on the Cascadia corridor, with increased capacity for freight trains. It has been in development since 1991 and some elements have already been completed. It would provide clean, electrified Amtrak Cascades passenger service at up to 110mph along existing lines. The phased effort would rapidly create jobs, upgrade service and cut carbon pollution. It could be completed in a decade.
Tragically, this shovel-ready plan is being ignored while another flashy vision grabs the spotlight. That is the “ultra-high-speed rail” (UHSR) project proposed by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s administration and developed by WSP, a giant engineering firm. It offers a maximum of five stops along the route. To facilitate speeds up to 220mph, it would require an entirely new passenger-only corridor acquired through costly land acquisitions and the controversial use of eminent domain, with many environmental challenges. While science tells us we need to dramatically cut carbon pollution this decade, UHSR would take many years before the first track is put on the ground and decades more to completion — if it happens at all.
@Washingtonians: there's still time to reach out to State Legislators & ask that the Amtrak Cascades LRP be funded.Please, if you haven't done so yet, contact your two state Representatives AND your state Senator, asking for:
- State funding to update the Amtrak Cascades Long Range Plan
- Legislators to work with WSDOT to request that Federal Railroad Administration grant programs be generously funded by the federal government.
Send this letter ("Legislative Sponsors Needed") by email:
- Click to download the suggested text
- Copy and paste the subject line and text
- Send today to each of your State legislators
Let's do this, Washington!
This year, state legislatures will redraw the electoral map. The GOP controls most state legislatures, and they are expected to draw congressional districts to favor Republicans, which will make it easier for them to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, even if they fail to win the most votes overall. This dynamic will influence policymaking on a number of issues, including the environment. Recent events in North Carolina give some idea of what to expect. In North Carolina, coal-fired plants historically dealt with the leftover ash by mixing it with wastewater and dumping it into an open pit nearby. Because coal generators need a lot of water, power plants and coal ash ponds usually sit next to a lake or river. Read more here.
In 2018, the legislature passed a bill reducing legal financial obligations (LFO) imposed on defendants convicted of crimes. At that time, LFO legislation was one of the priorities identified at the 2017 Justice Summit. LFO’s are court costs and other financial costs that recently incarcerated people are required to pay after release, and they can deter them from paying other costs such as housing or job searches. HB 1412 would reduce these costs even more because it:
- Allows a court to refrain from imposing or waive full or partial restitution and accrued interest owed to any insurer or entity that is not an individual if the offender does not have the means to pay.
- Allows a court to not impose interest on restitution after inquiring into and considering specified factors and input of the victim.
- Revises standards for the waiver of accrued interest on restitution and non-restitution obligations.
- Revises the time periods in which judgments for restitution and non restitution legal financial obligations may be enforced.
- Establishes a revised standard of indigency for purposes of a number of provisions applicable to legal financial obligations.
While SB 5373 is not one of the environmental priorities identified at the Justice Summit, a number of people have expressed interest in the bill. The bill appears to be dead for the session, but there is some possibility of its revival in the budget negotiations. Information below provides some background and notes on a hearing on March 4, 2021. Provisions of the bill:
- It imposes a carbon pollution tax beginning January 1, 2022, equal to $25 per metric ton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the sale or use of all fossil fuel within the state of Washington, except for the sale or use of electricity in Washington generated using fossil fuels.
- It increases the tax rate annually by inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, plus 5 percent beginning July 1, 2023.
- It establishes a ten-year climate finance program using carbon tax revenue and a bond program to reduce GHG emissions and increase the resilience of Washington's natural resources to the impacts of climate change
At this point in the legislative session, it would be a good idea to meet with your legislators to discuss pending legislation. Most legislators are scheduling town halls online, and you can find out when at the Washington Conservation Voter website. Some will let you ask questions beforehand, which is a good opportunity to discuss our legislative priorities. Here are some of the priorities we discussed in the Justice Summit.
- Environmental priorities: Fluorinated Gases, Clean Fuels, Growth Management Act, Building Electrification.
- Racial Justice priorities: Insurance fairness act, Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) act.
- Criminal Justice priorities: Legal Financial Obligations.
Good news! SB 5141-The HEAL Act, made it out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee last Friday! We are thrilled, but with a close 13-12 vote, there is no room for error. We must be methodical in our next steps.
Now, our focus turns to passing the HEAL Act out of the Senate chamber. This means your Senator needs to hear from you today!
With the tragedy in Texas serving as the lastest example, communities of color bear the brunt of the burden borne by environmental disasters. This can lead to medical ailments, the loss of housing and income, and create lasting hardships. It doesn’t have to be this way, and the HEAL Act directs state agency staff to establish meaningful relationships with underserved communities. This will improve the preparation, prevention, and communication work our state does to shield us from environmental threats. It is crucial because we want everyone to be safe when the next wildfire, flood, or heat wave strikes.
Think of the state of our environment as a sick patient and our environmental laws as the doctor meant to provide the cure. Without the HEAL Act, that doctor won’t be able to provide a full diagnosis, prescribe the right medicines, and provide a wellness plan that matches the patient's needs and abilities. We need to HEAL our environment and not let it get any sicker.
We are engaged in a relentless communication effort to ensure the Senate prioritizes the HEAL Act. Stay tuned for additional actions soon!
Thank you so much,
Sameer Ranade Civic Engagement and Policy Manager Sameer@frontandcentered.org (360) 218-4642
Conversation with Sam Mace of Save Our wild Salmon and Elliott Moffett and Julian Matthews of the Niimipuu/Nez Perce, Feb. 18, 1 pm
Earlier this month, U.S. Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) released a visionary proposal to restore abundant salmon and steelhead to our region and strengthen Northwest communities. Join Backbone Campaign to discuss what this means for wild salmon and the regional economy, in a Conversation with Sam Mace of Save Our wild Salmon and Elliott Moffett and Julian Matthews of the Niimipuu/Nez Perce.
Thursday, Feb. 18th 1pm Pacific / 4pm Eastern RSVP TODAYWe celebrate Representative Simpson's courage. The people of the Pacific NW have shifted culture by taking visible actions to protect what we love, because the fate of our beloved resident orca depends on salmon from the Columbia-Snake River ecosystem. By breaching the dams - removing the earthen berm barriers impeding a free flowing Snake - scientists believe we can significantly impact runs of wild salmon. These salmon are critical food for the Salish Sea's resident orca. We have always acknowledged that the farmers and shippers who depend on the River need to be part of a recovery plan: Hear some of our talking points in this short video at a Human Orca Mural we did in Spokane. Learn more about Grain Train and how it can help farmers along the Snake in this Conversation we had with Ken Casavant, awhile back. Check out Rep Simpson's Legislative Framework Stay updated on this issue with our friends at Save Our wild Salmon Check out the extensive article by Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times Thanks to Representative Simpson's leadership - as well as much work by grassroots organizers, including Elliott Moffett, Julian Matthews (Nimiipuu/Nez Perce); Joseph Bogaard and Sam Mace (SOS); Michelle Seidelman in Portland; and many others, we are celebrating the future of a wild Snake River, with benefits for all.
Audubon Society has a great document tracking some of the environmental bills going through the WA legislature. Check it out here. Get on their mailing list for additional updates.
Earth Ministry also tracks. Check it out here.
The Interrupting the School or Prison Pipeline group is exploring bystander intervention training opportunities that JUUstice Washington might offer to congregations. We are checking various options and there are a couple of training opportunities coming up in February that help this exploration.
Bystander intervention training opportunities. One is coming up on February 13th. Some key providers include Cortney Wooten, Seattle 350, Peace Keepers, and Poor People’s Campaign.
The first, on February 13, is by a training team out of DC. They describe it as "an interactive, participatory, beginner’s workshop designed for those that may have none to little prior studies of bystander intervention." Payment is on a sliding fee scale. The two times listed are two sections of the same training.
Edmonds United Methodist Church is offering a related workshop "Stepping into Allyship" workshop will be on February 9 from 6-8 pm. As we seek to create beloved community and dismantle racism, we are intentionally making the workshop free for all participants. The workshop will be led by local equity consultant and organizer, Courtney Wooten, who has collaborated with Edmonds UMC over the last three years. We hope that this offering will bless your communities as we work to together dismantle racism and white supremacy. Registration information is available at Stepping into Allyship (google.com) The presenter also does bystander intervention training.
The Interrupting the School or Prison Pipeline (post-Summit) group is exploring potential ways to find and boost existing programs that directly interrupt the school to prison pipeline. Two programs that we are looking into are Speaking Justice and Community Passageways. If you already work with either of these programs or have insights about their work, please let us know by contacting John Hilke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Interrupting the School or Prison Pipeline (post-Summit) group is monitoring and encouraging your engagement with the following legislative proposals dealing the police reforms and racial justice improvements. We welcome additional assistance in monitoring and insights about these bills. Please contact John Hilke at email@example.com, if you would like to help.
HB 1054 (Johnson) banning choke holds etc.
HB 1092 (Lovick) database of police use of force
HB 1089 (Ramos) compliance with I-940 on independent investigations of police violence
HB 1082 (Goodman) reform process of decertification and sanctions for police misconduct
HB 1088 (Lovick) standardizing reporting of police misconduct and impeaching office testimony
SHB 1044 educational opportunities in prisons
HB 1078/SB 5086 restoration of voting rights when persons leave prison
HB 1090 ban on private prisons
HB 1282/SB 5285 reduced prison terms for participating in educational programs
HB 1310 statewide de-escalation standard and limits on use of force
SB 5226 end debt-based suspensions of driver licenses
HB 1186 youth alternative corrections
SB? 5228 Antibias curriculum development
SB 5229 continuing education regarding antibias practices
Access to health care should be available to all, regardless of immigration status.
Equitable access to health care coverage is particularly crucial now, as underlying inequities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Immigrants and communities of color are disproportionately contracting, hospitalized for, and dying from COVID-19.
Demand more equitable health care access from lawmakers and ensure the health of Washington’s communities.
Given that the legislative session is happening remotely, anyone can sign in “pro”, “con”, or “other” to legislation that will receive a hearing. Previously, this was something that could only be done if you were physically in Olympia.
The following bills have hearings next week. Please fill out the form completely, including choosing your position (“pro”) at the beginning. Failure to fill out the form completely will not allow you to submit.
Act before Tuesday 7am: WA Can’t wait, incorporating climate resilience in the Growth Management Act, HB 1099.
Act before Wednesday 7am: Environmental Justice (HEAL Act), SB 5141.
Act before Thursday noon: Net ecological Gain for salmon and orca habitat, HB 1117.
Act before Friday 9am: Healthy Homes, Clean Buildings HB.
Environmental Health & Justice Lobby Days - February 8-10, 2021
This legislative session is unlike any other. As the first all-remote legislative session, communication between constituents and their legislators will be both more accessible and more challenging. It's important for us to let our legislators know that a healthy climate, clean water and environmental justice are key to the kind of pandemic recovery and economic rebuilding we need to see in Washington state. Join us online for Environmental Lobby Days, February 8-10, 2021! Team up with other activists from your district to speak up for environmental health and justice and gain the skills to be a persuasive constituent. You'll have the opportunity to attend online issue briefings, learn how to lobby, hear from environmental champions, and meet virtually with your elected officials to advance the Environmental Priorities Coalition's 2021 priorities. Register here.
Website Bill Tracker: For more information about the priority environmental bills and a link to a spreadsheet with many more bills we are tracking, keep our legislative website handy: https://www.re-sources.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-Legislative-bill-tracking-Public-facing.pdf
HB 1091 is the Clean Fuels Bill, reintroduced in the 2021-22 session after failing in 2020. It requires reductions in carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The history of the bill in 2020 may affect the progress of the bill for this session:
- It directs the Department of Ecology to adopt a rule establishing a Clean Fuels Program to limit greenhouse gas emissions per unit of transportation fuel energy to 10 percent below 2017 levels by 2028 and 20 percent below 2017 levels by 2035. The bill passed the house but it had strong opposition in the senate.
- To counter this opposition, an amendment introduced by Senate Environment Committee Chair Reuven Carlyle made passage contingent on funding transportation projects including an I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. The bill passed the Environment Committee but was stalled in the Senate Transportation Committee.
UUs are notoriously varied in our opinions, and that’s a good thing. Some of us promote radical visions of revolution while others promote liberal approaches to reform. One thing we have in common is valuing electoral action. In 2020, our UU the Vote program enlisted radical and liberal UUs in a successful effort to drive up participation in our nation’s presidential election, with happy results. Ibram Kendi says that you’re not really an activist unless you have a track record of policy change. Promoting our state’s online bill-comment tool should appeal to a broad range of UUs. Even moderates can see the value in advocating for better laws.
My co-congregant Bill McPherson is something of a powerhouse on climate issues. He has talked to the legislative aides who compile constituent views for state legislators, and they have told him that the bill-comment tools are powerful. They’re like an inside track to the attention of your legislators. Personal letters seem powerful, but they don’t usually reach the legislators.
You can coach other UUs on how to make the strongest impression with elected officials. Canned, rote, and copy/pasted comments carry less weight, so encourage your fellow congregants to speak personally. In "Justice on Earth", Pamela Sparr advises UUs to present themselves to politicians as members of the UU faith tradition. This identity tells electeds that one is not just a lone voice but part of a community grounded in ultimate values and capable of organizing.
JUUstice Washington tracks important bills in our state legislature, and the bill-comment tool lets any UU easily turn JUUstice Washington’s positions into action. Other Washington activist groups also provide guidance on state-level issues. As a climate-action activist, I follow Earth Ministry of Seattle, which alerts people to legislative actions.
When you coach socially aware UUs to use the bill-comment tool, you know that other religious and secular activists are likewise pointing people to the same important legislative actions. While some religious traditions advise their believers to isolate themselves from secular society, UUism calls on us to engage on all levels with the larger society around us. The bill-comment process is an outstanding example of how we turn our values into action and how our UU values create connections with others rather than distancing us from our neighbors. Encourage your co-congregants to engage alongside faithful citizens from every faith tradition as well as secularists. Together we can make a real difference.
How to comment on a bill
HB 1050 addresses the leakage of HFC (Hydrofluorocarbon), a greenhouse gas approximately 10,000 times as potent as CO2, although it is in much smaller concentrations (parts per trillion) than CO2 (parts per million). It was developed to replace CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) when it was discovered that CFCs depleted the ozone layer. Although better than CFCs for solving ozone depletion, HFCs were discovered to be highly potent GHGs. Provisions:
- Applies certain existing regulations addressing emissions of ozone depleting substances to HFCs.
- Directs the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to establish a refrigerant management program to address refrigerant emissions from large air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
- Requires Ecology to provide recommendations to the Legislature by December 1, 2021, regarding the design of a program to address the end-of-life management and disposal of refrigerants.
- Establishes a state purchasing and procurement preference for recycled refrigerants.
- Requires consideration of HFC emissions in mandatory utility conservation activities and in codes adopted by the State Building Code Council.
Affordable, accessible dental care is an essential component of overall health. Yet people with low incomes struggle to access dental care—a problem made worse by the acute oral health provider shortage and COVID-19. Even when insured through state-funded insurance like Apple Health (Washington state’s version of Medicaid), Washingtonians find that dentists often reject their insurance due to its low reimbursement rates.
When Washingtonians do not have access to preventative oral healthcare, many struggle through the pain and eventually have no other choice but to turn to expensive emergency room settings to receive dental relief, further straining limited hospital capacity.
Dental therapists are dental care professionals who can provide high-quality, preventative oral health care for a lower cost. They work in dental offices under the supervision of licensed dentists. Their efficacy and critical role in expanding access to dental care is already proven thanks to Senate Bill 5079, which passed in 2017 and allows dental therapists to practice in tribal communities in Washington.
Click here to message your Senators urging their support for SB 5142, a bill to authorize dental therapy as a profession across the state.
The environmental-explicit portion of the Growth Management Act (GMA) revision, HB 1099, regarding vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was introduced as part of the GMA suite of bills. This is one of the legislative priorities identified by participants in the Justice Summit.
Provisions of HB 1099 include, inter alia:
Transportation: Encourage efficient multimodal transportation systems that help achieve statewide targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled, and are based on regional priorities and coordinated with county and city comprehensive plans.
Housing: Encourage the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population of this state, promote a variety of residential densities and housing types, and encourage preservation of existing housing stock.
Take Action: HB 1099 passed the House 56-41. (See below for notes on House committee hearing) It went next to the Senate Committee on Housing & Local Government for executive action (see below for March 16 hearing). It passed the Housing & Local Government committee and the Ways and Means, but was stopped in the Senate Transportation Committee. There is an opportunity to incorporate provisions of 1099 in another GMA bill, HB 1241, which has passed the house and is pending in the senate. You can find your state senator and send a message at https://futurewise.salsalabs.org/amendhb1241/index.html.
Increase and Preserve Affordable Housing: Invest $240 million for the Housing Trust Fund and an additional $10 million from the Capital Budget for preservation of affordable housing (USDA and other properties at risk of loss).
Keep people in their homes and prevent an increase in homelessness: Pass statewide protections against discriminatory and arbitrary evictions (good cause termination requirements) and prevent evictions based on nonpayment of rent with improved legal protections and rental assistance.
Increase state resources to prevent and end homelessness: Significantly increase the state’s document recording fee to increase resources to prevent homelessness by adding $100
Create and increase sources of progressive revenue: Protect against any cuts to affordable housing, homelessness and human services programs by passing significant new progressive revenue.
Learn more at https://www.wliha.org/
The building electrification bill, HB 1084, has been transformed into the Governor's Healthy Homes & Clean Buildings bill. Building electrification is one of the environmental justice legislative priorities identified at the Justice Summit. The following provisions are in the bill:
- Eliminate all gas hookups by 2030.
- Eliminate building code preemption of local building codes; state code becomes minimum but local governments can go beyond.
- Expand requirements in law for benchmarking, energy audits on 5 year cycle for small bldgs.
- Eliminate RCW (Revised Code WA) references that favor gas industry.
- Create surcharge on use of natural gas, money used to address Environmental Justice issues.
- State policy of encouraging electrification throughout state by transition planning (take bldgs. off gas gradually)