On a given day in Washington State, up to 50% of the people in county jail are there because they are poor. Cash bail enforces a guilty until proven innocent structure on the poor. It does not have to be this way. According to 2019 studies by the Washington State Auditor, bail alternative services in Yakima and Spokane counties showed the following:
The benefits to those detained because they cannot afford bail are important. Several studies show people who stay in jail before trial often have worse outcomes in their legal cases, even after accounting for factors like criminal history. Multiple studies in different places show remaining in jail before trial increases the probability of conviction, guilty pleas and jail sentences, including longer sentences.JUUstice Washington supported bail reform in the 2019 legislature, but we were not successful at passing the bills. This issue may stand a better chance in the 2020 if we ask our legislators to pay attention to common sense solutions. Kelly Thompson
Pretty impressive document. Issued by the Office of Program Research Washington House of Representatives and published on April 29, 2019. Read more here . . .
Community Listening Forums on Implementing I-940 to Improve Police Procedures, May 2 and 8, Kent and Seattle WA
Initiative 940 is officially law in Washington State. However, the road towards implementation has just begun.
We have an opportunity to speak up on how this law is shaped and practiced. Two very crucial components are being developed: law enforcement training and independent investigations (when deadly force is used). We will provide an update on what steps have taken place since its passage and discuss what our communities envision for how this law is carried out. Comments shared at the event will be submitted to the Criminal Justice Training Commission who is responsible for finalizing the new training rules.
The 2019 Legislative Session is officially over.
First, we’d like to recognize the hard work of all of you—our advocacy community. This legislative session was an important one, and because of your action, a number of critical policies (plus an entire 2 year operating budget!) are now a reality. These policies will make a huge difference in the lives and futures of Washington’s communities of color and low-income communities. Thank you to everyone who took the time to send action emails, make phone calls, post on social media, and even come to Olympia to advocate in person—these session wins could not have happened without you!
Let’s look back on session and all that we accomplished together!
On Saturday, April 27, lawmakers met the session deadline and passed a 2 year operating budget. This budget will dictate how our state spends its money over the next 2 years, and what state programs and offices will be funded. Your advocacy created the following investments (for a deeper analysis, click here):
-$14.5 million towards Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), our state’s most effective anti-homelessness program. This investment will help ensure that people experiencing homelessness will receive housing assistance, and will work to diminish the long waiting list for HEN.
-$5.02 million allocation for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Working Connections Child Care (WCCC). This investment will fund the implementation of Second Substitute House Bill 1603 which also passed this session, which has eliminated permanent disqualifications and adds a time-limit extension for families experiencing homelessness.
-$175 million towards the Housing Trust Fund, which will fund the development of 5,000 new affordable homes and support anti-homelessness efforts throughout the state.
-$146,000 to support the implementation of a full dental benefit for patients receiving Medical Care Services.
Your advocacy also made some positive changes to the state tax structure. Washingtonians will now see:
-A graduated real estate tax, which will lower the real estate tax for properties valued at $250k or below and raise the tax for properties valued at $1 million and higher.
-Property tax exemptions for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities.
-An increased Business & Occupation tax on financial institutions that have an income surpassing a billion dollars.
-The elimination of some outdated tax exemptions, such as a non-resident sales tax exemption.
Overall, we are happy to see much-needed investments in the health and human services programs that low-income children and adults in Washington state rely on during hard times. It is also notable that some modest changes to our upside-down tax code were enforced. However, it is disheartening to see that lawmakers made no significant, truly progressive changes to our state tax code, despite the best efforts of community members to advocate for a tax code that works for everyone, not just wealthy people. A progressive tax on capital gains, which lawmakers ultimately refused to pass, would have generated the necessary revenue to make truly bold investments in anti-poverty programs, and in our state overall. It would have also been a step closer to ensuring that wealthy households paid their fair share in taxes. We will keep up our advocacy work to fight for a state tax code that is truly equitable, and that relies on sustainable revenue streams.
Your advocacy also was integral in passing several important new bills. Among them are:
-The New Hope Act, which allows people with certain felony and/or misdemeanor convictions a second chance by vacating convictions from a criminal record.
-Second Substitute House Bill 1603, which strengthens the state’s TANF program (a program relied on by thousands of low-income families in Washington) by eliminating permanent disqualifications and adding a time-limit extension for families experiencing homelessness.
-A package of consumer protection bills, which lowered the rate on post-judgement interest, regulated rules around garnishment, made key changes to medical debt collections and shady debt collections practices, and offered resources to people struggling to pay their property taxes.
Once again, thank you for your advocacy this session. None of this could have been accomplished without you! Take a minute here to send your lawmaker a note thanking them for their action this session as well.
Send lawmakers a thank you here!
The legislature has passed most of the climate bills, which are awaiting signature by Governor Inslee:
SB 5116, 100% Clean Energy
HB 1112, Hydroflurocarbon Phaseout
HB 1257, Buildings Efficiency
HB 1578, Oil Spill Protection
HB 1512, Electrification of Transportation
One bill, HB 1110 (Clean Fuels) was stopped by the Senate Transportation Committee because of funding issues.
For more information, please go to https://juustwa.org/program-
Auditi Guha, Rewire.News
The Washington State Senate's version of the legislation expands reproductive health coverage to undocumented people. The state house's version doesn't.
The state senate passed the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA) on March 7, a bill aimed at eliminating the barriers to care faced by young people, immigrants, rural residents, transgender and gender non-conforming people, and people of color. The legislation uses gender-neutral language and includes anti-discrimination protections for transgender and non-binary people, and it expands reproductive health coverage to include cancer screenings and birth control for all. The version passed in the senate would expand that access to undocumented people . . . house Democrats passed a version of the bill that removed the coverage for undocumented people. The two chambers will have to agree on a version of the bill before the legislation can head to to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) desk. Inslee’s office said on Friday he had not reviewed or weighed in on the amended bill.
Read more here.
Help Protect the Lives of Working People- On Workers' memorial Day (April 28)Tell OSHA to Hire More Inspectors
Join Interfaith Worker Justice to tell OSHA to hire more inspectors. Add your name to help us protect the lives of working people. For almost fifty years now, we have come together on April 28th for Workers' Memorial Day to demand real action to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths in the workplace.This Workers' Memorial Day, let’s send OSHA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary, Loren Sweatt, an email on Workers' Memorial Day! Tell her to hire more inspectors and put them to work protecting the lives of working people!
We are working alongside community members and partner organizations to ensure that lawmakers fund and modernize the Working Families Tax Credit. We’re holding a phone bank on Thursday, April 18, to urge passage and we need volunteers! The phone bank will be at Poverty Action’s office in Wallingford, Seattle (1501 N 45th Street), from 5-7:30 PM. Volunteers will receive training and support from staff and a free pizza dinner. If you can’t stay for the whole time, no sweat. Join us for as long as you can! For more information or sign up, please call 206-694-6794. We hope to see you there!
During these final weeks of the 2019 Legislative Session, lawmakers must negotiate and pass a 2-year state operating budget for 2019-2021. It is crucial that the final version of this budget contains a progressive restructuring of our state’s tax code and bold investments in social service programs that support Washington’s low-income communities and communities of color.
In addition to supporting the working families tax credit (funded by a tax on capital gains, which is also included in budget proposals), we are working alongside community members and partner organizations to ensure that lawmakers provide a bold and much-needed funding increase to Housing & Essential Needs, stop the sweep of money from the state’s TANF program, and reject the Senate’s proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid Dental Program. (For more information and our analysis on both the House & Senate’s budget proposals .)
Send an email here to urge lawmakers to pass a progressive budget that tackles poverty head-on!
A collection of progressive bills, most of which will primarily impact low-income communities and communities of color in Washington state, were voted on and passed by state legislators. These bills—some of which Poverty Action has been working alongside community members and partner organizations for years— could not have been passed without your voice and your action!
Thanks to your advocacy, Washingtonians will now see more robust and transparent laws regarding debt collection than ever before. This comprehensive package of five consumer protections bills is a big step forward for Washington state and particularly for its communities of color.
We have just 24 hours left to bring the Death Penalty Repeal bill (SB 5339) up for a vote on the House floor by 5 PM on Wednesday, April 17. Your Representative has the power to bring it to the floor - please ask them to do so as soon as possible! The Supreme Court decision is not enough. It was stalled at this point last year. Now is the time to take this policy off the books!
Please urge your Representative to take action today.
One of the major bills FAN has been following this session has been Keep Washington Working (E2SSB 5497). We invite you to take action TODAY, and we share below more information on KWW from our partners at the ACLU: This important bill protects the privacy and civil rights of all Washington residents, focuses local law enforcement resources on protecting local communities, and defends local autonomy—putting Washington first.
Preventing and cleaning up toxic pollution is critical to the health of Washington’s people, salmon, and Southern Resident orcas. Now is the moment to urge state senators by April 13th to fully fund the program that cleans up thousands of contaminated sites statewide — including 12 sites on Bellingham’s waterfront and four in the Blaine Marina area.
Washington state’s Senate released its two year operating budget proposal last Friday, March 29, just a few days after the House’s operating budget proposal. Senate budget writers have taken critical steps in the right direction with their investments and budget priorities. The 2019-2021 Senate budget proposal makes huge strides toward ensuring we have a tax code in which the wealthy pay their fair share, and low-income people get a much-needed break. It also makes significant investments in many of the basic needs assistance programs that low-income kids and adults rely on during hard times. For years, Washington state has had the most upside-down state tax structure, with low-income people paying the highest share of their income in taxes. Just like with the House budget proposal, the Senate budget proposal generated new, progressive revenue streams that will not only help balance our tax code, but will also allow lawmakers to increase funding in essential health and human services. The Senate budget proposes important progressive revenue, including: -Closing the tax break on capital gains, which come from the sale of high-end assets, like stocks, bonds, and property. -Enacting a graduated real estate tax, which would lower the real estate tax for properties valued at $250,000 or below, and raise the real estate tax for properties valued at $1 million and higher. -Cleaning up unnecessary loopholes in our tax code, such as eliminating the non-resident sales tax and the preferential tax rates for prescription drug resellers and the tour booking industry. The revenue generated from the Capital Gains Tax will pay for a Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), a critical tax rebate for low- and moderate-income families who currently shoulder the highest tax rate in the state. The inclusion of the WFTC is an enormous step toward making our state’s tax structure equitable for low- and moderate-income families. Modeled after the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, the WFTC will provide an average tax refund of $350 to eligible families, providing a vital income boost and a necessary break from our state’s upside-down state tax code. The Senate’s budget also included crucial investments to essential state assistance programs that help low-income children and families meet their basic needs, including: -$15 million in funding for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program. HEN is one of our state’s most effective anti-homelessness programs, and it has not received a funding increase since 2011—even though housing costs and homelessness rates throughout Washington state have risen. This investment in HEN is almost $3 million greater than the House’s proposed investment, and will allow the program to make bigger strides in serving the thousands of people on HEN waitlists throughout the state. -$175 million toward the Housing Trust Fund. This is $25 million more than the amount proposed by the House, and this large investment will support homelessness resources and housing affordability throughout the state.
Washington state’s House of Representatives released its two year operating budget proposal on Monday, March 25. We applaud the House for taking critical steps to ensure our tax code is balanced and the wealthiest people and corporations pay their fare share. The House also made a number of critical — though modest — investments in our state’s basic needs assistance programs that will help more low-income kids and adults achieve economic stability.
In Washington state, low-income people pay the highest share of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest people and corporations get the biggest breaks. The House budget takes important steps to turn this terrible tax code right-side up through the following proposals:
Four climate bills have been introduced, passed committees and passed at least one chamber of the Washington State Legislature. They involve “Clean Energy” (100% renewables for electricity), electrification of transportation (incentives for electric vehicles), “Clean Fuels” (reduced fossil fuels in fuels), and hydrofluorocarbons (highly potent greenhouse gases). The"Clean Energy" bill, the hydrofluorocarbons bill and the electrification of transportation bill have passed the legislature but the clean fuels bill has strong opposition.
SB 5438, under consideration by our legislature, represents a significant step toward protecting the safety and dignity of workers brought to our state under the H-2A farm labor program. It is the top priority this session for Rosalinda Guillen and Community to Community, and Ramon Torres, President of FUJ, leaders in addressing the issues of migrant workers in this State. SB 5438 would create a new Office of Agricultural and Seasonal Workforce Services within the ESD, staffed and authorized to conduct field visits of H2A workplace sites. It would create an oversight committee composed of farm employers and farm workers. It would permit the charging of a fee, on farm employers who request workers under the H-2A program and this would fund the new office and the work of the oversight committee. This is the only type of legislation of this nature in the nation–no other state is proposing or providing adequate, coordinated and funded oversight. It will be setting precedent. SB 5438 has been passed by the Senate and has passed to the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee.
- First, it must be voted favorably out of that committee, which is holding a public hearing on Thursday 3/21.
- Then must pass out of the Rules Committee for a vote by the full House
- The deadline for the House vote is April 3rd
That’s right! For years now, Washington state has ranked as having the number one worst tax code in the entire country! It’s beyond time that our absurd state tax structure was turned right side up. We need a tax structure that works for low- and moderate-income people, not just wealthy people. That’s why this upcoming Thursday, March 21, we are gathering in Olympia to demand change and action from our lawmakers. At the rally, we will be calling on lawmakers to fund and modernize the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). If the WFTC is funded, that will mean that about a million low- and moderate-income households in Washington will get a tax refund of about $350, thereby boosting families’ economic security and taking important steps to fix our broken tax system.
Town Halls are an excellent way to actively engage in the civic process and advocate for the change you want to see. Usually held either in person at local community centers, or over the phone on a conference line, town halls are an opportunity for your lawmaker to listen to you, their constituent, and receive feedback on the policy priorities that matter most to your community. The 2019 Legislative Session is just about halfway over, which means that while some bills are moving quickly, others are progressing more slowly as lawmakers decide what bills to prioritize. Town Halls are the time and space to hold your lawmakers accountable to the changes and priorities that matter most to the wellbeing of your community!
Here is a list of when and where each district's Town Hall is located(thank you Housing Alliance!). And if you don't know which district you live in,here's how to find out.