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
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
“There needs to be some defunding, but if it means officers will not be able to get into these underserved communities to develop a relationship with them, then I think we're going to find out we’re going to have another set of issues coming up in the near future,” Witherspoon said.
“When you don't understand someone, you misunderstand them,” he added.
Witherspoon said he supports pushing forward on legislative changes rather than the 50% in defunding many activists are calling for.
“What we have to do is change the laws and get systems changed so that even if you're racist, you can be exposed. And that's really where we're going to start seeing the needle move,” Witherspoon said.
Read more here.