This past week, Elise and Tara met with Satjeet Kaur, the national Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition (above). We look forward to collaborations on census work as well as interfaith engagement on civil rights and against discrimination in schools and workplaces. Below, Paul was invited to give the opening prayer in the legislature honoring the Day of Remembrance on February 19 when in 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the U.S. Army to remove anyone of Japanese ancestry and place them under custody in internment camps. Let us pray and act so #NeverAgainMeansNever.
Week Seven in Review
Many bills were heard at the beginning of the week, and many were voted on at the end of the week.
- Death Penalty hearing in the House Public Safety Committee.
- Clean Slate bill hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee – the bill was significantly amended to just a study.
- The supplemental budgets were released.
- Fiscal committees held hearings on the supplemental budgets.
- The Courts Open to All and Bail Jump bills were heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.
- The Private Detention bills were heard in their respective committees.
- The fiscal committees worked through amendments to the supplemental budgets – e.g. the Ways & Means Committee had over 60 amendments to debate and vote on!
Thursday – Friday: Policy committees held executive sessions to vote on bills and amendments. The policy committee cutoff was Friday. Votes were taken on some key FAN bills:
- Death Penalty – passed out of committee on party lines.
- Bail Jump – passed on a party line vote.
- Private Detention Ban bills were passed out of committee – the House is the study bill, and the Senate is the Department of Corrections private contract bill.
- Clean Slate bill – reduced to a study bill and passed out of the Law & Justice Committee.
- Sustainable Farms & Fields bill – passed out of the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources.
Looking Ahead to Week Eight
Monday: March 2 fiscal cutoff for bills with a financial cost.
Tuesday – Friday: Full-time floor activity to debate, amend, and vote on 200+ bills. Many will not make the Friday cutoff – follow our Bill Tracker for updates!
Take Action for Justice!
This week we are asking you to Take 5 (minutes) on five big bills that need your support! Email or call your legislators on any of the issues below to show your support, particularly if they sit on the committees considering the bills. Contact your legislators using the email formula firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000 between 8 AM and 7 PM, Monday through Friday. (See Senate Committee and House Committee members here.)
- State Bank bill (SB 5995 Hasegawa): Sen. Hasegawa just got 25 votes to approve the establishment of a business plan to consider a state bank. State Banks ensure that the money raised by state taxes and used by the state to fund vital services is managed in-state and for the best interests of the people rather than a corporate bank. Urge your House member to support this budget proviso in the final budget negotiations.
- Increase funding for the Seattle Vocational Institute Central District Public Development Authority project: SVI is an historic Seattle landmark with significance in the African American community. This funding would help restore the building. Ask your legislator to include a $4 million appropriation for this important project in the final capital budget negotiations.
- Pharmaceutical Tax Reform bill (HB 2734 Davis): This bill would repeal the pharmaceutical industry tax exemption for marketing and selling opioids in our state. The money generated by this repeal would be dedicated to recovery and addiction programs in the state. If your House member is on the Finance Committee, urge them to make sure this bill comes up for a vote by the March 2 cutoff.
- Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program bill (SB 6309 Lovelett): This bill would expand the WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program voucher amount so that low-income families have more access to fresh fruits and veggies in their local areas. If your House member is on the Appropriations Committee, urge them to make sure this bill is voted on by the fiscal cutoff on March 2.
- Plastic Bag Ban bill (SB 5323 Das): This bill reduces pollution by establishing minimum state standards for the use of plastic bags at retail establishments. If your House member is on the Appropriations Committee, urge them to make sure this bill is voted on by the fiscal cutoff on March 2.
Stay tuned for a take action alert for the death penalty repeal early next week!
Census 2020: 10 Questions ~ 10 Minutes ~ 10 Years of Impact!
Last week we asked if you would include the announcement below (italics) in your bulletin or newsletter for the next two weeks. If you haven’t already, please include an announcement in your faith community’s printed or digital publications. This week we’re inviting you to consider including a flyer or insert in your communications as well. This will help create the awareness for everyone of what is coming and the importance of thinking about how they might reach historically undercounted communities—in their families, workplaces or neighborhoods. You can find many choices of one-page flyers on our website Census Toolkit—we suggest you pick from the bulletin inserts, denominational resources, or county resources, and from many languages, for what might best reach your community.
We are also delighted to introduce you to four part-time, contract staff who will be helping FAN with this outreach during the next couple months. You will be hearing from them as they begin to reach out to our network and beyond:
- Zahra Roach, resident of the Tri-Cities and newly-elected member of Pasco City Council, will be reaching out to the mid-Columbia region (Benton-Franklin, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties) and the Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist communities.
- Alex Mandujano, resident of Ellensburg, will provide outreach in Spanish-speaking faith communities in Kittitas, Grant, and Yakima counties.
- Kendell Tylee, Seattle resident also working with Washington Nonprofits on the census, will reach out in the Puget Sound area, Clallam County and beyond.
- Elizabeth Dickinson, longtime FAN supporter, member of University Congregational UCC and the Justice Leadership Program, will include South King County, the Puget Sound region, and some coordination from the FAN office in her outreach.
- Jim CastroLang, FAN Board Member, Spokane resident and pastor of Colville United Church of Christ, will be working with the Fig Tree on a grant to do census outreach to faith communities in Spokane county and beyond.
The launch of Census 2020 is just around the corner on March 12, when postcards will begin to arrive in households, providing an internet link to participate. Official Census Day is April 1. We are asking you to help in three ways:
- Please fill out your own census questionnaire by April 1!
- Can you help our faith community carry out a Census Action Day between March 12 and April 1? This may include a sermon, announcement, adult education forum with a speaker, Questionnaire Assistance table (providing laptops in our community so people without internet access can fill out the census), incentives and celebration. Faith Action Network (FAN, one of our partners on this work) will help you prepare for that and have tools in many languages to support you. Contact Faith Action Network at email@example.com or 206-625-9790 for more information.
- Help our faith community reach out to historically undercounted communities of color, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, tribes, rural areas, children under 5, and the elderly. FAN will connect you with resources. See the Census Toolkit page at fanwa.org/advocacy/advocacy-toolkit/census-2020/ for links to materials and posters in many languages.
In the State of Washington, $16.7B in tax dollars for our communities are at stake, along with our democratic representation in Congress. We cannot afford to miss counting anyone in this census, especially historically undercounted communities of color, immigrants, tribes, rural areas, and young children. FAN often says in legislative work that budgets are moral documents—in this case, the data that informs budgets and allocation of resources have moral implications too!