We hope you will join us for our 2021 Advocacy Days, all held virtually this year! Registration links are coming soon – learn more and RSVP at fanwa.org/interfaith-advocacy-day/.

Announcing the Retirement of Co-Director Rev. Paul Benz

As FAN prepares to celebrate our tenth anniversary this coming year, we are moving into a time of leadership transition. Our beloved Co-Director Paul Benz, leading our policy work since 2011 (and the Lutheran Public Policy Office before that), is retiring at the end of 2021.

In his letter to the Board, Paul writes: It’s been a great ride these past 20 years of advocating and organizing for justice in the faith communities of our state as well as working with so many wonderful community and policy partners. I will also miss the lobbying work with elected officials in and out of the halls of power, but I leave knowing we have many public servants striving to make the changes we all want to see. It is only with your united voices and advocacy with so many other like-minded people that those changes will become a reality. It’s been a privilege to work with you, and I look forward to one more year of great collaborations for justice starting on January 11th with our next state legislative session!

He notes in his letter that his bandwidth for the constantly growing work of FAN has been narrowing; that, at this stage of his life, he has projects he wants to pursue; and that, at a time when culture change and racial equity in social justice organizations is needed more than ever, that it is time to create space for new leadership.

FAN Governing Board Co-Chair, Rev. Carol Jensen, shared, “The FAN Board greatly appreciates the leadership, dedication, and accomplishments of Paul over FAN’s 10-year history. The truth is that FAN would probably not have come into being without Paul, and our legislative victories and organizational expansion over the past decade owe a great deal to him. We appreciate Paul’s continued strong efforts on our policy agenda through the year ahead.”

This time of transition is an opportunity for FAN to take a fresh look at our organizational and staffing needs as we move forward. The FAN Board will be seeking stakeholder input and dialogue during this process, and we want to affirm the partnerships that Paul has grown and tended. Stay tuned for upcoming developments and further announcements.

Governor Inslee Introduces His Budget

Last week, Governor Inslee issued his proposed budget for the 2021-2023 biennium and policy recommendations, and we want to share these highlights with you. For more detail, please see the full text on his website:

  • The total 2021-23 biennial budget is $57.6B. The budget shortfall is estimated now to be between $2.5B and $3.5B.
  • The Working Families Tax Credit is included in his climate revenue package, the Climate Commitment Act, and he mentioned it again in Friday afternoon’s press conference. That is a good sign of our advocacy efforts by the coalition and House prime sponsor Rep. Thai.
  • Capital Gains tax at a 9% rate, starting at $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for joint filers, which will raise $3.5B over four years. This will take a year to get set up and will begin on 7/01/22. Single-owned businesses, homes, retirement accounts, farms and forests, and income from salaries will be excluded.
  • Housing – $400M to build affordable housing and $8M for youth services.
  • Public Health – $397M to assist struggling public health entities, fund PPE equipment, contract tracing, and data systems through an assessment on health insurance providers, equal to about $144/yr for a family of four.
  • $79M for broadband internet expansion to those who don’t have it.
  • $724M for culvert removal to nurture salmon habitats, which is really important for tribes.
  • $51M to build a new mental health facility with 350 beds at Western State Hospital.
  • $100M for rental assistance and landlords, and $100M in grants for struggling businesses.
  • Money back in for the Racial Equity Office, a bill we supported and was passed, then unfunded last spring due to COVID needs.
  • Increases weekly unemployment benefits from $201 to $245 per week.
  • Decreases unemployment tax on employers.
  • Support for Independent Investigation bill, one of five bill priorities for the WA Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) coalition in which FAN is an active member. Rep. Entenman (47th LD – Auburn) will be the prime sponsor in the House.

Now the work begins to move forward or amend these investments as the legislature convenes.

Join us for Advocacy Days and Pre-Session Trainings

Even as we slow down to celebrate the diversity of this holiday season, FAN is picking up speed to prepare for the virtual 2021 legislative session. The State Legislature begins their online work on Monday, January 11, and there are plenty of ways for us to advocate from the safety of our homes.

We’ve heard your calls in past years for more focused time on FAN’s Legislative Agenda (which we are updating daily), Advocacy 101 training, and discussions on the main issue topics FAN covers. This year, we will be hosting two Pre-Session Training opportunities (same content at each, two different days/times):

We hope you will join us for either of those and share our flyer widely!

Our Advocacy Days will also be online advocacy opportunities. Please plan to attend, and share these dates in your communities:

More information and registration links will be posted soon!

Be sure you’re receiving our weekly E-News for legislative alerts starting in January. You can learn more about the bills on our Issue Fact Sheets page, which we continue to update as we receive bill information. And each week we will update the progress of the bills through our Bill Tracker.

Navigating Sustainability

Your support of FAN helps bring change when we represent you in more than 25 coalitions across our state. Sometimes, super-coalitions of many organizations come together to shape a collective vision. This year, FAN represented faith communities at a table called Navigating Sustainability in a Time of Great Change—a cross-sector effort led by Forterra to recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and followed up with a two-day convening. We hope you saw the recent opinion piece that outlined the outcomes of this visioning process: A blueprint for regional resiliency | The Seattle Times

The process recognized our multiple crises: “A global pandemic resulting in death and tremendous economic loss, a warming planet causing increasingly severe consequences for humans and natural ecosystems, and a racial-justice reckoning exposing the racism that persists in our public institutions, culture and economy.” It also recognized the ability of Pacific Northwesterners to dream big and roll up our sleeves to work together to make our vision real. The process culminated in the Blueprint for Regional Resilience, a call to action with top 10 recommendations and 33 other findings to fight climate change, advance economic recovery and heal our divisions. We hope you’ll spend some time with the blueprint and share with your communities.

Sikh Community Calls for Solidarity with Farmers in India

The local Sikh community is joining with other national and international groups to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of farmers in India who are protesting for their rights. In a standoff near New Delhi which has already claimed 30+ lives, peaceful protestors have been met with tear gas, water cannons, barricades, baton attacks, and other forms of violence. Interfaith leaders Jasmit Singh, and FAN staff member Jaspreet Singh, are asking for you to join them in solidarity for a peaceful, non-violent resolution to this escalating situation. You can learn more in this background document.

We invite your support:

1. Amplify the voices of farmers to share information about what is transpiring with your congregations and networks.
2. Tell the Congressional delegation from Washington that you are concerned about the situation and support farmers’ rights to their livelihoods and to express dissent peacefully.
3. Issue your own public statement on social media to show support to the community.
4. Show your support in-person at a rally organized in your city to support Indian farmers. In the Puget Sound area, on December 26, a car caravan will start from Kent and gather at Westlake Park, Seattle.