The 2021 FAN Advocacy Days RSVP links are live! Join us in Eastern WA on January 30, Olympia on February 11, or Central WA on February 20, all held virtually, as we talk about the 2021 legislative session, hear from speakers and discuss in breakout groups the issues on FAN’s agenda, and meet with legislators as part of the Olympia-focused event. We hope to see you there!

Week One

The 2021 Legislative Session began in-person as it has every year, but legislators kept social distance, wore face masks, and are planning to work virtually for much of the session in light of COVID-19. Committee hearings began on Tuesday, and the Police Tactics bill (HB 1054 Rep. Johnson) was heard in the House Public Safety Committee, and the Governor’s Operating and Capital budgets had their first hearing in the Ways & Means Committee. FAN lobbyist Paul Benz testified on Wednesday in the House State Government Committee in favor of the Juneteenth paid holiday bill (HB 1016 Rep. Morgan) and signed on in support of a bill to require equity training for school staff (SB 5044 Sen. Das).

On Thursday, several bills that FAN supports were heard:

  • Prohibiting Credit Scoring (SB 5010 Sen. Das) in Senate Business, Financial Services, & Trade Committee.
  • Voting Rights Restoration for those coming out of prison (HB 1078 Rep. Simmons) in the House State Government Committee.
  • The statewide re-entry council provided their legislative report to the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee.
  • Capital Gains Tax (SB 5096 Sen. Robinson) in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

The week ended with the House Public Safety Committee hearing the Law Enforcement Decertification bill (HB 1082 Rep. Goodman)  – one of five Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) bills – and certain reforms of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). FAN also met with other organizations to negotiate the Police Tactics bill (HB 1054 Rep. Johnson).

Looking Ahead to Week Two

Executive sessions will begin this week, where amendments are voted on and a final bill produced.

Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday: Balance Our Tax Code has a week of advocacy opportunities, which you can connect to here. The bill to require that all WA state school districts teach the history, culture, and government of the nearest federally-recognized Native American tribe in social studies classes (SB 5161 Sen. Wellman) will be heard in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. Paul will be meeting with the planning team for the upcoming African American lobby day.

Tuesday: A COVID-19 Relief bill to expand dollars for food assistance programs and extend food emergency benefits and cash assistance (HB 1151 Rep. Leavitt) will be heard in the House Housing & Human Services Committee. The Police Tactics Bill (HB 1054 Rep. Johnson) will have its executive session.

Wednesday: Policy partner meetings continue throughout the session, including Voting Rights Restoration, Racial Justice in Sentencing, Balance Our Tax Code, Health Care, Driving While License Suspended, police reform, and the black clergy coalition with the effort to convert Initiative 1300 into a bill to repeal Initiative 200 in order to reinstate affirmative action.

Thursday: The Prohibiting Private Prisons bill (HB 1090 Rep. Ortiz-Self) will be heard in the House Public Safety Committee. The Native American advocates group will meet.

Friday: The Working Families Tax Credit coalition will meet, and a bill will hopefully be out this week. The human service lobbyists will meet with the Senate Majority Leader.

Take Action!

This week we offer three opportunities to take action on issues on FAN’s legislative agenda:

  • Support Progressive Revenue, including a Capital Gains Tax (action alert from our Economic Justice Working Group and coalition partners at Balance Our Tax Code):
    • Speak out for progressive revenue and increases, not cutbacks, in social services as we weather the COVID impact.
    • Submit comments on the Governor’s Capital Gains Tax Proposal, incorporated in Senate Bill 5096 that was heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee Thursday 1/14.
    • Sign on to this letter and petition:
    • Participate in the BOTC Week of Action. Kick-off Rally: Monday, January 18 at 12 PM. RSVP here.
  • Police Tactics Bill (HB 1054 Rep. Johnson) – This bill would establish requirements for police tactics and equipment. It is up for vote next Tuesday in the House Public Safety Committee at 8 AM.
  • Voting rights restoration Bill (HB 1078 Rep. Simmons) – This bill would restore voting eligibility to all persons convicted of a felony offense who are not in total confinement under the Department of Corrections. It is up for a vote next week in the House State Government Committee.

You can check here to see if your House member is on these committees, and advocate for this bill by emailing them or choosing to Testify Remotely, Commenting, or Submitting Written Testimony on the legislature website. The legislative hotline is 1-800-562-6000.

How to Advocate in a Virtual Legislative Session?

Since this is just the first week of the virtual session, everyone is learning new things, including legislators! We will continue to share tips about how to raise your voice during this session. Today’s tips:

Committee Sign-In Website: The new website for the public to sign-in to testify or submit written comments may be found below. Written testimony will close 24 hours after the hearing. It includes access to testimony opportunities in both the Senate and House, along with guidance for members of the public. Links to the site are included in multiple locations on the Senate and committee webpages in hopes that it will be easy for the public to find.

The Legislative Information Center (LIC) has updated some of its more general information for testifiers, which may be of interest to constituents:

There is also a menu of options for the public to interface with the Legislature on bills and issues beyond testifying in committee, included here:

Getting Ready for Interfaith Advocacy Days!

Over 160 advocates joined us for Pre-Session trainings in the middle of a very difficult week, and we give thanks for your commitment to advocacy and democracy! If you missed the trainings, you can view the introductory session at our YouTube page to get the overview of our legislative agenda and tools for your advocacy: 2021 Pre-Session Training – YouTube. Issue breakout sessions will be added soon to YouTube for more background on some of the bills we are supporting; in the meantime, the latest resources are at our website, in the Legislative Agenda, Issue Fact Sheets page, and Bill Tracker.

Registration for IFAD on February 11 is open! This is our interfaith day in Olympia, and we are planning to be as visible and vocal as the Zoom platform makes possible! Please sign up early so we can do our best to get virtual appointments with your legislators. We are still planning the day, but plan on most of the information sessions to be held in the morning of 2/11, with legislator appointments taking place in the afternoon, and perhaps the following day 2/12, or when we can get them. Please register and stay tuned for more information.

The Spokane Legislative Conference will be virtual on Saturday, January 30. Please register now for a day of keynote by Rev. Walter Kendricks, panels, workshops, and a legislative update.

In Central WA, we will gather on February 20 for Advocacy Day. Register here for a morning of legislative overview, panel discussion, and breakout action groups on Poverty, Climate, Redistricting, Healthcare, and Immigration. In the meantime, FAN’s Central WA Regional Organizer Zahra Roach will be hosting an Immigrant Rights Action Hour this Wednesday at 6 PM to provide Central WA-focused briefings on several bills impacting that region, and an opportunity to take action. All are welcome.

Events & Opportunities

Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church (Ballard, Seattle) is looking for a part-time Social Justice Coordinator. See the position description and job announcement for more information.

MLK Day Events – Many communities are still hosting virtual or socially distanced events for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18. In Seattle, there is a virtual Youth Event on 1/17 from 2-4 PM, and the yearly march on 1/18 from Garfield High School at 11 AM, ending in a rally. In Yakima, there will be food distributions, film screenings, a peace drive from Toppenish Middle School on 1/18 from 9:30-11 AM, and a virtual celebration. In Ellensburg, there will be a physically-distanced peace march and a virtual remembrance program.

Immigrant Rights Action Hour January 20, 6-7 PM Led by Zahra Roach, FAN’s Central WA Regional Organizer. RSVP for the Zoom link.

Pies, Charts & Trivia January 22, 2-3 PM Washington State Budget & Policy Center will highlight their 2021 legislative priorities. RSVP for the Zoom link.

Film Screening: RBG January 26, 7-9 PM Meaningful Movies – film screening and discussion. Zoom link provided.

Dear Erich: A Jazz Opera by Ted Rosenthal January 27, 6-8 PM Holocaust Center for Humanity, free but RSVP required.

Spokane Legislative Conference January 30, 8:50 AM – 1 PM Suggested donation $20, RSVP for the Zoom link.