Members of the WA Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) celebrated historic victories in police reform in the 2021 legislative session! FAN Co-Director Paul Benz participated in the coalition, and FAN included the WCPA’s priorities in our legislative agenda. Far too many families have been impacted by police violence in WA State – our work is not over. (Thank you to Elaine Simons for these images.)
Legislative Session Review
What an amazing and unique legislative session this was! Amazing in the significant social change bills passed, such as Capital Gains (SB 5096) which will now fund the new Fare Start childcare program enacted this session, the Clean Fuels Standard bill (HB 1091) that will help our state reduce carbon emissions, and the largest cash grant increase for the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program ever (15%=$52.2M) in the 2021-23 biennial budget. Significantly, the focus on racial equity this session was unprecedented – from the number of people of color lobbying and testifying, to the bills being introduced and passed, and the number of legislators of color – now over 20. Please see and share our 2021 Legislative Successes for all of the bills we are celebrating!
This year was also unique in that the entire session was remote! Most of the 147 legislators did not go to Olympia, with 10-20 on the floor in each chamber for votes and debates. Co-Director Paul Benz, serving as FAN lobbyist, only traveled there one time. This remote session in many ways made citizen engagement much easier by being able to sign in pro or con on bills and testify from your own home, even if it was for only 60 seconds! Senate Democratic leadership stated that 67,728 people participated in the legislative process – up from 14,000 last session. What held true, as stated before the session began, was that there would be fewer bills because of the remote session. As a result, 335 bills passed this session – the lowest number since 1983.
Thank you for your voice and your engagement this session, in the various ways that happened. You helped bend the arc of the universe in Washington state more towards justice. Let’s continue to do that!
Sign up now for FAN’s annual Spring Summits – Sundays, May 23 and June 6, from 2-4 PM! At the Summit you can gather virtually with advocates in your region and in your issue area of interest and begin to consider what steps we might take together in the year ahead. This event is open to advocates across the state, and the content and breakouts will be the same each Sunday. Please share the flyer, post it in your newsletter, and register for one of the dates below:
Calling all volunteers! If you would like to help facilitate a breakout session during one of these events, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will hold a volunteer preparation session beforehand.
Celebrating Vaccine Access
Rev. Cecilia Kingman, Minister for Faith and Justice at Edmonds Unitarian Universalist Congregation, shares with us this week her passion for the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine in light of her father’s experience with polio. See the FAN Blog for her full story – thank you Rev. Kingman for your witness!
We will be highlighting more vaccine stories in the E-News, so please share your stories and pictures with us at email@example.com!
This week, we would also like to highlight an important resource which has helped over half-a-million people across Washington State find vaccines in their area! FAN Staff met this week with Steve Starr, who with his sister founded the Find a COVID Shot Facebook group in order to help people gain access to vaccines. This grassroots collaborative is run by volunteers who have continued to expand their reach in order to serve people of many languages; BIPOC communities which continue to face disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 and low access to vaccination; and rural areas where lack of transportation makes access to vaccines more difficult. People seeking a vaccine simply use the hashtag #searching to find a vaccine, #support for unique personal needs that make traditional vaccination sites hard to access, and #caseclosed when a successful appointment is made!
FAN hopes to continue building a relationship with this life-saving group as vaccines become more available and trusted messengers are needed to boost confidence in getting vaccinated. Be sure to check out findacovidshot.org to join the Facebook group!
WA Immigrant Relief Fund (WIRF)
The WA State legislature allocated $40M in additional funds for another round of COVID-19 Immigrant Relief! This fund was created for immigrants who are having a hard time because of COVID-19 and aren’t eligible for federal stimulus funds or unemployment insurance because of their immigration status. The application is in multiple languages including Spanish and English and is limited to 60,000 applicants statewide with only 40,000 being funded. Eligible people should apply at www.immigrantreliefwa.org as soon as they can – the deadline is May 15.
Applicants’ information will never be voluntarily shared with the government or ICE, and the public charge rule should not apply for this fund. If someone applied for the WIRF fund in October or November of 2020, they can still apply again now, whether they received funding or not. Individuals can receive a $1,000 direct payment, and this time there is no limit on the number of adults in a family who may apply. Applications must be sent online either using a computer or smartphone.
Please spread the word about this lifeline for immigrant communities affected by the pandemic! There are flyers available in Spanish and English as well as a FAQ flyer. Tri-Cities Immigrant Coalition (TCIC) is available to answer questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.