We are past the halfway point in this short, intense 60-day session. It was remarkably busy on the floor this week due to legislative cutoff. Legislative cutoffs are milestones that bills need to reach by certain dates to receive further consideration. Any bills that don’t make it to these milestones will need to wait until the next legislative session to continue the process or be reintroduced at the start of a new biennium.

Because this is a short session, the first set of cutoff dates are already here. Bills that were not approved by House or Senate policy committees by Feb. 3 or Feb. 7 for fiscal committees will need to be reintroduced next year. Any bills that fail to be approved by a vote on the House or Senate Floor by Feb. 15 will also need to be reintroduced.

Good News on Economic Justice and Safety Net Support! Several of our economic justice bills have passed their house of origin and will move over to the opposite chamber. HB 1878 expanding community eligibility to provide free lunches to all students passed, along with HB 1833 creating a statewide multilingual tool for school meal applications and programs. The following bills also passed cutoff: SB 5838 to provide a diaper subsidy to TANF recipients; HB 1748 to expand Aging, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) program eligibility for human trafficking victims; and HB 1888 for Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) expansions and fixes.

Criminal Justice Reform. SB 5036 clemency reform passed the Senate and is on its way to the House Public Safety Committee. HB 1756 restriction of solitary confinement will be up for a vote soon.

Police Accountability. Unfortunately, SB 5919 a bill that expands law enforcement’s ability to use physical force passed the Senate. Enoka Herat, police practices and immigration counsel at the ACLU of Washington, stated: “It’s disappointing to see the Senate rush through a bill that will harm communities, particularly the communities of color and people with disabilities this Legislature made a commitment to protect when it passed more than a dozen bills last year aimed at reform and accountability in policing. The effectiveness of those bills is indicated by data showing a 62% decrease in police killings since their enactment last year.”

HB 1507 was tabled, which would have established independent prosecutions unit to prosecute crimes involving use of deadly force by police officers. HB 1202 did not make it out of committee, to provide a civil remedy for peace officer accountability.

Environmental Justice. HB 1099 passed the House; it will require cities and counties in their comprehensive planning process to address climate resiliency and mitigation as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Gun Responsibility. In a landmark vote, SB 5078 for high-capacity magazine restrictions passed out of the Senate, while HB 1705 closing the ghost guns loophole passed the House.

Justice for Indigenous Communities. HB 1725 passed on a bipartisan, unanimous vote, to create an endangered and missing Indigenous persons advisory.

Healthcare Access. HB 1616 to expand charity care passed the House. This bill would make 2.2 million low-income Washingtonians eligible for free or reduced healthcare at hospitals or affiliated clinics, extending eligibility for discounts for those earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

To learn more about FAN’s policy work, please contact Policy Engagement Director Kristin at Ang@fanwa.org.

Take Action

Please continue to contact your legislators, especially if they are in Rules Committee, to support the following bills to get them past legislative cutoff.

HB 1756 restricting the use of solitary confinement in state correctional facilities. The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies recognize that solitary confinement is a form of torture that dehumanizes prisoners and causes trauma. It is also disproportionately inflicted on people of color. HB 1756 would restrict use of solitary confinement to cases where it is needed to prevent immediate serious harm. Learn more and ask your representatives to vote for the bill here.

SUPPORT BUDGET ASK for AFGHAN REFUGEES. Please tell your legislators to support the budget ask for $30 million in state funding for refugee resettlement. Resettlement agencies and community-based organizations are at the forefront helping our Afghan siblings with everything from food, housing, counseling and all the supportive services they need to start a new life. The $30M would allocate one-time funding to refugee-serving organizations across Washington to strengthen and add capacity to their work. Ask your legislator to support this budget ask and invite your faith community or organization to sign this letter by Monday, February 14.

HB 2048 creating new time limit extensions for recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Public Bill Comments

HB 1630 establishing restrictions on the possession of weapons in certain locations such as school board meetings and election-related offices. Public Bill Comments

HB 1723 closing the digital equity divide by increasing the accessibility and affordability of telecommunications services, devices, and training. Public Bill Comments

HB 1868 improving worker safety and patient care in healthcare facilities. Public Bill Comments

Contact your Representatives and Senators directly, or call the Legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000 to advocate for these bills. To learn more about each bill, go to https://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo and enter the bill number; or check out FAN’s Issue Face Sheets and Bill Tracker.

Thanks for Coming to IFAD

From Bellingham, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Ellensburg, Vancouver, the Olympic Peninsula, and across the Puget Sound region, nearly 150 advocates representing 39 legislative districts joined us on Thursday, February 10, for FAN’s virtual Interfaith Advocacy Day. Advocates attended more than 80 meetings with legislators and their aides, in Zoom rooms and Teams windows.

Rev. Shalom Agtarap from First United Methodist Church in Tacoma and Rabbi Avi Fine from Temple De Hirsch Sinai opened our day with faith reflections on advocacy (read remarks on our Blog). Kristin Ang welcomed Sen. Claire Wilson to help provide an overview of what’s at stake this legislative session and why our advocacy is important. Attendees met their neighbors in legislative district meetings to plan their appointments.

Workshops were offered by our wonderful coalition partners: Claire Lane and Christina Wong, Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition; Jessica Zimmerle and Lindsay Bell, Earth Ministry; Michele Thomas, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance; Tremayne Edwards, Alliance for Gun Responsibility; Brenda Rodriguez Lopez, WA Immigrant Solidarity Network; Roxana Gomez, ACLU; Fernando Mejia, Communities for Our Colleges; Carolyn Brotherton, Economic Opportunity Institute; FAN volunteers Steve Clagett and Bob Beekman, Economic Justice Working Group, and Ronnie Shure, Health Care for All – Washington; and FAN staff Kristin Ang.

As the morning closed and advocates moved on to their legislative appointments, Rep. Brandy Donaghy from the 44th district took time to field questions and talk about her priorities. We are so grateful each year for those who make this day possible. Next year, in person in Olympia!

Events & Opportunities

February 17-19John Lewis: Good Trouble, an online film presentation by Meaningful Movies.

February 17, 4:30 pm PST – Hunger Ward, an online documentary film focusing on the effects of the war in Yemen on children, presented by Friends Committee on National Legislation.

Earth Ministry/WA Interfaith Power & Light, is recruiting for their next Executive Director. Learn more and share from their web page.

Communities for Our Colleges, a project of the Alliance for a Just Society, is looking for their next Education Justice Project Director/Lead Organizer. Email leeann@juststrategy.org for info or to apply.