We are past the halfway point of this short 60-day session that ends on March 10. Lawmakers spent long days and nights to meet the Tuesday, February 15, deadline for bills to be voted out of their house of origin. Upcoming important deadlines are February 24 for Opposite House Policy Cutoff and February 28 for Opposite House Fiscal Cutoff.

The House spent over nine hours on HB 1837 (regarding the state’s ability to address work-related musculoskeletal injuries), from the eve of February 14 to about 6:20am the next day. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, HB 2048 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) time limit extensions did not make cutoff and HB 1756 Restriction on Solitary Confinement did not get on the list of consideration. In addition to the successful bills mentioned in our Week 5 e-news, HB 2075 passed to require in-person services by DSHS and decrease telephone wait times, and HB 1169 passed to de-stack sentencing enhancements.

Gun Responsibility: A trio of gun responsibility bills passed their houses of origin, including HB 1706 closing the ghost guns loophole and HB 1630 restricting weapons in certain locations such as school board meetings and election-related facilities. SB 5078 addressing high-capacity magazine restrictions passed and was heard in the opposite house this week. This is a historic victory for gun control advocates as this is the first time a limit on firearm magazine capacity made it through a chamber. The bill bans the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Sen. Marko Liias, the bill’s sponsor, acknowledged, “States that have limited the sale of high-capacity magazines to 10 rounds have achieved significant improvements in public safety.”

Guaranteed Basic Income: This week FAN joined coalition partners to request the state legislature dedicate $10 million to fund a Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) pilot study, extend current programs already underway, and expand on the experience of locally-based pilot programs and the DSHS statewide feasibility study. Here is an example of a local GBI program in Tacoma: Guaranteed Income Initiative – Growing Resilience In Tacoma (GRIT) | United Way of Pierce County (uwpc.org)

We Feed Washington: FAN in solidarity with Northwest Harvest urged our lawmakers to add funding to We Feed WA to support Washington growers and Washington families. During the pandemic, 27% of Washington households surveyed by UW and WSU have reported struggling to put food on their tables. National supply chain disruptions have driven up food costs, making nutritious food more unaffordable at a time when our families need it most to maintain good health. The We Feed WA program is a response to this crisis, producing boxes of Washington-grown food for distribution by hunger relief organizations throughout our state.

Budget: The February Forecast issued on Wednesday by the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council showed an increase in revenue of $1.45 billion for the budget cycle ending in 2023. And that doesn’t count the more than $1 billion in unspent federal COVID relief funds. Some lawmakers want to use the increased revenue for tax cuts, while others would like to use the funds for investing in communities and programs that need it. With our coalition partners, we are demanding that the legislature do more to lift Washingtonians out of poverty by providing rental, utility, and food assistance. We are requesting that the legislature allocate $36.62 million in the budget to increase the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) grant standard to a maximum of $417/month for a one-person grant and $528/month for a two-person grant. We are also asking for $80-$100 million in the budget to help fund an equitable health program for immigrants.

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

Take Action

Some of our bills that passed their houses of origin were heard this week in the opposite house. We encourage you to check out FAN’s Bill Tracker and click on the bill number, select “comment on the bill” and indicate your support to your representatives.

HB 1868 Improving worker safety and patient care in healthcare facilities is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs on February 21 at 9:30am. The bill would address the statewide hospital staffing crisis and improve working conditions for healthcare workers by addressing staffing needs, overtime, meals, rest breaks, and enforcement.

HB 1169 De-stacking enhancements will be heard in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on February 22 at 10:30am. To learn more about the issue, please read our Criminal Justice System Reform Bills Overview. Generally, sentences for multiple offenses set at one sentencing hearing are served concurrently. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, which require sentences or portions of sentences to be served consecutively. This policy is sometimes referred to as “stacking.” The consecutive imposition of these enhancements has led to clearly excessive sentences that are disproportionate to the conduct.

Support for Afghan refugees: FAN joined 106 organizations in signing a letter calling for $30M in the supplemental budget for refugee support. The House and Senate budget committees are preparing to release their budgets between today and February 21. The next few days are critical. Please continue to sign on as individuals at this link to send letters to your legislators: www.tinyurl.com/IsupportWArefugees. Make calls to your elected leaders to express support for this budget request.

Move Ahead Washington Transportation Package: Last week, Senate and House Democrats unveiled their $16 billion, 16-year Move Ahead Washington transportation package. The transportation revenue bill, SB 5974, passed out of the Senate on February 15 on partisan lines (28 yeas, 20 nays). Its House companion bill, HB 2119, was heard on February 17 and an executive session is scheduled for February 22. Our environmental coalition partners ask that advocates encourage our lawmakers to pass this climate-forward transportation package that will accelerate clean transportation choices and prioritize communities most burdened by pollution.

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.

Learning from Each Other

We can all seek to emulate Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma! For many years during the legislative session, members have been gathering in community to advocate. This year, beginning on Martin Luther King Jr. day, the group of up to eight members has met on zoom every week to advocate electronically for a bill they choose from the FAN legislative agenda. While communicating with legislators independently, they enjoy community interaction and mutual support. Seasoned advocates help newbies. Participants attest that speaking up together has encouraged them to act on FAN’s weekly updates. One reported, “after emailing my rep, getting a response from them has encouraged me to participate more in democracy.”

Often bills chosen by members relate to interests cultivated at the church or in the community. These include defending immigrants, addressing climate change, and averting gun violence. For several years, Immanuel Presbyterian has hosted a hospitality table every month for family and friends visiting loved ones at the Northwest Detention Center (now the NW ICE Processing Center), while a team creates overnight kits for newly-released detainees who must travel alone to reach their destination. Other members who have been reading America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, by James Atwood, have become vocal supporters of gun responsibility bills.

Thanks, Beth Prevo and Immanuel Presbyterian, for inspiring us with your learning, outreach, and advocacy!

Contact FAN Partnership Coordinator Elizabeth Dickinson to share your learnings: dickinson@fanwa.org.

Toward Restorative Justice

FAN is co-sponsoring with community partners a listening session on February 22, 7:00-8:30pm, hosted by Jesuit Seattle CORE (Collaborative Organizing for Racial Equity) as a follow-up to the video Since I Been Down and panel discussion. The purposes of the listening session are to inform our continuing work on restorative justice in Washington State; to hear the specific needs and desires for education, programming, community organizing, and advocacy related to this topic; and to build a sustainable constituent/stakeholder group that will provide long term support and advocacy for change in the criminal justice system, transforming it from punitive to transformative justice, from punishment to reconciliation and healing.