2014 Legislative End-of-Session Report
The 2014 legislative session was overall a quiet one meaning that most legislators were still burned out from 3 special sessions after the long session last year. This year the legislature adjourned at midnight on the 60th and final day.
Supplemental Budgets (operating, transportation, and capital)
For the second year, there was no agreement on a revenue package for the transportation budget. There was no capital budget adopted either, though some items were included in the operating budget. The operating budget funded two of our three food/hunger/nutrition budget requests: $800,000 for Emergency Food Assistance (food banks) and $200,000 for the Senior & WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs. However, the request for full funding for the State Food Assistance program, which provides funds for immigrant households, was not included in the budget. These requests were part of the legislative agenda of the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition, of which FAN is a member.
The McCleary decision for public schools funding is still way behind and will need serious attention next year. A federal waiver that would have generated $38 million for the K-12 system was missed due to partisan differences.
FAN’s Legislative Agenda
This was one of the most successful sessions ever for FAN and its two predecessor organizations (the WAC and the LPPO). Our victories include:
- Washington State DREAM Act (SB 6523-Bailey) — Provides access to the State Need Grant for ALL who reside in our state and have attended our K-12 schools. This legislation began in the House with HB 1817 (Hudgins). Once the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate came to an agreement to run their version (the Real Hope Act) instead of HB 1817, it then became bipartisan in both chambers. FAN was part of a coalition that was convened and led by OneAmerica. FAN also worked with LEAP (Latino/a Educational Achievement Project) to help create a more equitable higher education system in our state.
- Human trafficking bill (SB 6339-Fraser) — FAN’s first bill continues the effort to prevent human trafficking in our state by creating a felony if an employer is found to be in possession of an employee’s immigration documents by threat or coercion of involuntary servitude. This bill began as an idea during FAN’s Interfaith Leaders Council meeting with Governor Inslee. It passed with strong bipartisan support.
- Wage Theft bills advance! — This set of 4 bills (which was the new coalition strategy this session, versus one large bill that did not get out of committee last session) moved through the committee process in the House and all of them passed. Unfortunately, all votes on final passage were by party line. This is one more step in our continuing efforts to end and prevent wage theft in our state. Next year, we hope to get them through the Senate as well. Casa Latina has more information on the Stop Wage Theft campaign.
- Gov. Inslee’s announcement to place a Moratorium on the Death Penalty — FAN and its predecessor organizations have been advocating for many, many years to replace our death penalty statute with life without the possibility for parole. This executive order is a huge step in that direction, but will only be in effect during the Inslee administration. FAN will be working with its religious partners and the Safe and Just Alternatives coalition to make a permanent change in statute next session.
- Sealing of Juvenile Records (HB 1651-Kagi) — Judges are now required at sentencing to seal the juvenile criminal records designated by this bill (exempts sex and violent offenses from being sealed). After much negotiating with opposing stakeholders through the dedication and commitment of Senator Steve O’Ban and Rep. Ruth Kagi (the bill’s prime sponsor), a compromise was reached that brought the senators in the Majority Coalition Caucus to vote for it, and it passed unanimously (as it had twice already in the House, this session and last session). This is a really important victory for our youth (disproportionately youth of color) who will now have a greater opportunity for housing and employment after they serve their sentences and begin the challenging effort to restart their lives.
- Holiday Bill (SB 5173-Hasegawa) — This legislation allows two unpaid holidays for an employee for reasons of conscience or religious belief. Though this bill was not formally on FAN’s legislative agenda, we actively supported it the past two sessions, alongside many grassroots Muslim and other religious advocacy groups that were working for its passage. Because of this broad grassroots support and some compromises, it received bipartisan support in both chambers and will now help make our state more equitable.
- Preventing Gun & Domestic Violence (HB 1840-Goodman) — This bill is a great victory for our domestic violence community and for all of us who support gun violence prevention efforts. This would allow a judge the authority to secure the surrender of a firearm from an accused abuser who has been served an Order of Protection.
- Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharges/Document Recording Fees (SB 5875-Hill) — This bill is one example of the political saying, “a bill is never dead ’til it’s dead!” This bill died an ignominious death in its Senate committee; was then resurrected due to tenacious advocacy, savvy lobbyists, and a small dedicated group of bipartisan legislators; and finally passed the Senate on the evening of the last day of the session. It will keep alive until 2019 the real estate document recording fee when a home sale occurs. This revenue source helps prevent homelessness by providing affordable housing. The Housing Alliance has a good analysis of the final legislation.
Though universal background checks on all gun sales in our state did not achieve a victory in the legislature, FAN will continues its work to prevent gun violence. The legislature held two hearings on Initiative 594, an initiative to the legislature. FAN secured Rev. Steve Baber, co-chair of the Washington Christian Leaders Coalition, to testify in the House, and Bishop James Waggoner of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane to testify in the Senate. Because the legislature did not pass this initiative, it now moves to the November ballot for a vote from the people. FAN will continue its partnership with the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility on this campaign.
FAN’s Advocacy Days
FAN held three regional advocacy days this year. At our annual Interfaith Advocacy Day in Olympia on January 30, 300 people attended from 45 of our state’s 49 legislative districts! Together, we had 135 meetings with legislators and their staff.
We also held smaller advocacy days in Spokane and Yakima, with 80 and 25 attendees, respectively.
Regional Spring Summits
Now that the state legislative session has ended, we’ll turn our attention to national and international matters, and also to developing our advocates. Please plan to attend one of our annual Spring Summits, where we’ll talk about how we did this session, plan for the rest of the year, and learn strategies and tools for building relationships with legislators and continuing our advocacy during the “off” season.
- Yakima: Sunday, May 4, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 3:00-5:00 PM
- Seattle: Sunday, May 18, Seattle First Baptist Church, 3:00-5:00 PM
- Spokane: Sunday, June 1, Spokane Friends Meeting, 3:00-5:00 PM
- Vancouver: Sunday, June 8, First Congregational Church, 3:00-5:00 PM
Thank you for your faithful advocacy during this year’s legislative session!