2015 Quaker Lobby Day Issues
Environmental Stewardship and Peace Support HB 1314 / SB 5283: Implementing a carbon pollution market program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This legislation — requested by the Governor — would create financial incentives to encourage less energy consumption, to invest in technologies that produce energy with fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and to sequester free carbon. Not only would the funds raised provide revenue for transportation, education and low income citizens’ needs, but requiring major carbon emitters to pay a price through a cap-and-trade system will help reduce the effects of climate change and will move us in the direction of a cleaner environment. We cannot continue on the current path of releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere if we want our children and grandchildren to have an opportunity for good health and a sustainable environment. HB 1314: Voted out of House Environment Cmte; now in House Appropriations Cmte. SB 5283: In Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Cmte; no hearing scheduled. Support HB 1449 / SB 5087: Concerning Oil Transportation and Safety. This legislation — requested by the Governor — would improve safety in transporting crude oil by rail and barge to and through ports on our coast. It addresses the need for public information, greater fiscal responsibility for the carriers, and contingency planning for spill response. Because the shipping of crude oil by rail is dangerous, the improvement ofsafety protocols is essential, and is supported by Friends who are concerned about environmental hazards and the safety of people living along rail corridors. This legislation is not intended to address the issue of whether new oil transfer and processing facilities should be permitted in Washington ports. HB 1449: In House Environment Cmte; awaiting vote in committee. SB 5087: In Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Cmte; no hearing scheduled. Note: An alternative bill, SB 5057, has passed the Energy, Environment, & Telecom. Cmte and is scheduled for a hearing on 2/17 in Senate Ways and Means. Criminal Justice
Washington has one of the highest property crime rates in the country.
75 percent of the individuals convicted of property crimes have behavioral health problems (substance abuse, alcohol abuse, or mental health issues) that go largely untreated.
Washington does not use community custody as do other states.
HB 1885 and SB 5755 adjust the sentencing grid to require 12 months community custody (probation) for lower level felony property offenses (current response is an average of one month in prison after jail time served awaiting case resolution). $9 million is allocated to support community supervision and behavioral health treatment and services. Additional money is allocated to support increased law enforcement. The Washington Justice Commission is established; it assumes the duties of the Sentencing Guidelines Commission and administers grant programs. HB 1885: In House Public Safety Committee; hearing has been held, awaiting committee vote on Feb. 20. SB 5755: Scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee at 1:30 on Feb. 16 (Quaker Lobby Day) in Cherberg Bldg., Hearing Rm 4. Has bipartisan support.
Support HB 1390: Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) reform for released prisoners. LFOs refer to the responsibility of an offender to pay court costs and restitution fees. HB 1390 establishes restitution to victims as highest priority. It eliminates interest, set by law at 12%, on the non-restitution portion of LFOs, and permits courts to waive the non-restitution portion of the principal for offenders ruled indigent at the time of sentencing. Even though less than 25% of LFOs are ever collected, and released prisoners are most often not able to pay the thousands of dollars in LFOs they can end up owing, the obligations do not disappear and individuals’ efforts to rehabilitate themselves are compromised. Relief from this burden will help released prisoners reconstruct their lives, reduce recidivism, and thus enhance public safety. HB 1390: In House Judiciary Cmte; hearing has been held.
Support HB 1505: Restorative Justice (RJ) practice expansion and clarification for juveniles. HB 1505 supports expanded use of Restorative Justice (RJ) practices for juveniles. RJ refers to treating a crime as a break in a relationship that needs to be healed through a collaborative approach among victims, community and offenders. This bill builds on the RJ definition FCWPP successfully got into the Revised Code of Washington several years ago to increase the opportunities for using RJ in all juvenile cases except for violent crimes or sex crimes. Victim’s needs and rights continue to be protected by providing victims with opportunities to participate in RJ practices, while explicitly stating that participation is voluntary (victims are never required to participate). HB 1505: In House Early Learning and Human Services Cmte; hearing has been held.
Economic Justice Support a tax on Capital Gains to raise needed revenue and provide wealthy Washingtonians an opportunity to pay their fair share. The average Washingtonian pays $3,823/year in state and local taxes. This is 55% of the average residents from other states pay in taxes. In only five states do residents set aside less money for their collective well being than we do in Washington, residents in the remaining 44 states all pay higher taxes. While—on average—people in our state pay significantly less in taxes than do people in other states, if you are poor you pay more. This is because Washington has the most regressive tax system in the nation. We require the poorest 20% of our state’s residents pay 17% of their income in state and local taxes while we only ask for 2% from the top 1% with our state’s highest incomes. Meanwhile, our school classrooms are overcrowded, children whose parents rely on TANF to provide for their material needs suffer with grants that are 85% of their 2011 levels, and friends and families of people who are mentally ill are turning to the courts to coerce the legislature into coming up with funding to pay for needed behavioral health care and hospital beds. A 7% tax on capital gains above $25,000/individual ($50,000/couple) would provide our state with $800 million in desperately needed revenue. It would also go a long way toward requiring all state residents make a more equitable contribution to cover our shared needs, instead of putting such an unfair and disproportional burden on the poor. Support $75 million for the Housing Trust Fund. Our state has a deficit of 327,136 housing units that are affordable for and available to households with incomes below 50% of the median family income, according to the Washington State Affordable Housing Advisory Board. The Housing Trust Fund is administered through the State Department of Commerce and supports construction of desperately needed low-income housing through grants and loans. The governor proposed adding $75 million to the Housing Trust Fund to reduce homelessness and FCWPP requests support to keep this funding in any final budget.
Prevent Homelessness, increase TANF grants to 2011 levels. More than 288,000 children in our state live in poverty, a net increase 37,170 since 2009. In June, 2014, 62,579 of these children were served by our state’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) program. A family of three currently receives $478/month through TANF. This reflects a 15% cut from 2011. Restoring this cut will increase the grant for a family of 3 from $478 to $562/month, providing critical resources these families need to keep roofs over their heads.