Quaker Voice is an organization of citizen advocates for peace and social justice action at the state level, drawn from Quaker meetings and churches across the state. We work with legislators and agencies directly through our citizen advocates and through our professional lobbyists, Paul Benz and Jacob Squirrel. Priorities of our three working groups are reflected below and additional support bills appear on our website.
Criminal Justice Priorities
Traffic stops by police have too often led to entanglement with the criminal justice system, disproportionately for communities of color. By reducing unnecessary low-level stops, this bill helps law enforcement officers focus on traffic stops related to road safety issues such as impaired/distracted driving and reckless driving. It creates grant money to help people fix their vehicles for low-level infractions.
HB 1513 Sponsors: Street, Simmons, Doglio, Pollet, Berry, Gregerson, Ryu, Farivar, Alvarado, Reed, Bateman, Thai, Chopp,
HB 1798: Earned Release Time
The opportunity for incarcerated people to earn reductions in their sentences by participating in training and educational programs provides incentives to participate and promotes rehabilitation and accountability, preparing incarcerated persons for re-entry. This bill would expand the types of sentences for which substantial release time credits would be available. The proportion of the prison population to be affected that is Black is far higher than the proportion of Blacks in the general civilian population.
Sponsors: Doglio, Simmons, Reed, Ormsby, Gregerson
The Dept. of Corrections ended its use of solitary confinement for disciplinary purposes in 2021. HB 1087 would confirm that practice into law and extend it by prohibiting involuntary solitary confinement except for medical isolation and when there is danger to the individual or to others. Solitary confinement is traumatic and dehumanizing and harms the mental health of people subjected to it, especially those already mentally unstable and ill. Violence is often a symptom of isolation, not a cause.
Economic Justice Priorities
This bill limits the size of rent and fee increases, requires advance notice of increases, and establishes a landlord resource center among other provisions to address the rental crisis in Washington. Nearly 50 percent of households in Washington now spend more than 30% of household income on rent, constricting low-income household funds available for food, education, health care, and transportation. Rent increases forced over 136,000 Washington households to move in just the first six months of 2023.
HB 1045: Creating the evergreen basic income pilot program.
Establishes the Evergreen Basic Income Pilot Program, providing 24 monthly payments to up to 7,500 qualifying low- to no-income Washington residents in an amount equal to 100 percent of the fair market rent for a two-bedroom dwelling unit in the county in which a participant resides. The program also has provisions to minimize any impact on any other assistance the participants are receiving. HB 1045 would provide impoverished Washington families with a simple and effective resource that can permanently get people out of poverty and help them meet basic needs.
SB 5335: Developing the Washington Health Trust.
The health trust ensures that all Washington residents could enroll in “nonprofit health insurance providing an essential set of health benefits including medical, dental, vision and prescription drug benefits.”
Currently many Washington residents are either uninsured or have insurance that has high co-pays and deductibles. The health plan administered by the Washington Health trust would correct some of the inequities in access to health care found among Washington residents and improve health care outcomes amongst some of the most vulnerable including the unhoused, uninsured and unemployed.
Environmental Stewardship Priorities
HB 1933: Right to Repair
Quaker Voice has supported Right to Repair for several years because the bill would help the environment as well as low-income consumers. The bill has been extensively revised, has a new number, and its best chance so far of passing. It needs our continued help. Smart phones and computers are necessary for modern life. Restricting repair services increases both the price and the time needed for repair. Moreover, existing barriers are more likely to negatively impact small businesses from underserved communities. Replacing an item instead of repairing it creates more technological waste and increases the demand for rare earth metals.
The Re-WRAP Act could cut down on the damage that plastic and other waste inflicts on living beings. Plastic is most often produced in low-income, southern communities of color, thus inflicting serious health damage on those communities. Producer responsibility bills have proven to be the most effective way of removing plastic from products and making sure that paper products are recycled. This bill requires producers of certain paper products and packaging to participate in and fund the operations of a producer responsibility organization to collect covered packaging materials from consumers and carry out other recycling-related activities.
Quaker Voice supports the Community Solar bill for both environmental and economic justice reasons. People who own roofs might be able to get solar panels in Washington, but people who rent or do not have roofs suitable for solar have no access. Community solar is a way that groups of people can gain the economic advantage of investment in solar projects. Furthermore, local investment in solar projects helps to increase independence from fossil fuels, hedge against the effects of climate change, create more energy equity, attain environmental benefits, and promote economic development.