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Quaker Voice Legislative Report 2019

Download this report in PDF format here.

Environment & Peace

Successful bills:

  • HB 1112 begins the process of phasing out hydroflourocarbons. (HFC’s) HFC’s are chemicals used as refrigerants in common appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators, which can have greenhouse impact thousands of times more than CO2. HB 1112 passed in two different forms in the Senate and the House. The Senate version pushed back implementation by one year, but after being rejected by the House the Senate passed the bill without amendments. This bill is now in the hands of the Governor, who plans to sign it.
  • HB 1114 was a great illustration of the many intersecting needs involved in the climate debate. Globally, roughly a third of food is wasted, and wasted food accounts for roughly 8% of global carbon emissions. HB 1114 addresses the issue of hunger, particularly in rural Washington, in concert with the reduction of carbon emissions This bill seeks to reduce food waste by 50% in Washington by 2030 by opening up carbon reduction funding to programs that reduce food waste.
  • HB 1257 or the clean buildings energy efficiency bill makes important investments in energy efficiency upgrades that reduce greenhouse gases more feasible with public, commercial and residential tax credits and setting higher ecological standards for building codes. It is now on the Governor’s desk.
  • HB 1578 Introduces new, more stringent standards of oil transit in Washington State, including requiring tug escorts in the Rosario strait and connected waterways. HB 1578 is now on the Governor’s desk.
  • HB 1579 Addresses our State’s insufficient chinook salmon population by implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force. It has passed both chambers and sits on the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 5116 Establishes the Washington clean energy transformation act to support the clean energy economy and to transition to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future.
  • SB 5135 Directs the Department to institute new rules phasing out the chemicals that are of particular concern to sensitive species like orcas and kids. SB 5135 is currently on the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 5397 Prohibits the production and of plastic packaging in Washington State unless the producer has a stewardship organization submit a stewardship plan on its behalf, to be approved by the department of ecology. This bill is currently on the Governor’s desk.
  • SB 5577 further implements the Orca Task Force’s recommendations by instituting a seven-naut speed limit within half a mile of orcas, as well as a 650-yard distance limit. It also introduces a whale watching certification program by the Department of Ecology. This bill has passed both chambers and is on the Governor’s desk.

Efforts to Continue Next Session

  • HB 1110 was one of the most controversial bills we lobbied on this session, and would reduce emissions from transportation fuels by 20 percent by 2035 through a combination of agency rulemaking and tax incentives. One striker which was proposed to help make it pass replaced it with a carbon fee, and it still could be revived in this form, but it is probably an effort for next year.
  • SB 5323 Prohibits retail establishments from providing single-use plastic carryout bags. This bill passed 31-14 in the Senate, and unless it is pulled out of the House Rules committee this weekend (unlikely unless they suspend the rules) it will also probably be an effort for next year.

Criminal Justice

Successful bills:

  • HB 1041. On discharging and vacating conviction records. Rep. Hansen, prime sponsor. Passed full House 95-0-0-3 and passed the full Senate 48-0. The House has now concurred with Senate amendments, so the bill will be sent to the Governor!
  • SB 5207. Although voting rights were not restored as hoped for persons under community supervision (see below), a bill (SB 5207) that prescribes notification of voting rights while still in prison (rights are restored after one leaves both prison and community supervision) was passed by both chambers and has been signed by the Governor. This new law will become effective July 28, 2019.
  • HB 1064. Amend the police accountability Initiative I-940 to honor an agreement arranged by the proponents of I-940 and law enforcement officials. Already passed both houses of the legislature and signed by the Governor. It is now law.

Efforts to continue next session:

  • Abolish Death Penalty (SB 5339). This bill would establish in law the decision of the WA state Supreme Court in the fall of 2018. Passed full Senate 28-19. Received favorable vote in House Public Safety Committee, but unfortunately, never received a vote in the full House. We have reason to hope for a better result next session.
  • Automatic restoration of voting rights for persons with a felony conviction when no longer incarcerated (currently they must have completed community supervision as well).  SB 5076 – Sen. Kuderer, prime sponsor. Quaker Voice facilitated the coalition to support SB 5076 and arranged for testimony supporting the bill (there was no opposing testimony) at the hearing before the State Government, Tribal Relations, and Elections Committee on Jan. 30; it passed out of that Committee with a favorable vote and was placed on the calendar for a vote in the full Senate.  But it was not brought to a vote in the 2019 session. Efforts will continue in the 2020 session. HB 1924 – Rep. Dolan, prime sponsor. Content similar to 5076. Approved by the policy committee, but was not brought to a vote in the 2019 session.
  • Post-conviction Review Board (SB 5819). Sen. Darneille, prime sponsor. This bill would establish review of sentences for persons who are serving a long sentence, with the possibility of parole.  SB 5819 was cut off in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Efforts will continue in the 2020 session.
  • Decriminalizing Driving with License Suspended 3.
    SB 5328
    was cut off while in Senate Ways and Means, while HB 1282 was not brought forward for a vote in full House. Efforts will continue in the 2020 session. This bill would decriminalize driving with a license suspended level 3 (typically for failure to pay fines) and help offenders work out a method of payment. It would be a major help to low-income persons who get caught in a downward spiral because of failure to pay off fines. It would also save a great deal of court time.
  • SB 5488.  Minors sentenced as adults. Prime sponsor: Sen. Darneille. Passed Senate 37-11; but unfortunately, no vote was taken in the full House.

Other issues on Quaker Voice 2019 agenda:

  • Bail bond reform
  • Local ordinances affecting homeless & persons with low income
  • Issues for elderly prisoners

Economic Justice

Successful bills:

SB 1603 is a first great step in reforming the Washington’s TANF program, Workfirst, to be more accessible to families struggling to survive. It ends permanent disqualification to TANF for people who cannot meet the obligations of the Workfirst program, such as missing a training or receiving “three strikes” for minor failures. It would also exempt people who are temporarily unable to find work, suffering from a mental health or substance disorder, or living homeless from time limits to the program. This bill would remove barriers to recipients who have lived out of the state in the past twelve months, and introduces a regular study of the standard of need and cost of living for TANF recipients.

Funding:

Quaker Voice supports increased funding for the Housing and Essential Needs program, which provides a small sum in rental and survival assistance for people who are unable to work. While budget negotiations are ongoing, the Senate includes a $15m increase and the House a $12.7m increase, on top of the underlying budget of about $58m per year.

Quaker Voice also supports increased funding of TANF, for which we won $78 million/year in both budgets.

Revenue:

The capital gains tax is still alive, as well as the progressive gradation of the real estate excise tax to decrease the rate on properties under $500,000 in value while increasing the rate for property over $1.5m in value. Quaker Voice will continue to support these efforts whether they pass this year or not.


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