FCWPP advocated this year for many promising bills, some of which are still under consideration in the special session now underway at the time of this writing.
- Justice reinvestment bill (SB 5755, which is necessary to implement the budget, i.e., “NTIB”) would recognize the influence of alcohol and substance abuse, or mental illness, on decisions to commit property crime. FCWPP testified and lobbied in support of this effort to increase use of treatment and probation, as an alternative to incarceration, to help reduce property crimes.
- FCWPP advocated for a tax on capital gains in excess of $500,000/couple (not to include gains from the sale of single family residence) to raise badly needed revenue and address the fact our state’s tax system is the most regressive system in the nation. Legislation supporting this reform has been part of senate/house/governor, Democrat and Republican, budget negotiations.
- Greenhouse gas emissions: FCWPP advocates for increasing public and legislators’ awareness of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate disruption. We support the governor’s proposal to make clear the currently invisible or “external” costs of free carbon through thecreation and sale of greenhouse gas emission allowances.
- FCWPP supported a strong oil-transport safety bill, to help protect against the dangers of greatly increasing oil transport by rail, pipeline, and marine waters. Only a much weaker bill attained final passage.
Unfortunately, several bills that passed the House with large bipartisan majorities were then stopped in the Senate, in some cases not permitted a vote in the Law and Justice Committee. However, our efforts increased legislator awareness of the problem definitions and solutions contained in these bills, and will increase the probability they become law in future legislative sessions or through the budgetary process.
- Post-secondary education: Remove statutory language that currently prohibits use of state funds to pay for post-secondary education for prisoners.
- CROP: Issue Certificates of Restitution of Opportunity so that the holder of such a Certificate could not be denied a professional or other license solely on the grounds of criminal history.
- LFOs: Reduce the obstacles to re-entry, rehabilitation, and reintegration into our communities that Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) create for ex-prisoners.
- Restorative Justice: FCWPP helped lay the foundation for making Restorative Justice a much more significant component of our state’s juvenile justice system. The bill we worked with Representative Goodman passed the House and made it to the floor of the Senate, before it was “cut-off” from further consideration this session. Next session we will build on this year’s work to see that Restorative Justice is recognized as an appropriate diversion of all juvenile cases.
In addition to work to increase revenue and make our state’s tax system less regressive, our Economic Justice Working Group supported efforts to:
- Increase Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) grants to their 2011 levels ($562/month for a family of three)
- Secure additional funding for the Housing Trust Fund to support low-income housing
Friends direct involvement remains vital to FCWPP success
FCWPP activists have supported these efforts by contacting their legislators in person at Quaker Lobby Day and by email and phone calls during the legislative session. They have also supported FCWPP’s work through financial donations, through background study of issues, and by the administrative work that keeps an organization like ours functioning. Steven Aldrich, our Legislative Advocate and Policy Analyst, regularly testifies at committee meetings, individually lobbies legislators, communicates with activists, and represents FCWPP on coalitions like the Welfare Action Group, Healthy Washington Coalition, and the Revenue Coalition.
Working Groups find new Energy and Light
The Environmental Stewardship and Peace Working Group has been rejuvenated, with Leni Skarin as Clerk; it was previously called Local Responses to Global Challenges. New members joined the Economic Justice Working Group (Steven Aldrich, Clerk) and the Criminal Justice Working Group continues to be active (Tom Ewell, Clerk, and Dani Rowland, Convener for the coming year).
New system supports more informed use of email Alerts
During this session, we sent a total of 9 Action Alerts and Updates to support our work, and posted all on the FCWPP website (www.fcwpp.org). For sending these Alerts and announcements, we transitioned to MailChimp, an updated service that better tracks how email recipients are using the material we send. In some cases, we contacted individual FCWPP supporters who live in the districts of “swing vote” legislators, encouraging them to lobby legislators whose votes were most needed. Thanks to all who participated in lobbying efforts by contacting legislators through phone or email, speaking with them in person, testifying at public hearings, and encouraging friends and neighbours to do the same.
Quaker Lobby Day: February 16, 2015
Our seventh annual Quaker Lobby Day attracted forty-one Friends, who started the day at Olympia Friends Meetinghouse. Senator Bob Hasegawa gave the keynote address, which was followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. Participants split into small groups for discussions on the three major FCWPP issue areas — environmental stewardship and peace, criminal justice, and economic justice — in preparation for lobbying. Then, on the capitol campus, we met and talked with legislators and their aides from sixteen legislative districts. At the end of the day, Friends celebrated their Quaker Lobby Day experiences by debriefing lobby visits and helping decide what needed to be done next. Be on the lookout next year for another opportunity to bring our Friendly presence and Quaker testimonies to the seat of public policy decision making in Washington State.
– The FCWPP Legislative Committee, June, 2015