Economic and SOcial Justice

Issue Team Chair: Amy Davis – adavis [at] lwvwa.org – (360) 427-1956  
Issue Paper: Economic Justice (PDF)

Update for the Week of March 18, 2018

The Governor signed League endorsed Initiative addressing police use of deadly force, I-940 and ESHB 3003.  In order to avoid putting the initiative on the November ballot, De-Escalate WA leadership and law enforcement collaborated on a policy to clarify the measure, specifically the “good faith” standard. I-940 and ESHB 3003 will:

  • Require violence de-escalation and mental health training
  • Require first aid training for all officers and require that police render first aid at the earliest safe opportunity
  • Removes the de facto immunity and adopts a reasonable officer standard
  • Requires completely independent investigations of sue of deadly force
  • Requires notification of Tribal governments where a tribal person was injured or killed
  • Brings diverse community stakeholders into the process for input on policy
    Bills the League Supported That Passed
    • SB 5407 / HB 2578 Concerning preservation of housing options for tenants, regarding ant-discrimination in economic sources. Some good news – it passed the Senate yeas, 33; nays, 14. HB 2578 Preserving and expanding rental housing options for persons whose source of income is derived from or includes sources other than employment--Passed yeas, 61; nays, 37.
    • SB 5140 / HB 1506 Equal Pay Opportunity Act, a modest, but important solution to closing the wage gap. It will lead to equal pay for equal work. It will allow employees to discuss compensation amongst themselves in the workplace without fear of reprisal. It does not solve every problem of pay inequity, but it is a strong start to protect working women and their families. 1506 passed in the House, 69 – 28, passed in the Senate 37-12.
    • SHB 1298 / ESSB 5312 known as the Fair Chance Act or Ban the Box. It prohibits an employer from including any question on an application for employment, inquiring either orally or in writing, receiving information through a criminal history background check, or from otherwise obtaining information about an applicant's criminal record until after the employer initially determines that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position. Passed the House 52-46 and passed the Senate 33-16.
    • HB 1783 In last year’s session, the House passed this bill concerning the reform of Legal Financial Obligations with 91 yeas. The Senate was urged to consider the burden imposed by the courts on people who are homeless, unable to pay, or who are mentally ill and consider passage of this bill. The accrual of interest rates alone keeps people in poverty after they get out of prison. We hope both houses will show due diligence to their communities and pass this bill. Once again, this bill passed the House on January 11 with 86 yeas and 12 nays. Passed the Senate, 32-17.
    • HB 1434 Adding the use of shared leave for employees who are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy disability or for the purposes of parental leave to bond with a newborn, adoptive, or foster child. Senate State Government and Tribal Affairs committee hearing set for February 19. Good News – passed the House 73-21. Passed the Senate 49-0. This will benefit working families tremendously.
    • HB 1570 Concerning access to homeless housing and assistance – makes the temporary $40 local homeless housing and assistance surcharge permanent. Passed the House yeas, 51; nays, 47. Passed the Senate 27-21.
    • HB 2578 Preserving and expanding rental housing options for persons whose source of income is derived from or includes sources other than employment. Passed the House! 61-37. Passed the Senate 36-13.
    • SHB 2382 Promoting the use of surplus public property for public benefit. Passed the House 53-45, and passed the Senate 26-23.

    Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass

    • SB 6052 eliminates the death penalty and instead requires life imprisonment without possibility of release or parole as the sentence for aggravated first degree murder.
    • SB 5903 establishes the Housing for All Act of 2018 addresses and suggests innovative programs concerning the needs of vulnerable populations.
    • HB 1797 Encouraging affordable housing development.
    • HB 1301/SB 5528 The employee anti-retaliation act concerning punishment of employees for complaining about the violation of workplace standards.
    • HB 2583 Concerning local authority to address affordable housing needs through regulation of rent and associated charges.
    • HB 2437 Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing.
    • SB 6406 Restoring the fair treatment of underserved groups in public employment, education, and contracting.
      Update for the Week of March 11, 2018

      Washington Legislators have officially passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act! And this is just one of many bills addressing economic justice that will set an example of how Washington State can take the lead in being a champion for policies aimed at closing the inequality gap. I would like to thank our members and followers of the Newsletter who each week, diligently urged their Senator and Representatives to support the passage of good policies.

      Big News on a League endorsed initiative – passage of I-940 and ESHB 3003 addressing police use of deadly force. According to the press release, De-Escalate WA leadership and law enforcement collaborated on a policy to clarify the measure, specifically the “good faith” standard. I-940 and ESHB 3003 will:

      • Require violence de-escalation and mental health training
      • Require first aid training for all officers and require that police render first aid at the earliest safe opportunity
      • Removes the de facto immunity and adopts a reasonable officer standard
      • Requires completely independent investigations of sue of deadly force
      • Requires notification of Tribal governments where a tribal person was injured or killed
      • Brings diverse community stakeholders into the process for input on policy
      Update for the Week of March 4, 2018
      We are celebrating the passage of so many bills. Sadly, abolishing the Death Penalty SB 6052 which passed the Senate and needed a push to the House floor appears to be no longer active this session. Meanwhile, over seven social justice bills passed both chambers. Some of these in the works for a very long time are: Ban the Box, LFO Reform, shared leave for employees, expanding rental housing options, promoting the use of surplus public property, and access to homeless housing and assistance.

      Action Alert: Connecting with National on DREAM Act

      Stand with the League of Women Voters US and contact your US Senators and Representatives to pass a clean DREAM Act to protect, not turn away, the 800,000-young people who were brought to the United States as children.
      Update for the Week of February 18, 2018

      Support I 940 De-Escalate WA at its public hearing this Tuesday, February 20, O’Brien Building Room A, 6:00pm. Our goal is to keep the current version on the ballot and avoid addition of an alternative version. The point is we need to improve community relationships between the police and the public by giving important training to officers when dealing with a crisis situation, and change the language proving an officer acted with malice before they can be prosecuted to whether they acted in good faith and in accordance with their training. We are watching many bills this week as they pass from executive sessions to the floor of both houses. Some are stuck in Rules committee and we need to give them a push – the general outlook is positive.

      Update for the Week of February 11, 2018

      Two bills designed to reform our criminal justice system are still alive this session. Year after year they were passed by large majorities in the House only to wither in the Senate. SHB 6110 prohibits employers from asking about arrests or convictions before an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position. SHB 1783 concerning legal financial obligations, urges the Senate to consider the burden imposed by the courts on people who are homeless, unable to pay, or who are mentally ill. The accrual of interest rates alone keeps people and families in poverty long after they are released from prison. We need to push both bills to a floor vote.

      Update for the Week of February 4, 2018

      Both the House and the Senate have the opportunity to update our equal pay law. But they are being pressured to weaken SB 5140 / HB 1506, the Equal Pay Act, by adding language that prevents local jurisdictions from creating stronger laws now and in the future. The current bill is a modest start that provides basic protections for equal pay. But multiple solutions will be needed in the future to solve the historical inequities of pay discrimination. We need to take action immediately by contacting our representatives and asking them to support a strong equal pay bill.

      Update for the Week of January 28, 2018

      We have been keeping a watchful eye on criminal justice reform. Washington may be the next state to abolish the death penalty. SB 6052 passed through the Senate Law & Justice Committee and is now on its way to the full Senate. SB 6110 ‘Ban the Box’ will have a public hearing this week in Senate Ways and Means.

      The possible repeal of I 200 – SB 6406 is in the works – restoring the fair treatment of underserved groups in public employment, education and contracting. Look for an executive session in Senate State Government Committee next week.

      Update for the Week of January 21, 2018

      If you blinked, you missed it. I’m referring to the number of bills being heard in committee and moving toward passage. The Equal Pay Opportunity Act HB 1506, which addresses the unfair wage gap for WA women, passed the House 69 yeas, 28 nays, 1 excused. The Senate committee on Labor and Housing should be hearing it soon. We will keep a close watch on the Senate’s full schedule this week. Also, several house bills have come to our attention concerning affordable housing, rent regulation, and new revenue sources to expand these programs.

      Update for the Week of January 14, 2018 

      Our League member, Heather Kelly, met with Governor Inslee along with several stakeholders and citizens to discuss Initiative measure No. 940 which intends to make our communities safer by requiring law enforcement officers to obtain violence de-escalation and mental health training, so that officers will have greater skills to resolve conflicts without the use of physical or deadly force. An important question was asked, how to build empathy between officers and citizens in the challenging situations involved in securing public safety. And we must become aware when dealing with possible loss of life that officers deserve to be trained for the benefit of everyone. Please stay tuned.

      We are pleased to announce the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1506) which addresses the unfair wage gap for WA women has moved out of the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards, and will be up for a vote in House on January 15.

      Two policies highlight criminal justice reform - bail reform (pre-trial detention for those who cannot make bail) a cause of jail over-crowding, and youth sentencing reform designed to give juveniles a chance at rehabilitation. We will continue to address the economic opportunity gap of individuals, families, neighbors, and communities in Washington State by supporting policies affecting those in the most needy of situations.

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