Issue Team Chair: Amy Davis – adavis [at] lwvwa.org – (360) 427-1956
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:
Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.