Ensuring Social Justice
Social Justice

Expand economic, political, and social opportunities and protections for historically marginalized groups.

Issue Team Chair: Heather Kelly, hkelly@lwvwa.org, (415) 516-1201
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Right Now in Social and Economic Justice


Last year heralded a widespread reawakening to the effects of systemic racism and discrimination in America. The pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis are exacerbating the effects of this “other pandemic” on Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other marginalized groups. This legislative session, we will be watching for bills that seek to dismantle systemic oppression and promote more equitable outcomes for all.

General News This Week

Legislators are working around the clock to move bills to the opposite chamber before the March 9 cut-off date. Follow the floor calendars of the House and Senate to track the bills they are pulling for consideration.

Updates This Week

Under HB 1016, Washington would recognize Juneteenth as a legal holiday. Juneteenth, observed annually on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday is considered by many to be the true Independence Day of enslaved people. To learn more about the history and traditions of Juneteenth, explore this remarkable multimedia collection by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

 ACTION ALERT: Scheduled for public hearing in the Committee on State Government and Elections on March 10 at 8:00am, and executive session on March 12 at 10:30am. To support this bill before the March 10 hearing, follow the menus here to sign in “pro” or submit a public comment. You can also contact the committee members (Hunt, Kuderer, Wilson, Hasegawa, and Hawkins) here and tell them to pass this bill, or comment in support of the bill after the hearing here. 

HB 1264 (companion to SB 5274) would require that legislative proposals contain an equity impact statement. The Office of Financial Management would develop procedures, guidelines, content, and formatting requirements for such statements and train staff accordingly.

 ACTION ALERT:  Referred to the Appropriations Committee on 2/15/21. Contact your representative here and tell them to bring this bill to a vote on the floor before the March 9 cut-off.

HB 1395 Promotes equity in farming through dissemination of information and outreach to historically underrepresented groups.

 ACTION ALERT:  Referred to Appropriations on February 12. Contact your representative here and tell them to bring this bill to a vote on the floor before the March 9 cut-off.

SB 5025 (the "Consumer Protection Improvement Act") strengthens penalties for violations of the Consumer Protection Act in alignment with laws in other states, enhancing penalties for unlawful practices targeting consumers based on race, sex, or other specified characteristics. This bill was requested by the Office of the Attorney General, which found that the Washington Consumer Protection Act is weaker than most other states, penalties have not increased since the 1970s. The changes in this bill keep up with inflation and equip the AG with additional tools to protect consumers.

 ACTION ALERT: Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business at 8:00am on March 10 and executive session at 10:00 am on March 11. Contact your senator in that committee (Kirby, Walen, Vick, Dufault, Corry, Ryu, and Santos) here to urge them to vote yes. Before the March 10 hearing, sign in “pro” or submit a comment in support by following the menus here.

SB 5264 designates January as Chinese American history month and encourages public schools to commemorate the occasion. To learn more about the contributions and challenges of Chinese learn more about the contributions and challenges of Chinese Americans in Washington State, please see these materials compiled by Northwest Heritage Resources.

 STATUS UPDATE: Placed on second reading by the Rules Committee on February 17. Contact your senator here and tell them to bring this bill to a vote on the floor before the March 9 cut-off.

Other Bills the League Supports

HB 1061 Supporting youth with developmental disabilities who are exiting the child welfare system. This bill would bridge a gap in the child welfare system that puts youth at risk of homelessness or unnecessary hospitalization. Currently, there is little support in place for youth with developmental disabilities who are aging out of the child welfare system. This bill would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Family Services to study how many youths fall into that category each year and how to support their transition to adulthood by facilitating access to employment and housing.

 STATUS UPDATE: In the Senate! On first reading in the Health and Long Term Care Committee as of March 2.

HB 1076 supports whistleblowers who stand up for workers. Despite numerous laws protecting workers from unfair wages, unsafe working conditions, and discrimination on the job, these problems persist. Enforcement agencies face a backlog of cases, and workers are paying the price. HB 1076 enhances worker protections by allowing individuals and organizations to sue employers for workplace violations on behalf of the State.

 STATUS UPDATE: Passed out of the House on March 5. No date in the Senate as of this writing.

HB 1259 would expand public contracting opportunities for women and minority business enterprises by increasing the regulatory oversight and accountability of the office of minority and women's business enterprises. Supporting equitable outcomes in the business community is more urgent than ever as the pandemic wreaks disproportionate harm on businesses owned by people of color and women.

 STATUS UPDATE: Passed out of the House on March 3. No date in the Senate yet as of this writing.

HB 1335 would require cities and counties to collaborate in identifying records with racist language in property records and notify property owners of their right to have it stricken.

 STATUS UPDATE: Passed out of the House on. March 4. No future dates as of this writing.

HB 1356 would forbid public schools from using Native American names, symbols, or images as mascots, logos, or team names in an inappropriate manner.

 STATUS UPDATE: In the Senate! Scheduled for public hearing in the Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education at 8:00 am on March 12.

SB 5027 is a bipartisan bill that would require places of public accommodation to provide closed captioning on televisions. Various exceptions exist, such as for programs on between 2:00am and 6:00am. Businesses could opt out by showing compliance imposed an economic burden. Violations would breach the Washington State Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).

 STATUS UPDATE: In the House! Referred to the Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary on 2/15/21.

SB 5052
 would require the Department of Health, in conjunction with other stakeholders, to create health equity zones to assess the disproportionate impact of environmental and other health hazards on historically marginalized communities. Producing this data is the first step in creating better health outcomes for people of color, who have most recently faced the catastrophic effects of COVID-19.

 STATUS UPDATE: In the House! Was scheduled for a first reading in the Health Care and Wellness Committee, but was not officially read and was instead referred until adoption of Introduction report.

Bills the League Supports that Missed the Cut-off

SB 5023 would exclude COVID relief funds from eligibility determinations for subsidized childcare. The relief funds are intended to mitigate the financial consequences of COVID, and their value as such would be undermined if they jeopardized another public benefit like subsidized childcare.

Bills the League is Watching

HB 1015 would create the Washington Equitable Access to Credit Act. The law would require the Department of Commerce to create and operate a grant program to for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), lending institutions that provide credit to historically underserved communities. Currently, there are 26 CDFIs in Washington State financing affordable housing, businesses, nonprofits, agriculture, and other community interests. (Source: CDFI.org.) Businesses contributing to the grant program would receive a tax credit. Qualifying CDFIs would pay for a percentage of the grant as well.

HB 1071 increases the sentence of someone convicted of a crime motivated by the defendant's perception of the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disability.

Related Bills on Other Issue Pages

Social justice is a vision of change across institutions, transcending the focus of a single legislative committee or issue webpage (the Center for Social and Economic Justice offers one definition of social justice here). Please visit our issue pages below to learn about other bills we support that promote social justice.

Visit our page on Criminal Justice, which covers numerous bills related to policing, prosecution, prison, sentencing, and re-entry.

Visit our page on
Housing and Homelessness for more about:

HB 1035, Providing local governments with options to grant rent relief and preserve affordable housing in their communities.

HB 1069, Concerning local government fiscal flexibility.

HB 1070, Modifying allowed uses of local tax revenue for affordable housing and related services to include the acquisition and construction of affordable housing and facilities.

HB 1083, Concerning relocation assistance for tenants of closed or converted manufactured/mobile home parks.

HB 1220, Supporting emergency shelters and housing through local planning and development regulations.

HB 1228, Addressing residential landlord-tenant requirements in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Visit our page on
Health Care, Behavioral Health, and Reproductive Rights for more about:

HB 1047, Requiring coverage for hearing instruments for children and adolescents.

HB 1182, Enhancing and expanding behavioral health and suicide prevention crisis response service. 

SB 5068, Improving maternal health outcomes by extending coverage during the postpartum period.

HB 1074, Concerning overdose and suicide fatality reviews.

SB 5204, Creating the Whole Washington Health Trust.

SB 5140, Protecting pregnancy and miscarriage-related patient care.

Visit our page on Education
for more about:

SB 5044, Concerning professional learning, equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system.

SB 5070, Concerning menstrual products in schools.

Visit our page on Natural Resources for more about:

HB 1117, Promoting salmon recovery through revisions to the state's comprehensive planning framework.

HB 1172 /SB 5199, Recognizes judicially affirmed and treaty-reserved fishing rights and promoting state-tribal cooperative agreements in the management of salmon, trout, and steelhead resources.

HB 1327, Replacing the Marcus Whitman statue in the national statuary hall collection with a statue of Billy Frank Jr.

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