Social policies

JUmp to: Economic & social Justice; Criminal Justice; Healthcare, Behavioral Health & reproductive Rights; Housing & Homelessness; Gun safety

ECONOMIC & SOCIAL JUSTICE

Ensure equality of opportunity, prevent and reduce poverty and promote fair policies for all struggling to realize their human potential.

Issue Team Chair: Amy Davis – adavis [at] lwvwa.org – (360) 427-1956  
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2019 Legislative Session Expectations 

While last year’s legislation made strides to address the health and well-being of working families, the trend toward inequality persists even during a period of economic growth. This session's challenge is to introduce policies and structural reforms designed to correct the imbalance that keeps prosperity and upward mobility beyond the reach of lower and middle class families.

We will pay particular attention to legislation protecting domestic workers rights - those who have been excluded from many of the basic labor protections that other workers are guaranteed. We will re-visit legislation prohibiting employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history – a practice that discriminates against gender and race. We will support the Working Families Tax Rebate, Washington State’s version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit - to put money back in the pockets of low income families.

Pre-filed bills include: 

  • HB 1072 Enhancing the prevailing wage laws to ensure contractor and owner accountability and worker protection. 

  • SB 5080 Concerning earned release time and graduated reentry for educational participation and achievement for certain offenders. 

  • SB 5090 Addressing wage and salary information. 

  • SB 5058 Penalizing employers who relocate call centers to another country. 

  • HB 1056 Creating a task force to identify the role of the workplace in helping curb domestic violence. 

  • HB 1033 Concerning relocation assistance for manufactured/mobile home park tenants. 

  • HB 1001 Concerning service contract providers. 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Eradicate racial bias from the criminal justice system to uphold principles of fairness and due process of law.

Issue Team Chair: Heather Kelly – hkelly [at] lwvwa.org 
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2019 Legislative Session Expectations 

The new year promises many exciting developments in criminal justice for Washington State! Based on the pre-filed bills, our lawmakers are hard at work clarifying new laws and continuing reform efforts reflecting broader nationwide trends. First, a coalition of legislators have drafted HB 1064 to implement the new training requirements for law enforcement mandated by the 2018 ballot initiative I-940. The League proudly supported I-940 and will be studying the implementation process closely, beginning with this bill.

Three additional bills concern domestic and gender-based violence. The first, HB 1002, would eliminate a requirement of verbal non-consent for rape, currently a requirement to convict someone for rape in the third degree. A second law, HB 1055, would expand the application of no-contact orders to protect certain sex crimes victims. Finally, HB 1056, would create a task force to identify the role of the workplace in reducing instances of domestic violence.

A topic of interest at the most recent Seattle and Shoreline Action Workshops was the relationship between individuals living with mental illness and our criminal justice system. Several bills touch on this intersection of topics, including a law to improve coordination of services for veterans with mental or behavioral disorders who have been committed involuntarily, instituting a reentry program for folks emerging from psychiatric commitments in state hospitals, and creating incentives for people with behavioral disorders to avoid arrest.

Finally, the tragic frequency of school shootings have inspired responses from our Legislature. There are two bills concerning school resource officers (SRO), HB 1035, which would require an SRO in every school, and SB 5052 which would establish certain training requirements for SROs. Approaching the issue from another angle, HB 1038 would allow school employees to carry firearms.

Pre-filed bills related to criminal justice include:

  • HB 1002 Eliminate requirement of verbal non-consent for rape 
  • HB 1022 and HB 1024 Prohibiting databases of firearms owners and sales 
  • HB 1035 / SB 5052 Concerning school resource officers 
  • HB 1038 Allowing school employees to carry firearms 
  • HB 1041 Promoting successful re-entry by modifying the process for obtaining certificates of discharge and vacating conviction records 
  • HB 1064 Implementation of I-940 
  • HB 1068 Concerning high-capacity magazines 
  • HB 1056 Creating a task force to identify role of workplace in curbing Domestic Violence 
  • SB 5038 Limiting placement in adult homes of folks with criminal justice history 
  • SB 5027 Lowering age minimum for minors subject to extreme risk protection order 
  • SB 5040 Concerning equitable community placements for people with criminal justice history 
  • SB 5047 Diversion program for veterans 
  • SB 5050 Sentencing enhancement for body armor 
  • HB 1055 Allowing arrest for violations of no-contact orders for certain sex crimes victims 
  • SB 5056 Creating incentives for folks with behavioral issues to avoid the criminal justice system 
  • SB 5048 Creating a reentry community safety program for state hospital patients. 
HEALTHCARE, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, & REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

Ensure access for all residents to comprehensive, uniform and affordable physical and behavioral health care and reproductive services.

Issue Team Chair: Kim Abbey – kabbey48 [at] gmail.com – (206) 387-6134 
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Right Now In Healthcare, Behavioral Health, & Reproductive Rights

Three bills will be heard in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee this week. If one of your Representatives is a member of this committee, please contact her or him, and request that they support these bill and vote to pass it out of committee and onto the next committee.   

  • HB 1018 is scheduled for a hearing on January 22. 
  • HB 1099 is scheduled for a hearing on January 23. 
  • A hearing was held on HB 1087 on January 16th, and an Executive Session is scheduled on January 25.

A hearing for SB 5331 is scheduled for January 23 in the Senate Health and Long-term Care Committee. If your Senator is a member of the Senate Health and Long-term Care Committee, contact her or him and request that they support passage of SB 5331.

Bills the League Supports

  • HB 1087 / SB 5331 Concerning long-term services and supports. This bill addresses alternative funding for long-term care access. The creation of a long-term care insurance benefit of an established dollar amount per day for eligible employees, paid through an employee payroll premium is in the best interest of the state. This bill creates the long-term services and supports trust, the long-term services and supports trust program, and gives the state health care authority, the department of social and health services, and the employment security department distinct responsibilities in the implementation and administration of the program. This bill has bipartisan support. 
  • HB 1065 / SB 5031 Protecting consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services. These bills establish the balance billing protection act. The intent of the this act is to ban balance billing of consumers enrolled in fully insured, regulated insurance plans and plans offered to public employees under the state health care authority provisions for certain services. This act will remove consumers from balance billing disputes and require that out-of-network providers and carriers negotiate out-of-network payments in good faith. 
  • HB 1018 Concerning fair dental insurance practices. In 2000, the patients bill of rights was enacted to ensure that health insurers use appropriate medical personnel to make health care decisions and that enrollees have access to an impartial process for appealing an insurer’s decision. This patient bill of rights has been successful in protecting consumers by establishing fair health insurance practices. HB 1018 declares an intent to curb abuses by dental plans by extending the protections of the patient bill of rights to health plans that offer dental only coverage, protecting health care providers who advocate on behalf of their dental patients, and prohibiting other unfair dental insurance practices. 
  • HB 1099 Providing notice about network adequacy to consumers. This bill requires a health carrier, beginning with the 2020 plan year to post information on its website on the carrier’s compliance with network adequacy standards adopted by the insurance commissioner for each of the carrier’s health plans. This information must be updated quarterly, and the information must be posted for at least two years after the end of the applicable plan year. The insurance commissioner is authorized to audit the information a health carrier posts for accuracy. 
  • HB 1104 Requiring the submission of a waiver to the federal government to create the Washington health security trust. This bill creates the Washington health security trust to provide coverage for a set of health services for all residents. The joint select committee on health care oversight is required to contract for an actuarial analysis of the funding needs of the Washington health security trust and recommend a funding mechanism to the appropriate legislative standing committees and to the governor. The legislature is directed to enact legislation implementing the recommendations of the joint select committee during the 2020 regular legislative session. This bill creates the reserve account, the displaced worker training account, and the benefits account, along with contingent effective dates. 
  • SB 5222 Creating the whole Washington health trust. This trust will simplify health care financing, eliminate administrative waste for providers, focus savings by promoting a health care delivery system that is responsive to the essential health needs of each county, and guarantee all residents may enroll for coverage of single comprehensive set of essential health benefits as a basic human need, essential for a productive society. 
  • HB 1199 Concerning health care for working individuals with disabilities. This bill authorizes the state Health Care Authority to consider a person’s income when establishing cost-sharing requirements. The Health Care Authority is prohibited from establishing eligibility restrictions for the buy-in program based upon a person’s income or maximum age. 
  • HB 1317 / SB 5392 Establishing the profession of dental therapist. Good oral health is an integral piece of overall health and well-being. Without treatment, dental disease compromises overall health and requires increasingly costly interventions. Routine dental care and disease prevention can be prevented at little cost. This legislation would expand access to oral health care for all Washingtonians through an evidence-based mid-level dental provider called a dental therapist.  
  • HB 1331 / SB 5380 Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services. The legislature declares that the opioid use disorder is a public health crisis. State agencies must increase access to evidence-based opioid use disorder treatment services, promote coordination of services within the substance use the substance use disorder treatment and recovery support system, strengthen partnerships between opioid use disorder treatment providers and their allied community partners, expand the use of the Washington state prescription drug monitoring program, and support comprehensive school and community-based substance use prevention services. 


Additional Resources:

HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS

Achieve policies and funding necessary to address the homelessness crisis and assure an adequate supply of affordable housing for middle-to-low income people.

Issue Team Chair: Cynthia Stewart – stewdahl [at] comcast.net  
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2019 Legislative Session Expectations 

Affordable housing and responses to the needs of people experiencing homelessness cover a wide range of issues, and many strategies for increasing affordable housing and providing services to people experiencing homelessness have been suggested. The range of needs is exacerbated by the wide range of perceptions about the issues and the variations among localities in understanding the issues. Additionally, much of the discussion of affordable housing focuses on the classic definition of addressing the needs of people at or below 80% AMI. It has been suggested that the biggest need is for people at 30% or below of AMI, and that “affordable” does not correctly classify housing for these people. The word “attainable”, instead, may recognize the ability of lowest income individuals to obtain housing.

Development of new housing units will take years, even if funding is generously provided, so setting service priorities may be important. Children and youth should be prioritized because of the impacts of trauma from homelessness on their ability to learn and because children who experience homelessness are more likely than others to become homeless as adults. Services that allow people experiencing homelessness to become retrained, obtain employment and find secure shelter or temporary, transitional housing should be emphasized to avoid longer-term health and economic impacts.

As of the date of this writing, only one bill has been introduced: SB 5025, creating sales and use and excise tax exemptions for self-help housing development. This would reduce the cost of development for certain affordable housing by exempting it from some taxes. The impacts of this bill have not yet been fully analyzed.

It is anticipated that there will be a large number of bills filed this session. There is a Senate Committee, the Housing Stability and Affordability Committee, which will be working exclusively on these issues. There is a proposal to substantially increase the Housing Trust Fund, making more resources available for development of affordable housing. There are likely to also be proposals for support services funding, such as transit.

GUN SAFETY

Limit accessibility of firearms, including assault-style weapons and high capacity clips. Enact safe storage requirements for guns.

Issue Team Chair: Pat Griffith  pgriffith [at] lwvwa.org  (206) 285-2452   
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2019 Legislative Session Expectations 

With the passage of Initiative 1639 in November by nearly 60%, the Judiciary and Law and Justice Committees are likely to focus on legislation that will help to enforce provisions of the initiative. Proposals supported by the Attorney General and gun safety advocacy groups are unlikely to find their way out of committee. These proposals include limiting the size of ammunition in gun/rifle magazines and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. Also likely to receive less than enthusiastic support is a change to the 30-year old preemption law which prohibits local government from regulating weapons or where they can be prohibited.

Several pre-filed bills deal with guns and school settings. HB 1035 would provide every public school, including charter schools, with an armed resource officer. HB 1038 would allow school districts and private schools to adopt a policy authorizing permanent full-time employees to possess firearms on school grounds under certain conditions. Both bills if scheduled for hearings would be heard first in the Judiciary or Law and Justice Committees then likely referred to Education and K-12. LWVWA position supports schools as gun-free zones. Gun safety groups support extending gun-free zones to preschools and child care facilities.

HB 1010 concerns the disposition of forfeited firearms by the Washington State Patrol. Currently those weapons can be sold and often end up in criminal use.

For an up to date summary of Washington State gun laws, go to leg.wa.gov and click on the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda.

Other pre-filed bills include the following:

  • HB 1024 Prohibits the government from starting a database of law-abiding gun owners.
  • SB 5027 Enhancements to Extreme Risk Protection Orders
  • SB 5050 Sentencing enhancement for body armor.

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