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 Recap 

One of our goals this session was to support measures to ensure equality of opportunity. We advocated for Initiative 1000 which would overturn the 20 year ban on Affirmative Action and close the Opportunity Gap for women, veterans, minorities and disabled persons seeking opportunities in public education, employment, or public contracting. We will continue to monitor and rally against any ballot measure to reverse this hard won success.

HB 1696 passed prohibiting an employer from seeking the wage or salary history of an applicant for employment. This meets our objective to promote fair policies for all by encouraging practices fair to all individuals regardless of gender. The passage of SB 5497 will establish a statewide policy supporting Washington state’s economy and immigrants’ role in the workplace – protecting their inherent rights and dignity as part of a strong economy. SB 5258 prevents the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers.

And under the vast umbrella of preventing and reducing poverty are several successfully passed bills. SB 5233 creates an alternative process for sick leave benefits for workers represented by collective bargaining agreements. SB 5035 raises the penalties for failure to pay prevailing wages.

One of our disappointments is the HEAL ACT - HB 2009 which lost ground in the last round of negotiations. This would have created a task force to address health disparities due to environmental impacts – environmental justice for those vulnerable populations wherein life expectancy, health and quality of life outcomes demand increased awareness and resources.

Next year’s challenge will be to continue to seek justice for those struggling to realize their human potential. Our list will include the HEAL ACT, HB 1783 to create a Washington state office of equity, and if necessary, campaigning for enduring Affirmative Action reform.

Bills the League Supported That Passed
  • HB 1001 Concerning service contract providers. Passed the House, 98-0. Passed the Senate, 46-0, 3 excused. Governor signed April 8, 2019. 

  • HB 1696 Prohibiting an employer from seeking the wage or salary history of an applicant for employment.  The League supports employment laws and regulations which encourage practices fair to all individuals regardless of gender. HB 1696 protects employees in the private sector from wage discrimination. Passed the House, 56-40, 2 excused. Passed the Senate 37-10, 2 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 

  • SB 5035 Enhancing the prevailing wage laws to ensure contractor and owner accountability and worker protection. This bill raises the penalties for failure to pay prevailing wages. Passed the Senate, 40-7, 2 excused. Passed the House 59-36, 3 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 

  • SB 5233 Creating an alternative process for sick leave benefits for workers represented by collective bargaining agreements. Passed the Senate, 48-0, 1 excused. Passed the House, 92-1, 5 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 30, 2019.

  • SB 5258 Preventing the sexual harassment and sexual assault of certain isolated workers. Passed the Senate 47-0, 2 excused. Passed the House 57-35, 6 excused. Senate refused to concur in House amendments. After Conference, House passed 73-25. Delivered to Governor for signature. 

  • SB 5497 Establishing a statewide policy supporting Washington state's economy and immigrants' role in the workplace. This bill recognizes their vital economic contributions and protects their inherent rights and dignity as part of a strong economy. Passed the Senate 30-16, 3 excused. Passed the House 57-38, 3 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature. 
Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
  • HB 1033 Concerning relocation assistance for manufactured/mobile home park tenants. Re-locating can be very expensive for mobile home park tenants. This will free up some funds for those vulnerable individuals facing this dilemma. 

  • HB 1056 Creating a task force to identify the role of the workplace in helping curb domestic violence. Passed the House, 97-0, 1 excused. (May be Necessary to Implement the Budget)

  • HB 1783 / SB 5776 Creating the Washington state office of equity.   
  • HB 2009SB 5489 Establishing a healthy environment for all by addressing environmental health disparities. A task force will set out to identify environmentally impacted communities. This is an environmental justice issue. Its value is that everyone thrives when we work together to help children reach their full potential in all parts of the state. 

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 Recap 

Our legislative agenda this year was to support legislation instituting criminal justice reforms for those both in and out of custody. People subject to forensic commitments will now have access to timely competency evaluations as required by the Trueblood settlement (2SSB 5444). Formerly incarcerated individuals will have earlier and easier access to the vote (SB 5207) and an easier time cleaning up their criminal record to improve employment, housing, and education prospects (SHB 1041). HB 1064 codified a modified version of the law enforcement reform instituted under De-Escalate Washington initiative I-940.

Reforms that did not pass this session, such as ending the death penalty (SB 5339), will hopefully be re-introduced in the next session.

Bills the League Supported That Passed
  • SHB 1041 This bill would promote successful re-entry of formerly incarcerated individuals into society by modifying the process for obtaining certificates of discharge and vacating conviction records. Streamlining this process will enable people to find employment more quickly, easing their integration back into the community by creating opportunities for self-sufficiency. Passed the House, 95-0. Passed the Senate, 48-0, 1 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature.
  • HB 1064 Implementing De-Escalate Washington (I-940) consistent with the terms that emerged from a collaboration between law enforcement and the families of people killed in police encounters. On January 30 the Senate unanimously approved HB 1064 and on February 4, 2019, Governor Inslee signed HB 1064 into law. Congratulations to the families and supporters of De-Escalate Washington on this incredible achievement. Stay tuned for updates on supporting the implementation of this new law.
  • SB 5207 This bill would require that the Department of Corrections provide inmates with a felony conviction with information on how to restore their right to vote along with a voter registration form. Too often someone leaves the prison system believing that their right to vote has been taken away permanently. (see Elections Issue updates for more information)  Passed the Senate, 37-12. Passed the House 76-21. Signed by the Governor April 17, 2019.
  • 2SSB 5444 This bill would align the law with the terms of the settlement in A.B. by and through Trueblood et. al. v Washington State D.S.H.S. (“Trueblood”). By court order, Washington is required to reduce the amount of time that people with behavioral health conditions sit in jail waiting for services and treatment. Specifically, the settlement requires improved competency evaluations, competency restoration services, crisis triage and diversion support, education and training, and workforce development. Passed the Senate 48-0. Passed the House 97-1, 1 excused with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature.  (see Health Care, Behavioral Health, & Reproductive Rights Issue updates for more information)  
Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
  • HB 1068 / SB 5062 Imposing a limit on the size of ammunition magazines. 
  • SHB 1924 Would automatically restore voting rights to those emerging from state prison, including those under community custody. 
  • SSB 5076 This bill would allow people who are on parole to register to vote as long as they were in compliance with the conditions of their parole. Currently, that right is not restored until they have completed their term of parole. 
  • SB 5339 Abolishing capital punishment in response to the 2018 Washington State Supreme Court in State v. Gregory holding that the death penalty is racially biased and unconstitutional.
HEALTH CARE, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, & REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

Ensure access for all residents to comprehensive, uniform and affordable physical and behavioral health care and reproductive services.
Reproductive health care should be affordable, available, and should provide a comprehensive range of services including abortions.

Issue Team Chair: Kim Abbey – kabbey48 [at] gmail.com – (206) 387-6134 
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2019 Legislative Session Recap

Below you can read the list of bills that were passed by the end of the legislative session on April 28, 2019. With the passage of 2SHB 1087, Washington State is the first in the nation establish a Long-term Care Trust Act. Several other bills that passed are steps toward improved transparency for consumers of health insurance and price control of health services. Behavioral health and reproductive health services both have new laws for expanded services and protections. The bills listed below under ‘Did Not Pass’ will be introduced again in January 2020.

Bills the League Supported That Passed

Health Care

  • 2SHB 1065 Protecting consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services. Also called the ‘Surprise Billing bill’ or ‘Balance Billing Protection Act’. An out-of-network provider or facility may not balance bill an enrollee for emergency services provided to an enrollee or non-emergency health care services provided to an enrollee at an in-network hospital that are provided by an out-of-network provider. This bill was requested by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Passed the House 84-13, 1 excused. Passed the Senate 47-0, 2 excused. Pending signature of chamber officials before being delivered to the Governor. 
  • EHB 1074 Protecting youth from tobacco products and vapor products by increasing the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco and vapor products to 21 years of age. The bill requires redesigned signage for retailers indicating the new smoking age of 21. This bill was requested by the Attorney General and the Department of Health. Passed the House 66-30, 2 excused. Passed the Senate 33-12, 4 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 5, 2019. 
  • 2SHB 1087 Concerning long-term services and supports. Washington State is the first in the nation to create a Long-term Care Trust Act. This bill addresses alternative funding for long-term care and support services in the home or in a nursing facility for eligible employees. It is funded through an employee payroll premium. It will give the state health care authority (HCA), the department of social and health services (DSHS), and the employment security department (ESD) distinct responsibilities in the implementation and administration of the program. Summary of Public Testimony: ‘Long-term care insurance is financially out of reach for many’ and ‘The Trust Program provides another solution. It solves both a Medicaid problem and an individual family problem’. Passed House 63-33, 2 excused. Passed Senate 26-22, 1 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
  • ESHB 1099 Providing notice about network adequacy to consumers. This bill will provide patients with the information they need to make informed choices on what care they can access with their coverage. Summary of Public Testimony: ‘Network adequacy should be transparent at the time someone purchases coverage’. Passed the House 97-0. Passed the Senate 45-0, 4 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019. 
  • SHB 1199 Concerning health care for working individuals with disabilities. Summary of Public Testimony: ‘People with disabilities should be able to work without having to choose between getting paid more money, working more hours or giving up their Medicaid benefits. This bill also alleviates the numerous restrictions that are placed on people with disabilities and simplifies the eligibility process so that people do not fear that employment will jeopardize their health care’. Passed the House 97-0. Passed the Senate 46-0, 3 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 19, 2019. 
  • E2SHB 1224 Concerning prescription drug cost transparency. Drug companies are in control of the original price of the drug. This bill requires that carriers and manufactures report on the most expensive drugs contributing to rising premiums. It is a step toward improved transparency and price control. Passed the House 80-18. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature.
  • 2SHB 1497 Requires funding for the governmental public health system to be restructured to support foundational public health services. There must be efforts to reinforce current governmental public health system capacity and implement service delivery models. By October 1, 2020, DOH, in partnership with tribes, local health jurisdictions, and Board of Health, must report on: service delivery models for foundational public health services, and a plan for further implementation of successful models; changes in capacity of the governmental public health system; and progress made to improve health outcomes. This bill was requested by the Department of Health. Passed the House 94-4. Passed the Senate 44-1, 4 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 3, 2019. 
  • EHB 1638 Promoting immunity against vaccine preventable diseases. Removes the philosophical or personal objection exemption for the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Passed the House 57-40, 1 excused. Passed the Senate 25-22, 2 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature. 
  • SB 5032 Concerning Medicare supplemental insurance policies. Requested by the Insurance Commissioner. Commonly known as ‘Medigap’, this bill adds the standardized Medicare supplement ‘policy G with high deductible’ to the list of policies that every issuer of Medicare supplement policies in Washington must offer. Passed the Senate 47-0, 2 excused. Passed the House 93-0, 5 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 17, 2019. 
  • ESB 5210 Notifying purchasers of hearing instruments about uses and benefits of telecoil and Bluetooth technology. This bill has bipartisan support. Passed Senate 44-4, 1 excused. Passed House 93-2, 3 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 29, 2019.
  • SB 5274 Concerning dental coverage for Pacific Islanders residing in Washington. Passed the Senate 47-0, 1 excused. Passed the House 59-36, 3 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature.
  • SB 5415 Creating the Washington Indian health improvement act. Creates the Indian health improvement reinvestment account. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused. Passed the House 96-0, 2 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
  • SB 5425 Concerning maternal mortality reviews. Summary of Public Testimony: ‘Establishing a permanent maternal mortality review will help us align with national recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also positions the state well to receive federal funding’. Passed the Senate 46-0, 3 excused. Passed the House 98-0 with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
  • ESSB 5526 Increasing the availability of quality, affordable health coverage in the individual market. Also known as ‘Cascade Care’, this bill was requested by the Governor's Office. The goal of the plan must be to enable participating individuals to spend no more than 10 percent of their modified adjusted gross incomes on premiums. The plan must also include an assessment of providing cost-sharing reductions to plan participants. Delivered to Governor for signature. 

Behavioral Health

  • 2SHB 1394 Concerning community facilities needed to ensure a continuum of care for behavioral health patients. Requested by Office of the Governor. Would require Department of Health to license or certify two new types of behavioral health facilities. Passed the House 98-0. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused with amendments. Delivered to the Governor for signature.
  • E2SHB 1874 Expanding adolescent behavioral health care access as reviewed and recommended by the Children’s Mental Health work group. Summary of Public Testimony: ‘It is important for children to seek and obtain behavioral health treatment without the consent of a parent. There needs to be balance to protect that right and involve parents in behavioral health treatment. This bill empowers children to access treatment but expands the ability for parents to be involved with the treatment of a youth’. Passed the House 89-8, 1 excused. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature.
  • SB 5380 Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services. Requested by the Office of the Governor. Passed the Senate 47-0, 1 excused. Passed the House 96-2 with amendments. Delivered to the Governor for signature.
  • 2SSB 5432 Concerning fully implementing behavioral health integration for January 1, 2020. Requested by the Office of the Governor. Passed the Senate 46-2, 1 excused. Passed the House 95-0, 3 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature. 
  • SB 5444 Providing timely competency evaluations and restoration services to persons suffering from behavioral health disorders within the framework of the forensic mental health care system consistent with the requirements agreed to in the Trueblood settlement agreement. Requested by the Office of the Governor. The Trueblood settlement obligates the state to take numerous actions calculated to speed the delivery of competency evaluation and restoration services. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused. Passed the House 97-0, 1 excused. Delivered to the Governor for signature.

Reproductive Rights

  • 2SSB 5602, Eliminating barriers to reproductive health care for all. Directs the Health Care Authority to administer a family planning program for individuals over nineteen years of age. Prohibits discrimination in the provision of certain reproductive health care services based on immigration status or gender identity or expression. Requires health plans and student health plans to provide coverage for certain reproductive treatments and services. Passed the Senate 28-17, 4 excused. Passed the House 59-39. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
  • HB 1018 Concerning fair dental insurance practices.
  • HB 1104 Requiring the submission of a waiver to the federal government to create the Washington health security trust. 
  • HB 1240 Concerning suicide review teams, requires the department of health to establish the youth suicide review team to review circumstances related to suicides occurring among youth up to age twenty-four.
  • HB 1317SB 5392 Establishing the profession of dental therapist.
  • SB 5048 Establishing a reentry community safety program for state hospital patients.
  • HB 1432 / SB 5648 Concerning hospital privileges for advanced registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants. 
  • HB 1902 Promoting consumer ease, administrative simplification, and cost efficiency by requiring a single bill for health care services covered by a qualified health plan. 
  • HB 2054: The department of behavioral health facilities is created as an executive branch agency. 
  • SB 5222 Creating the whole Washington health trust. 
  • SB 5257 Restricting the practice of female genital mutilation.
  • SB 5282 Requiring informed consent for pelvic exams while under anesthesia.
  • SB 5841 Eliminates the philosophical or personal objection exception for vaccines required to attend school or a licensed day care center.
  • SB 5483 Improving services for individuals with developmental disabilities. 
  • SB 5822 Providing a pathway to establish a universal health care system for the residents of Washington state. Although the bill did not pass the legislature, the wording of this bill is intact in the state budget, which will be signed by the Governor.
Bills the League Opposed That Did Not Pass
  • HB 1526 Enacting the Washington pain capable unborn child protection act. 
  • HB 1560 Concerning restrictions on types of abortion.
  • SB 5185 Requiring parental notification for minors to obtain abortion.
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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Right Now In Housing & Homelessness

More than 100 bills related to affordable housing and homelessness were introduced and we followed and supported many of them. Some major reform bills have passed, including some in the last days of the session. Many have died but some could be restored next year in the second session of the biennium.

    Bills the League Supported That Passed 
    • SHB 1105 Protecting taxpayers from home foreclosure would require notification, a process and an assistance resource for people in jeopardy of home foreclosures. Passed the House, 59-38. Passed the Senate 44-3. The House concurred with Senate amendments, and has gone to the Governor for signature. 
    • HB 1219 Providing cities and counties authority to use real estate excise taxes (REET) to support affordable housing and homelessness projects. This bill would add affordable housing and homelessness projects to the allowable uses for the REET tax that is already authorized and is currently limited to public works projects. Passed the House, 74-24. Passed the Senate 34-13. Signed by the Governor April 19, 2019.  
    • HB 1377 Related to affordable housing development on religious organization property would require an increase in density allowed when religious organizations provide housing on their property. This recognizes the efforts that many organizations of faith are making to provide shelter and/or housing for people experiencing homelessness. Passed the House, 84-12, 2 excused. Passed the Senate 42-3. Signed by the Governor on April 30, 2019. 
    • HB 1406 Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing, would allow participating jurisdictions to retain a portion of the sales tax that would otherwise be sent to the State, for investment in affordable and supportive housing. The House Housing, Community Development & Veterans Committee amended HB 1406 in public hearing. The bill as substituted would allow either a county or city to begin levying the tax upon the effective date of the bill and makes several technical clarifications that do not affect the intent of the bill. Passed the House, 66-32. Passed the Senate 33-15. Delivered to the Governor for signature. 
    • HB 1440 Providing longer notice of rent increases would require a landlord to provide a tenant at least 60 days' prior written notice of an increase in rent and prohibiting a rent increase during the term of the lease. The rent increase would only apply at the end of the lease term. Passed the House, 62-36. Passed the Senate 29-18. Signed by the Governor April 23, 2019. 
    • HB 1657 Concerning services provided by the office of homeless youth prevention and protection programs would authorize the use of HOPE Centers for the placement of a child in need of services and remove the limit of HOPE Center beds statewide, clarify street outreach services are available to both youth and unaccompanied young adults and align licensing requirements for HOPE Centers, as well as staff education and experience requirements with Department of Children, Youth, and Families licensing and staff. Passed the House 94-0. Passed the Senate 46-0. Signed by the Governor on April 24, 2019.
    • SB 5025 Relating to sales and use and excise tax exemptions for self-help housing development would exempt the building and sale of self-help housing (self-help housing organizations support low-income individuals and families by assisting them in the development of residential dwellings by using homebuyer and volunteer labor) by an affordable homeownership facilitator from retail sales and use tax and the real estate excise tax. Passed the Senate, 46-2, 1 excused. Passed the House 98-0. Delivered to the Governor for signature. 
    • SB 5324 Support for students experiencing homelessness, would provide grants via the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to school districts to increase identification of students experiencing homelessness and the capacity of the districts to provide support for students experiencing homelessness. This would complement the McKinney-Vento program. It requires partnering with related community organizations and is intended to address economic inequality as well as other factors. Passed the Senate, 46-1, 2 excused. Passed the House 96-0 with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    • SSB 5383 Concerning tiny houses would authorize cities and towns to adopt ordinances regulating the creation of tiny house communities, including through use of the binding site plan method. It would prohibit cities and towns from adopting ordinances that prevent entry or require removal of a tiny house with wheels used as a primary residence in a manufactured/mobile home community. It would also apply all landlord-tenant rules to tenants in tiny houses. Passed the Senate, 44-2, 3 excused. Passed the House 95-0 with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    • SB 5600 Relating to residential tenant protections would extend notice to tenants from three days to 21 days before eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent may commence. It would extend the pay-or-vacate period to at least two weeks before an eviction process can be started, and prevent tenants from falling back into the eviction process via late fees and court fees. It would require the notice be written in plain language and include information on civil legal aid resources available to the tenant. Passed the Senate, 31-15, 3 excused. Passed the House 51-46 with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature.
    • SB 5800 Concerning homeless college students would establish pilot projects in four community colleges and two four-year colleges at which support services for students experiencing homelessness would be provided. Data about the effects of the program would be collected and reported in 2023. Passed the Senate, 30-18, 1 excused. Passed the House 57-38 with amendments. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
    • HB 1033 Concerning relocation assistance for manufactured/mobile home park tenants would authorize manufactured/mobile home park tenants seeking relocation assistance from the Mobile and Manufactured Home Relocation Assistance Program to receive other funding for relocation purposes without reducing their eligibility for Relocation Assistance Funds and to use the Program Funds to secure housing that is not a manufactured home.
    • HB 1044 would modify income qualifying thresholds for the property tax exemption for low income senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and disabled veterans by creating a range, rather than a single income level. It is expected to increase eligibility for the tax exemption.
    • HB 1168 Creating sales and use and excise tax exemptions for self-help housing development would provide a sales and use tax exemption for qualifying purchases of labor, services, and tangible personal property related to self-help housing and a REET exemption on the sale of self-help housing by an affordable homeownership facilitator to a low-income household.
    • HB 1181 Providing property tax relief for senior citizens and qualifying veterans Income thresholds for the senior citizen, individuals with disabilities, and veterans would modify the property tax exemption by creating income ceilings based on a percentage of county median household incomes.
    • HB 1206 Concerning park models, tiny homes, and manufactured homes and modifying the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (MHLTA), removing references to "park models" and adding a definition of "tiny home" to the MHLTA.
    • HB 1278 Concerning room and board for college bound scholarship students would require public institutions of higher education that offer on-campus housing options to provide a one-year waiver for on-campus housing to eligible students (those who upon graduation from high school, are considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Act) on a space available basis.
    • HB 1453 Relating to residential tenant protections would extend notice to tenants from three days to 21 days before eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent may commence. It would extend the pay-or-vacate period to at least two weeks before an eviction process can be started, and prevent tenants from falling back into the eviction process via late fees and court fees. It would require the notice be written in plain language and include information on civil legal aid resources available to the tenant.
    • HB 1581 Funding local housing trust fund programs in certain cities would authorize certain cities to create a local housing trust fund for affordable housing and to impose a local sales tax, credited against the state sales tax on construction activities, with the added tax to be deposited in a local housing trust fund. The certain cities that would be authorized are Tacoma and Spokane.
    • HB 1590 Allowing the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by a councilmanic authority would authorize county or city legislative authorities to impose the local sales and use tax for housing and related services and eliminate the requirement that the imposition of the tax be subject to the approval of a majority of county or city voters at a general or special election.  
    • HB 1694 Allowing tenants to pay certain sums in installments would require landlords to permit tenants to pay deposits, nonrefundable fees, and last month's rent in installments, subject to one exception and some general parameters regarding the number and timing of the installments.
    • HB 1797 Concerning local governments planning and zoning for accessory dwelling units would require cities and counties to adopt or amend by ordinance and incorporate into their development regulations, zoning regulations, and other official controls, an authorization for the creation of accessory dwelling units.
    • HB 1921 Addressing the regressive nature of the Washington state housing market would change the basis of the State Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) from a flat 1.28 percent to a variable rate, lower for properties under $500,000, the same up to $1.5 million, and higher at values over $1.5 million. It also directs 70% of the proceeds to the Housing Trust Fund and the remainder to the general fund. Selling price thresholds for the variable rates must be updated every four years. This bill changes the basis for REET to a progressive from a flat tax and is expected to generate more funds for the State while allowing a reduction in payments by owners of lower priced properties. This would be new revenue for the Housing Trust Fund. 
    • HB 1938 Creating a local infrastructure investment program to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts would allow cities and counties to apply for a remittance of 4.37 percent of the state sales and use tax on construction of local infrastructure to support the development of affordable housing, workforce housing, and revitalization efforts. According to the fiscal note, this could his could generate $34.9 million in sales tax remittances to local governments.
    • HB 1982 Waiving groundwater fees for low-income housing would waive groundwater fees for affordable housing providers and low-income home-owners.
    • HB 2004 Concerning the property tax exemption for nonprofit organizations providing rental housing or mobile home park spaces to very low-income households would add mobile home parks to the current exemption.
    • HB 2110 Modifying the definition of affordable workforce housing for the purposes of permitted lodging tax revenu expenditures would redefine the eligibility threshold from between 30% and 80% of AMI to below 80% AMI.  
    • HB 1656 / SB 5733 Protecting tenants in residential tenancies, would require a landlord to have a legitimate business reason to terminate a tenancy. Currently a 20-day notice is required, which is insufficient for the tenant to find replacement housing. This bill would replace that notice requirement with a requirement that the landlord have a legitimate reason to terminate the lease, even if on a month-to-month basis.
    • SB 5261 Creating a pilot program for certain cities to hire homeless persons for local beautification projects, would create a three-year pilot program for three cities to provide job opportunities at minimum wage or greater in conjunction with other wrap-around services.
    • SB 5289 Concerning nonprofit homeownership development would expand the low-income housing development property tax exemption to include qualified cooperative associates. It would allow limited equity partnerships and cooperatives as an option for developing affordable housing that leads to home ownership.
    • SSB 5357 Authorizing cities and counties to impose additional taxes for affordable housing, would allow cities and counties to approve an additional .5% REET within their respective jurisdictions with proceeds to be used exclusively for development of affordable housing. This bill was substituted with one that would allow an additional .25 (lower) increase.
    • SB 5363 Extending the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban centers for 12 years. 
    • SB 5382 Concerning tiny houses serving as accessory dwelling units would authorize a tiny house to be considered an accessory dwelling unit for permanent residence purposes without being attached to or constructed within the primary dwelling unit and a tiny house with wheels to be considered an accessory dwelling unit without being attached to or constructed within the primary dwelling unit if the tiny house owner has made reasonable accommodation for water, power, and sewage disposal for its use as a permanent residence.
    Bills the League Opposed That Did Not Pass
    • SB 5384 Concerning the location of tiny house communities would allow counties to authorize establishing tiny house communities outside urban growth areas when there is a shortage of affordable housing within reasonable distance from urban services. This bill would allow development of increased density using tiny houses outside the urban growth area. The density should stay inside the urban growth area.
    • SB 5802 Establishing housing affordability zones would require comprehensive plans to create zones for affordable housing and require that affordable housing be established only within those zones.
    • SB 5882 Prohibiting the location of homeless encampments near schools and early learning facilities.
    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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    Mark your calendar for Wear Orange for Gun Safety March, June 9, 10:00am. Walk from Sam Smith Park in Seattle to Mercer Island. Sponsored by Moms Demand Action and League of Women Voters Seattle-King County. #WearOrange

    2019 Legislative Session Recap 

    Our major legislative agenda was to restrict large capacity magazines and ban so-called “ghost guns” as well as empowering law enforcement to remove weapons in domestic violence and Extreme Risk Protection order cases.

    The recently complete legislative session made significant improvements to gun safety though two priority bills which passed both House and Senate committees never reached the floor for a vote. Gun safety supporters made their presence known at committee hearings though past years have been dominated by pro-gun interests.

    Bills that passed and were signed by the governor built on recent initiatives and legislation. Among those was SSB 5954 which funds the state bump-fire stock buy-back program, based on last year’s bump stock ban.

    Other bills strengthened Extreme Risk Protection Orders and clarified how firearms can be removed from households considered in danger and in domestic violence situations (SHB 1225, SHB 1786, SSB 5027).

    Washington became the second state nationally to ban so-called “ghost guns”, which are undetectable weapons that cannot be detected by commonly used security screenings. These weapons can be printed with a 3-D printer. Federal legal proceedings are going through the courts to prohibit distribution of plans for 3-D weapons. (SHB 1739).

    Other loopholes closed include requiring concealed pistol permit holders to undergo background checks when purchasing additional weapons; disallowing persons with a history of violence who were found incompetent to stand trial to purchase or possess firearms,

    New legislation also seeks to clarify how background checks for concealed pistols are processed.

    Disappointments included the failure of the restrictions on large capacity ammunition to proceed to a floor vote. Also, a bill to add childcare centers to the gun-free zones and to require safe storage for family day cares did not emerge from Rules Committee. The bill to change the state pre-emption law to allow municipalities to regulate firearms in public facilities failed to emerge from committee. These are measures we will be supporting in the 2020 session.

    Bills the League Supported That Passed
    • HB 1225 Sets standards for removal of weapons by law enforcement in domestic violence calls. Passed the House 60-38. Passed the Senate 27-20. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    • SHB 1739 Concerning untraceable ghost guns. Passed the House 55-41. Passed the Senate 30-18. Delivered to Governor for signature.  
    • SHB 1786 Strengthens our protective order system and standardizes the way firearms are addressed in those situations. Passed the House 56-42. Passed the Senate 25-20. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    • SHB 1949 Firearms background checks. Passed the House, 97-0. Passed the Senate, 48-0, 1 excused. Signed by the Governor on April 17, 2019.
    • ESSB 5027 Enhancements to Extreme Risk Protection Orders for juveniles and penalties. Passed the Senate 43-5. Passed the House, 56-37, 5 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    • SB 5205 Concerning provision governing firearms possession by persons found incompetent to stand trial. Passed the Senate 30-17, 2 excused. Passed the House 53-39. Delivered to Governor for signature.  
    • SB 5508 Requires background check to Concealed Pistol License holders when acquiring a new firearm. Passed the Senate, 47-0. Passed the House, 93-0, 5 excused. Delivered to Governor for signature. 
    Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
    • 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.
    • SHB 1068 / SSB 5062 Imposing a limit on the size of ammunition magazines.
    • HB 1319 Allows cities to regulate open carry in public meetings. 
    • SSB 5434 Prohibits carrying or possession of guns in licensed child care centers. 

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