Thanks to the congregation, we had a great year in the Lobby Room with over 3100 legislative contacts reported! Some highlights of the legislation are described below. The Lobby Room is a collaboration between EUUC Social Justice Committees, specifically Advocates for Women, Peace & Justice, and Racial Justice. Teams from each committee review the legislative agendas of our partners and select high priority bills to support. Then, we provide a synopsis of bills and actions to be taken for members of the Congregation. We owe a vote of thanks to these hard working teams! While the legislative session is still fresh in your mind, please let us know what worked for you, what didn’t work, and how we can improve next year.
New this year: Legislative alerts
This year we introduced a new tool to keep those interested in the loop: Legislative Alerts. Folks could sign up for alerts on Climate Justice, Reproductive Justice, and/or Racial Justice and then would receive one or two emails per week from that team with specific designated actions. We got much positive feedback regarding this new system and saw four times as many contacts logged this year than our previous best! If you would like to be added to one or more of these lists for next year, you can email the Lobby Room.
Victories and Defeats in the Climate Agenda
Some high notes include include passing these bills:
- HB 1181, a key addition to the Growth Management Act, requiring local governments to plan specifically for climate change challenges.
HB 1110 – Increases middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family detached housing. It will reduce sprawl and vehicle miles traveled and provide needed housing for all income levels.
- HB 1460 (Trust Land Transfer Revitalization) Strong bipartisan support enabled conservation of 4,425 acres of land – salmon streams in a rapidly urbanizing area (Eglon), globally rare forests (Devils Lake), rare wildflower habitat and shrub-steppe (Upper Dry Gulch), access to a popular fishing area (Chapman Lake), and increased one of the Puget Sound’s most popular outdoor recreation areas (West Tiger).
We also stopped a couple of really bad bills. These included one that would have reduced the amount of water in salmon streams, and one that would have transferred the jurisdiction of wolf management from the Department of Wildlife to counties (and hence special interests).
As usual, some of the bills we were really hoping to pass did not – the WRAP Act which would have made plastic producers responsible for the lifecycle of their products and the Transit-Oriented Development bill will be back next session with more outreach and education – and maybe some tweaking. Here’s a selected update.
Reproductive Justice Advances
Of the 19 Reproductive Justice-related bills in the Lobby Room, 13 of them passed! Our wins included timely bills to end abortion cost-sharing, to protect our health data from snooping, and to protect providers of abortion and transgender care from out-of-state harassment. We were sad that the Keep Our Care Act, which addresses the takeover of health systems by religious entities, failed again this year. However we were encouraged that it got farther in the legislative process than it has before.
We had good success with bills on gender-based violence, including increased consequences unauthorized disclosure of intimate images, better protections against the use of firearms in domestic violence, and more assistance to victims of sexual assault. While bills allowing more childcare centers and increased assistance for prenatal drug exposures passed, more substantial bills aimed at financial assistance for families saw little success. Creating a progressive rather than regressive revenue stream continues to be a work in progress in Washington state. You can see more details of the Reproductive Justice bills we supported in this document.
Moving Forward for Racial Justice
Of the ten bills followed by the Racial Justice Lobby Team, all but one made it out of policy committees, and four passed both chambers: Washington will now have oversight over private detention facilities; a program to close the homeownership gap by redressing past housing discrimination; the right to post-conviction counsel; and a cold case investigation unit focusing on missing and murdered indigenous people. The cold case unit bill was passed unanimously by both chambers.
Bills that didn’t quite get past the finish line include limiting solitary confinement and reforming traffic stops. Hopefully these bills, having come so close, will pass next year. Unfortunately, the bill limiting communication between the Department of Corrections and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) on minor infractions died in the policy committee. For more details on the bills, see see the Racial Justice Priority Bills Document.