Current Actions

  • Please Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    We need you to contact your Representatives NOW and urge them to support I-1000 which would enable every qualified Washington citizen, regardless of their race, gender, disability or military status to be protected from discrimination when seeking opportunities in public education, public employment or public contracting. Sunday, April 28 is the last day of session and this is our last chance

    You can find your Representative's office phone numbers here--hearing a constituent's voice carries the greatest impact if you are able to call. You can also send the brief email below by putting in your address to get connected to your district's Representatives. 

  • Take Action to prevent our catastrophic wildfires and smoke filled summers.

    SSB 5996 addresses our escalating annual expenses for wildfires by setting up a dedicated account to fund fire prevention and suppression activities. The substitute bill funds the account with a wildfire surcharge of .52 percent of gross receipts on property and casualty insurers (except medical professional liability business).

    For the last five years the incidences and costs of wildfires has escalated and the associated smoke is impacting our health and the economy. Please contact your Senator and Representatives and urge them to support this bill.

  • Support a Healthy Washington for All

    The Healthy Washington For All (HEAL) Act will create a task force to identify and address environmental health disparities to help government be more responsive when making decisions which may impact neighborhoods. The opponents of the HEAL Act effectively prevented passage of the Senate version, SB 5489, by proposing over thirty amendments at the last minute on April 17.

    The House pulled up their version, HB 2009, on the same day and passed it by almost ninety votes sending it to the Senate for concurrence. Urge your Senator to support efforts to address environmental challenges faced by vulnerable communities by supporting HB 2009.
  • Support Additional Revenue Sources in Final Budget

    The House and Senate have adopted their respective budgets and are currently in earnest negotiations to create a final budget. Anticipated revenues and expenditure levels need to be reconciled.

    Some legislators still believe that new revenue sources are not needed, but they are badly needed. Increased revenues are needed to continue the work to address Education funding, to address the mental health lawsuit and for new needs, such as homelessness programs. The League of Women Voters supports all of those programs and has a long-standing position in favor of a more progressive tax structure in Washington State.

    Please contact your legislators and ask that they vote specifically to maintain: 

    • Excise tax on sales and extraordinary profits of high valued assets (commonly called capital gains) that would generate new revenue while affecting a very small percentage of the population.
    • The change in Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) basis to make it more progressive as well as generate increased revenue.
    • A surtax on insurance premiums that will generate funding that would be dedicated to wildfire prevention and suppression.
    • Changes in tax exemptions for non-residents and certain services.
    • Changes in the Business & Occupation tax (a tax paid on business revenue) for prescription drug sellers. 
    • Removal of certain Business and Occupation Tax preferences (bullion dealers, travel agents and tour operators).
    • Replace the out-of-state sales tax exemption with a mechanism allowing for refunds. 
    • Increase the Business and Occupation tax rate for certain categories of business, with those funds dedicated to higher education.

    These will make the most difference on both sides of the budget ledger. They will make the tax structure less regressive and more fair; and they will allow resources for programs that would otherwise not be funded.

    There is opposition from special interests to all of these proposed changes to the tax structure, which is why we need to push hard and let our legislators know how important they are.

  • Pass SB 5145 to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in Washington

    Fracking consumes a great deal of fresh water, and reliable reports, including those from the EPA (2015), conclude that fracking operations are sometimes associated with surface and water ground water contamination. Water purity is important in this state for domestic, agricultural, and natural benefits, and we have none to sacrifice. Not all fracking operations damage water sources, but it may not be possible to reliably evaluate the risk of a specific operation. While no recent studies are conclusive, the uncertainty and risk indicates that a prohibition is prudent at this time.


    Very little gas or oil production has occurred in WA state, and none is anticipated in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the League believes this bill will ensure that if the time comes for extraction, we can authorize this process with all due caution, but not before. We also believe this will encourage our state to continue leading toward reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

    The League has long-standing values to protect surface water, groundwater, and drinking water through responsible and responsive management of our natural resources to assure current and future availability. We believe SB 5145 supports those values. 
  • Budget End Run Threatens Near Shore Environment

    Buried in the proposed Washington state budget is a plan to spend $534,000 to “study” the use of the lawn pesticide imidacloprid to kill naturally occurring burrowing shrimp in shellfish aquaculture. Imidacloprid is an insecticide neurotoxin, part of a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids. Instructions for commercially available Imidacloprid specifically warn against use in water, and the Washington State Department of Ecology denied its use as of September 2017: 

    After considering and responding to more than 3,000 public comments, the Washington Department of Ecology has finalized its decision to deny the use of imidacloprid on shellfish beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Mounting scientific evidence confirms the harm from this neonicotinoid pesticide poses too great a risk to Washington’s environment.

    The League opposed bills in February that would have allowed the use of this pesticide in shellfish aquaculture, and neither HB 1611 nor SB 5626 advanced beyond committee readings. Legislators would not support use of these toxins when their votes would be recorded on the House and Senate floors, but they are permitting an end run by including a test of the pesticides directly in the budget.

    We are dismayed that legislators inserted the study into the budget and placed a timeline on it such that chemicals will be applied in the next 45 days and the report must be submitted by June 1, 2019. Here is a link to the section of the budget and here is the text: 

    (9) $534,000 of the state toxics control account—state appropriation is provided solely for a monitoring program to study the impacts of the use of imidacloprid as a means to control burrowing shrimp and related costs. Department costs include, but are not limited to, oversight and participation on a technical advisory committee, technical assistance, planning, and reporting activities. The department may also use the funding provided in this subsection, as needed, for payments to Washington State University, the United  States department of agriculture, and outside consultants for their participation in the monitoring program and technical advisory  committee. The department must report to the appropriate committees of the legislature by June 1, 2019, on the progress of the monitoring program. 

    Contact your legislators now to request that this expensive and toxic study be removed from the budget.

  • Close the Opportunity Gap by supporting I - 1000 to update Washington's Affirmative Action policies.

    I - 1000 is a statewide initiative to the Legislature to make Affirmative Action a state law which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in public education, public employment and public contracting for qualified women, veterans, the disabled, and people of color, without the use of quotas. It would repeal I - 200 which was passed in 1998, making Washington only the second state in America to ban the use of Affirmative Action programs. State spending with certified minority and women-owned businesses has plummeted since then, causing a $3.5 billion 20 year loss to small, minority, and woman-owned businesses. 

    The League of Women Voters supports I -1000's mission to enable every qualified Washington citizen regardless of their race, gender, disability, or military status to be protected from discrimination when seeking opportunities in public education, public employment or public contracting. Please urge your representatives to join a growing majority of Washington State voters who support Affirmative Action for women, veterans, minorities, and the disabled.

  • Charter School Law Shouldn't be Changed in a School Levy Bill

    In the wee hours of the morning of April 3, the Senate Ways & Means Committee added several worrisome amendments to SSB 5313, the local school levy bill.

    Before fully funding Special Education or needed counselors, the Committee chose to amend the necessary levy relief bill to give new public money from the State to charter schools based on school district's levies. Funding is phased in by 15 percent per year until 2026 when funding the local enrichment levy will be matched at 100 percent. This amendment would also eliminate the five-year time frame during which charter schools may be established.

    If the Charter School Law passed in 2016 is to be changed, it should be proposed in a separate bill and a public hearing be held, not changed as part of another bill. 

  • Additional Revenue Sources Needed for a More Progressive Tax Structure

    The House and Senate adopted their respective budgets this past week. These budgets are not the same in either anticipated revenue or expenditure levels. Both budgets assume a positive increase in revenue from existing sources, but each has a different set of new revenues. This week's discussion focuses on revenue because it is the foundation of what the House and Senate can budget. We will comment on proposed expenditures next week.

    The Senate’s budget includes:

    • A new basis for the Real Estate Excise Tax (commonly called REET) that will increase revenue by reducing the rates for lower-priced properties and increasing the rates for higher-priced properties. Most people would pay the same or less for this tax when their properties are sold. This is called the “progressive REET”.
    • Changes in tax exemptions for non-residents and certain services.
    • Changes in the Business & Occupation tax (a tax paid on business revenue) for prescription drug sellers. 
    • A surtax on insurance premiums that will generate funding that would be dedicated to wildfire prevention and suppression.

    The House’s budget includes:

    • Excise tax on sales and extraordinary profits of high valued assets (commonly called capital gains) that would generate new revenue while affecting a very small percentage of the population.
    • A progressive Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) (see explanation above).
    • Removal of certain Business and Occupation Tax preferences (bullion dealers, travel agents and tour operators).
    • Replace the out-of-state sales tax exemption with a mechanism allowing for refunds. 
    • Increase the Business and Occupation tax rate for certain categories of business, with those funds dedicated to higher education.

    Some legislators still believe that new revenue sources are not needed, but they are. Increased revenues are needed for the ongoing increased costs of adequately funding education, increased funding for mental health, to add homelessness programs, etc. The League of Women Voters has a long-standing position in favor of a more progressive tax structure in Washington State.

    Legislators need our support to take these actionsour voices offset the special interest lobbying in favor of keeping the more regressive system in place.

    If you did not contact your legislators about this last week – or even if you did (reinforcement is a good thing) - please contact your legislators and ask that they vote specifically in favor of the capital gains tax and the progressive REET. These will make the most difference on both sides of the budget ledger. They will make the tax structure less regressive and more fair; and they will allow resources for programs that would otherwise not be funded.

  • Please Act for Fair, Increased Revenue in the State Budget

    The House and Senate budgets have now been released, and both rely on new revenue to fund increases in education, mental health, homelessness prevention and response, and other programs. The House proposed a capital gains tax (an excise tax on extra-ordinary profits, as distinguished from an income tax) and a progressive Real Estate Excise Tax (REET), where the rate of excise tax varies with the value of the property sold.

    The Senate proposed a progressive REET as well, and closure or reduction of three preferential tax rates: non-resident sales tax, prescription drug resellers, and travel agents. They also proposed a small tax increase on property, auto and casualty insurance, to establish a dedicated account to fund wildfire prevention and suppression.

    The budgets differ in the rates at which they increase funding for various services.

    The League of Women Voters has had a long-standing position in favor of a more progressive tax structure in Washington State. Both the House and Senate have proposed measures that will move in that direction. Please contact your legislators and ask that they vote in favor of these revenue changes. Support of constituents for legislators taking these actions is imperative to offset the special interest lobbying in favor of keeping the more regressive system in place.

  • April 1 is the Census Day of Action—marking one year before the 2020 Census

    This Monday take action for the Census! Here are some possible actions you can take: 

    • Tell one person about the importance of the Census. 
    • Organize with a friend to participate in census outreach in your area.
    • Encourage one person of color to become a census employee: Census Jobs
    • Post on social media using the hashtags #CountMeIn and #2020Census and share content from experts and advocates. 
    • Write your legislator below and tell them about the importance census outreach funding.

    Why Does the 2020 Census Matter?

    Census data determine the allocation of more than $800 billion in annual federal funding and are often used in state and local policy making, decision making, and research. An inaccurate census in 2020 would jeopardize state funds for over 300 federal programs and compromise crucial supports for marginalized communities. Census data are also used for the reapportionment and redistricting processes and therefore vital to advancing representative democracy. 

    For more information, catch these events and resources: 
  • Prevent Toxic Pollution Affecting Public Health

    SSB 5135 Identifies and regulates toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment. This is a significant bill requiring the Department of Ecology to proactively identify chemicals appearing in products or entering our environment that have been shown to degrade human health or our ecology.

    As the federal government agencies such as the EPA and others, demonstrate their intent to withdraw regulations for such chemicals, the states and local jurisdictions must take action. These bills are also part of the effort to recover Chinook salmon and Southern Resident Orcas in our region.

    The bill passed the Senate, 25-24, then received a somewhat contentious hearing in the House Environment & Energy Committee on March 21. It is being opposed by some industry organizations. We think it is more protective of residents of all kinds to take action based on scientific evidence before the pollution causes problems, which is also less costly in the long run.

  • A Pathway for a Universal, Affordable Health Care System for Washington Residents

    Health care is a human right. It is in the public interest that all residents have access to health care that improves health outcomes, contains health care costs for the state and its residents, and reduces health disparities.

    The legislature intends to control health care costs so that Washington is able to achieve a sustainable health care system with more equitable access to quality health care. 2SSB 5822 states that the Health Care Authority shall convene a work group on establishing a universal health care system in Washington which is the first step towards universal, affordable health care for all Washington state residents. 

  • Promote a healthy environment and fair treatment for all citizens.

    Children of all communities deserve a healthy environment to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, not all communities have the same quality of life, which is why Washington should establish a task force to identify environmentally impacted communities and coordinate with government agencies to reduce the burdens imposed by unhealthy environments, specifically on the youth in those areas.

    Please support 2SSB 5489: when we work together with the same information to help children reach their full potential in all parts of the state, everyone thrives.

  • Support Protections for Resident Orca Populations

    Join the League in supporting five bills scheduled for public hearings this week designed to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales from threats and increase their access to Chinook Salmon. Contact your legislators to request that they support them as committee members, or when the vote takes place in the Chamber.

    We must protect Orcas from extinction. Thank you for taking action on all of these bills that will give Southern Resident Killer Whales the best chance for rebounding in population in the coming years.

  • Support Prescription Drug Transparency

    2SSB 5292 requires that the Office of Financial Management be notified within 60 days if the cost of a drug is increased. This bill is a great first step to address rising drug costs. Patients need drugs they can afford--25% percent of people report having difficulty affording medications and one out of eight people say they have rationed doses because of increased costs. 80 percent of Americans support policy that would require drug companies to make public how they set prices.

    2SSB5292 states that beginning January 1, 2020, and yearly thereafter:

    • the Health Care Authority must prepare a list of ten prescription drugs that have significant impact on state expenditures and are critical for public health
    • manufacturers must provide price increase justification and other information about those drugs to HCA
    • the HCA must analyze the pricing data and provide annual reports to the Legislature
    • the HCA must notify the Office of Financial Management within 60 days if the cost of a drug is increased.

    This bill will be heard in the House Health & Wellness Committee on March 15 at 8:30am.

  • Provide Support for Long-Term Care Funding

    2SHB 1087 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

    Contact the members of the Senate Health and Long Term Care committee before Friday, March 15th.

  • Let’s Work to Balance the Washington State Tax Structure

    Washington has the most upside-down tax code in the nation where the percent  of income that our lowest income families pay is six times more of their income in taxes than that of the wealthiest households. It seems like every year we’re struggling to find the resources we need to invest in priorities like early learning, education, and mental health care. Remember that our revenue and the priorities we invest in are not separate – our upside-down tax code directly impacts our ability to invest in the priorities that we know lead to thriving communities, like early learning, education, mental health care, and infrastructure.

    2SHB 2117 will reauthorize and expand the Tax Structure Work Group to provide a pathway to modernize and rebalance the Washington state tax structure so that it is equitable, adequate, stable, and transparent for the people of Washington state.

    LWVWA supports a study regarding balancing Washington state taxes to make them more fair. It is important to move this bill from the House Rules Committee to the House Floor for a full vote of the chamber by March 13.

    We have drafted an email for you below, please feel free to customize it in your own words.

  • Support accurate redistricting

    Support accurate representation and urge your Representative to pull 2SSB 5287 out of the House Rules Committee to the House floor, and to vote for it. For the purposes of legislative redistricting, 2SSB 5287 adjusts prison populations from their current count in prison districts to their home districts. Counting prison populations in prison leads to inaccurate representation and underfunding of the needs of the prisoners' home districts. Everyone deserves to be counting where they and their families live. Better representation means a better democratic republic. 

    Known as the "prison gerrymandering" bill, this bill amends the U.S. Census Bureau data with information from the Washington State Department of Corrections and sends the adjsted numbers to the Redistricting Commission. This will result in more accurate representation in congressional, legislative and local districts. If prisoners in Washington State were formerly from outside the state or have an unknown prior address, they will be removed from the data for the purposes of redistricting within Washington. This will not affect Washington's apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

    Please contact your Representatives and ask them to vote YES on this bill. Please put your own touches on the following note. 

  • Eliminate thin plastic carry-out bags

    Companion bills HB 1205 and SB 5323 prohibit single-use thin plastic grocery carryout bags across the state. Such bags clog recycling equipment and pollute our waterways with trash and smaller bits as they break down.

    The bills also require a pass-through charge of 10 cents on all paper or durable, reusable plastic carryout bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable carryout bags, and will level the field between small grocers and large chains that could bury this cost.

    Exemptions are included for bags used for produce, newspapers, dry cleaning, small hardware items, prescription drugs, unwrapped prepared foods, bakery goods, frozen foods, meat, fish, flowers, and potted plants, and exempt recipients of food assistance programs. These bills would also increase state revenue slightly. Twenty-six jurisdictions in Washington State already have a reusable bag restriction ordinance, and these bills would make the regulations uniform across the state.

    (Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.) 

  • Support a Pathway to Universal Health

    SB 5822 would create a work group of a broad range of health care stakeholders to study and make recommendations to the legislature on a universal health care system that is sustainable and affordable for all Washington state residents.

    This bill is co-sponsored by many health care champions, and is an important first step to establishing a universal health care system for the residents of Washington state. The Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee will hear testimony on SB 5822 on February 18 at 8:00am.

  • Now is the time to prohibit fracking in Washington State

    Fracking is a shortened term for hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, a method for improving the yield of oil and gas wells by injecting high-pressure liquid to fracture deep rock formations. A bill that has reached the floor of the Washington State Senate, SB 5145, will prohibit hydraulic fracturing in our state.

    Fracking consumes a great deal of fresh water and some other areas of the country have experienced well contamination, increased air pollution, and additional seismic activity in areas where fracking occurred. Historically, very little gas or oil production has occurred in WA state, and none is anticipated in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, this bill will ensure that if the time comes for extraction, the state will authorize this process with all due caution. We also believe this will encourage our state to continue leading toward reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

    Write your state Senator to vote for this bill, and to vote against Amendment 21, which would exempt eastern Washington from this protection. 

    (Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.) 

  • Support Improved Behavioral Health Services in the Forensic Mental Health Care System

    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. 

    SB 5444 is supported by the League of Women Voters of Washington and would align the law to be consistent with the requirements agreed to in the Trueblood settlement agreement. This bill is next scheduled for executive session on February 12 at 8:00 am in the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care.

    The LWV supports this bill and request the members to vote it out of committee and on to the next committee.

    (Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.) 

  • Support Adequate Transportation Funding

    The House Transportation Committee had a public hearing on January 31 for HB 1160, making transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium. This bill represents the Governor’s proposed transportation package. Last week, the Senate Transportation Committee had a public hearing on a discussion package (no bills prepared yet) that would be refined to a specific proposal during the legislative session.

    The transportation budget is separate from the other two state budgets, Operating and Capital.  It also has its own schedule in the Legislature. Typically, the budgets, including transportation, get adopted at the very end of the session.

    However, now is the time to influence what might happen. The House is unlikely to adopt the Governor’s proposal intact; and the Senate is clearly negotiating the elements of the Transportation Chair’s list of potential expenditures and revenue sources.

    From League’s perspective, while there is a need for most of the projects being discussed in both the House and Senate, what is under-funded in both cases is transit. Now is the time to emphasize transit service and shift transportation priorities. While the Senate list includes some increases in financial support for transit, that is still not enough to address actual needs.

    Please contact your own legislators and members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees now and let them know that you want more funding for transit. Now is the time for a shift in transportation habits, to reduce automobile use and reflect that by increasing transit support. But we can’t achieve that without more transit service. Let your legislators know you want more transit because:

    • Building more road capacity will encourage, not deter, automobile use
    • Even in urban areas, current transit levels of service are not sufficient to meet the needs of people who are in low-income or special needs categories
    • Increased transit service would reduce congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions

    (Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.) 

  • Reject I-976

    Washington Initiative 976, Limits on Motor Vehicle Taxes and Fees Measure (2019), referred to as the “$30 Tabs Initiative” would establish a regressive license tab fee system because cars and light trucks of all values would be taxed the same. Additionally, it would harm Sound Transit by preventing it from obtaining the amount of revenue estimated, relied upon and approved by the voters in 2016 in the measure called Sound Transit 3, and leave Sound Transit without the anticipated revenues to cover their bond costs.

    Because the measure is an Initiative to the Legislature and was validated to have sufficient signatures, the Legislature must take one of three actions:

    • Adopt the initiative as proposed and it becomes law without a vote of the people;

    • Reject or refuse to act on the proposed initiative and the initiative must be placed on the ballot at the next state general election; or

    • Propose a different measure dealing with the same subject and both measures must be placed on the next state general election ballot.

    To date the Legislature has not given this Initiative a public hearing in committee.

    The League opposes this measure as it is both a regressive tax, and would result in damaging loss of revenue for transit. We ask that the Legislature reject the proposal. 

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