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.
The League of Women Voters is thrilled with the passage of HR1, the sweeping democracy reform bill recently passed by the United States House of Representatives. We will also support similar legislation that Senator Udall is expected to introduce this week in the Senate. Washington state's two US Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have not yet agreed to cosponsor this essential bill that will modernize our election system, reform redistricting, establish new ethical standards for executive branch officials and Supreme Court justices, and restore the Voting Rights Act.
The extraordinary and comprehensive reforms in HR1 are good for all Americans and deserve bipartisan support. That’s why we need YOU to contact your Senators as soon as possible to express your support for this legislation.
Please share this link with at least 10 of your friends or community members who care about issues such as the corrupting influence of money in politics, voter suppression, and partisan motivated gerrymandering.
You can express your support by calling their offices, or sending the email drafted here by entering your address below. If you wish to make calls, please find their direct office numbers below:
Below is a sample of what you might say in the call, please feel free to adjust to your own voice:
Hello this is ______ and I’m calling to strongly urge you to cosponsor Senator Udall’s companion bill to HR1. He expects to introduce the bill this week, and it is important to me to see your name as a cosponsor so that you can demonstrate your support for broad democracy reform. If you or your staff would like to reach me, I can be reached at ___________.
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.
ESSB 5395 requires that by September 1, 2021 every public school must provide comprehensive sexual health education as part of the health and PE curriculum that is evidence-informed, medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate, and inclusive for all students.
The instruction must:
Comprehensive sexual health education of this nature benefits our communities by giving students the information they need to stay safe, healthy, and well informed.
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.
Immigrants contribute billions of dollars in taxes, spending power, entrepreneurial business revenue, and are a vital labor force in industry. E2SSB 5497 establishes a statewide policy supporting immigrants’ contributions and protects their inherent rights and dignity as part of a strong economy.
Workers have a right to feel safe in the workplace and students should feel safe and secure in the classroom. Supporting an atmosphere of trust makes sense not only on an economic level but as a society based on fair treatment under the law.
A criminal conviction can prevent people from finding a job, applying for housing, or even obtaining a professional license. Confronted with these barriers, people emerging from the criminal justice system can find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty, unable to move forward with their lives when they most want to.
The New Hope Act (HB 1041) offers people a fresh start by streamlining the process for vacating criminal convictions, and is scheduled for a public hearing on March 21 at 10:00am before the Senate Committee on Law & Justice.
Volatile crude oil was the cause of the disastrous 2013 train explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec, as well as other train explosions and fires. We now know that volatile crude oil can be stabilized by removing the volatile natural gasses to a vapor pressure of below nine pounds per inch (psi), at which it is no longer volatile.
ESSB 5579 would require rail facilities to provide type and vapor pressure of oil transferred to the Department of Ecology, and prohibits a rail facility from unloading or loading crude oil unless the oil has a vapor pressure less than nine (9) psi. Trains travel though our cities and communities in downtown densely populated areas. A train explosion and fire could be a catastrophic disaster and we must do all we can to protect our exposed communities.
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.
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:
This bill will be heard in the House Health & Wellness Committee on March 15 at 8:30am.
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.
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 representation and urge your Senator to move SB 5287 out of the Senate Rules Committee and onto the floor to pass it. For the purposes of legislative redistricting, SB 5287 adjusts prison population 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 is a better democratic republic.
Known as the "prison gerrymandering" bill, this bill seeks to amend the Census data with information from Washington's corrections department and adjust the numbers for more accurate representation in creating 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.
This bill is very likely to go to the floor for a Senate vote in the next few days. Please contact your Senator and ask them to vote YES on this bill. Please put your own touches on the following note.
Both Senate and House committees have passed legislation to limit magazine size for ammunition to 15 rounds. Eight other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar restrictions which have been upheld in the courts despite opposition from gun rights groups. SHB 5062 and SHB 1068 are in Rules Committee and need to be brought to the floor for a vote.
In addition to the 28 mass shootings in the past five years involving high capacity magazines, we nearly had our own episode in Washington in 2017. The only thing that stopped the shooter was a jam in his assault-style rifle.
Please bring these bills to a vote and pass to improve our public safety.
(Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.)
Did you know that the policy of denying the vote to those with felony convictions is a product of the Jim Crow era? Help Washington move one step closer to ending that practice by restoring voting rights automatically to those leaving state prison.
Although Washington automatically restores voting rights to the formerly incarcerated, the current law is unclear about when the right is restored and threatens serious sanctions against those who vote before they are eligible to do so. HB 1924 clarifies the law, stating that most people emerging from state prison are automatically re-enfranchised, even if they are still serving a term of community custody ("parole"). There is no reason to deny voting rights to those who are no longer in prison, and to do so is simply unjust.
(Note: for the address search below, only enter your street address in the first field, NOT including your city and state.)
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.)
SB 5104 Relating to prohibiting local governments from imposing vehicle tolls would prohibit any local government from imposing a toll. The intention of the bill is to prohibit the City of Seattle from imposing a downtown congestion toll currently under consideration. Currently Washington State road tolls must be set by the Washington State Transportation Commission. Local tolls are not address by statue. Local city congestion tolls have been used in other cities in the country and serve a completely different purpose.
Arguments in favor of the bill are that tolls restrict driving downtown to those with incomes to allow them to pay the toll and that tolls should only be used when the funds are needed to pay for the infrastructure on which the toll is applied. Arguments against this bill, with which the League concurs, are that the State should not prohibit a local jurisdiction from managing its traffic as it sees fit, and that congestion tolls will provide incentives for increased transit use.
None of the bill sponsors are from Seattle or King County, and their areas would not be affected by what Seattle is proposing.
This bill is very likely to go to the floor for a Senate vote in the next few days. Please contact your Senator and ask him/her to vote no on this bill.
The League of Women Voters is concerned that there are many unresolved questions about the powers and processes of an Article V US Constitutional Convention. After an extensive study, LWVUS adopted a position that a constitutional convention should only be called when certain key conditions are met. Congress has yet to make specific rules which would meet these conditions such as counting states based on a single topic, preventing a "runaway convention," voting by delegate, fair representation, and transparency.
While LWVWA supports the ultimate goal of SJM 8002, the purpose of proposing a free and fair elections amendment to the US Constitution, we believe that the lack of safeguards in Article V of the US Constitution are too risky for our democracy and thus are opposing it.
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.
On February 21 hundreds of us will be in Olympia talking to our legislators about our top priority Democracy bills. If you cannot join us you can still be part of the day by sending an email to your legislators expressing support for one of our top priority bills.
We’ve drafted an email below in support of companion bills HB 1379 / SB 5221 that would stop the PAC to PAC shell game that allows special interests to hide the true source of campaign funding. We encourage you to customize this email and feel free to express your support for other bills that will be part of our Democracy Lobby Day agenda.
Join us in opposing HB 1611 that will lead to permitting use of lawn pesticides in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor tidelands to control naturally occuring organisms. This bill would up-end many tideland protections. Proponents included in this bill the declaration of a state of emergency in aquaculture to circumvent the usual review process, and will require the transferring of authority and oversight of these tidelands from the Department of Ecology to the Department of Agriculture.
This bill is scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Environment & Energy on February 19 at 3:30pm.
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.
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.
Current state law does not allow non-charter jurisdictions (most counties and cities in Washington) to use any election method other than plurality (first past the post). This means that the only electoral system available to most Washington residents is the one that, on many counts, is the most flawed. The Local Options Bill (HB 1722 / SB 5708) seeks to change this by creating a uniform law under which jurisdictions throughout the state may adopt Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).
Please customize the email below with any of the following that you find compelling:
Thank you for helping the League of Women Voters to empower voters and defend democracy!
Currently, over 175,000 people in Washington have a suspended driver's license. This is because DWLS3, which criminalizes nonpayment of certain traffic fines and results in license suspensions, is the most prosecuted crime in the State. Between 1994 and 2017, Washington spent at least $1.3 billion enforcing this law.
If a person cannot pay a traffic fine, and then loses their ability to travel to and from work, they become trapped in a cycle of poverty and crime. Even if they find a way of traveling to work, a criminal conviction for violating DWLS3 creates barriers to employment, reducing that person's earning potential. This is a very real hardship for thousands of people across our state who cannot support their families or fully engage in our economy.
HB 1282 / SB 5328 would decriminalize nonpayment of traffic fines and impose a civil assessment in its place. This modification would promote fairness and equity in our criminal justice system by eliminating an economic crime that disproportionately affects low-income drivers and people of color. Moreover, reducing the grounds for license suspensions also promotes public safety by allowing people to remain licensed and insured regardless of their income level. Please write to your Legislator now and urge them to vote yes on these bills!
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:
Both houses of the legislature are considering bills that would provide prepaid postage for ballots (SB 5063). Many of us have heard stories of first-time or inconsistent voters who haven’t realized they needed a stamp in order to vote until it was too late. Other voters may not have the transportation and work flexibility to go to a post office during the day to buy one stamp, or they may not have the excess cash to buy an entire book of stamps.
In 2018 Governor Inslee provided the funds for ballot postage on a one-time basis. This year the legislature has the opportunity to make that practice permanent.
Please send the email below to your legislators. We highly encourage you to edit the email to put it in your own words, and to include any stories or examples that will illustrate the importance of these bills.
Thank you for standing up to Empower Voters and Defend Democracy!
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.
Last year, the League endorsed and voters approved I-940, which institutes mandatory training for police officers on mental health and violence de-escalation and promotes transparency and accountability in the wake of lethal force by law enforcement. A modified version of this law, HB 3003, emerged from a collaboration between law enforcement and families who lost loved ones in police encounters.
After being approved by the Legislature, HB 3003 was struck down in court and is now re-introduced as HB 1064 and SB 5029. These modifications to I-940 are intended to clarify certain aspects of the new law and help officers apply the law in the field. In order to pass, HB 1064 / SB 5029 requires two-thirds approval of the Legislature. Urge your Legislators to support these important compaion bills.
Global warming poses a profound and growing risk to our state's economy and quality of life. The League supports energy legislation that preserves the environment and maintains human health and safety. HB 1211 and SB 5116 further these goals by limiting and eventually eliminating use of fossil fuel generated electricity. Specifically:
Write your legislators and urge them to support HB 1211 and SB 5116.
When Automatic Voter Registration (HB 2595) was introduced, it would have applied to individuals acquiring Enhanced Drivers’ Licenses (EDL’s) through the Department of Licensing, individuals working through the Health Benefit Exchange (HBE), and included a plan to add more state agencies soon. As it has moved through the process the focus was narrowed and additional agencies were removed from the bill. If the HBE is also removed from the final bill, the program will include a much smaller number of citizens. This smaller group will not reflect the diversity of our citizens and is not likely to include many traditionally disenfranchised individuals. We cannot let AVR get watered-down as lawmakers debate which agencies will be included in the final bill.
We are so close to passing Automatic Voter Registration. Please help us across the finish line by reaching out to your legislators.
A member of the LWVUS Lobby Corps recently visited your Congressional Represenative's* office in DC and asked him to co-sponsor the bill Based on the response she heard, we need you to follow up with your Representative and strongly urge him to co-sponsor the bill and support bringing it to the floor for a vote.
Below is a draft email for your use. We encourage you to edit this email to personalize it as you wish.