In the last days of the 2018 Washington legislative session, four bills aimed at reforming Washington’s voting policies and practices were delivered to Governor Jay Inslee, expected to be signed into law this week. In these days when it can feel like democracy is under full attack, the new laws should help the state put its ballot decisions in front of more voters.
“I think it’s fundamental to democracy that we have broad participation in elections,” said 43rd District Sen. Jamie Pedersen.
Pedersen co-sponsored the Voting Rights Act Senate Bill 6002, a state-level version of the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which details the government’s responsibilities to voter equality, and Senate Bill 6021 for increased voter registration periods.
Two more House Bills: 2595 for Automatic Voter Registration by state-run agencies and 1513 for pre-registering students to vote are co-sponsored by 43rd District Rep. Nicole Macri and expected to be enacted into law.
The bills were drafted by lawmakers to remove barriers to voter participation and increase registration for communities that experience limits to accessing their voting rights. Continue reading
A November rally for De-Escalate Washington (Image: CHS)
Backers of an initiative to change Washington’s standard for police deadly force are declaring victory after a compromise bill passed the legislature Thursday in the final hours of this year’s session in Olympia.
“These reforms will result in a reduction in violence, fewer injuries and deaths, increase in respect and trust, and improved relationships,” the announcement from De-Escalate Washington reads.
Governor Jay Inslee has already signed the bill into law.
The compromise legislation addresses Washington’s so-called “malice standard” in which police shootings have been ruled justified if officers were acting in “good faith” and “without malice.” Continue reading
Olympia! (Image: leg.wa.gov)
The public records bill approved in Olympia has received outsized attention this legislative session. We heard here from two of the three 43rd District legislators who joined with their counterparts across the state and the aisle to approve it. But there has also been progress this session on some key issues Capitol Hill voters care about.
The Washington Legislature’s 2018 session is headed to a close March 9. Don’t expect things to drag on through the summer as they did last year.
Even-numbered (non-budget) years tend to end on time, largely because there are no contentious budget battles. This is by design, even years are election years, and legislators are prohibited from collecting campaign contributions during the session. Another larger change this year is the return to one-party rule. The state Senate had been in Republican hands for a few years. That changed after a special election in November gave Democrats control of both chambers, along with the governership.
Dozens of bills of interest to Seattle and Capitol Hill went through the process this year, some look like they’ll become law, others may need to percolate a bit longer. Below, CHS takes a look at some of this session’s progress. With more news from the legislature breaking today, let us know if there some Olympia happenings we missed.
- Bump Stock Ban: Bump Stocks are accessories that allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire as if it was an automatic rifle, made famous after the Las Vegas massacre. A familiar script ensued where lots of people made noise about getting rid of them, but nothing much happened. Then after Parkland suddenly gun control came back into the discussion. A bump stock ban was the only measure to get any traction in this state this year. The Legislature voted to ban the purchase or manufacture of bump stocks as of July of this year, and to declare them illegal to own as of July 2019. Capitol Hill’s Senator, Jaime Pedersen (D-43) was a co-sponsor of the senate bill. Both of the neighborhood’s representatives, Nicole Macri (D-43) and Frank Chopp (D-43) voted in favor of the ban. Continue reading
UPDATE 3/2/18: Governor Jay Inslee has vetoed the bill. “The public’s right to government information is one we hold dearly in Washington,” Inslee said. “Transparency is a cornerstone of a democratic government, and I’m very proud of my administration’s record on public disclosure. I believe legislators will find they can fulfill their duties while being fully transparent, just like state and local governments all across Washington.” In his announcement, Inslee said plaintiffs from a lawsuit brought by media “have agreed to join defendants in seeking a stay of proceedings in the trial court” — legislators said the case was part of their push to put a new records policy in place this session.
Pedersen at the 43rd District Town Hall earlier this month (Image: CHS)
Original report: Olympia lawmakers are taking a lot of heat after voting last week to approve ESB 6617, a bill “concerning records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch” that many have said is an abuse of power insulating state senators and representatives from public scrutiny by exempting some records including communications with constituents and the location of meetings from public disclosure.
Both of Capitol Hill’s 43rd District representatives and the district’s state senator joined lawmakers across the state to pass the bill. What awful abuse of power did some of the most progressive state lawmakers in the nation commit in making their new policy?
Sen. Jamie Pedersen says that the vote has been “widely misunderstood” —
The bill does not merely codify the Legislature’s current interpretation of the Public Records Act. It also adds substantial new categories of records (including legislators’ calendars and letters and e-mails from lobbyists) that will be subject to public disclosure. These documents have never been public before. The Legislature will also create a new public records office and has funded several positions in the supplemental budget to staff it. I view these changes as a significant step toward transparency.
Rep. Chopp, Sen. Pedersen, and Rep. Macri
Constituents of Seattle’s 43rd District packed every pew in Harvard Ave’s First Baptist Church and half the choir-lofts for a town hall meeting on Saturday.
“This is the biggest crowd in our history, let’s say a thousand people,” said Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.
Sen. Jamie Pedersen and Rep. Nicole Macri joined Chopp to discuss the most recent legislative session outcomes in Olympia. Moderator Maxima Patashnik shared questions on carbon tax, education and gun violence protection among the chief concerns from the crowd. Armed with good news and plenty of reasons for the bad, the Democratic lawmakers addressed state gun violence protection measures first. Continue reading
Capitol Hill’s state Rep. Nicole Macri won’t be able to deliver an end to Washington’s ban on rent control this year. Her legislation to repeal the ban on rent regulation in the state died in committee last week in Olympia.
The 43rd District representative didn’t address the defeat in her most recent update to constituents but she did count down some of the legislation she has sponsored aimed “keep people in their homes” including HB 1570, a bill to make a state real estate transaction fee permanent “to fund crucial housing services like emergency, DV, youth and young adult shelters; eviction prevention, move-in assistance and allows rental vouchers to be used in both for-profit and nonprofit homes.”
As for rent control, in 2015, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution calling for the statute to be changed and arguing municipalities should have the power to pass laws that “increase the supply of rent-restricted units and that protect tenants from sudden and dramatic rent increases, without causing a negative impact on the quality or quantity of housing supply.” Seattle Met’s Hayat Norimine reports that, despite the setback, city officials are optimistic the mood might be shifting in Olympia.
You can hear more from Macri plus her counterparts Rep. Frank Chopp and Sen. Jamie Pedersen at the 2018 43rd District Town Hall:
43rd Legislative District town hall
Coming soon: the Hugo House Writers Center on 11th Ave (Image: Weinstein A+U)
While Washington D.C. struggles to keep the government open, our Washington has sorted things out enough to agree on a new $4.2 billion capital budget including nearly $1 billion for schools, and $205 million in funding for projects in our own 43rd District.
“Our top priority when we returned to Olympia last week was passing the state capital budget, which funds the construction and renovation of our schools, public health facilities and community projects,” 43rd District Sen. and Capitol Hill resident Jamie Pedersen wrote to constituents about the agreement. “The legislature adjourned in July with no enacted capital budget for the first time in living memory, because the Senate Republicans refused to bring it to a vote due to an unrelated dispute involving rural water wells.”
With the water squabble solved, Governor Jay Inslee’s new budget includes nearly $2 billion for the construction of new school construction across the state. Pedersen also points out $106 million in the budget earmarked for the Housing Trust Fund, “the second-highest such investment in state history.”
The new budget helps push a handful of Capitol Hill area projects forward. Continue reading
The organizers of De-Escalate Washington supporting I-940 to provide law enforcement officers more training on de-escalating lethal situations while eliminating Washington’s so-called “malice standard” announced they would turn in some 355,000 signatures Thursday with hopes for the initiative to qualify for a place on a statewide ballot:
“Action on this issue is long overdue, and I give my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of thousands of Washington voters who have sought action by signing petitions for I-940,” said Annalesa Thomas, the mother of Leonard Thomas who was killed by police in 2013. “Their engagement is providing healing and empowerment to the family members of loved ones whose lives were lost due to police violence.” To qualify I-940 for consideration during the 2018 state legislative session, De-Escalate Washington must submit 259,622 valid signatures. De-Escalate Washington intends to submit more than 355,000 signatures. Once the Secretary of State certifies a qualifying number of valid signatures, the initiative will be referred to the Washington Legislature for consideration during its 2018 session. If the legislature does not pass I-940, the measure will go onto the November 2018 general election ballot.
Meeting the December 29th goal for valid signatures will mean either the state legislature must move ahead on changing the laws or the proposals will go to the ballot in 2018.
CHS reported on the final push for signatures here.
I-940 would require and change a number of police practices and standards. It calls for police to have de-escalation, first aid, and mental health training. Officers must also provide first aid at the scene under certain circumstances. I-940 would establish a good faith standard for the use of deadly force and requires an independent investigation when it results in death or injury. Organizers hope to also change Washington’s 1986 law (RCW 9A.16.040) that says police cannot be criminally liable for employing deadly force if they did so without malice and with a good faith belief that such an act is justifiable.
De-Escalate WA says Mayor Jenny Durkan is among local officials who support the initiative. Seattle’s police union does not. Continue reading
(Image: Alliance for Gun Responsibility)
Organizers pushing for Initiative 940 to provide law enforcement officers more training on de-escalating lethal situations while eliminating Washington’s so-called “malice standard” for prosecuting police killings say they want to be doubly sure they have enough signatures to quality for the ballot. Meanwhile, the Seattle Police Department has released documents and the final report from the use of force investigation in the summer fatal shooting of Charleena Lyles.
De-Escalate WA came to Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson for a Sunday afternoon rally as part of a final push for signatures. Organizers say they have been able to collect thousands more signatures than the 260,000 required to make it on the ballot but want to continue to push for somewhere near 350,000 to make sure the initiative has enough valid signees by the December 29th deadline. Meeting the goal means either the state legislature must move ahead on changing the laws or the proposals will go to the ballot in 2018. Continue reading
Supporters hope Initiative 940 will change Washington state policy so fatal police shootings happen less often and so there’s more accountability when they occur. Gathering on a few Seattle City Hall steps Friday, a crowd representing 33 different families impacted by police killings gathered in support of I-940 in the hopes of preventing future deaths.
The Puget Sound region witnessed a slew of police killings in the past year: Renee Davis October 21, 2016, Jacqueline Salyers on January 28th, Daniel Covarrubias in April, Tommy Le June 13th, Charleena Lyles June 18th, Giovonn Joseph-McDade June 24th. All of them were people of color. Salyers, Davis and Lyles were all pregnant when killed.
“What else did we think would come with this when the police are investigating themselves,” asked Katrina Johnson, Lyles’ cousin. “They keep killing people and getting away with it.” Continue reading