Why an economic recovery agenda shaped by those who have relied on government programs prioritizes investing in people
by Senator Joe Nguyen, 34th Legislative District
The headlines after several of us first-term legislators took office in 2019 proclaimed we were the “most diverse in state history,” and we should all be proud that we broke that record again after last year’s election. What hasn’t made the headlines, however, is the power of the advocacy we’ve witnessed from these legislators in conversations about how we should respond to the dire need felt by people in our communities.
That powerful advocacy is what’s responsible for the progress we’ve made this session in crafting a budget that reflects our values. Budget policy isn’t academic; the decisions we make about how to spend the state’s resources can be the difference between whether someone eats or starves, or whether they keep a roof over their head or end up homeless during a global pandemic.
Continue reading OPINION: Representation Matters
by Mark Van Streefkerk
Representing the 37th district position 2, newly elected Kirsten Harris-Talley built her campaign and platform by organizing with her neighbors. In fact, she ran for office because members of the community asked her to. The first out, Black, queer femme to serve in the Washington State Legislature, Harris-Talley has spent the last 20 years building movements for progressive change. She was a founding board member at SURGE Reproductive Justice, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and former program director of Progress Alliance of Washington, as well as being involved in grassroots movements like No New Youth Jail. In 2017, she was the second Black woman ever to serve on the Seattle City Council, where she introduced the first version of JumpStart Seattle, a progressive revenue measure that passed this year to help fund COVID-19 recovery.
Now that she’s on her way to Olympia, Harris-Talley pledges to be transparent about policies and decisions that affect people in the 37th district through a future podcast, accountability council, and other tools. Her work is informed by aunties and elders in the community, as well as youth-led activism in the South End, where she has lived with her husband and family in Hillman City since 2004. “I’m going to be organizing with my neighbors. It’s the only way we can win,” she said. “Because I think politics is an organizing game. I don’t think it’s an ideas game — it’s an organizing game.”
Continue reading An Abolitionist in Olympia: How Kirsten Harris-Talley Became the 37th District’s New Legislator
by Ty Brown
What we are seeing today is not just about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and the horrific, continuous list of our murdered brothers and sisters — may they rest in power. This is about systemic injustice and systemic racism that has plagued this continent and our neighborhoods for 400 years.
These tragedies are constant reminders of the hate crimes, police brutality and systematic injustice the Black community faces far too frequently.
In Olympia, we’re thinking about our neighbors who have faced police brutality, negligence, and lost their lives due to an over-militarized and over-funded force: Yvonne McDonald, who died in mysterious circumstances; Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, who were shot at by Olympia police and then each sentenced to prison terms; and Jackie Salyers, a Puyallup tribal member fatally shot by police in 2016.
Continue reading OPINION: Defund Police and Defend Black Lives — Why We Rally
by Laura Van Tosh and Janine Bertram
State lawmakers in Olympia are debating House Bill 1394 (and its companion bill, Senate Bill 5431), an expensive proposal to build more hospitals with inpatient beds for people suffering from mental health or substance use challenges. This bill has gained wide appeal, and yet it takes a very awkward and giant step backward in terms of reforming what has been called, “a broken system.” We don’t believe our system is “broken” but we do believe Washington State policy makers are on the wrong path, thinking that more inpatient beds are the answer.
Continue reading OPINION: State Lawmakers Seek the Wrong Answer by Demanding More Mental Health Beds
by Geov Parrish
Okay, so granted, the concept of “American democracy” is a bit tarnished: Citizens United, voter suppression, gerrymandering, this list goes on ad nauseam. A 2014 Princeton study found that there was no statistical correlation between what, according to public polling, the American public wants Congress to do and what Congress actually does. But there is a very high correlation between what the very wealthy want (using the same metric) and what Congress actually does. That’s not a representative democracy but a plutocracy — which is, arguably, what America’s heavily worshiped “founding fathers” wanted to begin with.
Continue reading General Election 2018: The Vote to Save Democracy
by John Stafford
The 2015 Washington State Legislative Session promises to be one of the most contentious and momentous in recent state history. The following is a brief summary of ten of the most critical issues (not ranked by importance) that will be addressed in Olympia over the next several months. Continue reading Primer for the 2015 Washington State Legislative Session