by Jack Russillo
A bill that could reduce Washington’s most commonly-charged crime is making its way through the state Senate.
The bill would provide relief and opportunity to thousands of residents who have been impacted by the state’s driver’s license suspension policies. “Driving While License Suspended in the Third Degree,” or DWLS3, is the least serious crime for driving with a suspended license. The misdemeanor can be charged in a variety of contexts. The most common occurs when a driver receives a ticket for a moving violation, but does not follow through by paying the ticket or showing up in court to contest it. DWSL3 is the state’s most frequently-charged offense, affecting tens of thousands of residents every year solely for not paying a citation.
Continue reading Bill To Replace ‘Driving While Poor’ Law Moves Through State Senate
by Bunthay Cheam
A collection of proposed legislation working its way through the Washington State Legislature could substantially change sentencing of young offenders, as well as revise sentences for those currently incarcerated.
Continue reading Legislation Looks To Change Youth Sentencing, Offer Retroactive Relief
by Ben Adlin
Right now in Washington State, possession of an illegal drug is in most cases a felony, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and a maximum five years in prison. For people with drug use disorders or casual users who are arrested and convicted, that can lead to a crush of other consequences, including difficulty finding a job, securing housing, or qualifying for all sorts of public benefits.
For some, those obstacles lead them to return to drugs — often landing them back in the criminal justice system. Others end up victim to a ballooning overdose crisis that currently kills tens of thousands of people each year and appears to have only gotten worse during the pandemic.
Advocates of drug reform have long argued that criminalizing use is a clumsy, ultimately harmful way to treat what they say should be viewed as a public health problem. On Friday they’ll finally get a hearing in the state legislature as Washington lawmakers consider a new bill that would eliminate all penalties for possessing or using drugs and instead expand outreach, treatment, and recovery services.
Continue reading Washington Bill to Decriminalize All Drugs Will Receive First Public Hearing on Friday
by Jack Russillo
On December 15, Governor Jay Inslee released a package of new climate change policies that will continue to push for cleaner fuel standards and limit greenhouse-gas emissions.
The announcement came during a press conference held by Inslee to announce his climate policy suggestions as part of his 2021-2023 budget proposal. The legislation will be voted on during the state legislature’s next regular session, which runs from January 11 to April 25.
Continue reading Inslee Announces Comprehensive Climate Policy for Washington’s 2021-2023 Budget
by Marilyn Watkins
One bright spot in this mostly dismal 2020 has been the launch of Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave program (PFML). About 170,000 workers have applied for benefits this year. They include many people who had the joy of welcoming a new child into their family, others coping with a serious health crisis, and people like my good friend who is caring for her father through his last months of life.
Before PFML, extended paid leave benefits were typically only available to highly paid employees of a few large companies. Lower-wage workers and people from BIPOC communities had the odds stacked against them in the “boss lottery.” Now almost everyone who works in Washington can take 12 to 18 weeks off work to recover their own health or care for a loved one without sacrificing financial security.
Continue reading OPINION: Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program Is a Bright Spot in 2020
by Guerry Hoddersen
An important part of a recent story by Seattle Times reporter Erick Lacitus — “Bucolic Whidbey Island surprised at skinhead headlines — and recent Lynnwood assault” (Dec. 31. 2018) — left out a major part of the history of fighting Nazis in the Pacific Northwest.
Continue reading OPINION: A Page from Washington’s History of Standing Up to Fascists
Program cuts have stark racist impacts
(This article originally appeared on budgetandpolicy.org and has been republished with permission.)
by Liz Olson
As the Washington State Budget & Policy Center has previously written, Washington has made deep cuts to its WorkFirst program, our state version of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), in the last decade. New data reveal that these cuts have disproportionately harmed Black and American Indian families, who — under the harsh, inflexible time limit policy — are more likely to be cut off WorkFirst/TANF than their white counterparts. So although the WorkFirst program is intended to provide critical support to families who are excluded from opportunity, punitive policy decisions have instead further marginalized people of color from basic resources — threatening to deepen racial income and wealth disparity.
Continue reading OPINION: Punitive WorkFirst Policies Disproportionately Harm Families of Color
by Lauren Hipp
As we welcome in the New Year, there are many reasons to celebrate. But perhaps one of the biggest is that on January 1, Washington took a huge step toward ensuring that workers across the state will have access to comprehensive paid family and medical leave for the first time. This will make a huge difference in the lives of so many families, and I’m especially excited about the changes it will bring for mine.
Continue reading OPINION: Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program Supports Workers, Businesses
by Sumayyah Waheed
Washington State: We’re known for our natural beauty, tech innovations, agriculture, and bold spirit. But we’ve fallen behind in one place: our upside-down, regressive tax code. In a state with so much spirit and potential, no one should be in last place. But our terrible tax code stands in the way of that.
Continue reading Washington is in Last Place — Again. Here’s How We Fix It.
by Bach Mai Dolly Nguyen and Erin Okuno
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) represents the demographic change that is expected nationwide by 2044, when the United States’ population will become majority students of color.
With 53 percent students of color, SPS is emblematic of changes in K-12 classrooms that many other school districts in Washington State will begin to see. As these demographic shifts have taken place, the state-legislated Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC) – who provides recommendations on policies and strategies for closing the opportunity gap to the Superintendent of Public Instruction – has been at the forefront of conversations about how data plays a role in capturing the evolving diversity of students in order to achieve the State’s educational racial equity aims. Continue reading How Better Data Collection Can Narrow Opportunity Gap for Washington Children