Below are the House Democratic Caucus priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session. Explanation of the progress bars are described below.
Step One for Community and Economic Recovery (HB 1367 & 1368)
House and Senate Democrats passed this first step in the House and Senate plan for Washington’s community and economic recovery, starting with the allocation of $2.2 billion in federal funds to provide assistance to Washington families and businesses who have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal will ease the financial hardship of struggling renters, small restaurants and other neighborhood businesses, school districts, uninsured and underinsured individuals, and Black and Brown communities, which have been disproportionately hurt during the pandemic.
Step Three for Community and Economic Recovery (HB 1094/SB 5092)
The “Washington Recovery Budget” that utilizes state and federal funds to invests in food, shelter, and health. We support economic recovery, housing, small businesses, schools, behavioral health, substance use disorder treatment, vaccines, helping undocumented families, frontline workers, child care, and digital equity. The budget is built around supporting people hit hardest by the pandemic. It prioritizes the needs of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities that have suffered disproportionate impacts during the pandemic by threading racial equity in each step and reflecting the input of trusted community organizations who are at the center of this work.
Graduation Requirement Emergency Waiver (HB 1121)
The pandemic disrupted learning and could prevent students from graduating, hurting the workforce that should help WA recover and thrive. HB 1121 allows the State Board of Education (SBE) to authorize public and private schools to grant individual student waivers from graduation requirements due to an emergency.
COVID-19 Health Data (HB 1127)
House Bill 1127 protects privacy and security of COVID-19 health data.
Foundational Public Health (HB 1152)
House Bill 1152 requires elected officials to be balanced with public health and health care professionals and community members with lived experience on local health boards and will significantly increase funding and resources for local public health departments so that Washington is not caught unprepared for a future pandemic.
Audio Only Telemedicine (HB 1196)
House Bill 1196 allows those without a computer or broadband access to just as easily gain access to a doctor and rapidly get medical advice.
Protecting your right to participate in your government (HB 1329)
House Bill 1329 encourages public meetings to be accessible to all with remote testimony and access, ensures public comments and testimony is taken before votes are taken, and encourages the posting of meetings online.
Respiratory Therapists (HB 1383)
Respiratory therapy practitioners provide a variety of services related to respiratory care, including ventilator management. With COVID-19, the need for qualified practitioners has increased, and there is a need to update state laws to match recent guidance and scope of practice in the field. HB 1383 codifies that guidance, updates supervision and examination requirements, and allows respiratory care to be delivered via telemedicine.
Unemployment Insurance Relief (SB 5061)
SB 5061 provides much-needed relief for employers across the state whose tax bills skyrocketed due to COVID-19 layoffs last year. The legislation also helps the lowest-wage hardest-hit workers by raising their minimum benefit. The bill will relieve businesses by preventing an automatic UI tax increase of $1.7 billion from 2021 to 2025, starting with $920 million this year, thereby reducing employers’ tax bills due in April. It also completely removes from businesses’ future UI tax calculations an additional $1.2 billion in benefits paid out during the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order last spring from March 22 to May 30, 2020. The lowest-wage workers, those making between $21,000 and $27,800 per year, will also welcome the provisions in this measure to raise their minimum benefit when they get laid off. Employees who make more than minimum wage will not see a change in their benefit.
Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits (SB 5425/HB 1492)
Allows for extended benefits for unemployment insurance past the 52-week benefit limit.
Creating prison to postsecondary education pathways (HB 1044)
HB 1044 expands education opportunities to incarcerated people to postsecondary and apprenticeship education.
Exempting businesses from paying state taxes on COVID-19 relief funds (HB 1095)
HB 1095 exempts businesses from having to pay state taxes on funds received from the federal or state government for COVID-19 relief.
Expanding access to emergency cash assistance (HB 1151)
HB 1151 expands access to a cash assistance program for families, allows for five additional months of food assistance and requires DSHS to update the standards of need for cash assistance programs for the first time since 1991.
Good Cause Eviction (HB 1236)
HB 1236 protects month-to-month tenants in Washington from no-cause evictions by requiring landlords to cite a reason
Keeping Families Together Act (HB 1227)
Our child welfare system’s primary goal is the safety of the child; a secondary goal is family reunification. HB 1227 will help support these goals to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep a family safely together.
Working Families Tax Exemption (HB 1297)
HB 1297 updates the Working Families Tax Exemption provides a credit to working families in Washington state, strengthens everyday people’s ability to meet their basic needs, and will help stabilize Washington’s economy for years to come.
Public Broadband Act (HB 1336)
House Bill 1336 removes all state restrictions on public entities providing broadband access directly to consumers.
Eliminating lunch copays (HB 1342)
House Bill 1342 eliminates the lunch copay for students who qualify for reduced or free lunch, building on the work done by laws like Breakfast After the Bell.
Expanding Coverage for Paid Family & Medical Leave (HB 1073)
HB 1073 expands coverage for Paid Family & Medical leave to workers whose hours were cut due to COVID-19
Fair Start for Kids (HB 1213/SB 5237)
HB 1213 addresses the child care crisis and makes child care more affordable and accessible for families across Washington state.
Main Street Program (HB 1279)
Expands the Main Street Program, which helps revitalize rural towns and support local small businesses. Since 2011, this program has helped generate more than $550 million in sales for Main Street businesses across Washington state, supporting over 6,400 jobs.
Deferring Property Taxes (HB 1332)
HB 1332 requires county treasurers to grant a deferral of 2021 property tax payments for businesses with significant revenue loss via establishment of a payment plan
RACIAL JUSTICE & EQUITY
Police Tactics (HB 1054)
HB 1054 sets a baseline of acceptable tactics and equipment that make it clear that preserving and protecting human life must be law enforcement’s highest value. HB 1054 would ban chokeholds, neck restraints, no-knock warrants and certain military equipment, and put restrictions on tear gas, vehicular pursuits and shooting at moving vehicles.
Impeachment Disclosures (HB 1088)
HB 1088 addresses the credibility of testimony by law enforcement officers. It would set up a process to establish statewide policies shedding light on officers who are on prosecutor-held “Brady” lists because of any history that could call their credibility into question.
Law Enforcement Audits (HB 1089)
HB 1089 provides meaningful transparency about investigations and charging decisions made after deadly force is used by police. These investigations are required under Initiative 940, passed by Washington voters in 2018.
Youth Access to Attorneys (HB 1140)
HB 1140 requires that a youth is provided access to an attorney when they are arrested and read their rights.
Juvenile Rehabilitation (HB 1186)
HB 1186 creates evidence-based approaches to reentry, connects kids with services, school, family, etc. and deinstitutionalizes juvenile prisons.
Peace Officer Accountability Act (HB 1202)
HB 1202 creates a new state level civil cause of action for the violation of state constitutional rights, which would provide a remedy for those who feel their rights have been violated.
Independent Investigations (HB 1267)
HB 1267 creates an independent agency to investigate deadly uses of force, allowing families of those killed by police, as well as the community, to have faith that a proper investigation occurred.
Use of Force (HB 1310)
HB 1310 sets the clear expectation that de-escalation should be an officer’s first instinct and that deadly force should only be a truly necessary last resort.
Making Juneteenth a State Holiday (HB 1016)
On June 19, 1865, two and half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, news finally reached Galveston, Texas, that all enslaved persons were now released from the bondage of slavery. Juneteenth became an unofficial holiday in Black communities, with little participation or awareness by white Americans, even stifled by local officials and businesses. During the Civil Rights Movement, Juneteenth started to become more common and has since been recognized as a ceremonial holiday by states. However, only a handful of states officially recognize Juneteenth as a recurring legal state holiday that provides paid time off for state employees. HB 1016 would make Juneteenth a state paid holiday in Washington state.
Civil Legal Aid (HB 1072)
HB 1072 eliminates a provision in current law that denies equity and access to justice for undocumented immigrants by restricting them from accessing state-funded civil legal aid.
Restoring the Right to Vote (HB 1078)
HB 1078 honors second chances and treating neighbors with dignity so they can become whole again. When people return to our communities to live and work, they deserve to fully participate in democracy without further punishment. They deserve to look to a brighter future and share their experience in our criminal legal system to improve our laws. Withholding this right to vote is an injustice that has continued for too long, and we must not stand in the way of redemption.
Private Detention Facilities (HB 1090)
Prohibits persons, businesses, and state and local governments from operating or contracting with private detention facilities, effectively banning private for-profit prisons and detention centers and restrict existing facilities from renewing their contracts.
Replacing the term “marijuana” with the term “cannabis” (HB 1210)
HB 1210 replaces “marijuana” with “cannabis” in the Revised Code of Washington due to the historically racist history and use of the word “marijuana.”
Ensuring a Safe Environment for Each Student in our Schools (HB 1214)
HB 1214 extends training requirements including restorative justice and other requirements to help young people feel safer in their schools, especially our students of color who sometimes don’t feel they are in a safe environment.
Expanding Public Contracting Opportunities for Women and Minority Business Enterprises (HB 1259)
HB 1259 provides OMWBE tools to help stop fraud and abuse and to fulfill its mission to increase participation and opportunities for women/minority owned businesses.