Update on police accountability, renter protections, and the Working Families Tax Credit

Dear neighbors, 

This is a quick update about the legislation I’ve introduced this session. I hope you find it informative. 

Thank you for being informed and involved in your democracy! 

Peace Officer Accountability Act  

To help tackle the problem of the police use of force, I worked with community members, fellow lawmakers, and experts on a piece of this problem: civil remedies for people injured due to police misconduct. 

House Bill 1202 would allow for civil remedies. I wrote this legislation to strengthen the trust between our peace officers and the communities they serve. Misconduct and unnecessary violence destroys that sacred trust. House Bill 1202 is meant to provide a clear disincentive to misconduct and to help those who’ve suffered injuries due to misconduct. 

This bill passed the Local Government Committee and is now (status). 

Protecting renters 

Current law doesn’t entirely protect renters from abuse by bad landlords. I wrote House Bill 1300 to fix two problems with our laws, both revolving around unfair charges. 

The first is a vague legal definition of “wear and tear” right now that makes it easy for landlords to illegally pass on costs to renters. 

“Wear” isn’t defined in the statute, so some landlords are using this loophole to overcharge renters, sometimes for thousands of dollars for repairs without the renter knowing the basis for those charges. 

The second problem is ghost debt. Alleged debt to another landlord can be enough to justify a landlord denying your rental application, regardless of whether it’s true or not. This can happen whether or not the renter is even aware of the debt, whether there’s any proof of what the landlord claims is owed, and whether or not the landlord actually intends to collect the debt. 

That makes no sense at all. House Bill 1300 ensures that landlords cannot send these charges to collections unless they have been substantiated with basic documentation, so that renter has opportunity to challenge them. 

Unfair damage charges like these disproportionately harm low-income renters. Even a few hundred dollars can make the difference between being housed and being homeless. For a low-income household, the unfair loss of a security deposit can be an immense financial burden. For these households, exaggerated damage claims can be financially devastating.  

This legislation passed the Housing, Human Services & Veterans Committee and is now awaiting a vote on the floor of the House. (check status) 

Working Families Tax Credit 

Working families—not billionaires and not giant corporations—need a tax credit. 

House Bill 1297 is focused on helping working people who often work multiple jobs to support their family.  

The COVID pandemic hit the working class hardest, and families are still struggling. The Working Families Tax Credit would be a crucial lifeline during these tough times and a step toward making our tax system more fair. Right now, working people pay far more of their earnings—about 18 percent—compared to the wealthiest in our state, who pay about 3 percent of their income.  

That’s upside down and wrong, and we can do better. 

The Working Families Tax Credit would benefit 420,000 taxpayers and one out of four children in Washington state. 

House Bill 1297 passed the Finance Committee. I’ll give you updates on future votes.

Keep in touch

Thank you to everyone who’s reached out to share your ideas, stories, and comments.

If you have a question about a specific issue or bill, please get in touch with me!