Legislative Update: Building A System That Works for All

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As February nears an end, here is a quick update on what’s been happening in Olympia, and how it affects our community. In this issue, I discuss what systemic change needs to occur to truly move the needle on equity, the work being done to create an inclusive and progressive tax structure, and legislation focused on protecting victims of domestic violence. I hope you will find it useful!

What Does Equity Look Like?

As we celebrate Lunar New Year, Black History Month, and honor Japanese Americans who suffered through internment during WWII in the legislature, it is remarkable to see how far we’ve come. As the late Dr. King said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Knowing that systemic change takes a long time doesn’t alleviate the continued burden of those who live in a system not fundamentally designed for them. Individuals like Tyre Nichols and the recent victims of anti-Asian hate crimes in our own community are just the obvious examples of this. What many don’t see in the media is the daily oppression reflected in healthcare outcomes, economic inequality, and other key metrics.

Facades of conformity in the name of equity are just “fakequity”. In response, my colleagues and I are joining together to plant the seeds of real change. When it comes down to it, equity isn’t only reflected in discussions about equity, but by doing the work to reverse oppressive policy structures and rebuild them in an image that heals trauma through resource allocation. At the end of day, societal outcomes need to reflect empowerment for those who most need it. I am confident the following legislation pushes us in this direction and gets us closer to designing a new system that works for everyone.

House Bill 1025 – The bill creates a state level civil cause of action for violations of state constitutional rights, Use of Force Standards, and Keep Washington Working Act. On average, people of color are policed more frequently than white people in Washington and with more drastic consequences. The result of police misconduct in Black and Brown communities has resulted in significant trauma and injustice in Washington. By creating a cause of action against violations of the state Constitution or unlawful conduct on use of force by WA law enforcement, the undermining of justice for egregious acts of violence will not be protected in Washington courts.

House Bill 1228 – The education system was not built for immigrants. English as a second language programs can isolate students away from their peers and prevent them from learning academics. These students experience racism and may reject their culture. Multiculturalism and multilingualism should be celebrated in the classroom and not singled out as problems. This bill would help the state develop multiliterate residents through the expansion of dual language education programs and tribal language education programs.

House Bill 1333 – Washington has the fifth highest number of extremist propaganda dissemination in the nation, with 228 incidents occurring in 2021. We can and must do something to reduce violence in all its forms, including violence that manifests itself as hatred and extremism. This bill proposes a two-year commission assembled to build a long-term systemic societal response to understand and reduce violent extremism.

House Bill 1474 – Generations of systemic, racist, and discriminatory policies have formed barriers to homeownership for Black, Indigenous, and people of color and other historically marginalized communities in Washington state. To truly right the wrongs of the past, our policies require focused and thoughtful solutions. This bill would establish a covenant homeownership account and program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance for those communities harmed by this historical injustice.

House Bill 1516 – Designating the Lunar New Year as a legal state holiday is a huge step in recognizing the cultural contributions Asian Americans have given to our state. As the fastest growing population in our state, recognized our community and creating a sense of belonging is critical in responding to the recent rise in Asian hate.

House Bill 1745 – Positive healthcare outcomes are disproportionately less likely to occur in overburdened communities. This bill would require clinical trials to adopt a policy of recruiting participants from underrepresented demographics to widen the lived experiences of participants. Doing this is critical in helping researchers understand the impact of structural and social determinants of health.

Building An Inclusive & Progressive Tax Structure

Good tax policy should be inclusive, progressive, stable, and transparent. This year, I have introduced the Washington State Wealth Tax as part of a coordinated campaign with seven other states. HB 1473 creates a narrowly tailored property tax on extreme wealth derived from the ownership of stocks, bonds, and other financial assets, with the proceeds dedicated to education, housing, disability services, and tax credits for working families. The first $250 million of assessed value is exempted, meaning only the wealthiest people in Washington would pay the tax.

Revenue from this tax is dedicated to four funds — the Education Legacy Trust Fund, which is a dedicated funding source for early learning, K-12, and higher education; the Housing Trust Fund, which pays for the construction of affordable housing; and two new funds created in the bill: a disabilities care trust account that will pay for services for Washingtonians with disabilities, and a taxpayer justice account that is intended to offer credits against taxes paid disproportionately by low-income and middle-income families. For more information on building a tax system that works for working families, click here or on the image below!

In conjunction with my two bills, House Bill 1075 and House Bill 1477, which modify and expand the Working Families Tax Credit, I am hopeful that more low-to-moderate income individuals and families can receive the assistance they deserve in a system where everyone pays their fair share.

Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence 

In Washington, 20% of all murders are domestic violence offenses. Nearly 60% of intimate partner violence related homicides include firearms. Last week, my colleagues in the Senate and House met to discuss the need for stronger protections, better services, and adequate funding for survivors of domestic violence. Below are some policies I am supporting to address this issue:

House Bill 1562 – Stalking, sexual assault, cyber harassment, and other tactics are used by abusers to perpetuate fear. This bill attempts to reduce the risk of lethality and harm associated with those likely to commit these crimes by governing the process of firearm possession and restoration of firearms rights. The law needs to be reflective of the risk of violence victims face.

House Bill 1715 – Domestic violence crimes are highly predictable and can be prevented. This bill builds a system to protect victims. From the creation of a hotline that performs a lethality assessment for domestic violence perpetrators, to increased access to counsel for low-income survivors and modifying the firearms surrendering process, we can better prevent victimization from occurring. Technology exists that can monitor offenders so that the victims of abuse can return home, rather than seeking shelter outside of their routine.

Each of us has been or knows someone affected by domestic violence. Let’s work to protect victims once and for all. To hear my thoughts and more on the work being done to help survivors, click here or on the image below.

Share Your Thoughts With Me

If you come down to Olympia, please schedule a time for us to meet so you can share your concerns with me. I am also happy to meet remotely if you are not quite comfortable in a public setting or simply don’t have time to make it to Olympia. My priority is hearing from you however you are most comfortable, whether remotely or in person.

If you have comments, questions, or ideas, please contact my office. I hope to hear from you soon!

In service,

State Representative My-Linh Thai

41st Legislative District