Legislative Action Committee Report
First as background to what we have accomplished this year, we must emphasize that majorities matter. Our election victories here in the 45th in 2017 and 18 with Manka Dhingra gaining and holding our Senate seat and the majorities of 29-20 in the Senate and 58-40 in the House give us the strength to have passed some of the most progressive legislation in the nation.
In recent years we removed immunity from police use of deadly force and are retraining our police throughout the state on de-escalation tactics and implementing measures that improve policing in our communities and therefore our safety on the streets and in our neighborhoods. We have implemented the most comprehensive climate legislation to cap and trade to reduce every year emissions of CO2 and invest in our most vulnerable communities, set low carbon fuel standards and set a transfer to electric vehicles. This year’s major wins in providing Behavioral Health. Banning Assault Weapons and reshaping zoning in our growth areas adds to the progressive policies we have sought to provide.
45th LAC – Priorities for 2023 Session approved January 4th 2023
|Create the Washington State Investment Trust – our own publicly-owned state bank||FAIL|
|Repeal statewide “advisory votes” for bills that increase or recover revenue||WIN|
|Provide more low income housing to ease the homeless crisis and adopt policies to increase attainable housing for the many that cannot afford market rates; reform zoning.||WIN|
|Initiate policies, funding, and training to address the behavioral health disorders for all.||BIG WIN|
|Assure the full range of reproductive health care options for all WA residents; no insurance prohibitions.||PROGRESS|
|Address Climate change in growth management, forest management; in all our activities.||MIXED|
|Improve working conditions and pay for social workers, teachers, mental health, and special ed.||SOME PROGRESS|
|Re-balance WA taxation across all income levels; add wealth tax of 1% above one billion.||FAIL|
|Ban the sale of assault weapons.||WIN|
Gun Safety Wins
HB 1240: RESTRICT ACCESS TO ASSAULT WEAPONS
Semi-automatic assault weapons have been used in the deadliest mass shootings in the last 10 years. This bill ensures that Washington became the 10th state to ban the sale of these military-grade firearms across all of our communities. This is a victory years in the making and one that will ensure that assault weapons are not sold in Washington state.
HB 1143: IMPLEMENTING A 10-DAY WAITING PERIOD AND MANDATED SAFETY TRAINING FOR THE PURCHASE OF ALL FIREARMS
This bill requires safety training and a 10-day waiting period to purchase any firearm in Washington. States with similar precautions have lower rates of firearm-related death, fewer guns diverted to criminals shortly after retail sale, and lower rates of guns exported to other states.
SB 5078: ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS
For too long, federal law has prevented gun violence victims and survivors from holding gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for dangerous and irresponsible practices. This means that the gun industry has been able to engage in reckless and dangerous practices without fear of consequences. SB 5078 ensures a pathway for victims and survivors of gun violence to hold industry leaders accountable for wrongful and dangerous business practices, and ensure that victims have a method to seek justice.
As reported by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, (2023, April 26)
Behavioral Health System Major Wins
With the rollout of our state’s new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which responds to behavioral health crises with expert help and support, Washington is becoming a national model for crisis intervention. This year the Legislature stepped up to fulfill that promise — not only to deliver the services that people in crisis need, but to build a system and a workforce that can help prevent crises before they happen.
Our state’s behavioral health system is coming out of the legislative session with nearly $1 billion in new funding and a number of crucial innovative initiatives established. The 2023 operating budget, signed by the governor today, makes $957 million in behavioral health investments, including support for new legislation passed and signed into law this session that will improve behavioral health crisis response, prevent crises, and grow the behavioral health workforce.
SB 5536 focuses on treatment and funding for a public health approach to substance use disorder.
Improving behavioral health crisis response
sponsored by Sen Dhingra, creates an alternative to emergency rooms and jails for people with behavioral health needs by establishing a system for certified crisis relief centers. This new type of crisis diversion facility can provide short-term help to patients regardless of behavioral health acuity.
Currently, behavioral health facilities require a cumbersome medical clearance before accepting someone in crisis, so first responders take them instead to places that do not: emergency rooms & jails.
The bill establishes a “no-wrong-door” framework, meaning that people in mental health and substance use crises will not be turned away. In these certified crisis relief centers, people can get short-term care and make connections to longer-term services that can help them reacclimate to a stable lifestyle.
HB 1134, sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) expands the services provided through the 988 crisis hotline. This bill creates an endorsement for 988 rapid-response crisis teams, which will be the primary response teams for people experiencing a significant behavioral health emergency that requires an urgent, in-person response.
Preventing behavioral health crises
SB 5300, sponsored by Sen Dhingra, allows patients to stay on behavioral health medication regimens that have kept them stable. This bill requires that, once a behavioral health patient has been stabilized, health insurance carriers cannot require substitutions of other drugs when when refilling a prescription.
SB 5228, sponsored by Sen Dhingra, provides occupational therapy services for people with behavioral health disorders, including new clients in low-barrier housing. Occupational therapists teach basic activities of daily living, household skills, and methods of managing acute symptoms, which can make the difference between failure and success for clients.
SB 5440, sponsored by Sen Dhingra, improves our state’s system for restoring competency to stand trial for people with behavioral health disorders. This is part of the state’s ongoing response to the Trueblood lawsuit filed in 2014.
Growing the behavioral health workforce
HB 1069, sponsored by Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-University Place), adopts the Mental Health Counselor compact, which will make it easier for behavioral health specialists from out of state to work here.
SB 5189, sponsored by Sen. Yasmin Trudeau (D-Tacoma), creates certification for behavioral health support specialists to deliver evidence-based interventions under the supervision of licensed providers.
SB 5555, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), establishes a new state-certified profession of peer specialists, to make use of the skills of people who have life experience valuable in providing services to those in recovery from mental health or substance use disorder.
HB 1724, sponsored by Rep. Jessica Bateman (D-Olympia), helps strengthen the workforce by getting qualified behavioral health providers into the field as quickly and safely as possible.
Taken from Senator Dhingra’s communications.
Won Repeal of Statewide “advisory votes” on our ballots!
Senator Kuderer and Andrew Villenueve of the Northwest Progressive Institute pressed hard for and we finally won the repeal of these Tim Eyeman push poll on our ballots. Our ballots will no longer show them and will instead only show races and ballot measures, effective July 23rd 2023.
And there are no Eyeman initiatives on our general election ballots again this year. And Tim Eyeman has been banned from any financial role in initiative fundraising for his past repeated personal misuse of those funds.
Housing and Low Income Housing Progress
Additional funding in both the Operating Budget and the Capital Budget for low income housing provides only incremental progress toward adequate low income housing for all who need it continuing to cause increased homelessness. But rezoning may provide a large growth in smaller units that will be more affordable.
Major progress in zoning reform to provide “middle housing” was passed for GMA Planning Cities
Middle Housing E2SHB 1110
Requires designated Growth Management planning cities (does not apply to Counties or unincorporated areas) to allow minimum densities for middle housing.
Tier 1 Cities (min pop 75,000) to allow 4 units per lot in residential zones, 6 units per lot near major Transit Stops and allow 6 units per lot in residential zones with at least 2 units of affordable housing.
Tier 2 Cities (min pop 25,000) to allow 2 units per lot in residential zones, 4 units per lot near major Transit Stops and allow 4 units per lot in residential zones with at least 2 units of affordable housing.
Tier 3 Cities (below 25,000 pop) to allow 2 units per lot in residential zones.
ADU Housing EHB 1337
Requires all GMA planning local governments to allow 2 ADU’s Accessory Dwelling Units detached, attached or within the existing building.
Assure Reproductive Healthcare for WA
The Legislature provided law to protect the privacy of our Health Data, under attack elsewhere.
HB 1155 My Health My Data.
And provided protection for those seeking reproductive healthcare and gender affirming care in HB 1469 Shield Law and HB 1340 Disciplinary Protections for Providers.
Implementing our Climate Change Transition Legislation
In 2019 Washington passed CETA, the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which commits WA to an electricity supply free of greenhouse gases emissions by 2045.
In 2021 Washington passed the Climate Commitment Act, which caps greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry and transportation. Credits for each ton of GHG were issued to the largest polluters and are reduced each year. The cost is determined by quarterly auctions, increasing the cost of pollution until we achieve zero emissions in 2050.
Washington State Department of Commerce is tasked with monitoring the progress of our state’s efforts and is now reporting on this progress in four areas each year; they are Electricity, Transportation, Buildings and Industry.
Failed to Win WA State Investment Trust (state bank)
Senator Patty Kuderer, 48th LD will work to overcome obstacles again next year and Sen Liz Lovelet, 40th LD on Housing Finance Comm & community Tax Benefit will work to gain passage. Mike Pelliciotti our State Treasurer, who would implement a state bank, has had some reservations on the current proposal. Mark Mullet, 5th LD with banking and insurance industry connections has opposed it.
2023-25 Operating Budget – $70 B Total
2.2 B K-12 Education
1.1 B Behavioral Healthcare
590 M Children Youth and Families
382 M College Workforce Development
253 M Public Safety, Legal Aid, Corrections
1.8 B Long Term Care and Developmental Disabilities
1.0 B Public Health and Healthcare
684 M Natural Resources
519 M Housing and Homelessness
397 M Human Services and Poverty Reduction
2023-25 Capital Budget – 8.9 B Total
1.5 B Higher Education
872 M K-12 Construction
792 M Water Quality
660 M State Mental Health Facilities
424 M Clean Energy and Climate Change
400 M Housing Trust Fund
400 M Public Works Associations
224 M Behavioral Health Service Facilities
200 M Broadband
170 M Affordable Housing and Shelters
178 M Flood Risk Reduction and Restoration
156 M Water Supply
129.5 M National Guard Facilities
70 M Early Learning Facilities
18 M Toxic Cleanup and Prevention
2023-25 Transportation Budget – 13.6 B Total
6.0 B Maintenance, preservation and improvements of existing infrastructure
2.46 B Fish Passage Barrier Removal
1.26 B WS Ferries- 3 Hybrid Electric Conversions and start construction on 5 new Hybrid vessels
921 M Climate Commitment Act funding
406 M Safe Routes to School, Bike Programs and Connecting Communities Grants
109 M Improve Rail and Freight Infrastructure, Port Modernization
Budget highlights from Rep Bill Ramos and Rep Lisa Callan. 5th LD
Of note the 7% Capital Gains Tax went into effect in January and so far has raised 849 M, nearly twice what was forecast (350-500 M), the first 500 M is dedicated to funding spcific areas of K-12 education; revenue above that is dedicated to school construction.
Report updated September 7, 2023