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What Communities of Color are Pushing for in Olympia this Legislative Session

By January 20, 2021February 23rd, 2021Blog


This year in Washington State, more legislators of color were sworn in on Monday than ever before! Black and Brown communities are entering this legislative session more organized and more powerful than ever.

Washington Community Alliance is getting to work! Sign up for our legislative newsletter The Tally to keep up with the action. This is what we’re focusing on this legislative session:

The Big Five

️1. Local Options to Strengthen Democracy (HB 1156)

We need to get rid of the racist ban on ranked-choice voting. Our current voting system prevents multiple candidates of color from running and appealing to the same communities, while giving a free pass to racist politicians who can get away with demonizing Black and Brown communities if they represent a minority of voters. By passing the Local Options Bill for ranked-choice voting, we’ll strengthen one of the safest and most secure voting systems in the country.

2. Community Oversight for Police Accountability (HB 1203)

This bill dropped on Wednesday and represents the largest shift in power away from the police toward the community. It would create a statewide standard for community oversight boards, which would have the power to select candidates for police chief, investigate misconduct, and create other accountability mechanisms. Having already garnered national attention, it is the flagship bill for the police reform task force this legislative session.

3. Unemployment Insurance for Undocumented Workers (SB 5425)

Even though undocumented immigrants pay into our unemployment insurance program, they’re banned from accessing it — even now during record high lay-offs from the pandemic. This bill would right that injustice, and is part of a broader legislative agenda that also includes healthcare access for undocumented immigrants and closing the Northwest Detention Center.

4. Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act (SB 5489)

After a summer where the sky literally turned red, we know tackling climate change through environmental justice is critical. It’s part of an ambitious agenda to get us to a Resilient Future quickly. The agenda is supported by local Sunrise Movement chapters and is part of FutureWise’s #WACantWait campaign on reforming the Growth Management Act.

5. Progressive Revenue

Washington state has the most upside down tax code in the country. Working-class Black and Brown people pay more in taxes than the white billionaires in our state. To address the most pressing issues facing our communities and provide economic relief brought on by the pandemic, we need to pass a suite of progressive tax policies. There are several awesome bills this session:

  • Working Families Tax Credit (HB 1297/SB 5387)
  • Progressive estate tax (HB 1465)
  • Anti-displacement tax exemption (HB 1494)
  • Capital gains tax that would help fund early learning (HB 1496/SB 5096)

It’s a positive sign that a new crop of progressive legislators are ratcheting up the pressure and Governor Inslee proposed a capital gains tax on the top 2% of income earners Washingtonians.

  • Community: Balance Our Tax Code
  • Our take: This has been one of the longest ongoing fights in Olympia but there is more momentum entering this session than ever before.

Join Us!

Sign up for our legislative newsletter The Tally to stay up to date as the bills move through the session and take action with us.