SB 5188, concerning the creation of the Washington state public bank, has now been renamed “creation of the Washington state public financial cooperative”. The substitute bill now in the Rules Committee is different than the original bill but is still a valuable tool for local governments. It would establish a cooperative in which local jurisdictions and the state could pool their resources and competitively finance a broad array of public infrastructure and economic development projects, including housing, at competitive rates with low administrative costs.
The public financial cooperative would have much lower operating costs than the private banking system, thereby lowering the cost of borrowing. It would also provide greater transparency and public accountability as a public institution than the private banking system allows.
The bank would finance itself by issuing its own bonds. These would not be supported by the credit of the state or impinge on the state’s debt limit. It would adopt stringent credit protection measures that would a) allow it to achieve an excellent credit rating, so as to b) pay low interest on the bonds that it issues, and c) protect it against failure.
Infrastructure in Washington State is under-financed. If enacted, this measure could expand the capacity to fund planning, acquisition, construction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets and roads, bridges, water systems, storm and sanitary sewage systems, solid waste handling, communications systems, housing, and other public infrastructure and economic development projects. An important part of the bill directs that after five years 35% of the bank’s loans each year should finance housing in low- to medium-income areas.
This bill is consistent with the League’s privatization position, which states that core services, functions and assets critical to the well-being of the people should remain with government and not be transferred to the private sector.
Although amended to be a more limited bank than originally contemplated, this bill would be a net gain for the public in Washington State, and your support is needed to get it passed by the Senate in the next week. Please ask your Senator to ask that SB 5188 be moved from the Rules Committee to the floor and then vote YES for SB 5188.
Senate Bill 5141 is on the Senate floor for a vote, but that vote is not yet scheduled. Please ask your senator to press senate leadership to schedule the vote, and to vote YES.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as, "...the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."
The League of Women Voters values participation in democracy by all residents from voting rights to participation in the government decision-making process. Some marginalized communities have found themselves bearing an unjust burden on their health and life quality. It is past time for governments to ensure all voices are heard so all lives can flourish.
The legislation described in the summary of the substitute bill sets out clear and feasible expectations for implementing the policies documented by the environmental justice task force, and stipulates fact-based analysis, identification of affected demographics, intentional communication with these communities, and embedding these expectations in department strategic plans.
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Over the past year, Washingtonians have joined people from all over the country in demanding an end to police violence. It is time for lawmakers need to step in to and restore compassion and humanity as foundational to public safety. HB 1310 urges law enforcement to implement creative and effective solutions to reduce conflict before using force. This law will not only save lives, but will begin repairing the relationship between police and the public they serve by shifting the way officers respond to calls and engage with community members.
Under HB 13010, officers who reach for lethal force before exhausting other options would be held accountable. Police departments that have failed to prepare their officers to meet this new standard would also be held accountable, a critical factor in dismantling systemic dysfunction. For the first time, our legal system would authorize compensation for those harmed by excessive use of force instead of shielding officers through qualified immunity.
In short, HB 1310 calls for a common-sense approach to policing envisioned by so many in our state. Tell your Representative to pull HB 1310 from the Rules Committee and vote yes on the floor!
Washington’s lax vesting law allows expansion of Urban Growth Areas into farmland and natural habitat. If a decision is made that the expansion was illegal under the Growth Management Act, under the current vesting law any new construction permits issued in the expanded UGA are valid even if the UGA expansion is later ruled illegal. There is no remedy for the community.
Regardless of current zoning, if someone has "vested rights" in a land use they can do whatever was permitted when the rights vested. Jurisdictions can make the qualification to "vest" minimal. This means if a community believes land use should or should not change, the owner of the vested right determines what the land use will really be.
Since 2008 bills have been introduced to stop this unbalanced practice. This is the first time there has been enough attention and commitment to get the legislature to change its mind on this issue. It is time to protect community interests. We don’t want to see more subdivisions in farm and forest lands, critical habitats and waterfronts while we have so many vacant lots and buildings in our cities. Senate Bill 5042 would close the loophole by changing the date for specific actions, such as UGA expansion or de-designating farmland, until after the appeal period has expired or a judgement by the Growth Management Hearings Board has been passed. It means that developments don’t get to take "cuts" in front of communities. The League of Women Voters of Washington has been an early advocate for the Growth Management Act, and did a report on vesting in 2017. This bill is essential to move toward full implementation of the act.
Senate Bill 5096, the capital gains tax, is the only currently viable option available to both generate badly needed additional revenue and to do so in a way that does not further penalize people at the lowest income levels. The state sales and property taxes are the only other available options right now for additional funds; and those are grossly unfair to people at the bottom of the income spectrum. The capital gains tax needs a "push" from citizens to assure that it is passed and creates an opportunity for the state to have more revenue but get it only from people in the top one percent of income. Please help move this forward from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate floor for a vote before the cut-off.
HB 1168 the Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience Act is a comprehensive, realistic action plan to address our escalating wildfires and smoke filled summers. Last year was the most destructive yet, overwhelming Washington State Department of Natural Resources's firefighting personnel and equipment and showed that the timeline for treating at-risk forests must be accelerated. Also the towns of Malden and Pine City were almost destroyed. The bill requests a dedicated fund for wildfires of $125 million per biennium from the general fund, which will be far less over time than the ever increasing annual costs we are now paying. Ask your representatives to support the bill.
Washington currently uses a single-member, winner-take-all election system with a top-two primary. This system has led to several problems, including lack of representation for minority groups, winners in top-two primaries without majority support, and primary elections won by less popular candidates because of vote splitting. Alternative voting methods including Ranked-Choice Voting encourages greater civility and less negative campaigning, as well as more direct outreach by candidates to voters. RCV is widely recognized as an effective intervention for more equitable representation. It’s elected more diverse legislative bodies in places like Minneapolis and San Francisco, and it’s the recommended remedy to a voting rights lawsuit in Yakima, where the Latino community has struggled to secure fair representation. Please email your state house representatives and ask them to support HB 1156, and feel free to modify the draft email below to express your perspective.
Washington is one of the minority of states that allows legislators and high level government officials to leave public service on one day and return the next day as a lobbyist. This is a problem because public trust in government integrity is undermined when there is the appearance that a legislator or other high level government official is beholden to any special interest. A modest one year “cooling off period” is a healthy reform that will strengthen our ethics laws and reduce the perception that public officials might be influenced by the prospect of future employment. SB 5170 would be a step in the right direction to rebuild public confidence in government. Please contact your senator and ask him or her to support this bill.
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