Issue: The state legislative session is almost over, but there are some important issues still being decided — most importantly, the budget. You can still make a difference if you speak up now. But do it fast; another bill deadline is coming up this Friday, and the legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 22, and may even wrap up a few days earlier.
Background: A few things to consider speaking up about:
Family Leave Insurance: Senate Bill 5659 would provide $250 for up to five weeks when a worker has to take time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or a new child. The Governor wants to add an extra hurdle to this common-sense idea by sending it the people for a vote. Contact the governor, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority leader and tell them this is what we elect them to do, and that they should pass this legislation this year.
Housing: The House and the governor increased the Housing Trust Fund from $100 to $140 million, but the senate left it at the same level it was at last year. The Senate also reduced the amount raised for homelessness services in House Bill 1359. Contact your senator and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and ask them to include $140 in the budget for the Trust Fund, and to reinsert the $8 document recording fee in HB 1359, because we can’t solve the housing crisis without a commitment of new resources.
Health Care: While the legislature made a huge step forward in making sure that all kids have health coverage this session, they neglected to adequately address adult health care by expanding the Basic Health Plan — even though voters passed I-773 five years ago to expand the program and provide a funding source. Tell the governor and House and Senate leadership to fix this mistake in the budget.
The House budget did include funding for a pilot program offering mental health services to people who are temporarily disabled and receiving GA-U, but the Senate did not include this funding. Almost half the people who receive GA-U have mental health needs and can recover and return to work more successfully if those needs are addressed. Tell your senator to include funding for this pilot program in the final budget.
Sonics: The new owners continue to lobby hard for taxes to pay for a new arena in Renton. Through much of the session, legislators seemed to say they weren’t interested in buying a new basketball stadium because we had more pressing needs. But now there seems to be a good deal of interest in doing just that, even from the Seattle delegation. Contact your representatives and senator and tell them there are more important things to spend tax dollars on, and if your legislator is from Seattle, remind them that 75 percent of Seattle voters said no to professional sports subsidies when they voted on I-71 last fall.
Action: Speak up on any or all of the issues above by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1(800)562-6000, or find your legislators at www.leg.wa.gov. Contact the governor at www.governor.wa.gov or call (360)902-4111. Reach the Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp, at email@example.com or call (360)786-7920. Contact Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360)786-7604.
GET INVOLVED, TAKE ACTION FOR REAL CHANGE