2021 LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK
community Advocacy and Support
What are the basics and who is involved?
Washington’s Black youth, adults and families are struggling to make ends meet. Due to COVID-19, police misconduct and police violence, existing inequalities have deepened, further harming those most vulnerable. Through connecting with our clients, we see the disparities within our community as more than statistics; we know those more vulnerable by name.
This 2021 Legislative Framework is in partnership with the Tacoma Urban League and it describes the policies we are dually advocating for and supporting. We believe that these policies are positive, necessary steps toward systemic change and racial equality. Within our 2021 Legislative Framework, you’ll find four specific areas of focus: (1) Investing in vulnerable communities, (2) Equitable criminal legal system, (3) Education and youth program investment, and (4) Access to fair political representation.
Areas of Focus
legislative goals we support
Focus Area ONE
Investing in Vulnerable Communities
As Washington State is facing a projected budget shortfall due to the pandemic, we need to ensure that we have a just and equitable recovery for all, especially those most vulnerable.
To ensure that we all can weather this economic crisis there must be a protection in direct cash assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD), and Housing Essential Needs (HEN).
In addition, there must be a new investment in direct cash assistance program called the Working Families Tax Credit, which unrestricted cash, minimum $500, to those who need it most. This would include households with no children, immigrants, and college students.
Minority-owned businesses and contracting must stay open and protected during this pandemic.
We must prioritize state contracting, licensing, access to loans and credit towards Black, indigenous, Latinx and other communities. We must support building generational wealth and creating an equitable economic infrastructure for all.
Focus Area two
Equitable Criminal Legal Systems
We are not only dealing with a health crisis, but also a resurgence of having to remind the nation that Black lives matter. We need to rethink how we use the criminal legal system and keeping law enforcement officers accountable.
Many Black lives are lost by the hands of police. This causes social unrest when officers responsible are not held accounted, not charged, or convicted, and able to keep their jobs. We need to redefine police accountability and community oversight.
There must be a state with process for when excessive force is used or misconduct occurs, officers are held accountable and face consequences, such as losing their jobs, or losing their certification to be a police officer.
In addition, there must be an end to qualified immunity. This would give the victims of police brutality and misconduct the right to file a lawsuit and seek damages. Both keeping police accountable and ending qualified immunity is a start to ensuring that Black adults, families, and youth are safe and protected from law enforcement.
Instead of cycling those with substance through the court and jail system, there must be a treatment first approach. This will benefit the individual and families who are battling addiction and minimize the number of cases that go through the court system.
- HB 1082/ SB 5051: Concerning oversight and accountability of police officers and correction officers
- HB 1203: Concerning community oversight boards
- HB 1202: Addressing meaningful civil remedies for persons injured as a result of police misconduct, including by allowing for an award of attorney fees in addition to damages injunctive and declaratory relief.
Focus Area three
Fair Political Representation
Without political representation from the Black community, the specific needs of our communities are often missed or minimized.
All of our community must be a part of the political process because their voices matter. It is imperative that the right to vote is expanded to those who are on felony probation or under work release, with the end goal that their right to vote never goes away.
After the 2020 Census, Washington State will be redistricting at a federal, state, and local level. This could divide majority people of color communities and dilute our political power. We must safeguard key communities in the Puget Sound region.
Focus Area four
Education and Youth Program Investment
Education is an essential right for Washington students, unfortunately there is a widening achievement gap for lack students and other students of color.
There must be internet connectivity for all students during this pandemic and virtual learning. This will help ensure that every child has the chance to succeed online and transition back into the classroom successfully.
Education goes farther than the classroom. For our youth, they need to have the opportunity of employment to become ready for the workforce. There must be a statewide summer youth employment program to prepare students and expand the workforce.
Bill numbers and more information coming in 2021.