Today marks the end of the second week of the legislative session, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity. We’ve successfully completed two Advocacy Days; The first was kicked off with a rousing speech by Representative Jamila Taylor, who leads the DD caucus.
Representative Darya Farivar emphasized the importance of her “Nothing About Us Without Us” legislation, which has been reintroduced. This week, individuals braved the elements to attend a rally on the Capitol Steps to advocate for residential services. If you couldn’t attend, you can still view videos, materials, and sign up for future advocacy days here.
On the 10th, there was an impressive turnout for House Bill 2184 and House Bill 2080. The room was filled with families and their loved ones with disabilities. The testimonies were compelling stories about the need for support for families of minor children and for the need for more things for adults I/DD to do during the day. I’m confident legislators won’t forget the faces and stories they heard.
We’re excited about House Bill 2276, the “Increasing the supply of affordable and workforce housing,” and its companion Senate Bill 6191. This bill provides ongoing revenue for low-income housing, which provides a 15% set aside for DD Housing. With an unmet need for 37,000 housing units, this provision would be a welcome relief. You can easily send a message about this bill to your legislator through The Arc’s action alert center. There is a hearing next Thursday, January 25th at 4:00 in the Senate Ways and Means Committee at 4:00 pm. You can sign on to the bill, provide written testimony, or testify live or remotely. Click here to sign on.
There are many important education bills this session. Senate Bill 5883, the “Burden of proof,” aims to shift the need to provide evidence in a due process hearing from the family to the school district. We understand the difficulty families face when all the weight is on them. The House had two work sessions and a hearing on the use of restraints and isolation on children at school House Bill 1478. Senate Bill SB 5966 ‘s hearing is scheduled for next week, though there’s concern that this bill doesn’t eliminate isolation. Several bills address the special education funding “cap.” To learn more about the various bills impacting individuals with I/DD and The Arc of Washington’s position, visit our bill tracker.
Our legislative Notebook contains excellent resources to learn more about the issues and to share with your legislators. Shawn Latham and Jessica Renner from Self Advocates in Leadership have created a helpful video that talks about what you can do to be involved in the legislative process. You can view it here. We hope these tools will help you be a better advocate.
Change is made by those who show up!