Progreso is supporting five legislative proposals at the state level in 2016 to improve the well-being of Latino families and communities of color across Washington. We selected these important bills after a process of community participation in 5 different counties. Learn more about our 2016 legislative agenda, and stay involved with Progreso to help ensure these proposals become law this year!
Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA) (HB 1745/SB 5668) – support
In communities around Washington, unfair voting systems repeatedly prevent voters of color from electing candidates of their choice. This legislation sets processes to make local elections fairer and remove barriers for candidates of color, which can improve turnout and representation in local elections for all Washingtonians. It also provides community-led alternatives to costly federal lawsuits, and flexible implementation guidelines for jurisdictions.
Racial Impact Statements (HB 2076/SB 5752) – support
Certain laws and programs in areas such as criminal justice, education, and human services aggravate racial disparities. Racial impact statements help legislators make informed decisions. This analysis will enable policymakers to consider disparate impacts of a bill before it passes, which can avoid unintended consequences that are costly and harmful to people of color.
Closing the Opportunity Gap (HB 1541/SB 6192) – support
Students of color face disproportionate suspensions. These bills prohibit long-term suspension or expulsion as a form of discretionary discipline, limit all suspensions or expulsions to the length of an academic term, and require a meeting to reengage the student. They also prohibit districts from suspending the provision of educational services as a form of discretionary action.
HB 1541 and SB 6192 include strategies to close the opportunity gap and ensure that all students thrive, based on the educational opportunity gap oversight and accountability committee (EOGOAC)’s recommendations. These include mandatory cultural competency training, increased retention and training of teachers of color, and disaggregated data collection.
Legal Financial Obligation (LFO) Reform (HB 1390/SB 5713) – support
Legal financial obligations are the fines, fees, and restitution amounts that courts impose at sentencing, in addition to time served. Many people face insurmountable debt while finding a job to pay for these fees plus affording basic needs. These bills would prioritize restitution payments, reduce non-restitution interest, and end the practice of jailing people who can’t pay.
LFOs disproportionately impact people of color and low-income people, who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six (5.6) times the rate, and Latinos are incarcerated at nearly double (1.8) the rate, of whites.
Toxics-Free Kids and Families Act (HB 2545/SB 6440) – support
These bills will ban five toxic flame retardants from children’s toys and furniture, and allow the Department of Health to ban similar substances proven to harm human health. Studies show higher concentrations of flame retardants among Latinos and other people of color in the U.S.