We organize our PJALS Legislative Agenda into 2 tiers that create a framework for how we prioritize our time and capacity during legislative session:
Our Tier 1 legislative priorities are bills that PJALS staff will actively seek ways to promote. Not only will we collaborate with allies and partners, which includes re-posting their content, but we’ll plan our own events and invite others to join us!
Tier 2 legislation is also very important to us. We’ll support Tier 2 priorities by joining sign-on letters, making statements, and participating in other efforts led by our partners. However, PJALS staff will not lead the planning on any actions around Tier 2 bills.
Tier 1 Priorities for 2024
Tier 1 legislation is made up of the priorities of our single issue partners such as Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Tenants Union of Washington, and the Free to Walk Coalition. These include bills in the key areas of police accountability and housing. All of this work is being done in the context of Statewide Coalitions of which PJALS is an active member.
Click the links below to learn more about each bill.
We will also support any new bills introduced this session that:
- Invest in the front-line workers and nonprofits that provide homeless and housing services.
- Invest in homeless prevention.
Tier 2 Priorities for 2024
Tier 2 legislation follows the legislative priorities of our partner organizations and coalitions such as Pro Choice Washington, Tenants Union of Washington, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Washington Coalition for Police Accountability and other partners as we see fit. These include bills in the key area of health equity
Click the links below to learn more about each bill.
- SB 5241 / HB 1263: Keep Our Care Act
Supporting initiatives highlighted by the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) of which PJALS is a member
HB 1513 / SB 5572: Traffic Safety For All
Official Summary: Limits officers’ use of stops and detentions for non-moving violations as a primary offense, and specifies additional process requirements for traffic stops. Requires written consent before an officer may search a vehicle or passengers. Requires an officer to prepare a detailed report for each stop or detention. Creates a grant program focused on interventions for non-moving violations for low-income road users.
Description: This bill eliminates traffic stops for non-moving violations to reduce unnecessary interactions between law enforcement and civilians. This aims to reduce the disproportion of stops for Black and Brown people as well as reduce the possibility of simple traffic stops from escalating into a harmful or violent interaction.Additionally, reducing non-moving traffic violations will reduce the financial burden of tickets and fees, and offers low-income drivers grant opportunities to keep their vehicles in compliance. Supporting this bill works towards our priority of ending systemic racism in our city-county carceral system and our continued efforts to achieve economic justice.
- Traffic Safety For All Backgrounder 2024 from ACLU Washington
- It’s Time to Prioritize Traffic Safety for All – HB 1513 from WCPA
HB 1445: Ability to Investigate
Follow updates on the Washington State Legislature Website: HB 1445
Official Summary: Authorizes the Attorney General to investigate and bring actions against law enforcement and corrections agencies for violations of the Washington Constitution or state law. Requires the Attorney General to confer with the Office of Independent Investigations and United States Department of Justice. Requires the Attorney General to develop and publish model policies in consultation with various agencies and entities.
Description: This bill will give autonomy to the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Office to bring investigations and other legal actions against law enforcement or corrections agency misconduct. Supporting this bill works towards our priority of ending systemic racism in our city-county carceral system and our continued efforts to increase law enforcement accountability.
- Attorney General Investigation and Reform – Legislative Backgrounder 2023 from ACLU Washington
- It’s Time to End Systemic Misconduct: The AG Investigation and Reform Bill from WCPA
HB 1428 / SB 5383: Pedestrian Safety and Jaywalking
Official Summary: Authorizes a pedestrian to cross a roadway at any point unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision with a moving vehicle, a person operating a bicycle, or a personal delivery device. Exempts pedestrians from following the requirements of traffic control devices provided the immediate danger standard for crossing a roadway is followed. Requires the operator of an approaching vehicle to stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway at any point unless the immediate danger standard for crossing a roadway is met. Removes the requirement that a pedestrian moving along a roadway is required to walk on or move along the shoulder of the roadway facing traffic when sidewalks are not provided or are inaccessible and shoulders are accessible.
Description: This bill will eliminate infractions for jaywalking to reduce unnecessary interactions between law enforcement and civilians. The laws around jaywalking as they stand today do not stop people from being hit by cars and the enforcement of those laws disproportionately impact BIPOC, low income, and unhoused people. Supporting this bill works towards our priority of ending systemic racism in our city-county carceral system and our continued efforts to achieve economic justice.
HB 1579: Independent Prosecutor
Follow updates on the Washington State Legislature Website: HB 1579
Official Summary: Establishes the Office of Independent Prosecutions (OIP), led by an independent counsel, as a separate division within the Office of the Attorney General. Provides OIP with jurisdiction concurrent with county prosecuting attorneys to review investigations, and initiate and conduct prosecutions of crimes involving use of deadly force by involved officers.
Description: This bill strengthens the accountability structures for law enforcement who have used deadly force. Having independent counsel reduces the bias towards officers and would allow them to bring about their own investigations. Supporting this bill works towards our priority of ending systemic racism in our city-county carceral system and our continued efforts to increase law enforcement accountability.
HB 2027 / SB 5905: Law Enforcement Leader Accountability
Official Summary: Bill report has not be posted yet–to be updated later
Description: This bill aims to bring law enforcement leaders (sheriffs, police chiefs, marshals, etc) to the existing standards for background checks, trainings and certifications, and consequences for misconduct. Additionally, it will bring reserve officers and law enforcement “volunteers” to the same standards of training. Supporting this bill works towards our priority of ending systemic racism in our city-county carceral system and our continued efforts to increase law enforcement accountability.
HB 1389: Stop Excessive Rent Increases
Follow updates on the Washington State Legislature Website: HB 1389
Official Summary: Prohibits, with certain exemptions, a landlord from increasing the rent for a tenancy subject to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act or the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act during the first 12 months after a tenancy begins, and during any 12-month period in an amount greater than the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is greater, up to a maximum of 7 percent above the existing rent, as required to be calculated and published annually by the Department of Commerce.
Description: This bill will stop excessive rent increases greater than 3 percent or the rate of inflation based on the consumer price index up to 7 percent. This cap on the rate of increase will better regulate the growing rate of rent costs. Supporting this bill continues our racial equity and economic justice commitments regarding housing.
PJALS will support other bills that invest in the front-line workers and nonprofits that provide homeless and housing services.
Supporting initiatives highlighted by the Pro-Choice Washington
SB 5241 / HB 1263: Keep Our Care Act
Official Summary: Modifies reporting requirements for mergers, acquisitions, or contracting affiliations between hospitals, hospital systems, or provider organizations (parties). Requires parties to submit additional documentation related to charity care; access to care, including reproductive, gender-affirming, emergency, and end-of-life care; all current policies and procedures; and explanations of how any of these areas would be affected by the proposed transaction. Requires the attorney general to determine, through a public process, if the transaction would detrimentally affect the continued existence of accessible, affordable heal
Description: Consolidations between health care entities like hospitals, hospital systems, and provider organizations are prolific in Washington State and can negatively impact cost, quality, and access to necessary health care services. Yet in Washington, these health entity consolidations receive minimal oversight, allowing large health care systems to dictate patients’ access to care. Supporting this bill continues our racial equity and economic justice commitments regarding healthcare.
- Support SB 5241/HB1263 Keep Our Care Act from Pro-Choice Washington
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are my state legislators?
In Washington State, our legislative branch is made up of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Our state has 49 Legislative Districts (see map here), each of which is represented by 1 seat in the Senate (49 total seats) and 2 seats in the House (98 total seats). Spokane County is split across Districts 3, 4, and 6. Senators in Washington serve 4-year terms and Representatives serve 2-year terms with staggered election cycles.
Each year, both chambers meet during the legislative session to amend laws, introduce new bills that may become law, and set the budget. This means that our state representatives have the power to make decisions about laws, money, and resources that impact our communities directly, which is why it is so important that we contact them to let them know what the impact of their decisions (or lack of decisions) will be!
You can find your state legislative district and your state representatives by visiting the Legislative District Finder at wa.gov.
Why do we contact legislators and give testimony at hearings?
Contacting legislators and providing testimony during the legislative session are crucial components of civic engagement and advocacy. When talking to our legislators, we have the opportunity to educate them on our life experiences and share a point of view from their constituency. Legislators may not be experts on every issue they face. Your communication and testimony can serve to educate them on the complexities and nuances of specific issues. This information can contribute to more informed decision-making.
Regular contact with legislators helps build relationships between constituents and elected officials. If elected officials do not address the concerns raised by their constituents, this record can be used to hold them accountable during future elections.
How do bills become laws?
1.) First Reading
The bill is introduced on the “floor” and is referred to a committee. The bill can exist in both the House and the Senate; which means it will have two different bill numbers until the bill ultimately comes together much later in the legislative process.
2.) Committee Action
The bill is managed in the committee through work sessions, public hearings (where we testify!), and executive sessions. You can check the progress if these meetings in the “bill report”
3.) Rules Committee
Members of the Rules Committee will review and select two or three bills to move to the next step.
4.) Second Reading
The bill is back onto the “floor” and its merits are up for discussion. This is when members have the opportunity to offer amendments
5.) Third Reading
Role call on the final language is taken. If the bill passes, it continues. If it does not, the bill goes no further.
6.) Concurrence, Dispute, Conference Committees
If the bill has been amended by the second house, the first house has to decide whether it will accept the amendments or not. If the first house accepts the amendments, the bill has passed the Legislature.If the first house disagrees with the second house, it can ask the second house to recede from the amendments. If the second house recedes, the bill has passed the Legislature.
7.) Governor’s Action
The Governor reviews the bill. They may decide to sign it, veto part of it, or veto all of it. If they sign it, the bill becomes a law.
Why may our opinions switch half way through the legislative session?
During the legislative session a bill will see committees and will be read on the floor–both of these times offer the opportunity for amendments. Sometimes, when opposition of a particular bill wants to see it fail they will “tank” the bill with counterintuitive amendments that will render the bill ineffective if it were to pass. When this happens to a bill we were originally supporting, we may change our position, ask our legislators to no longer support the bill, and urge our community members to sign on against.
What is the timeline for the legislative session?
Within the two-year cycle, Washington State has a long (105 days) and short (60 days) legislative session. Regardless, the session can go by quickly as bills move in and out of committees. In 2024, the legislative session will begin on January 8th and run for 60 days not including weekends. You can view the House and Senate legislative calendars here or see the scheduled hearings and floor sessions here.
What are legislative action hours?
Legislative action hours are an opportunity to hear from lobbyists who are a part or the PJALS partner or coalition network. In these action hours attendee will get to learn more in depth about the bills we are prioritizing and take action together to support legislation currently under consideration. PJALS will be hosting two legislative action hours this session–stay tuned for more information!
Where can I learn more about preparing a testimony?
Our partner organization Spokane Communities Against Racism (SCAR) hosts testimony training every Monday at 3:30pm. There you can gain confidence in your public speaking abilities and engage with other community members interred in civil cation. These training are geared toward city council, yet the skills are completely transferable. You can sign up here.