The 2021 legislative session continues to charge full speed ahead. As chair of the Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee, I’m happy to report that despite the difficulties a mostly remote session has presented, we have been able to hold hearings on and pass out of committee a significant number of great bills that put people first.
Here are some highlights from the House bills that we passed out of this committee over the last two weeks:
HB 1090 would ban private detention facilities in Washington. This bill is about providing accountability and transparency and preventing private companies from making money off the incarceration of human beings.
HB 1140 would require law enforcement to provide people under 18 access to an attorney before the person waives any of their constitutional rights. This will allow an educated adult to assist vulnerable youth and hold police accountable, ensuring their investigations are just, legal, and necessary.
HB 1297 improves the Working Families’ Tax Exemption, a state-level benefit similar to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit that would put money back into the pockets of individuals and families who need it most, especially as we recover from the pandemic. This bill would also improve the equity of the program by expanding it to include those who use individual taxpayer identification numbers (ITIN) for federal income taxes instead of a social security number.
These bills are now eligible for a vote of the full Senate, which would send them to the Governor to be signed into law.
Working Washington small business grants
On March 29, the Department of Commerce will open applications for the fourth round of the Working Washington grant program thanks to new funding the Legislature recently approved. These grants are intended to help small businesses in industries that faced the most significant challenges to pay hard costs, such as rent, utilities, or payroll, associated with operations because they were required to close due to the pandemic.
The application portal will be open until 5:00 PM PDT on April 9. Application information and technical assistance are available in multiple languages and accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities. Click here to learn more!
Vaccine eligibility continues to open to more and more people in Washington! The state has put together some online tools to help make learning about eligibility and finding a vaccine easier.
Do you find all those phases and definitions confusing? No problem! Find out if you’re eligible at findyourphasewa.org
If you’re eligible, you’ll then want to visit vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov to find an appointment near you. Don’t delay, get vaccinated today! It will protect your health as well as the health of our community.
That’s all for now! As always, my office welcomes your input on the issues facing our community and policies the Legislature is considering, so please reach out! You can contact us at Jeannie.Darneille@leg.wa.gov. Take care. Watch your distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.