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Final 2022 Legislative Newsletter

Image Description: Picture of the top of the Washington State Capital Building with blue sky behind it. Text over the sky reads, “2022 Legislative Agenda.” Below picture is the Disability Rights Washington logo with a blue graphic of a tree and the words “Washington’s protection and advocacy system” written underneath.

LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP: 2022 Session

WAS THE SESSION A SUCCESS?
The Democrats are in charge in Olympia, with a Democrat serving as our state’s Governor and comfortable margins for the Democrats in both houses of the Legislature. The Democrats believe the 2022 session accomplished much, even calling the changes they passed this year “transformational”. The Governor described the session as “short but historic”, “headlined by a once-in-a-generation transportation revenue package” and “important investments in housing and homelessness, education, and salmon recovery along with key policies to improve health care”.

Not surprisingly, the Republicans saw the session differently. Washington State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich said:

“This is a sad moment in Washington history as decades of precedent and the trust of taxpayers were both broken by Democrats. It is unconscionable to raise taxes on people struggling through a pandemic amidst a projected state budget surplus of $760 million and an additional $7 billion our state will receive from the latest COVID-19 federal stimulus bill.”

The state Constitution requires that the budget be balanced. Thanks to the billions of revenue from a recovering economy and still more billions of federal stimulus money receive recently, the Legislature accomplished the budget balancing act despite adding millions – well, actually, billions – of additional spending.

Many of the bills of interest to disability advocates that passed this year were at least somewhat bi-partisan. In the “wrap-up” that follows, this newsletter will focus on the legislative accomplishments and additional funding that are important to disability advocates.


FINAL NEWSLETTER! PLEASE FILL OUT OUR SURVEY [3]

This is the final edition of the 2022 DRW Legislative Newsletter. A sincere “Thank You!” to all of those of you who have opened and read the newsletter – especially those of you who have taken action as a result.

We have a final, small request: Would you please take a few moments to fill out our Newsletter survey [3]? We rely on your responses to improve our newsletter, and appreciate the suggestions and responses we have had from those of you who have already filled this out. Thanks!


CDAN members advocate for disability justice during 2022 session

Cross Disability Advocacy Network (CDAN)  members were very active in this session. Testifying remotely, providing written comment, contacting individual legislators, and meeting regularly to stay informed on the process and support one another.

CDAN members weighed in on many of the issues identified in the Legislative Wrap-up. CDAN is a network of advocates with disabilities and each member chooses which issues they want to support or oppose. There were a pair of issues that CDAN members were unified in their position: members supported HB 1802, “Nothing about Us Without Us”, and opposed the reduced safeguards in assisted suicide in HB 1141. See below in this newsletter for outcomes of these two bills.

To watch CDAN’s 2022 testimony highlights reel, click here. [4]

Join CDAN.

Are you interested in learning more about CDAN, or joining? Right now CDAN meets monthly, but during the legislative session the group meets weekly on Thursdays from 6-7:30 PM. Members discuss bills of interest, and support each other in their legislative advocacy. Some members are experienced, others have only started advocating on bills this year.

Click here [5] to learn more about the Cross Disability Advocacy Network. 

Want to get involved? Contact Sunshine or David at publicpolicy@dr-wa.org [6] 


LEGISLATIVE WRAP UP 2022

At this point, the Legislature has completed its work and the Governor has acted on the bills. In addition to signing and vetoing legislation, the Governor has signed the budgets, with only brief, very limited use of the veto power.

Final outcome of the 2022 bills we tracked. The 2022 Legislature considered a great number of bills that affect people with disabilities. Disability Rights Washington and the Cross Disability Advocacy Network monitored legislation and reported status in our Bill Tracker [7]. For selected bills there were updates in this newsletter’s “Bills of Interest” column. See below for final outcome of all Bills of Interest.

You can find the up-to-date status of any bill for which you have a bill number on the Legislative website [8].

“Interim” until January 2023. Now that the Governor is finished his part, the bill action is over until the next legislative session – January 2023. In the meantime – the “interim” – state agencies will work to implement the new laws, funds that were appropriated through the budget will be distributed, and legislators and advocates will begin to work on bills for the 2023 session.

Also, during the interim there will be elections – in April, August and November.

2022 IS AN ELECTION YEAR! This year’s election will fill all the seats in the state House of Representatives, which come up every other year, and half of the state Senate – which are 4 year terms.

For an election calendar and more information on voting: click here. [9]

Some Victories for Disability Justice advocates…

As is the case with every legislative session, advocates won some of the time, and lost other times. There is, of course, room for disagreement about what is progress and what is a setback. That said, we had a few standout victories this year. Click on the topic to read more.

Participation In Government
[10]
Education Access
[11]Justice For Incarcerated Persons
[12]Justice In Health Care
[13]Developmental Disabilities
[14]Indigenous Justice
[15]Transportation
[16]Reentry From Institutions
[17]Support For Community Development
[18]Digital Divide [19]

Works in Progress and Setbacks

This was a tough legislative session. Advocates worked hard to advance their bills during the short session and fought to stop harmful policies from passing. Here are the areas which had lots of engagement. Click on the topic to read more.

Disability Justice in prison.
[20]Police Accountability
[21]Peer Services
[22]Assisted Outpatient Treatment
[23]Equity In Health Care
[24]Institutions [25]


Some Victories for Disability advocates…

PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT
SB 5793 [26], “Stipends for advisory board participation”

This bill – now a law – allows for payment of stipends for low-income or underrepresented community members of state boards, commissions, councils, committees, and other similar groups. The budget includes $250,000 for the Office of Fiscal Management to pay for stipends. The bill provides for up to $200/day in support for low-income people who serve on various public advisory groups. The stipends can mitigate the costs of participation including a day without pay, childcare costs, and more. Implementation of SB 5793 is subject to funding, so agencies are not required to provide stipends if funds are not available. The Office of Equity will evaluate whether this has been effective and report to the Legislature on December 1, 2024.

HB 1329 [27] – Concerning public meeting accessibility and participation.
The bill – signed by the Governor – makes changes in the meeting processes of public agencies to bring increased opportunity for the public to participate in meetings of governing bodies, including remote participation. Public agencies include all state boards, agencies, commissions, and education institutions created by statute, as well as all counties, cities, school districts, and special purpose districts.

EDUCATION ACCESS
HB 1153 [28]
will help increase language access in public schools. The bill requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and schools to adopt policies, designate liaisons, create an advisory group and take other actions to help ensure “meaningful communication with students’ parents in a language that they can understand.” The budget includes over $300,000 for the Language Access Advisory Committee, and training and technical assistance to support language access programs in school districts. The Governor signed on March 23.

SB 5376 [29], promotes awareness of the governor’s office of the education Ombuds. Public schools charter schools and state tribal compact schools, and institutional education providers must provide students and their parents or guardians with a description of the services available through the Office of Education Ombuds when they are enrolled. This bill was signed on March 30.

JUSTICE FOR INCARCERATED PERSONS

While most of the prison justice reform bills died this year (see below), there was a bright spot. SB 1956 [30], hyperlink “Exempting from public disclosure sensitive records pertaining to current and formerly incarcerated individuals’ dignity and safety”, passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor. DRW worked for passage of this bill, which will protect sensitive information – including information about the person’s disability – from public disclosure.

JUSTICE IN HEALTH CARE
As was the case last session, many of the members of the Cross Disability Advocacy Network joined other advocates in opposing HB 1141 [31] – “Increasing access to the death with dignity act”. The hearing for the bill in the Senate included passionate testimony from many advocates on both sides of the issue. Readers may recall that this bill was featured in previous issues of this newsletter. The bill significantly reduces the “safeguards” against misuse of the assisted suicide process – proponents call these safeguards “barriers”. The bill did not pass, but a study was funded in the budget to attempt to come up with data regarding how the current law on assisted suicide is working.

DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

This was a year of some very important successes for developmental disabilities advocates. A few highlights: SB 5745 [32] “Increasing the personal needs allowance for persons receiving state financed care” passed, was signed by the Governor, and is funded in the budget. This bill significantly increases the money that individuals who receive services will have as “personal needs allowance”. The use of subminimum wage was severely restricted through past legislation – it is eliminated by SB 5763 [33] which passed and was signed by the Governor.

In the past, people with developmental disabilities have had to choose between receiving employment support services to help them maintain a job, and community inclusion services to connect them with their community. This forced choice is eliminated by HB 1980 [34], which passed and was signed into law this year. Millions were included in the budget to ensure that individuals who need and want to work will be supported, and they can have help with community inclusion.

Another important victory this year was the passage of HB 2008 [35], “Eliminating the use of intelligence quotient scores in determining eligibility for programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities”. IQ scores have been used to screen out people who need and want developmental disabilities services. Eligibility does not mean services will be provided, but with the passage of this bill many people will find a path to services.

INDIGENOUS JUSTICE
On March 31, the Governor signed three important bills that addressed tribal rights and justice. HB 1753 [36] requires consultation with tribes regarding the use of some climate commitment act funding. HB 1725 [37] – Concerns creation of an endangered missing person advisory designation for missing indigenous persons. SB 5866 [38] – Concerns medicaid long-term services and supports eligibility determinations completed by federally recognized Indian tribes.

TRANSPORTATION
This session, the Disability Mobility Initiative (DMI) and partners advocated for a transformational shift in Washington State’s transportation priorities – a change from building more roads to mobility justice. The results were impressive – a huge transportation outlay that includes over $5 billion for transit and other public transportation and pedestrian and bicycle mobility.

Data are needed to support the shift in transportation priorities advocated by DMI and their coalition partners. The budget this year includes $400,00 for a study – due next February:

“to determine how many nondrivers are in Washington state and the demographics of this population. The joint transportation committee is directed to conduct a survey, conduct research, develop a dataset, and conduct analysis on the nondriving population of Washington state. The analysis must include, but is not limited to: (a) Reasons for not driving; (b) demographics of who is not driving to include age, disability status, rural or urban residence, and other available demographic information; and (c) availability of transportation options for nondrivers and the impact those options have on their access to services, economic opportunity, recreation, education, and other aspects of community life.” The report is due February 15, 2023.

In addition, the budget includes $250,000 to define what the accessible system of public transportation standard should be for Washington State, and “identifies gaps in accessible frequent transit, analyzed for disparities in race, age, and disability, and develops funding scenarios to address the identified gaps.

Connectivity for non-drivers was identified as a concern in the budget. The Department of Transportation’s construction must “contribute to network connectivity and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people accessing public transportation”, and their facilities must include “Americans with disabilities act accessible sidewalks or shared-use paths, bicyclist facilities, and crossings as needed to integrate the state route into the local network.”

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is a growing concern, as deaths have climbed recently. The Legislature passed and the Governor signed SB 5687 [39] – Addressing certain traffic safety improvements. This bill gives cities the authority to lower speed limits, and take other measures that would improve safety for pedestrians.

REENTRY FROM INSTITUTIONS
HB 1818 [40]
, which promoted successful reentry and rehabilitation of persons convicted of criminal offenses, passed and was signed by the Governor. In addition, money in the budget was appropriated that will set the stage for planned and orderly reentry to the community for persons who are ready for release from state hospitals. The legislature approved a very small appropriation – $20,000- for the Office of Public Defense (OPD) for an “NGRI Legal Representation Study”. This will enable OPD to develop a proposal to provide improved representation for indigent people who are not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). Testimony in support of this appropriation was provided by DRW. In addition, an individual who was found NGRI testified, pointing out the injustice and expense to the state resulting from the fact that he has remained incarcerated for years due to problems arranging discharge.

SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
The “Community Reinvestment Act”, HB 1827 [41], failed to pass, but the budget included “$200 million for reinvestment grants to communities disproportionately impacted by criminal laws and penalties for illegal drug sales, possession, and use”.

This bill creates an account that will be used to “reinvest” in communities for “economic development, civil and criminal legal assistance, community-based violence intervention and prevention, and reentry services”. The money in the account will be spent in a manner consistent with the input of “relevant task forces, such as the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force, Reentry Council, and Home Ownership Disparities Work Group.”

DIGITAL DIVIDE
The Legislature took some action intended to address the “digital divide”. This divide is a significant equity concern, as many people of color, people with disabilities, and others do not have access to technology – especially the internet and broadband. Two bills that were signed by the Governor on this issue: HB 1673 [42] – “Concerning broadband infrastructure loans and grants made by the public works board”, and HB 1723 [43] -“Closing the digital equity divide by increasing the accessibility and affordability of telecommunications services, devices, and training”

Works in Progress and Setbacks

DISABILITY ADVOCACY IN PRISON

Prison justice advocates advanced HB 1756 [44] which would have sharply curtailed the use of solitary confinement – but the bill died during session. Inmates with disabilities have been disproportionately subjected to solitary confinement, which has a devastating impact on inmate mental health. Many other reform measures related to sentencing, release and release planning, and other aspects of prison also died this session, to the deep disappointment of criminal justice reform advocates.
The good news in the budget this session is that the Department of Corrections has more than $4 million to use in restrictive housing reform and to improve conditions. In addition, advocates will be working for passage of legislation to curtail solitary confinement next session.

POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

The record of the 2022 legislative session was very disappointing regarding police accountability.
As noted below in “Bills of Interest”, HB 2037 [45] – Modifying the standard for use of force by peace officers passed this year, and “rolled back” advances made in limiting police use of force. At the same time, the Governor has signed HB 1735 [46], which responded to police concerns that they were uncertain regarding what force was allowed. Another bill that was opposed by police accountability advocates, SB 5919 [47], unexpectedly died in the final hours of the session. Two separate versions of SB 5919 – opposed by many police accountability advocates – passed the House and Senate, but ultimately was defeated when the two versions weren’t reconciled. Last year the Legislature made significant progress in addressing police violence; this year lawmakers responded to backlash.

PEER SERVICES
The Legislature continues to have interest in peer services. HB 1865 [48] was introduced to address the behavioral health workforce shortage and expand access to peer services by creating the profession of certified peer specialists. This bill had a mixed reception from peers – some of whom welcomed the additional requirements of certification, while others worried that the requirements would become a barrier. The bill died after passing the House.

ASSISTED OUTPATIENT TREATMENT
HB 1773 [49]
passed and was signed into law by the Governor. This bill was opposed by DRW. It significantly expands “assisted outpatient treatment” (AOT), which poses restrictions and requirements on non-hospitalized individuals. The bill expands AOT to include children, “partial hospitalization”, and makes other changes to expand the use of AOT.

EQUITY IN HEALTH CARE
HB 1852 [50] “Concerning language requirements for prescription drug labels”
had hearings and made it through the House, but did not pass the Senate this year. The issue will likely be taken up again next year. This bill would require rules be adopted to ensure that medication labels are readable by individuals who can’t read a label printed in English.

INSTITUTIONS
2022 was – in many ways – a very successful year for developmental disabilities advocates. There was additional funding for community services and other positive developments. However, the Legislature also took some action that indicated continuing support for institutions.

SB 5268 [51] – “Transforming services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by increasing the capabilities of community residential settings and redesigning the long-term nature of intermediate care facilities” passed and was signed into law . This bill has been the subject of controversy within the disability advocacy community. On the one hand, “caseload forecasting” will assist in identifying the real needs of the community for services. The bill calls for “courtesy” forecasting, which will identify needs but not ensure they are met. The bill provides for the use of institutions for crisis response, endorsing a role for ongoing use of institutions despite the concerns expressed by self-advocates that an institution is the “last place” a person wants to go in a crisis. As a result , some advocates and self-advocates opposed the bill despite the potential benefits of caseload forecasting.

There was legislation that would have set out a timetable for closure of the developmental disabilities institutions and mandated planning for the relocation of the residents. Senator Braun filed the bill – SB 5938 [52] – but it died without even having a hearing.

“SHUT THEM DOWN”
Meanwhile, the self-advocates who participate in the “Shut Them Down Coalition” will continue to work to close down institutions through legislation such as SB 5938. Want more information? Contact Krista Milhofer: krista@pfow.org

“NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!”
Also known as the “Nothing about Us Without Us” bill, HB 1802 [53] requires task forces and other advisory entities that are concerned with issues affecting people with disabilities must have members who actually have lived experience with disability. It also requires that barriers to access be identified and addressed by the Senate and House, and information must be circulated to guide legislators and staff to make the Legislature barrier free.

The bill had very strong support owing to the work of a large and diverse coalition; unfortunately, objections were raised by some family members of people with disabilities who incorrectly believed they would be excluded from serving on advisory bodies by the bill. The bill died prior to getting a vote in the House.

Undeterred by this setback, disability advocates have already begun to prepare for next year’s session.


FINAL 2022 SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGETS

You can read the actual bill language of the 2022 Supplemental budgets, or review the “agency details”.

Transportation supplemental budget [54]

Operating supplemental budget [55]

Capital supplemental budget yesterday [56]

How can you find out what is in the budgets?

The details of the budgets are available to the public on this website: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/ [57]

• Once at the LEAP website Home, click on “fiscal.wa.gov” to go to the budgets.

• Then, click on the budget category you want to see – Operating, Capital, and Transportation budgets.

Note: The House and Senate have each passed their versions of each bill now.

While signing all three supplemental budgets, the Governor used his veto pen as follows: