2019 Washington State Legislative Priorities

Columbia Legal Services is a statewide legal impact advocacy organization that works to dismantle and transform the systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice. Our work is directed by the communities we serve across Washington state – those who are most impacted by the broken immigration system and mass incarceration. We believe that to achieve justice, all communities should have a voice in the creation and implementation of the policies, laws, and legal systems that impact them. In 2019, we ask state policymakers to:                                                                                

Promote economic self-sufficiency and keep people housed.

  • The collection of medical debt shouldn’t drive families deeper into poverty. People should have adequate notice of medical debt in collection, and not have to pay excessive or unreasonable interest and fees.
  • Washington should create a universal relicensing program so people can get their driver’s license back after suspension so they can to drive to work or to school.
  • Tenants should not have to face evictions without cause, or be evicted due to unreasonably short compliance deadlines, or be unable to secure future housing due to unsupported and excessive claims for damage to their previous rental unit.

Keep young people from being warehoused in prisons.

The Washington Supreme Court has found the sentence of life without parole for children as an unconstitutional cruel punishment. The legislature should officially eliminate this unconstitutional sentence.

Respect the safety and dignity of workers.

  • Provide a remedy for low-wage workers who have been victims of wage theft.
  • End unexpected exposure to pesticide drift.
  • Prohibit retaliation against immigrant workers.

Support Agenda

Columbia Legal Services supports legislation proposed by community partners and allies that helps to advance social, economic, and racial equity for people living in poverty. These proposals include:

  • Ending unnecessary cooperation by the state and local governments in the enforcement of federal immigration law. (Keep Washington Working)
  • Increasing opportunities to review and adjust extremely long criminal sentences.
  • Ending the suspension of driver licenses for failure to pay.
  • Increasing eligibility for children’s health insurance program to age 26, regardless of immigration status.
  • Strengthening tenant protections under the Manufactures/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act.
  • Ending the use of detention for truancy and running away from a foster home placement.
  • Protecting consumers from receiving unexpected, surprise medical bills after an emergency or a scheduled medical procedure. (HB 1065/SB 5031)
  • Ending the use of “pocket service” in debt collection cases, a practice which confuses consumers and puts them at greater risk for default. (HB 1066/SB 5034)

Contact Antonio Ginatta, CLS Policy Director, with any questions or suggestions about our 2019 Legislative Priorities: antonio.ginatta@columbialegal.org