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Friends Committee on
Washington State
Public Policy

A Quaker Organization

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FCWPP Legislative Agenda

The Washington State Legislature convenes on Monday, January 12, 2004 for its short session of  60 days.  We are excited about our opportunity to be a witness to Friends' testimonies among our elected officials in Olympia.  We are guided by the  truth that there is "that of God" in each person, and that we are called to be advocates for the  under-represented and under-valued in our society. 

Two current issues will be among our legislative priorities.  We will join with other advocacy groups in support of reducing Washington's high rate of hunger and in creating a more fair and adequate tax structure.  In addition, we are initiating a campaign to study and implement "aftercare" resources for released felons  to reduce recidivism and assure a successful reentry to society.

1. We support a Tax Preference review process as an essential step toward eliminating preferences that fail to serve a public or social good.  Tax preferences are exemptions, exclusions or deductions, credits, deferrals or preferential tax rates that are established to promote a variety of public goals, from protecting open space to encouraging economic development. Washington's more than 430 state and local tax preferences  exceed the state's revenues by 128%.

2. We support legislation that addresses hunger for families and the very poor.  Washington continues its top five ranking for hunger in the United States.  104,000 households experienced hunger between 2000 and 2002, and 290,000 households were at risk.  To help lower our rate of hunger, we support the "Act for Hungry Families" legislation which will be proposed in the 2004 legislative session. 
This act has five parts:
Meals for Kids: Require all elementary schools to serve free and reduced price lunch if they have one or more children qualify.
Food Stamp Fairness: Allow drug felons who have served
their sentences equitable access to the Basic Food Program.
TANF Extension: Require DSHS to ensure that 90% of
families who leave TANF and are eligible continue to receive Basic Food benefits after they have exited cash assistance. 
Simplified Reporting: Decreases admin. costs and errors by requiring households to report changes in income only when total countable income rises above 130% of Fed. Poverty level.  Categorical Eligibility: Increases vehicle and resource limits to eligible families by April 1, 2004 as a way to remove time consuming and inefficient assessment of the value of property.

3. We will initiate a longer term campaign for the safe return of offenders to the community.  We support the funding and establishment of collaborative efforts to create community level support for released felons and to help insure that early-release efforts do not fail once felons leave prison.  The process will begin with a study of the current system and the needs in our communities.  We will look at the costs involved and administrative alternatives.  In collaboration with allies, we will assess the political support for new legislation and, if appropriate, draft legislation that addresses offender and community needs.

As the opportunity arises, we will continue in
partnership with our allies our advocacy regarding the death penalty, economic justice needs for the most vulnerable in our society, progressive reform of the state tax structure and environmental issues.

We encourage Meetings to be actively involved.  The
purpose of legislative advocacy is communication. Members and attenders who have interests and experience in the issues are the most effective advocates.  Personal visits with your legislators, telephone calls, and letters to the editors are among the most effective means of communication.  We also need people who are willing to follow an issue and provide their experience, analysis and feedback to us so that we may be more effective advocates.  

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated:  "The job now is to spread the word and inspire public confidence that the good we want can prevail."  We ask that you present this agenda at your business meetings and encourage people to partner with us in this important work.

Thank you,

Deric Young
Legislative Committee Clerk

[email protected]