First off, a few bills you can advocate for on the state level if you have time:
- SB 5226, the bill decriminalizing driving without a license, is currently in the Rules Committee. You can send a short (two sentence) email to the Vice Chair Karen Keiser at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask her to pull this bill. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can email all the members of the Rules committee to make the same ask. Sample script: “My name is <your name> and I am writing to you as a concerned citizen to let you know that I support SB 5226 and want to see the bill scheduled and passed out of the Rules Committee. Pick one reason why you care about this bill and include it here in 1-2 brief sentences [i.e. Debt-based license suspension disproportionately affects poor, rural, and drivers of color while simultaneously failing to make our roads safer and costing Washington tax payers an exorbitant amount. It is time that Washington take a stand and stop the criminalization of poverty.].”
- HB 1310, the bill determining appropriate use of force by officers, is currently in the Rules Committee. You can send a short (two sentence) email to Chair Laurie Jinkins at email@example.com asking her to pull this bill. You can also email all the members of the House Rules Committee to make the same ask. Sample script: “Chair Jinkins, please pull HB 1310. These days the use of deadly force seems to be the first response by police officers, rather than the last resort. If we’re to even have a chance to redefine public safety, ensure all communities have trust in law enforcement, and decrease/eliminate police killings of unarmed citizens, 1310 needs to be pulled to the floor for a vote. Thanks for reading my comments.”
- (Both of these scripts are provided by hard-working volunteers who are making a giant effort to stay on top of these bills as they progress through the legislature.)
Today at the Seattle Public Safety and Human Resources committee meeting, the legislation to remove $5.4m from SPD’s 2021 budget to reflect their overspend from last year was finally discussed, and is scheduled for further discussion at upcoming meetings. SPD will attend the next meeting to present on uses they have for this money.
The final numbers for SPD officers who left in 2020 are in: 186 officers separated during the course of the year. This is much higher than usual and should result in a salary savings of about $7.7m for 2021. However, the SPD is asking to retain the $5.4m being discussed in order to pay for separation pay for 2021, new civilian hires such as CSOs and violence prevention experts, and technology upgrades. CM Herbold is also interested in addressing the issue of evidence storage, possibly with these dollars.
If we’re simply talking about separation pay, the math doesn’t currently quite line up with the SPD’s request, since the difference between the amount the Council is considering cutting ($5.4m) and the amount estimated to be saved due to 2020 attrition ($7.7m) is $2.3m, which is more than enough to cover the $1.1-1.8m in separation pay SPD says they will need. But we’ll learn more of the details of their proposal in two weeks’ time. Meanwhile, you can read the memo about today’s presentation here.
The Community Economic Development Committee will be meeting this Friday 2/26 at 9:30am. During this meeting the Black Brilliance Project will be presenting their final report on their research. CM Morales has said her office will meet with the Executive’s office this week to begin discussion about implementation of participatory budgeting and to begin creating a spending plan. The Council will also need to pass an ordinance to lift the proviso and release the participatory budgeting funds, and she hopes to be able to move that forward at her committee’s March meeting. So it seems we might be getting at least some preliminary answers to questions about how the participatory budgeting process will move forward in the next month or so.
That’s all for now. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!