Legislative Session Recap 2018: Progressive Wins and Losses

Monday, March 12, 2018
Washington State Capital

Our work to move Washington forward is finally paying off! 

Last November, we flipped control of the state Senate to Democrats when progressive voters in the 45th legislative district elected Senator Manka Dhingra. The impact was crystal clear! Our shared victory empowered the Legislature to pass important reforms on voting rights, women’s health, LGBTQ rights, gun violence prevention, and more. 

Thank you to every Fuse member who sent messages, called, donated, and demanded action!  

While we’re celebrating the victories, however, we can’t take our eye off the prize. This session made it very clear that slim, one-seat majorities in our state House and Senate are not enough to achieve our most important goals—and we have to turn the tide in the US Congress as well. Every day leading up to the mid-term elections this fall, we must remain completely resolved to elect progressive candidates up and down the ballot. 

Here are some top highlights from the legislative session: 

1) We are very excited about the Legislature’s efforts to strengthen democracy in Washington. Fuse supported the Washington Voting Justice Coalition’s powerful and successful campaign to strengthen voter participation by advocating for Automatic Voter Registration, the Washington Voting Rights Act, Pre-Registration, and Same-Day Registration. Remarkably, the legislature passed all four pieces of legislation! 

2) The Legislature sent a message to the Trump administration with two other legislative victories this session, by passing a statewide ban on bump stock devices and becoming the first state to sign net neutrality legislation into law. 

3) The Legislature stood up for women. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: representation matters. Last November, we helped elect 34 Democratic women to the Legislature. Despite overwhelming Republican opposition, Washington became one of a handful of states to pass a Reproductive Parity Act, requiring state insurance plans that cover maternity care to also cover contraceptives and abortion services. The Legislature also passed an equal pay law aimed at reducing the wage gap between men and women. 

From sponsoring bills that safeguard women from on-the-job retaliation for discussing their salaries to passing bills to make local child care options more affordable, female legislators in Olympia championed the everyday issues that impact the lives of families and women. We applaud Senator Manka Dhingra for her work to make our communities safer, Senator Rebecca Saldana for her work to strengthen local elections, and Representative Kristine Reeves for putting working families first. 

4) Democrats took a stand against LGBTQ discrimination, banning the inhumane practice of youth gay conversion therapy and strengthening anti-bullying laws. 

5) One of the most meaningful victories this legislative session was the passage of Initiative 940 and a compromise bill between law enforcement and De-escalate Washington advocates. In the final hours of legislative session, the Legislature passed laws that make it possible to hold police accountable for unjustified shootings. The Legislature also ordered new de-escalation and mental health training for officers and new requirements to provide first aid for injured people. This campaign was always about “building bridges between impacted communities and the police. 

What the Legislature didn't do: 

Unfortunately, this legislative session also had its full share of disappointments. It is clear that one-seat majorities are not enough to achieve our most important goals. We were surprised and extremely disappointed that even after the Parkland shooting, the Legislature was unable to pass simple, common sense protections limiting kids’ access to assault rifles by raising the legal age to purchase assault rifles to 21 and strengthening background checks.  

We were disappointed in the Legislature’s failure to tackle climate change – falling a few votes short on a proposal to adopt a pollution reduction fee on major sources of carbon pollution and invest in effective climate solutions and a just transition. We are excited about working with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy to pass this through an initiative. 

Other progressive bills that made it farther than past years but still failed to become law included proposals to fix our state’s upside-down tax code by closing the capital gains tax break and to repeal the death penalty—but it’s clear that we are making headway. 

Our work in Olympia and beyond:

From the beginning, we knew that the only way to pass meaningful progressive reforms this legislative session was to make sure legislators directly heard from Fuse members about the issues that matter most. Our organizers hosted more than a dozen events across the state including town halls voter education events that spotlighted how to hold elected official accountable on fixing our state’s upside down tax code, climate change, and fully funding our schools. 

In February, we launched the South King County Action Team, headquartered in the heart of 30th Legislative District - Federal Way, WA. More than 25 Fuse members joined our Senior Trump Resistance Organizer and began discussing our strategy to build the progressive base and retake the Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Mark Miloscia, an anti-abortion Republican who voted with 16 other senators against protections for LGBTQ children this legislative session.  

Our fight for progress extends far beyond the halls of Olympia. We’re engaging new activists and organizations across the state on important issues and supporting their efforts to make a difference in Washington. We also joined the organizing team for both the Seattle and Spokane Women’s Marches where thousands marched for women’s rights and registered to vote. 

From Spokane Valley to the Pacific Ocean, the dedication of Fuse members to advancing progressive change inspires us. Together, we will continue our fight for a better future.