2022 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
During Legislative Sessions, Legal Voice advocates for policies that advocate for gender equity and LGBTQ+ rights, and defends against bills that will roll back the progress we've made. There are many bills that we monitor each year, but the ones listed below are our designated priorities for the 2022 sessions in Idaho and Washington State—meaning Legal Voice plays a leading and active role.
Visit our Legislative Updates page for information on our past legislative priorities and past sessions. If you would like to receive updates about our current priorities by email throughout the session, please sign up here.
Repro Health, Rights & Justice
Fighting Against Anti-Abortion Bills
1. SB8 Look-Alike Bill (6 week bill) will be introduced
2. Impact of “Health Freedom” bills
Restrictions on anything related to critical race theory
Cuts to overall budget
Restrictions on discussions related to equity, inclusion, racism
Attacks on ability of schools to support LGTBQ+ students
Anti-trans bathroom bill
1. Fighting Against HB 412 which amends Idaho’s Human Rights Act to include vaccination status
2. Anti-trans legislation will be introduced
Defending Progress, Holding the Line, Engaging Community
Expanding access to health care coverage for undocumented immigrants.
Background: There are over 270,000 undocumented immigrants in WA state. Of that number, approximately 105,000 immigrants are both uninsured and undocumented across the state. Ineligibility and cost are the primary barriers to health care access. Without insurance people are more likely to have poor health outcomes and be hospitalized for preventable illnesses. All people should have access to health care; yet, unfortunately, coverage is limited for immigrants with undocumented status.
Budget Proviso: During the 2021 legislative session, the WA Health Benefit Exchange was tasked with pursuing a state health care coverage program for undocumented immigrants by 2024. The budget proviso this session would prepare for that 2024 launch by ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place and the program will have the funding needed to support immigrant health care needs. Legal Voice is part of the Health Equity Campaign for Immigrants, which is spearheading this effort.
Background: WA state has had a number of health system consolidations over the years – most of which have received minimal governmental oversight. These consolidations can result in a lack of any meaningful choice in health care providers for the consumer. They can impact cost, quality, and access to necessary health care services – all of which can exacerbate systemic inequities for low-income communities, people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals and terminally ill patients. The outcome is that large health care systems get to dictate whether patients have access to the care they need.
The Bill: SB5688 - The Keep Our Care Act would ensure that these hospital mergers improve rather than harm access to affordable, quality care in communities by prohibit any merger that would diminish access to affordable quality care; require AGO oversight, compliance, and enforcement power to ensure health entity mergers do not negatively impact access to health care services; require a health equity assessment so that mergers address the needs of marginalized communities; and include community input through public notice/comment/hearings of proposed mergers.
Protecting the Personal Information of Incarcerated People
Background: The WA Department of Corrections collects the personal and intimate details of a person’s lived experience, like childhood sexual abuse, disability and behavioral health related information, sexual orientation, transgender status, history of self-harm. The department also routinely releases this private information in response to public requests. Although DOC staff collects this information with the goal of keeping people who are incarcerated safe, making this information public does the exact opposite.
This Bill: Amends the law to ensure that the confidentiality provisions that apply to jail records also apply to DOC records. Legal Voice has prioritized this bill, which is being spearheaded by Disability Rights WA.
Fighting Against Online Abuse and Harassment
Background: Doxing is a type of online harassment that refers to disclosing or publicly posting someone’s personal information – their name, address, identity – with the malicious intent to intimidate, stalk, humiliate, harass, incite outrage, terrorize, or otherwise injure them. It has long been used as a way to harass people from marginalized communities, including LGTBQ+ individuals, sex workers, and survivors of violence who speak out. This past year, at least 11 states have passed laws against doxing or strengthened existing cyberstalking laws to include this tactic, with several additional states considering the measure.
This Bill: Creates private right of action against person who engages in doxing. Protections are included for constitutionally protected activity (first amendment, free speech) and for sharing information in connection with reporting of a crime.
Creating an Unemployment Insurance Program for Undocumented Workers
Background: Approximately 143,000 workers in Washington State are undocumented, and they contribute to the economy, pay taxes, and support their communities. They were excluded from accessing both federal relief (CARES Act stimulus funding) as well as state based safety net programs including unemployment insurance. As COVID-19 continues to exacerbate racial inequities, WA has the opportunity to join with other states in ensuring that immigrant workers have access to wage replacement as part of the state’s long-term COVID-19 response and recovery. During the 2021 session, the legislature directed ESD (Employment Security Dept) to study the feasibility of creating a UI program for individuals regardless of immigration status. ESD completed its study in November.
The Bill: Creates a permanent unemployment insurance program for undocumented workers. If passed, WA would be the first state in the country with such a program.
Background: WA state has long been on the frontlines in protecting and advancing access to reproductive health care, including abortion. And thanks to the Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA) – an initiative campaign led by Legal Voice and enacted by WA voters in 1991 – abortion is safe despite what happens on the federal level. However, our state laws contain outdated provisions that unnecessarily burden pregnant people and health care providers. With the rise in anti-abortion legislation like SB8 and similar threats to reproductive autonomy intensifying across the country and particularly in neighboring states like Idaho and Montana, now is the time ensure that WA laws protect access to abortion without question.
The Bill: Updates WA law to ensure that physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners, and other health care providers acting within the scope of their practice can provide abortion care; and updates the RPA to make the language gender neutral.
Supporting a budget proviso that will evaluate decriminalizing sex work in WA state.
Background: The criminalization of buying or selling sex work has long resulted in harms to sex workers themselves, including violence and harassment against sex workers by law enforcement and others; decreased access for sex workers in the justice system; negative health impacts; stigma; and negative impacts on sex workers’ ability to access housing and social and health services. Over the years, Legal Voice has worked closely with community groups led by sex workers themselves and have supported a broad range of policies and organizing efforts that center the lived experience of sex workers. One of their priorities is to repeal laws that criminalize or penalize sex work.
Budget Proviso: Designates $150,000 to fund a study or working group to evaluate decriminalizing sex work in WA state.This is an important first step to understanding how our laws can be used as a tool to further oppress or perpetrate violence on communities.