OneAmerica's 2013 Legislative Agenda
Here are the results of our 2013 Legislative Agenda:
Washington State DREAM Act: Partial Win!
The Washington State DREAM Act (HB1817) generated an incredible amount of energy and support during the legislative session, led by the outstanding advocacy of hundreds of youth across Washington State who fought to pursue their dreams of higher education. While that energy carried the bill through the State House of Representatives with a strong bi-partisan majority of 77-20, the bill ultimately died in the State Senate. Just think, last year the bill didn’t even get a hearing in committee – this year the House passed the bill by 77-20! We’ll be back next year to make sure that all immigrant students in Washington have every opportunity to succeed.
Washington Voting Rights Act: Partial win!
The Washington Voting Rights Act (HB1413), which would ensure fair representation for all communities in local elections, passed the State House of Representatives 53-44 in March. Unfortunately, it did not come up for a vote after being blocked in the State Senate. More than 60 organizations and hundreds of OneAmerica members advocated with lawmakers to pass the legislation and the coalition will be back next year to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in local democracy.
Funding for English language learners: Win!
Thanks to your advocacy efforts, the legislature included $18.8 million in additional funding for the Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program, which serves English language learners in our public schools. The additional funds will go to increase the hours of instruction students receive and better support students as they transition out of the program, a time where they are vulnerable to falling through the cracks. The 100,000 students the program serves each year will now receive better support in our schools to help them pursue their dreams and close the opportunity gap. Read more about the impacts of this funding on our blog.
Funding for citizenship for New Americans: Win!
The Washington New Americans program was fully funded in the final budget, which marks the first time since the program has not been cut since it was created in 2008. WNA provides citizenship services to eligible immigrants through direct services and free legal clinics, called “Citizenship Days,” provided in partnership with the American Immigration Lawyers Association of Washington.
Important victories by our allies
OneAmerica testified in support, lobbied legislators and signed-on to support letters that helped win important victories lead by our partners. Our friends at Children’s Alliance led the fight and won on two big issues for immigrant communities:
- Equal premiums for Apple Health for Kids! During the recession legislators quadrupled monthly Apple Health for Kid premiums for some children in immigrant families. This unfair, inequitable policy forced kids off the program - leaving them without access to care. Now we have returned Apple Health for Kids to full strength and restored more equitable access to health care for all kids, no matter where they are born.
- State Food Assistance (food stamps)! Two years ago the legislature slashed funding for State Food Assistance. The final budget partially restores the funding, from 50% of federal food stamp benefit levels to 75%. It will make a positive difference in the lives of immigrant families that are working hard to survive and put food on the table for their families.
- Medical Care Services preserved for elderly and disabled immigrants!
- A historic investment of over $27 million for farmworker housing projects.
We’ll be working on developing next year’s State Legislative agenda throughout the summer. Stay tuned for opportunities to get engaged and have your voice heard in Olympia!
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2013 Legislative Session by the Numbers
- $18.8 million dollars in additional funding for English language learners
- 100% funding for Washington New Americans
- Over 550 people and organizations came down to Olympia to support the DREAM Act at hearings and rallies, including hundreds of students from across the state who testified before committee.
- 22 House Republicans voted to pass the State DREAM Act in the House.
- When the Republican-controlled State Senate decided not to move the DREAM Act out of committee, students from across Washington State held a People’s Hearing in Olympia. This image of the hearing went viral on Facebook and was seen by over 17,000 people!
- More than 300 people submitted photos for the "Clear the Path" campaign, including recent high school graduates in Yakima, Seattle, and Mount Vernon.
- Over a hundred school superintendents from Anacortes to Zillah got engaged and demanded that the Senate pass the DREAM Act. Read the letters: Northwest School Districts, North Central School Districts, Puget Sound School Districts, South Central School Districts
Washington State Legislature (homepage)