By Mehar Singh
As a Wintern at the Bus, I had the opportunity to choose bills that I care about to follow this legislative session. I picked HB 2124, extending bargaining rights to legislative workers, because I believe that all workers deserve the right to unionize. Additionally, I have personally worked on several campaigns where I’ve been overworked and mistreated for little to no pay. I also picked SB 5612, giving domestic violence victims the opportunity to speak during trial, because all too often the law sides with the abuser rather than the victim.
In addition to tracking these bills, the other Winterns and I had opportunities to sign in pro/con, submit written testimonies in support or against, and testify live in the legislature for the bills we were tracking. We also shared these opportunities with friends, family, and the broader Bus community to increase participation in the legislative session. I had an incredible experience testifying for HB 2124 in the legislature; I felt like I really made a difference speaking about my personal experiences with campaign work in front of WA State legislators.
We had two big wins here at the Bus this session; we were able to help pass HB2124, giving legislative workers the option to collectively bargain, and SB 5583, ending prison gerrymandering! Huge kudos to the Bus team and the other Winterns for getting these bills passed- I’m so excited to participate in future legislative sessions moving forward!
Bus Wins and Legi Awards!
As Mehar mentioned, we have two big wins to celebrate from this Leg Session: SB 5583, Ending Prison Gerrymandering at all levels, and HB 2124, supporting legislative workers in the fight for collective bargaining rights. These bills survived an arduous process from start to finish of the legislative session that not all of our bills were able to contend with. Our Key Priorities on our agenda included 11 original bills in three core areas: Protect the Vote, College Equity, and Tax the Rich, Fund the People. As the session progressed, we also worked on and supported legislative workers fighting for collective bargaining rights and economic justice. We’re so excited to keep working on these issues next year on a variety of fronts from Democracy Vouchers and campaign finance reform, enhancing automatic and online voter registration, free community/technical colleges, a Billionaire Wealth Tax, Guaranteed Basic Income and so much more.
Beyond those key bills, Winterns went above and beyond, tracking and testifying for bills across a wide spectrum of their own interests.
By the Numbers:
- Lobby Day / Week of Action
- 20 volunteers
- 4 Days of 5 events
- 7 lobby meetings that volunteers led and participated in
- 10 additional lobby meetings over the course of session
- EveryAction Advocacy Forms: 154 letters sent to legislators by constituents
- Testimonies: 13 (11 live + 2 written)
- Sign-in pros: Over 300 sign in pros over the course of the legislative session
- Winterns: 4
- Total bills tracked by Winterns: 26
- “Through the winternship, I learned a lot about the process of creating change through legislation, such as key people to talk to and how I can work with community members (such as volunteers) to garner a larger support network. It also made me more confident to speak on issues I care about. I’m currently in an immigration rights class that is working with the organization La Resistencia to help fight for immigration rights and to abolish ICE. I think I can definitely take some of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired about creating change and apply it to this movement.” – Mia, 2022 Wintern
- “I completed this internship with newfound knowledge of the legislative process and knowing the importance of community organizing, and how to do that virtually! Giving my testimony during the bill hearing also taught me to summarize my stance and the most effective way of getting my point across while stressing the importance of the issue. I am excited to pursue future internships since my experience has been so great with the WA Bus. I want to use the same professionalism and compassion expressed by everyone here at future opportunities and throughout my studies. I plan on staying involved by joining local organizing efforts and continuing to educate myself and others on issues that impact our community. ” Ezza, 2022 Wintern
- “The biggest skills that the winternship gave me were in terms of how to approach something that looks so large and scary like the legislative session. It seemed quite intimidating at first but during the winternship I was able to learn how to approach it step by step. So not only did it prepare me to heckle legislators for many legislative sessions to come, but I also saw how to break it down for someone else who is completely new to taking action with the government and I am excited to introduce my family and friends to ways that they can take action through things like phone banks, email writing, or testifying at a public hearing!” Asma, 2021 Fall Intern and 2022 Wintern
- “The Winternship has shown me just how easy it is for young people to become involved in political processes- I feel more empowered and prepared to be involved in future legislative sessions. I will carry the confidence and communication skills I learned during the internship with me throughout my future organizing!” Mehar, 2022 Wintern and new Development Organizer
- “I keep coming back to the Bus because work is so important, youth engagement is so important, and the Bus makes it so easy to get involved!” -Clara Prizont, 2022 Volunteer
- “I always look forward to meeting with Washington Bus volunteers, and this year did not disappoint! It was awesome to hear directly from young people about what bills they think I should lead on and where I can be supportive. Thanks for helping me to elevate YOUR voices in the legislative process.” Representative Noel Frame (36-Greenwood)
We also want to give some shout-outs to some of the AMAZING Legislators from this session! We have folks who championed a whole swath of different bills and issues, some in their first term or even first session! First up, we have MVP for our core issues this Session:
MVP for Protect the Vote: Senator Trudeau (27th-Tacoma)
Freshly appointed Senator Yasmin Trudeau came into this session swinging with two phenomenal Democracy access bills we championed with her– 5583 (Ending Prison Gerrymandering) and 5584 (Ranked Choice Voting Local Options)! It was amazing to get to meet with her and talk about these issues, and see all of the other important issues she was fighting for this year (from expanding healthcare coverage to include donor human milk, to making rent payments more accessible, to allowing minors experiencing homelessness to be able to consent to healthcare). Thank you Senator Trudeau!
MVP(s) for Tax the Rich, Fund The People: Representatives Frame and Berry (36th-NW Seattle: Queen Anne/Greenwood)
First term Representative Liz Berry and (future Senate hopeful) Representative Frame, both from the 36th, came out swinging this year as strong champions for our economic justice bucket, Tax the Rich, Fund the People. Representative Frame, a long time champion of progressive revenue, continued to champion her Billionaire Wealth Tax through the Senate with the help of Senator Hunt. While it did make some progress this year with an outstanding hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, we look forward to hopefully working with her next year in the Senate to lock it down! We also had a wonderful time meeting with her and her staff for our Lobby Day! She was a strong champion on the Tax Structure Work Group through the legislative session and the senate companion for her diaper subsidy passed!
Her seatmate, Representative Liz Berry came out with a bold plan on the Fund the People end of things by introducing a Guaranteed Basic Income through the Evergreen Basic Income Trust! It was a stretch in a short session but we can do hard things, we’re excited to help bring this back, too, next year! This year, Representative Berry did an amazing job passing bills on environmental protections and gun legislation, including banning Forever Plastics and High Capacity Magazines. She also banned Ghost Guns and guns in election centers, polling places and school board meetings.
MVP(s) for College Equity: Representative Slatter (48th-Bellevue) and Senator Randall (26th- Bremerton)
Thank you to Representative Vandana Slatter for championing 1659 (Higher Education Grants) which powered through session this year and came thiiiiiiiiiis close to passing! She Chairs the College and Workforce Development Committee, so has also helped move other college bills through session. Not only that, but we really appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with her in our work for Communities for our Colleges!
Senator Emily Randall also Chairs the Higher Education and Workforce Development committee and has been a champion for students, including funding scholarships for apprenticeships this year. She also championed a pay transparency bill as well as one that made it illegal to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. We also loved meeting with Senator Randall for our Lobby Day to talk about our excitement for Slatter’s 1659!
Honorable Mentions for Legislators Leaving
We’re so sad to see that some amazing and strong champions in the legislature will be moving on and wanted to offer a big shout out and our deepest thanks!
Thank you to Representative Kirsten Harris-Talley: we appreciate you trying to resurrect your local options bill after it died on the senate side this year, we appreciate you making hard votes on police accountability, we appreciate your support of legislative workers rights, we appreciate you meeting with us during our week of action, and we appreciate you being transparent about everything that went down and why you’re not seeking reelection.
Thank you Representative Jesse Johnson: we appreciate you joining us for our Lobby Day and and the insight you shared with our young volunteers on the inner workings of the legislature, thank you for speaking up on overwork and burnout, thank you for being a champion on gun safety and violence prevention, and thank you for fighting for youth experiencing homelessness.
Thank you Senator Mona Das: we appreciate you being an Affordable housing MVP by fighting for Missing Middle housing near transportation and MFTE conversions, and passing affordable housing incentives. We appreciate you taking the time to meet with us for Lobby Day and talk to young folks about access to college. We thank you for speaking up on how hard it is for people without access to wealth to participate as a legislator. We appreciate
Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to serve, and to represent their communities, and we send you with the warmest wishes on the next part of your journey.