April 30, 2021 Blog

2021 Legislative Victories

Washington’s 2021 legislative session is officially over and we have much to celebrate! This session was unlike any other. Lawmakers were tasked with addressing the coronavirus pandemic, the economic fallout, and the crisis of police violence all virtually. We knew that these unprecedented challenges meant lawmakers had limited capacity this session. But despite those obstacles, a whopping TEN policies on our agenda were passed this session! We also successfully protected crucial funding for the newly-established Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention as well as for research at the University of Washington and for the ongoing statewide background check centralization efforts.

Here’s a breakdown of the policies: 

SB 5038: By prohibiting the open carry of weapons at the state capitol and public permitted demonstrations, this bill rejects armed intimidation, protects free speech, and keeps Washingtonians safe. 

HB 1320: This sweeping bill modernizes and streamlines Washington’s protection order system and process. It will improve efficiency and accessibility, helping to make sure that the most vulnerable Washingtonians can access lifesaving protection orders to keep themselves and their families safe. 

HB 1078: This bill automatically restores the right to vote to formerly incarcerated people upon their release from full custody, regardless of whether they are in community custody or owe court debts.

A suite of vital police accountability measures: 

HB 1054: This bill establishes clear guidelines and prohibits harmful and deadly police tactics, including chokeholds and no-knock warrants, which garnered national attention after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

HB 1089: This bill requires an independent investigation into an officer’s use of deadly force to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified.

HB 1267: By establishing a new agency within the governor’s office to handle independent criminal investigations of deadly force incidents, this bill strengthens accountability and transparency.

HB 1310: This bill establishes a statewide standard for police officers to de-escalate situations and allows an officer to use lethal force only when necessary to protect against a life-threatening situation.

SB 5051: This bill expands the state’s ability to decertify—or take away an officer’s gun and badge for good—in response to serious misconduct. It also requires that a third of the Criminal Justice Training Commission seats be filled with community members.

SB 5259: This bill requires the collection of data on deadly use of force incidents. 

SB 5066: A “duty to intervene” bill, SB 5066 requires officers to intervene if they witness a fellow officer using excessive force. 

Unfortunately, one major legislative priority fell short once again: restricting access to high-capacity magazines. For the third year in a row, legislators failed to pass this lifesaving policy, despite widespread public support and several devastating public mass shootings. 

The last year has reminded us time and time again how much work there is left to do to create the safe, thriving communities we deserve. But it has also proven how much progress is possible. None of these victories would have been possible without the dedication of our legislative champions and our tireless supporters. THANK YOU for all you did to help make Washington a safer state.

— Dylan O’Connor is the Political and Government Affairs Manager at the Alliance