Good news from Olympia! Our legislation to grant interest arbitration rights to our members at the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD) (SB5021/SB5022) cleared a first, important hurdle in the Senate yesterday when the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee unanimously voted to pass both bills out of committee.

Our UWPD bill (HB1043) was also favorably passed out of the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee yesterday on a vote of 6-1. The House committee has not yet taken executive action on our DOC interest arbitration bill (HB1042), but we anticipate that will happen soon.

Because both bills will have an impact on the state budget, the bills that cleared their respective committees yesterday will now be sent to fiscal committees in the House (Appropriations) and Senate (Ways & Means), where we will have another opportunity to testify. We will update you when those hearings are scheduled.

Yesterday we also introduced our bill that will amend current statute to authorize trained DOC staff who have been subject to a background check in the last five years to carry a concealed weapon. This fix will restore a right that was taken away due to a problem with the RCW that invalidated our Peace Officer Identification Cards. The new bill (HB1589) has bipartisan support with twenty co-sponsors and will be considered by the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee.

Please take a moment to thank the Senators on the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee for recognizing the need for interest arbitration for DOC and UWPD by sending a quick email or calling their offices. Thanks also to the members who took time out of their busy schedules to give powerful testimony on the bills.