Bill reduces barriers, improves equitable representation on state working groups, advisory committees and task forces
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Legislature passed Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bill to reduce barriers for low-income individuals and community members with lived experience to participate in state task forces and workgroups. The bill passed with bipartisan support in Senate and House. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for signing.
Ferguson worked with prime sponsor Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, on the bill, Senate Bill 5793. The bill allows low-income and community members with relevant lived experience to be compensated for their task force work, including a stipend of up to $200 per day and reimbursement of travel, childcare and lodging costs.
“Communities who are disproportionately burdened by government decisions must have a meaningful opportunity to develop public policy,” Ferguson said. “Their leadership is essential. This bill will remove a significant barrier to the process for the most impacted communities.”
"There are many people across our state who do the important, and often voluntary, work of sitting on state boards, commissions, councils and other similar entities," Sen. Wilson said. "This bill is about access, representation and voice. It allows underrepresented communities to serve and offer their important perspectives, while being compensated for their work and expertise.”
SB 5793 allows a stipend for up to $200 per day as compensation to taskforce participants who are:
- Low-income, defined as at or below 400% of the federal poverty level; or
- Individuals with lived experience relevant to the work of the task force, when the agency determines that their participation is desirable to implement state principles of equity.
The bill also allows for reimbursement for travel, lodging and child or elder care.
Task forces and workgroups are a key part of the process of developing and implementing public policy. Recommendations from these groups can sometimes develop into legislation and become law. Policies are strongest when impacted communities have an opportunity to participate in their development.
However, previous state law prohibited state agencies, boards, and commissions from providing any kind of compensation to community volunteers for their participation in work groups and task forces. For some community members who can’t afford to take time off work or pay for childcare to attend meetings, this is a barrier to participation.
Every legislative session Attorney General Ferguson introduces a slate of Attorney General Request bills. “Attorney General Request” is a formal designation for bills proposed by his office. Since 2013, 27 Attorney General Request bills have been signed into law.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.email@example.com
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