Legislative briefly

Undocumented loans

Students who are undocumented immigrants may soon find it easier to finance their higher education with a proposal working its way through the state legislature.

Senate Bill 6561, now under consideration in the House, establishes a student loan program for undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients who are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. “I am undocumented, and I do not have DACA. I arrived at this country when I was three months old, so this country’s all I know, and I don’t know anything else,” said Alondra Munoz, a student. If passed, it will become effective July 1, 2021.

Transportation fix

Facing a shortfall of $450 million, lawmakers patched together a budget to fund highway maintenance, the Washington State Patrol and other transportation projects.

The Senate Transportation Committee developed a proposed budget that would maintain short-term stability following the revenue shortfall caused by the passage of I-976 — the $30 car tab initiative.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said assembling this budget through the revenue crisis required more bipartisan cooperation than in most years. He said the committee prioritized allocations to protect the most-vulnerable populations and communities by preserving mass transit programs, unpausing projects that were put on hold, and funding safety and maintenance measures.

Hobbs said managing the degradation and preservation of roads and highways in the state will be a pressing need in the future, and new revenues will be needed.

Hobbs said he is in favor of implementing a road-usage charge, which would tax vehicles based on the amount of miles driven, for electric vehicles who use the roads but do not have to pay gas tax.

Immigrant law

OLYMPIA – Undocumented immigrants in Washington state may no longer fear unexpected arrests thanks to protection that legislation under consideration promises to provide them. House Bill 2567, and its companion Senate Bill 6522, would prohibit civil arrests without a court order or arrest warrant within one mile of a court facility.

“For me, as a refugee, it took me a while to overcome my fear for police,” said Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, the House bill’s primary sponsor. “It took me a while to overcome my fear for the … judicial system. I overcame my fear and my mistrust because I believe … that everybody deserves to have access to justice.” According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, “over the past two years, there have been more than 200 documented civil arrests at courthouses in over 18 counties” statewide.

“The rise in immigration enforcement in Washington courthouses has a direct chilling effect on immigrant crime victims who would otherwise turn to the courts for protection,” said Alex Kory, a crime victims attorney with the Northwest Justice Project. “When victims are scared to seek protection, crimes go unchecked,” Kory said. The bill would only apply to arrests made for the violation of civil law and “excludes arrest for alleged criminal law violations, or arrest for contempt of court,” according to the substitute Senate Bill report.

– Information for Legislative briefly is provided by WNPA interns in Olympia.