By Sam Le
Northwest Asian Weekly
Organized by the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Yakima, and Spokane counties, the 2019 APA Legislative Day brought hundreds of community members to meet with Gov. Jay Inslee and state legislators in Olympia on Jan. 28.
After arriving, community members, led by Lua Pritchard, chair of APIC Spokane County chapter, gathered at the Capitol’s Flag Circle for a rally to hear remarks from state legislators, including Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, and Gov. Inslee. Also featured and welcomed were recently elected senators Joe Nguyen and Mona Das, and representative My Linh Nguyen.
Remarks given included the gratitude of the communities organizing and advocacy efforts for issues and concerns seen as most impactful and urgent.
As the rally concluded, community members supported by staff and volunteers from partnering organizations, such as the Asian Counseling Referral Service, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, and Chinese Information Service Center, met with legislators. Additionally, an annual leadership delegation met with Gov. Inslee to voice the concerns and issues affecting the AAPI community.
Among the highlights, APIC called for a fairer tax system, as “the state’s current tax system is one of the most regressive in the nation.” APIC also gave its support for the governor’s proposed capital gains tax.
Despite the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the Trump administration, APIC commended Washington state’s efforts to welcome refugees and immigrants.
“In an anti-immigrant and refugee climate nationally, APA Legislative Day is more important than ever.” said Diane Narasaki, co-chair for APIC King County chapter.
“It’s critical for our community to mobilize and use our voice and power to ensure that our rights and programs critical to our community are funded as they should be statewide.”
APIC continued its push for increased naturalization services, support for limited English speakers, dental coverage for elderly immigrants, and the legal defense fund.
Additionally, after a key victory in the 2018 legislative session in achieving health care access for immigrants from the Compact of Free Association (COFA) nations, APIC engaged legislators to consider supporting access to dental coverage as well.
One of the top actions APIC hopes to address this legislative session is the reestablishing of affirmative action and repealing Initiative 200. The goal is to address the lack of opportunities of public employment, education, and contracting experienced by women and people of color.
Achieving a complete count during the 2020 Census is another top priority. APIC requested the legislature increase funding to support community-led and focused efforts in assuring historically under-counted communities are reached. Due to the anti-immigrant rhetoric and concerns of a citizenship question, the efforts and investments by the state need to be deliberate and intentional in rebuilding trust between communities and governments.
Capital projects listed for support included the Wing Luke Homestead Homes Project, ICHS Bellevue Clinic Expansion, Aging in PACE Project by ICHS and Kin On, the Filipino Community of Seattle’s Village Innovation Learning Center, and SCIDpda North Lot Project.
Additionally, APIC voiced support for adoptee rights, environmental justice, and voting access.
For more information, visit apicwa.org.
Sam Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.