First Virtual Legislative Session in Full Swing
January 29, 2021
Happy 2021! A new year that offers opportunities and new challenges for Washington 211 as evidenced by our nearly exponential call volume growth this month as vaccinations availability increases. Last week, our system received over 13,500 calls which was more than double the week before and nearly four times the volume of the first full week in January. In addition to the many other social and health needs, Washington seek reliable information about the status and availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Legislative Session Begins with WA 211 Seeking Funding
Our continued high call volumes underscore the need for WA 211 funding. Unfortunately, the Governor’s proposed budget only included $1 million in state funding for the next two years (starting July 1, 2020) as opposed to the $2 million we received this funding cycle. Given the continued growth in call volumes, we are seeking an additional $1 million funding for a total of $3 million for this next budget cycle.
Here’s a link to our one-page fact sheet supporting this request. Please contact your legislators in support of this funding.
Washington 211 Team Testifies for 2021-23 Budget
Aundrea Jackson with King County Crisis Connections 211 and Madelyn Carlson with Greater Columbia 211 along with WA 211 Statewide Director Tim Sullivan gave testimony before the House and Senate budget committees on the Governor’s proposed budget arguing for full funding. You can go directly to the testimony provided by Aundrea and Madelyn which was recorded by TVW.
New Crisis Hotline Proposed for Washington
SB 5209 and HB 1182 proposes creating the state version of 988, the new three-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline created by federal law recently. Under the state legislation, the program would be funded by a tax on wireless phones.The bill proposes creating an “Implementation Coalition” to work out the details of this crisis line by 2022. There is no reference to coordination with WA211 in these bills at this time.
WA 211 Lobby “Day” Approaches
The first all-virtual Legislative session is in full swing with public hearings and meetings with Legislators being held online. In many ways, we have greater opportunities to educate and advocate for our 211 system as it doesn’t require a trip to Olympia. In lieu of our traditional lobby day, we will work with regional 211 leaders to schedule short zoom meetings with targeted Legislators on and in the week following February 11, (2/11). We will also promote 211 with mainstream and social media.