Lawmakers seek to reduce racial disparities in Washington state

  • Sunday, February 10, 2019 5:00pm
  • News

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

OLYMPIA—A group of 46 Democratic representatives aims to create an Office of Equity in Washington state to promote access to equitable opportunities and reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

House Bill 1783 was introduced by Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac. She explained her extensive work over the past decade to create this bill in order to reduce health disparity and increase opportunities for citizens of the state.

“It’s our responsibility to really codify this one office,” said Gregerson at a public hearing. “It’s a way to engage and use community outreach in a more authentic and equal way.” According to the legislation, the population of Washington state has become increasingly more diverse over the last few decades. The percentage of people of color in the state has more than doubled since 2010, and it is projected to comprise half of Washington’s population by 2050, as referenced in the bill.

As the demographics of the state continue to change, more people face inequalities in areas of education, poverty, employment and health, the bill states. “Those that are more black and brown are likely to have the most amount of despair,” said Gregerson. The office can help to provide coordination or collaboration to understand best practices to eliminate systemic inequities, she explained.

HB 1783 seeks to foster a culture of accountability within the state government in an effort to promote opportunity for vulnerable people. As mentioned in the legislation, inequities of race, ethnicity and gender come at a great economic and social cost, which the Office of Equity would help alleviate. The Office of Equity would be created within the Office of the Governor for the purpose of promoting access to equitable opportunities and resources to reduce disparities, according to the bill.

RaShelle Davis, senior policy advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee, spoke on behalf of the governor. She highlighted the importance of decreasing disparities within health, employment and the criminal justice system. “The overall health and wellbeing of residents in the state of Washington is one of the highest culminations with low unemployment rates, increases in the standard of living and high educational attainment,” Davis said.

The governor strongly supports the creation of the Equity Office, which was reflected in his budget, and “creates a unique opportunity for Washington to be the leader of the nation,” she said.

More in News

Portion of Hull Street closes Tuesday for paving

Closure to take place between Grant and Sherman avenues

Passenger-only ferry terminal now open in Seattle

The new terminal serves Kitsap fast ferry routes to Kingston and Bremerton

Grocery Outlet store’s owner-operators find a home in Port Orchard

… but getting to South Kitsap took time, effort

Hadaller awarded Public Employee Memorial Scholarship

Port Orchard student is one of 35 to qualify for an award honoring their loved one

Local fashion and beauty blogger Kusum Basavaraju helped assist students at the BeYOUtiful Back to School event at the Kitsap Mall Saturday. (Tyler Shuey/Kitsap News Group)
Back to School event aimed to help students feel comfortable and confident before the school year

Students visited several different stations promoting inner beauty and community resources

One dead in North Kitsap collision

A 55-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident… Continue reading

Local organization strives for traumatic brain injury recognition

Kitsap Brain Injury will hold its sixth annual Walk, Run and Roll for Thought event September 7

Grocery Outlet opens new Port Orchard store with a flourish

Hundreds stand in line before grand opening at Towne Square Mall

WSDOT to begin paving along SR 304 in Bremerton

Work will occur from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting August 22

Most Read