Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislature
Rep. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36) was the only State Senator to receive an "A" rating on promoting equality and opportunity through her legislation.

36D legislators receive good grades on promoting equality, opportunity

Our very own Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles has just been recognized for her commitment to promoting "justice, equality and opportunity for all" through her voting record.

She received an "A" rating on the Racial Justice Report Card issued by the Washington Community Action Network.

Fellow 36D legislator Rep. Reuven Carlyle received a "B" rating. Since grading was based on the 2012 slate of legislators, Rep. Gael Tarleton was not graded. The Washington State Legislature overall did not receive a very satisfactory grade -- "D."

20 percent of the population in the 36th District consists of people of color, according to the report.

“This is no small matter. As legislators, we have a responsibility to our communities, and given that the Legislature received a ‘D’ overall, there is clearly more work we need to do in order to end institutional racism and promote social justice in Washington,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “This honor reaffirms my commitment to equality in the 36th District and across our state.”

Kohl-Welles was the only state senator to receive an “A.” She said that during hard economic times, the need to promote pro-equality and pro-opportunity legislation is greater than ever. Communities of color and low-income household are disproportionately hurt by budget cuts and job losses, she said.

“A recession affects everyone but it does not affect them equally,” Kohl-Welles said. “The health of our communities rests on whether we make sure all families, and not just the privileged, have the resources they need.”

The rating was based on lawmakers’ votes on the 712 bills passed by the Legislature in 2011 and 2012. It assesses whether the bills promoted fundamental values like opportunity for all or helped to widen race-based gaps in education, health, income, economic stability, and opportunity.

The report asked the following questions concerning what type of legislation was promoted by lawmakers.

• Does the legislation explicitly address racial outcomes and work to eliminate racial inequities?
• Will the legislation increase access to public benefits and institutions for communities of color?
• Does the legislation advance enfranchisement and full civic participation for everyone in the state?
• Will the legislation protect against racial violence, racial profiling, and discrimination?
• Is the legislation enforceable? Are adequately funded mechanisms in place to ensure accountability?
• Will the legislation exacerbate existing racial inequities, or have unintended consequences on communities
of color?

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