by Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager.
| Dec 15, 2016
2016 was a very busy year for GSBA’s advocacy efforts at all levels.
First and foremost, GSBA was a founding member of the S.A.F.E. Alliance to fend off six anti-trans bills in the Washington State Legislature. We then spearheaded the business coalition within the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign against Initiative 1515 attempting to roll back our 10-year old LGBT civil rights laws. With hundreds of businesses of all sizes signing on to support our existing and critical protections, GSBA was proud to spread the message that equality is good business.
Another big success in Olympia was passing the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill after three years, providing access to career paths for those with criminal records who have paid their debt to society.
Every ballot measure that GSBA endorsed in 2016 passed. This included expanding the Seattle Housing Levy, funding a comprehensive regional mass transit system, creating Emergency Risk Protection Orders (I-1491), and raising the statewide minimum wage and implementing paid sick and safe leave (I-1433). We organized business support for a woman’s right to choose in the Whole Women’s Health v. Cole case before the US Supreme Court, which then agreed with many of our points.
GSBA is thrilled that King County becomes the largest county in the country to recognize LGBT businesses in its supply chain. Together with several of our certified LGBT businesses and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we joined County Executive Dow Constantine in July for the public announcement. Several GSBA members have already received King County contracts, including Precision Garage Door Service and Gender Justice League.
At the city level, GSBA and its members have been actively working to bring the small business perspective that is so often lacking in policymaking. We urged the City to assist struggling Central District businesses impacted by construction projects on 23rd Avenue. GSBA participated in the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee, and we look forward to turning those recommendations into reality to help our small business members across Seattle. We also worked closely with the City of Seattle on several LGBT issues such as addressing rising bias crimes and implementing a ban on conversion therapy.
Being a connector is one of GSBA’s favorite roles. We brought our members and their concerns to every member of Western Washington’s Congressional delegation and many city and county councilmembers across our region. We hosted the US Deputy Secretary of Labor in our office, and dozens of candidates and elected officials at our two annual election-related events.
We know that our opponents will be back in 2017, and we are ready to amplify the voices of the LGBT and small business communities to bring about equality for all.
If you would like to get involved with GSBA's monthly Public Policy Task Force, write to Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager, to be added to the list.