Amid cries for racial justice, I-940 police reform lagging 2 years after passage

In 2018, Washington voters passed an initiative that made it easier to prosecute police officers who shoot civilians, required independent investigations of police use of force and mandated a new de-escalation training regimen. At the time of its passing, the initiative was considered incredibly progressive—but activists today say existing reforms have done little to slow killings by police, and are now calling instead for foundational change, including steep cuts to police departments’ budgets and diverting savings to better social services such as crisis-intervention units.

Will “murdered” tree prod Seattle Council to pass long-promised protections?

As Seattle became the decade’s fastest-growing big city in America, residents have seen more tree canopy disappear to make room for new apartments and houses to accommodate the growing population. Now, activists and residents are pushing for the Seattle City Council to create a new tree ordinance that will protect more trees. But even as the movement gains momentum and there’s increasing evidence that trees help combat climate change and water pollution, the Seattle City Council is weighing these efforts against an ever-increasing need for housing.

Undocumented workers, a crucial cog in the economy, are left in poverty amid coronavirus

Undocumented workers, especially in the transportation, construction and service industries, have been hit hard by the coronavirus but have been left out of stimulus efforts. This is despite paying more than $300 million in state and local taxes in Washington State, and many of their employers contributing to the unemployment relief fund. While some cities and states have launched their own relief efforts, there has been pushback on social media and Fox News commentators have demanded to know why undocumented workers should receive taxpayer help.

As COVID-19 upends wildland firefighting, Pacific Northwest forests poised for conflagration

With nearly triple the usual number of wildfires this year, Washington and Oregon are set to have the worst summer fire forecasts in the nation. And it’s not the only one. As a result of COVID-19, volunteer firefighting numbers are down and those who did sign up face increased vulnerability to the virus. The pandemic has curtailed preventative measures, leading agencies across the country to plan for fast, low-headcount efforts to fight fires.

Birth parents fight to visit kids in foster system during pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has translated into severe unhappiness for parents of children taken into Washington State’s foster-care system who no longer are able in most cases to have in-person contact with their children. Court rulings from around the state are in conflict, and parents who lost their kids to the foster care system — most because they were simply too poor to adequately care for them — are bringing legal challenges to Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency stay-at-home proclamation’s effect on their ability to have regular in-person visits.

Coronavirus threatens response to wildfires; firefighter camps ‘ideal’ to spread disease

Coronavirus could seriously hamper Washington’s ability to fight wildfires as agencies focus on organizing a response to the global pandemic. Despite concerns that the 2020 wildfire season could be worse than 2019’s, agencies that usually plan for fires and recruit firefighters in early spring are instead helping organize Washington’s response to COVID-19. Social-distancing concerns could mean a lower turnout of firefighters.