Legislative Priorities

The board members of the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs have approved the following priorities for the 2017 legislative session.

Education | Closing the Opportunity Gaps

  • Expand early learning programs for our most vulnerable by providing more access for children eligible for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. Include resources to educate parents, utilizing culturally appropriate strategies such as translation and recorded messages, about the early learning system.
  • Support legislation to implement the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee’s 2017 recommendations.
  • Direct significant McCleary funding to close the opportunity gaps and provide additional investments to fully implement House Bill 1541 strategies. These include:
    • Increasing funding for the Learning Assistance Program;
    • Improving educator cultural competence;
    • Increasing ELL program quality and accountability;
    • Further disaggregating student data;
    • Diversifying the teaching profession; and
    • Providing wrap-around services and ensuring integration with school and community-based supports.
  • Provide equitable resources and strategies, such as a statewide campaign, to recruit, retain, train, and hire more bicultural/bilingual teachers. Increase cultural competency of current teachers through professional development opportunities.
  • Support programs and policies that promote and value home languages, cultures, and diversity in school curriculum and the classroom.
  • Address the unmet interpretation and translation needs of limited English proficient parents by providing adequate and certified interpreters for school meetings and ensure schools implement a Language Access Policy and Procedure.
  • Invest in outreach efforts and translated materials to educate families about changes to state testing and high school graduation requirements.
  • Provide adequate funding for family and community engagement coordinators and develop best practices for serving diverse communities.
  • Support financial assistance, recruitment, and outreach programs to help middle and high school students, particularly those from underrepresented Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian communities, to attend college.
  • Support civics education to ensure API communities understand their rights and the role of government.

Health and Human Services

  • The Commission supports HB 1291, which would improve health care access for Pacific Islanders from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. These communities previously had access to Medicaid but were excluded in 1996 despite having a unique relationship with the United States.
  • Improve the collection of disaggregated health data for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Provide targeted funding for culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health programs and services, including strategies to reduce stigma and barriers, increase public awareness, train health professionals and educators, and recruit bilingual/bicultural providers.
  • Support culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to address problem gambling.
  • Increase funding for youth marijuana and e-cigarette prevention programs, particularly for culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies.
  • Ensure AAPIs who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act continue to have coverage and receive information about federal law changes through community engagement efforts.
  • Support policies to decrease disparities in environmental exposure leading to poor health outcomes.
  • Increase access to affordable housing and implement equitable strategies to prevent homelessness, including research and data collection on AAPI housing and homelessness.
  • Create a policy to enable patients the ability to request translated directions on prescription drug labels to improve their health and safety.
  • Support programs and policies that address the high rate of diabetes among API communities
  • Support efforts to advance Precision Medicine in Washington State to provide better individualized care.
  • The Commission supports SB 5046, which would provide public notices of public health, safety, and welfare in a language other than English. Furthermore, the Commission urges the use of culturally appropriate communication strategies and distribution methods.

Economic Development

  • Support policies, programs, and services to increase state certification and utilization of minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses.
  • Provide funding to improve the usability of the state online system for businesses and vendors to search and respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for state contracts.
  • Support policies to improve the collection of disaggregated data related to economic issues for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Support programs and services to grow small businesses such as export assistance, financing, and removing barriers to entry.
  • Provide continuing education on wage and labor rule changes while fostering professional and economic advancement and encourage consistent collaboration and partnership within the API business community.
  • Support mitigation efforts to assist neighborhoods in Seattle impacted by Regional Transit Authority construction.


  • Protect funding for services provided by the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance such as the Limited English Proficient Pathway program, Washington Basic Food Program, and more.
  • Increase funding for Naturalization Services, particularly for translated educational materials, to help immigrants and refugees who receive public assistance become citizens, thus making them eligible for federal benefits and not reliant on state programs such as state food assistance.
  • Increase funding for the Washington New Americans program that provides citizenship services to eligible immigrants through direct services and free legal clinics.
  • Protect and educate undocumented residents, refugees, and immigrants currently residing in the state.

Civil Rights

  • Support the Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing recommendations to increase police accountability while still protecting officers who reasonably believe using deadly force is necessary. Additional recommendations included providing more funding for police training, improving data collection on the use of force, and increasing availability of less lethal options.
  • Ensure implementation of the REAL ID Act does not disparately impact communities of color.
  • Increase access to translated materials for voter registration and education and translated ballots.
  • Support the Washington Voting Rights Act to ensure fair representation for all communities in local elections.
  • Support youth/young adult leadership and civic engagement programs for civically underrepresented communities.