WashPIRG’s 2023 Legislative Agenda

WashPIRG outlines our legislative priorities for the 2023 legislative session as we work to reduce waste and promote the right to repair, stop toxic threats, protect consumers from scams and unsafe products, and more.

Capitol building in Olympia
Ralph Wilfing | Pixabay.com

Take Action

WashPIRG is an advocate for the public interest. We speak out for a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good. 

Every year, we outline our major program priorities, and the state legislative session provides an opportunity to come together around common sense solutions that will help make that future a reality. Here are our top priorities for 2023:

Prostock Studio | Shutterstock.com

Right to Repair

When something breaks, you fix it. That’s just common sense. But manufacturers of everything from phones to appliances to tractors intentionally make things difficult to repair. For example, Americans dispose of 416,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled. We are working to tackle planned obsolescence, and make sure consumers and small businesses have access to the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products so we can keep things in use and reduce waste.

WashPIRG supports the Fair Repair Act, HB 1392/SB5464, to give Washingtonians the Right to Repair their personal electronic devices.

Advocates show support for bill to reduce plastic pollution
Staff | Used by permission
The Plastic Free WA coalition hosts a Game-a-Thon to raise awareness of the Washington Recycling and Packaging (WRAP) Act.

Beyond Plastic

Every day, people throw away tons of plastic “stuff” — packaging, bags, takeout containers, and more. All of this waste clogs our landfills and incinerators, trashes our parks, litters our streets, and washes into our rivers and oceans, where it can harm wildlife. It’s time to move beyond single-use plastic, by getting rid of the most harmful waste, and stopping the use of things we truly don’t need. WashPIRG supports:

  • The WRAP Act. It’s easy to blame the plastic waste crisis on litterbugs or people who don’t recycle. Easy, but wrong. The real responsibility for the plastics crisis lies with the companies that manufacture these products in the first place.That’s why we’re supporting the WRAP Act, HB 1131/SB 5154, which would hold companies responsible for the waste their products create and incentivize less and better packaging design in the first place.
  • Reducing wasteful, disposable plastics. Washington has banned some of the worst kinds of single-use plastics, like thin-film plastic grocery bags and polystyrene cups, food containers, packing peanuts, and more. WashPIRG supports HB 1085, which will require water bottle refill stations in new construction to help transition to reusable water bottles, phase out single-use plastic packaging for personal care products at lodging establishments, and eliminate foam docking.

Eliminating Toxins

Too many Washingtonians are exposed to harmful chemicals like lead or PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) through everyday consumer products or even through their own drinking water. WashPIRG supports:

  • Clean Lighting Standards: Fluorescent lights contain mercury – which is a potent and persistent neurotoxin – by design. Today, non-toxic, highly efficient alternatives are broadly available. Washington should phase out fluorescent lighting to eliminate a toxin from the waste stream, reduce energy waste and save consumers money.
  • Get the Lead Out: In 2021, the Washington state legislature passed the “Bruce Speight Act,” to establish mandatory lead testing in all Washington public schools, limit lead in school drinking water to 5 parts per billion (ppb) and help schools remediate their taps. Unfortunately, we still have work to do to prevent lead contamination in drinking water. Washington should utilize state and federal funding to proactively replace lead-bearing fountains with filtered water stations, install filters on all other taps used for cooking or drinking at schools, and replace lead service lines in the state.
  • Stop Toxic PFAS: We are exposed to PFAS “forever” chemicals, which are linked to cancer and other illnesses, in water, food, and consumer products. We’re working to stop the use of PFAS in consumer products, clean up contamination in our water and communities, and to hold industry accountable for damage they have caused.
Electric vehicles charging
Banner-Scharfsinn | Shutterstock.com

100% Renewable Electricity and Clean Transportation 

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and wildfires in Washington, and although our state has taken lots of strong steps, we are not doing enough to combat the worst effects of climate change. Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in Washington, and our reliance on fossil fuels in this sector puts our health, safety and environment at risk. Getting to school or commuting to work shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that people will get sick. WashPIRG supports:

  • Safe and Healthy Homes: Burning fossil fuels in our homes and businesses is responsible for at least 9 percent of all US climate emissions and can pollute the air we breathe inside and outside of our buildings. Despite the threat this poses to our planet and our health, three out of every four American homes still directly burn fossil fuels for heating, hot water or to run appliances. WashPIRG supports the Washington State Building Code Council’s decisions last year to require heat pumps in both residential and commercial buildings. Federal tax credits and rebates passed under the Inflation Reduction Act and dollars from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act can make it easier and more affordable than ever to electrify our buildings. We urge the legislature to fully support this transition to all-electric buildings through supplemental policies and funding. We also support policies to educate consumers about the indoor air quality risks from gas stoves.
  • Electrifying buses and trucks. Dirty diesel school buses add to our carbon emissions while putting millions of children at risk of cancer and respiratory diseases. We’re calling for all school and public transit buses to be electric by 2030. To get there, we’re asking local, state and regional officials to replace diesel-powered school buses and public transit buses with clean electric buses.
  • Electrifying cars. We support Washington’s commitment to get to 100% zero emission vehicles sold by 2035 and encourage decision-makers to keep investing in the infrastructure needed to help all consumers make the transition.

Consumer Protection 

In some ways it has never been easier to be a consumer. Virtually any product can be viewed online, and  is just a few clicks from arriving at our doors. But today’s marketplace is also full of hidden dangers that can threaten our health, safety and financial security. WashPIRG supports policies to get dangerous products off store shelves, end exploitative practices and ensure a level playing field in the marketplace. 

For more information about WashPIRG’s 2023 Program Agenda, to request our support for a bill, or to ask questions about our position on a specific issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to working with you.

Topics
Authors

Dax Tate

Zero Waste Campaign Associate, WashPIRG

Dax works on WashPIRG's Zero Waste campaign with an emphasis on the right to repair. Dax lives in Seattle and spends his time running, reading and playing ultimate frisbee.

Find Out More