2017 Bill Tracker


Last Updated: March 13, 2017

Thank you for following Poverty Action’s legislative priorities during the 2017 Legislative Session, and for advocating on their behalf! Check out our member-driven 2017 Policy Agenda to learn more about the issues we support.

RACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS: As longstanding racial disparities in wealth and income have continued, households of color are less likely to have the safety net of home equity or cash on hand to handle unexpected expenses or a loss or reduction of income. As a result, communities of color are aggressively targeted by abusive and predatory lenders, putting households of color at a much greater risk for overwhelming debt than white households. Poverty Action advocates for both maintaining the consumer protections already put in place and enacting stronger protections that will help Washington families avoid debt or lower their amount owed.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status
HB 1061/ SB 5043 Debt collectors want to hit debt-burdened consumers with another unfair 2% fee on payments that use debit/credit cards, on top of existing fees & interests. This adds additional barriers to those  struggling with medical bills, utility payments, and more. Oppose

This bill appears to be dead for the legislative session.

SB 5456 This bill would allow health-care providers or debt collectors to collect interest on medical debt months after the visit – regardless of how long it takes insurance claims, billing processes, etc. to determine how much is owed, and start billing for it. This makes no sense and only adds debt to those already struggling with ill health and medical bills.


SB 5456 – Unfortunately, this bill has made it to the House and is scheduled for a hearing House Judiciary at 1:30 on March 16th.

RACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS: Racialized policies and practices ranging from the war on drugs to three strikes laws, in combination with higher arrest rates and more severe sentencing for people of color, have resulted in the incarceration of people of color at much higher rates than their white counterparts, predominantly for African-Americans, Latinos, and Native-Americans. Post-incarceration life has also become more difficult because of limits on voting rights and unequal access to employment, housing, public benefits, and education. Poverty Action supports bills that provide opportunities for people to reclaim their lives, support their families, and participate in their communities after serving their criminal justice sentences.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status

HB 1783

This bill seeks to reform our Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) system. LFOs are fines and fees faced by people who are incarcerated. Not only is there a long list of fees people can be charged for, they accrue 12% per year even when someone is serving their sentence. This leaves 1000s of people facing insurmountable debt and instability that keeps them from re-entering their communities and families.  Take Action to  Support

Good news! After passing out of the House, this bill had its first reading in the Senate on March 7th. Next stop: the Law & Justice committee.

HB 1298/ SB 5312 These two similar (but not identical) bills, make our job applications fairer. These bills “ban the box” on job applications asking about criminal history on the initial application.  Employers will still be able to ask about criminal history at a later stage of the job application process.   Support

  Take Action

HB 1298 successfully moved from the House to the Senate where it didn’t get enough votes to pass the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor, & Sports as on March 9th.

SB 5312 was amended and passed out of the Senate. We have concerns around the amendment & are looking into solutions to it. Next up: the House Labor & Workplace Standards committee.

RACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS: Sixty years after the Supreme Court ruled school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, the legacy of institutional racism, of “separate, but equal,” can still be observed in a variety of measures, including lower standardized test scores, lower grade point averages, higher dropout rates, and lower college-enrollment and -completion rates for students of color.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status
SB 5155 This bill prohibits the suspension and expulsion of kindergarten to 2nd grade students. It requires schools to develop and enact policies which support children’s behavioral development and to implement evidence-based programming to encourage students in meeting behavioral expectations.  Support

This bill appears to be dead for the session.

HB 1440 This bill establishes a student loan bill of rights in Washington state to increase transparency and access to clear information for students seeking education loans. Support

HB 1440 – This bill passed through the house and was preliminarily read by the Senate on March 6. Next stop: the Higher Education committee.

HB 1129SB 5069 This bill provides avenues to obtain an associates degree while under supervision of the Department of Corrections. Support

HB 1129 –  This bill passed through the House with a 77-21 vote and had its first reading in the Senate. Next Stop: Law & Justice Committee.

SB 5069 – After passing out of the Senate with an almost unanimous vote, this bill has now has a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee at 8:00 am.

RACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS: Our communities thrive when all people can meet their basic needs and have opportunities to prosper. Our state has invested in our shared future by providing avenues to access healthcare and education for our kids, support for seniors and adults living with disabilities, and access to civic and economic opportunities. Many of the barriers people face in reaching economic security are a direct result of institutional racism, including housing discrimination, benefits denied to immigrants, and predatory lending. Investment in our state’s most valuable resource, our people, is the best strategy for a strong and vibrant economy, one that addresses the barriers to economic security that disproportionately impact communities of color.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status
HB 1566 This bill strengthens TANF’s education and training component by allowing a TANF recipient to count 24 months (instead of just 12) of education toward his/her work activities. This will prevent parents from having to choose between getting an education and getting support from TANF. Take Action to Support

HB 1566 passed through the House with a 73/25 vote. Next Up: the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health, & Housing.


HB 1985 /SB 5689 This bill creates a stronger WA state by supporting immigrants in the workplace and other  public spaces. It defines the role of local law enforcement to ensure public safety, not to pursue federal civil immigration activities. Support

Unfortunately, these bills appear to be dead for the session.

HB 1482 This bill, aka WorkFirst Poverty Reduction, establishes a task-force that tracks poverty alleviation holistically (like following both parental and child outcomes in a family).


HB 1482 – This bill passed through the House with a 67-30 vote. Next Up: the Senate Committee on Human Services, Mental Health, & Housing.

SB 5149 This bill would strengthen  paid family leave at the state level especially for individuals who currently do not have this benefit. Support

This bill appears to have died in committee.

HB 1800 This bill would enact the Washington Voting Rights Act, which protects equal opportunity for all groups to participate in local elections regardless of race.


This bill was voted out of the House Next Up: the Senate Committee on State Government.

HB 1831 This bill would increase asset limits for TANF eligibility, so car ownership is not counted against a family. Such changes would allow families access to TANF before hitting financial bottom and would lessen the amount of time families ultimately spend on TANF. Support

This bill passed through the House with a 75-22 vote and had its first reading in the Senate on March 9th. Next stop: the Human Services, Mental Health, & Housing Committee.

SHB 1570 This bill would protect and increase local and state funding for homelessness services and rental assistance by making this funding stream permanent. It also proposes an increase to the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge so people experiencing homelessness can access safe and healthy housing. Support

This bill appears to be dead for the legislative session.

HB 1633 This bill would outlaw the practice of source of income discrimination in housing for federally funded income and rental assistance programs. Thus, outlawing source of income assistance will improve all people’s ability to access housing. Support

This bill appears to be dead for the legislative session.

Leave A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.