2017 Bill Tracker

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Last Updated: February 16th, 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. Take Action to Oppose!

SB 5043 -Passed in Financial Institutions Committee and is now referred to Ways and Means, the fiscal committee of the Senate, Feb 16.

SB 5456 /HB 1145  This bill would allow health care providers or debt collectors to collect interest on medical debt from the time of service – regardless of how long it takes insurance claims, billing processes, etc to determine 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.

 Oppose!

SB 5456 – This bill has been passed to the Rules Committee on February 16th which will determine whether it appears on the Senate floor.


HB 1145 – This bill had a public hearing  in the House Committee on Judiciary but has not been scheduled for a vote out of committee (good news).


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

This bill had an Executive hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary on Feb 16th.

 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 – This bill passed out its policy committee and was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Feb 16th.

SB 5312 – This bill passed out of its Senate policy committee and is now passed to the Rules Committee where it needs to be heard.


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.  Take Action to Support

This bill passed from the Early Learning Committee to the Rules Committee on Feb 16th .

 

HB 1440SB 5210  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 Higher Education Committee and was referred to Appropriations, the next step to appearing on the house floor, on Feb 16.

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 out of its policy committee and had a public hearing in the House Appropriation Committee on Feb 15th.

SB 5069 – This bill passed out of the Senate Rules Committee and had its first reading in the Higher Education Committee on Feb 16.


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
SB 5347/ 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

SB 5347 – This bill has passed out of its policy committee, and been referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee.

HB 1566 – This bill passed out of its policy committee and is now scheduled for a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Feb 21.

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.  HB 1985 This bill has not been scheduled for  a hearing or executive session. It must make it out of its policy and fiscal committees this week in order to stay alive.

SB 5689 This bill had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor & Sports on Feb 16.

HB 1482/ SB 5440 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).

Support

HB 1482 – This bill has passed out of its policy committee and is now scheduled for public hearing in the House Appropriations committee on Feb 21.

SB 5440 – This bill had a public hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee on Feb 15.

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

Scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor & Sports but has not been scheduled for an executive session to move it out of committee.

SB 5267/ HB 1800 This bill would enact the Washington Voting Rights Act, which 1) protects equal opportunity for all groups to participate in local elections regardless of race.

Support

HB 1800 was voted out of the House Committee on State Government, Elections, & Information Technology on Feb 14.

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