2018 Bill Tracker

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Last Updated: March 2, 2018

Thank you for following Poverty Action’s legislative priorities during the 2018 Legislative Session, and for advocating on their behalf! Check out our community-driven 2018 Policy Agenda to learn more about the issues we support.

BNbilltrackericonRACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS:  In Washington state, the number of families with children living in Deep Poverty (50% of the Federal Poverty Level) has doubled in the last twenty years. Not only has the wealth gap grown across our state, it has widened even more dramatically along racial and ethnic lines. 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. Safety Net programs provide support to families and individuals struggling with hunger, homelessness or unsafe shelter, and financial instability. Investing in basic needs support is a direct investment in our communities and a fundamental part of ensuring a baseline of economic security.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status
 HB 1831/SB 5609 These similar, but not identical, bills would increase asset limits for TANF eligibility, so a functional car and a small amount of savings will not count against a family. These changes will allow families access to TANF before hitting financial bottom and will lessen the amount of time families ultimately spend on TANF. Support

Good news! This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

The Senate version has not had a hearing and appears to be dead for the session.

HB 1482 This bill strengthens a task-force that tracks poverty alleviation holistically (like following both parental and child outcomes in a family).There is currently a Work Group created by the Governor to address this issue. This bill would strengthen the existing work group and give it more authority to recommend legislative changes.

Support

Good news! This bill has passed its chamber of origin (the House) and is now in the Senate. It is currently in the Rules Committee, waiting to be pulled to the floor for a vote.

 SB 6464 This bill would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to collaborate with the WA State institute for Public Policy on a study that follows the “cliff effect” in the Working Connections Child Care. The “cliff effect” occurs when a family begins to make too much money to be eligible for their state or federal benefits, yet still cannot afford these basic necessities on their own Support

This bill had a public hearing on Early Learning & K12 Education on January 30. Unfortunately, no action has been taken, and this bill appears to be dead for the session.

 HB 2371/ SB 6503 This bill would reinstate the Child Support Pass-Through, which allows families receiving TANF to receive a portion of their child support.

Support

 Unfortunately both bills appear to be dead for the session.

HB 2667/SB 6502 This bill bridges the gap in financial assistance experienced by many whose HEN benefits run out and are subsequently placed on ABD (a far lower financial amount) while waiting to qualify for the federal SSI benefit, which can often take months or years. Both versions of this bill would allow ABD recipients to receive both HEN and ABD concurrently during that period, therefore helping to reduce homelessness. Support

Good news!This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

The Senate version had an executive session scheduled on February 6, but no action was taken. This bill appears to be dead for the session.

SB 6116 This bill would make HEN an entitlement program, which would make it less susceptible to funding cuts, expands eligibility for HEN, and asks DSHS and Commerce (who administer HEN and ABD) to study the appropriate benefit amount. Support

Unfortunately, no action has been taken, and this bill appears to be dead for the session.

HB 2578/ SB 5407 These separate, but related, bills would outlaw the practice of landlords discriminating against tenants who pay their rent with federally funded income and rental assistance programs, such as TANF or Section 8 vouchers. This bill will improve all people’s ability to access housing. Support

Good News! Both have passed their respective chambers. Each chamber will now work to reconcile the differences and approve a final version of the bill.

 HB 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 (aka the Document Recording Fee) so people experiencing homelessness can access safe and healthy housing.  Support

Good news! This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

CPbilltrackericonRACIAL 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 2731 This bill places limits on collections of medical debt. It limits the interest collectors can charge, prohibits interest and late fees on charity care, and limits what debt collectors can garnish on medical debts. Support

Unfortunately, this bill appears to be dead for the session.

HB 2836/SB 6273 These separate, but related, bills would standardize the implementation of charity care throughout hospitals in Washington and would work to make the program more widely available. Charity care is a program that covers treatment costs for low-income patients. Support

The House version of this bill is considered dead. However, its proposals were implemented into the Senate version, which has fortunately passed  both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

BRbilltrackericonRACIAL 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 African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans at much higher rates than their white counterparts. 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 thousands facing insurmountable debt and instability that keeps them from reuniting with their families and communities.  Support

Good news! This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

HB 1298 This bill “bans 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

This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

EDbilltrackericonRACIAL 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, more severe disciplinary measures, 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

Unfortunately, this bill appears to be dead for the session.

HB 1488/SB 5074 These similar, but not identical, bills expand higher education financial aid opportunities for students who meet certain eligibility requirements. Under this legislation, DACA students would be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship and could be considered “resident students.” Support

Good news! This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

Unfortunately, although this bill passed the Senate, no action has since been taken in the House and it appears to be dead for the session.

 SB 6029 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

Good news- This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature!

HB 1169 This bill introduces the Student Opportunity, Assistance, and Relief Act (SOAR). This prevents loan servicers from enacting harsh penalties on borrowers who fall behind in payments, such as terminating professional licenses or garnishing wages. Support

Good news! This bill passed both chambers and is on its way to the Governor’s desk!

CRbilltrackericonRACIAL EQUITY ANALYSIS:   Everyone should be able to live in a safe community, where they can raise their families without fear of harassment or discrimination, and where they can have equal protection and representation under the law. For too long, people of color have been more likely to live in poverty than whites, had their contributions to our state questioned or used as a political weapon (or worse, a bargaining chip), and not been able to elect the leaders or their choice. Indeed, 24.3% of African Americans, 24.8% of Latinos, 24.4% of American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and 10.6% of Asian households living below the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) in our state, compared to only 10.1% of white households. These disparate outcomes are the result of years of institutional racism, including educational opportunities and scholarships denied to immigrants, employment discrimination, and local voting districts drawn to protect incumbents or maintain political majorities. Poverty Action supports efforts to ensure that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to have their voice heard and their contributions acknowledged in our democracy.
Active Bills
Bill # Description Status
 

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, this bill appears to be dead for the legislative session.

 SB 6002 This bill would enact the Washington Voting Rights Act, which protects equal opportunity for all groups to participate in local elections regardless of race.  Support

Good news! This bill passed both chambers and is on its way to the Governor’s desk!

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