The 2024 legislative session has come to a close! During the tight timeline of the short session, we were able to pass several policies that will make cash assistance programs work better for families living on low incomes, but there’s still a lot of work to pick up next session. Here’s what we were able to accomplish from our policy agenda this year:

Meeting Basic Needs

This year, we worked to advance innovative policy solutions to help Washingtonians not just meet their basic needs, but live fulfilling lives. While these efforts did not succeed this year, we are encouraged by the support they received and energized by the growing momentum for direct, flexible cash assistance. 

Legislative Goals

  • Expand eligibility to the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) to all adults 18 years and older. 
  • Create and fund the Evergreen Basic Income Pilot to provide a guaranteed basic income for low-income Washingtonians. 

Legislative Outcomes

  • Unfortunately, neither of these bills passed this session. 

Transforming Cash Assistance Programs

After over a decade of hard work, we were finally able to re-instate the TANF Child Support Pass-Through, ensuring that families on TANF receive 100% of child support paid by non-custodial parents. More broadly, we set out to improve equity and access to safety net programs. While we weren’t able to pass our full slate of policies, the bills that we did pass will make a material difference for families living on low incomes. 

Legislative Goals

  • Fully reinstate the TANF Hardship Time Limit Exemption to increase equity and ensure that all families that need help can receive it. 
  • Reinstate the full Child Support Passthrough to ensure that child support payments to families on TANF go to children, not the state. 
  • Increase transparency of investigations conducted by the Office of Fraud and Accountability by asking the Department to regularly present data to the legislature including the racial demographics of people investigated. 

Legislative Outcomes

  • Create new TANF Time Limit Exemption for families with children under 2. 
  • Reinstate the full Child Support Passthrough to ensure that child support payments to families on TANF go to children, not the state. 

Bolstering Consumer Protections

In addition to building a social safety net that helps Washingtonians living on low incomes meet their basic needs, this year we worked to help families keep money in their pockets by bolstering consumer protections. While the opposition spent a lot of money to block priority bills, we were still able to pass legislation to ensure Washingtonians are protected by our state’s lending laws. 

Legislative Goals

  • Cap payday loan interest rates, as several other states do, at 36%.  
  • Ensure unclaimed gift cards are transferred to the state as unclaimed property, then to the state as revenue, instead of padding corporate profits. 
  • Allow consumers to cash out gift cards under $50, combine gift cards with other forms of payment to maximize their use, and prevent companies from setting minimum reloading amounts to gift cards. 
  • Restrict abusive contract terms and lending practices by bringing Home Equity Sharing Agreements (HESA) contracts under the definition of a mortgage loan. 
  • Clearly define the definition of a loan to prevent lenders from evading Washington state lending laws by affiliating with out of state banks. 

Legislative Outcomes

  • Clearly define the definition of a loan to prevent lenders from evading Washington state lending laws by affiliating with out of state banks. 

Investing in Human Services

This year, we worked to create a biennial budget that prioritizes helping low- income Washingtonians meet their basic needs. See a full breakdown of the budget on our Supplemental Budget page!

Legislative Goals

  • Fund TANF Hardship exemption 
  • Reinstate the Child Support Pass-Through 
  • Fund a study of Office of Fraud & Accountability (OFA) fraud investigation practices and outcomes 
  • $914K to replace stolen/skimmed benefits 
  • $70M to backfill homelessness services funded by the Document Recording Fee 
  • $500k for Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) programs 
  • $24.46M for Summer EBT 
  • $300k for Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) study on racial wealth gap implications 
  • $2M for WFTC outreach 
  • $2.5M to expand the UW Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program that trains dentists to meet the needs of rural and underserved communities in the state and region. 
  • $5.9M for Yakima Neighborhood Health Services to partner with the new Pacific NW University dental school to open a training clinic. 
  • Upgrade the technology used by public benefits systems so that necessary changes take place without additional cost and delay. 

Legislative Outcomes

  • $1.06M for limited TANF hardship exemptions as passed by legislature 
  • $16Mto reinstate the Child Support Pass-Through 
  • $914K to replace stolen/skimmed benefits 
  • $60M to backfill homelessness services. Because of a change in cost estimates, this represents full funding. 
  • $500K for Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) programs 
  • $24.46M for Summer EBT 
  • $300K for DFI study on racial wealth gap implications 
  • $1M for WFTC outreach 
  • $2.5M to expand the UW RIDE program $4.4M for Yakima Neighborhood Health Services to partner with the new Pacific NW University dental school to open a training clinic in that area.   
  • $57.4M to further the DSHS Integrated Eligibility and Enrollment (IE&E) Modernization project.  
  • $4.9M to reduce wait times in DSHS Community Service Offices and report to the legislature on these wait times.

This session, we were able to help pass and fund several important and hard-fought bills to make TANF a more effective pathway out of poverty and bolster consumer protections. Looking ahead to next year, we are invigorated by our successes and remain dedicated to the work that’s left to be done.  

We are so grateful for all the work done by advocates, organizers, lawmakers, and coalition partners to help pass our policy priorities this session! We look forward to continuing pulling up seats at the table for our community to build momentum in the interim and influence policy change next session.