Last Tuesday marked the halfway point of the 2024 legislative session. With the house of origin cutoff coming up tomorrow, now is a good time to do a temperature check on our policy priorities and recalibrate our actions towards the second half of session. Here’s how we’re doing so far:

Meeting Basic Needs:

We had great hearings on Guaranteed Basic Income (HB 1045, SB 6191) in both the House and the Senate, where advocates shared stories and data that show how a statewide Guaranteed Basic Income pilot could create a more robust social safety net in our state.

Unfortunately, with the fiscal cutoff behind us, the bill is dead for this year and we will have to return next year to advocate for this groundbreaking policy. Thanks to the broad base of support for GBI and the influential testimony in both the House and Senate, we’ll have great momentum when we pick this up next session!

Additionally, we’ve been supporting the work of our advocacy partners to pass SHB 2114 to implement rent stabilization measures to protect renters from predatory fees and egregious rent increases. This bill is moving on to the second half of session!

Bolstering Consumer Protections:

We had great opportunities to bolster consumer protections this session, with bills to cap payday loan interest rates at 36% (HB 2083), close the gift card loophole (HB 2094, HB 2095), clearly define what counts as a loan to restrict predatory rent-a-bank schemes (SB 6025), and regulate Home Equity Sharing Agreements (HESAs) as traditional mortgage loans (SB 5968). These bills had great hearings in the House and Senate, but unfortunately payday lenders spent big to block these policies to protect consumers.

That said, the momentum we’ve generated to protect consumers from predatory practices and ensure loans are regulated by Washington’s lending laws has been enough to carry SB 6025 and HB 2081 through to the second half of session. The work is far from over on consumer protections, though – we have to keep up the pressure to overcome the opposition and pass these important bills to ensure loans can’t evade our state’s lending laws and HESAs are regulated the same as traditional mortgages.

Transforming Cash Assistance Programs:

We started session with an ambitious slate of policies to make Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) more effective pathways out of poverty for families living on a low income in Washington. Specifically, we’ve been advocating for bills that reinstate policies cut during the Great Recession including TANF hardship time limit exemptions (SHB 2007), the TANF full child support pass-through (HB 1652), and transitional support services for families leaving TANF (SB 6135). Additionally, we’ve been working to increase transparency of fraud investigations (SB 6226) and expand eligibility for the WFTC to all adults 18 and older (HB 1075).

Going into the second half of session, we are still going strong on reinstating TANF hardship time limit exemptions (SHB 2007) and the child support pass-through (HB 1652).

Across the board, our advocacy on priority bills has left us in a strong spot going into the second half of this year’s session and looking forward to big changes on the horizon in future sessions. You can follow the progress of bills through the rest of session on our online bill tracker.

That said, we need to keep up the momentum to boost the bills that are still moving through to the finish line!

Specifically, SHB 2007 and SHB 2114 only have until tomorrow to pass out of the House! Tell your representative to bring these bills to the floor and vote YES to help Washingtonians meet their basic needs!