2018 Bill Tracker

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.

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Barriers to Reentry

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Re-entry into society from incarceration can be very difficulty due to a whole host of barriers, such as unequal access to employment, housing, education, and the heavy weight of societal stigma.  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.

LFO Reform – HB 1783

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Ban the Box – HB 1298

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Basic Needs

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We all hope to weather the inevitable ups and downs of life with resiliency. Safety Net programs provide support to families and individuals struggling with hunger, homelessness or unsafe shelter, and financial instability. Poverty Action supports bills that invest in basic needs support as a direct investment in our communities and a fundamental part of ensuring a baseline of economic security.

Increase Asset Limits on Financial Assistance Programs – HB 1831, SB 5609

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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.

Governor's Poverty Reduction Work Group – HB 1482

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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.

"Cliff Effect" Study – SB 6464

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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.

Reinstate Child Support Pass-Through – HB 2371, SB 6503

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What It Does

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

Bill Status

Unfortunately both bills appear to be dead for the session.

Bridging Financial Assistance with HEN – HB 2667, SB 6502

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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.

Expanding HEN Eligibility – SB 6116

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) – HB 2578, SB 5407

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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.

Homelessness Service Funding – HB 1570

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What It Does

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

Bill Status

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

Consumer Protections

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Predatory lenders disproportionately target low income communities and communities of color, offering high-interest loans to families that may already be struggling with debt or financial instability. Poverty Action supports bills that both maintain the consumer protections already put in place and enact stronger protections that will help Washington families avoid debt or lower their amount owed.

Limiting Collections on Medical Debt – HB 2731

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Charity Care – HB 2836, SB 6273

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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!

Education

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A vibrant, supportive state education system is often seen as a child's pathway toward a bright future. Poverty Action supports bills that not only deliver on this promise, but that work towards racial and economic equity in Washington's K-12 and college education system.

School Suspensions  – SB 5155

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Expanding College Financial Aid  – HB 1488, SB 5074

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What It Does

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.”

Bill Status

Good news! This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is on to the Governor’s desk for a signature! Unfortunately, although the Senate version passed the Senate, no action has since been taken in the House and it appears to be dead for the session.

Student Loan Bill of Rights – SB 6029

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Increased Protections for Washington Borrowers – HB 1169

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Civil Rights

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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. Poverty Action supports bills that ensure that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to have their voice heard and their contributions acknowledged in our democracy.

Immigrant Protections in Public Spaces – SB 5689

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What It Does

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.

Bill Status

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

Washington Voting Rights Act – SB 6002

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What It Does

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

Bill Status

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