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Thank you for following Poverty Action’s legislative priorities during the 2021 Legislative Session, and for advocating on their behalf! Check out our community-driven 2021 Policy Agenda to learn more about the issues we support.
Watch public hearings and lawmaker meetings live or recorded on TVW.
Change to TANF Time Limit during High Unemployment – SB 5214
What It DoesSB 5214 was amended to exempt months from the 60-month lifetime limit for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program when the state unemployment rate is above 7%. Poverty Action is advocating for the following to be included in the state budget: a 15% increase to the monthly grant amount, continued suspension of time-limits, and an $80/month diaper benefit.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the Senate on March 3 and passed the House on April 6 and is waiting for the Senate to vote on an amendment before going to the governor to be signed into law!
Expanding Dental Therapy – SB 5142
What It DoesThis bill would allow dental therapists to work under the supervision of a licensed dentist in dental clinics throughout the state of Washington.
Bill StatusUnfortunately, this bill did not receive a public hearing and is dead for the session. The Senate proposed $100,000 in the state budget for a Dental Therapy Task Force to identify strategies for authorizing dental therapy statewide. Poverty Action is advocating for the State Legislature to keep this funding in the reconciled budget they send to Governor Inslee.
Updating the Standard of Need and Increases Access to DCAP – HB 1151
What It DoesThis bill would update the "standard of need" used to calculate benefit amounts, allow families to access the Disaster Cash Assistance Program (DCAP) more than once in a 12 month period, and create a 5-month period of transitional food assistance for families not receiving other benefits.
Bill StatusThis bill was signed by Governor Inslee on March 31!
Promoting Economic Inclusion for People Experiencing Poverty – SB 5241
What It DoesThis bill establishes an economic inclusion grant program to be led by people experiencing poverty and available to local communities to promote equity, economic inclusion, and a stable financial foundation for people experiencing poverty, with a particular focus on people of color and people in rural counties. The Poverty Reduction Work Group (PRWG) steering committee will be consulted on these measures and compensated accordingly. Provisions are also made to help federally-funded state programs coordinate existing programs and resources more effectively.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on March 2 but, unfortunately was not voted on before the fiscal committee cutoff date and is dead for session.
Residential Tenant "Just Cause" Protections – HB 1236
What It DoesThis bill would protect residential renters during their tenancies by penalizing the inclusion of unlawful lease provisions and limiting the reasons for eviction, refusal to continue a lease, and termination of tenancy.
Bill StatusPassed the House on March 7 and passed the Senate on April 8! It is now waiting to be signed by the Governor.
Creating Prison to Postsecondary Education Pathways – HB 1044
What It DoesThis bill permits the Department of Corrections (DOC) to implement postsecondary education certificate and degree programs, including special education services, at state correctional institutions. It also requires the DOC to establish a process for identifying, assessing, and accommodating incarcerated persons with learning disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and cognitive impairments and to provide unofficial transcripts to incarcerated persons who participated in postsecondary education programs.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on February 25 and passed Senate on April 9! The bill is now waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
Modifying the Workforce Education Investment Act (WEIA) – HB 1504
What It DoesGenerates more funding for the Workforce Education Investment Account (WEIA) and requires the state Health Care Authority to establish a behavioral health workforce pilot program and provide training support grants to community mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers.
Bill StatusAmended to remove increase in revenue for WEIA, passed the House on March 3 and passed the Senate on April 10. The bill is now waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
Expanding Washington College Grant Awards – HB 1517
What It DoesThis bill expands income eligibility for students to receive Washington College Grants, increasing access to financial aid.
Bill StatusUnfortunately, this bill appears to be dead for the session and funding to expand income eligibility for the Washington College Grant was not included in either the House or Senate budget proposals.
Requiring Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Training and Assessments at Higher Education Institutions – SB 5227
What It DoesThis bill requires public higher education institutions to provide faculty, staff, and students with training to address matters related to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. This bill also requires public higher education institutions to regularly assess the impact of that training on the campus community and identify any measures needed to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the Senate on March 3 and passed the House on April 9! Waiting for the Senate to vote on amendments passed by the House before going to the governor to be signed into law.
Expanding Access for Students Experiencing Homelessness and in the Foster Care System – HB 1166
What It DoesExpands a pilot program that provides support and resources to college students experiencing homelessness and college students who were in the foster care system when they graduated high school. This includes housing assistance, access to technology, reduced-price meal plans, and case management services.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on February 26 and passed the Senate on April 7! It is now waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
Expanding Access to the College Bound Scholarship – SB 5321
What It DoesExpands eligibility for the College Bound Scholarship by automatically enrolling eligible students.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the Senate on March 4 and passed the House on April 7! It is now waiting for the Senate to vote on amendments passed by the House before going to the governor to be signed into law.
Working Families Tax Credit/Recovery Rebate – HB 1297
What It DoesThe Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) was originally passed into law in 2008 - however, the state legislature has never funded it. The WFTC is our state's version of the federal government's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and, if implemented, would refund a portion of the state sales tax (an average of $500) to eligible households including those who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on March 9 and the Senate on April 11! It is now waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
What It DoesThis bill intends to improve the equity of Washington state's tax code by creating the Washington state wealth tax and taxing extraordinary financial intangible assets which would increase state revenue.
Bill StatusThe House version of this bill passed the House Finance Committee on March 31 and was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on April 2. The Senate version of this bill was referred to the Ways & Means Committee on February 4.
Capital Gains Tax – SB 5096
What It DoesThis bill would enact an excise tax on gains from the sale or exchange of certain capital assets.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the Senate on March 6! Public hearing held in the House Finance Committee on March 15 at 10:00 AM. Scheduled for a committee vote on April 16 at 9:00 AM.
Capital Gains Tax – HB 1496
What It DoesThis bill intends to create a more progressive tax system in Washington by enacting an excise tax on sales and extraordinary profits of high valued assets.
Bill StatusPublic hearing was held in the House Finance Committee on February 11 at 8:00 AM.
Police Tactics – HB 1054
What It DoesThis bill bans the use of chokeholds, neck restraints, and military equipment and limits the use of tear gas by police officers. This bill also requires police officers to be reasonably identifiable while on duty and specifies the process for which a police officer may conduct vehicular pursuit, enter an enclosure for purpose of arrest, and execute a warrant.
Bill StatusAmended to weaken, this bill passed the House on February 27. Amended on the Senate floor to weaken further, but passed the Senate on April 6. The House refused to concur on amendments passed by the Senate, so the House and Senate will hold a conference to reconcile.
Community Oversight Boards – HB 1203
What It DoesThis bill establishes a statewide standard requiring independent, community oversight for any department with 10 or more officers, allocates adequate funds to community oversight, entrusts community oversight boards to select candidates for Police Chief when hiring, requires Police Chiefs to testify on recommendations made by the oversight board for disciplinary and policy actions, empowers community oversight boards to investigate and resolve all complaints within 120 days, enables community oversight boards to subpoena documents and evidence for investigations, and ends conflict of interest by banning current police officers or close relatives from serving on the boards.
Bill StatusReferred to Rules Committee February 22. Unfortunately this bill appears to be dead for the session, but could be included in the state budget.
Independent Investigations for Police Use of Force – HB 1267
What It DoesThis bill creates an Office of Independent Investigation for police use of force and other officer-involved potentially criminal incidents.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on March 3 and passed the Senate on April 9! It now waits for the governor to sign into law.
State Oversight and Accountability – SB 5051
What It DoesThis bill establishes the Washington state criminal justice training commission with the purpose of providing programs and standards for the training of criminal justice personnel, and establishing and administering standards and processes for the certification, suspension, and decertification of police officers and corrections officers.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the Senate on February 25 and passed the House on April 7! This bill is now waiting for the Senate to vote on amendments passed by the House.
End Debt-Based Driver's License Suspension – SB 5226
What It DoesThis bill would end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses as a punishment for an inability to pay a debt.
Bill StatusAmended to significantly reduce protections from license suspension for those unable to pay. This bill passed the Senate on March 8 and passed the House April 10 without amendments to restore original intent and referred to Rules Committee. It is now waiting to be signed into law by the governor.
Prohibit the Use of Credit Scores to Determine Rates for Personal Lines of Insurance – SB 5010
What It DoesSB 5010 originally banned the use of credit-scoring for calculating rates for auto, renter's, homeowner's, and life insurance. The bill has been amended to prohibit insurers from using credit history to increase rates at the time of renewal. Because the amended bill allows insurers to continue using credit scores to calculate rates, it does not address discrimination embedded in the credit scoring system for people of color and those living on low incomes.
Bill StatusAmended to weaken, this bill is dead for the session. However, on March 23, Washington Insurance Commissioner Kreidler issued an emergency ban on using credit scores to calculate auto, renter's, and homeowner's insurance premiums for 3 years!
Automatic Protection from Over-Garnishment – HB 1525
What It DoesThis bill would automatically protect bank accounts from garnishment below $1,000 so a person does not have to go through a court process to recover their money that was unlawfully garnished by a collector.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on February 26, passed the Senate on April 3, and signed into law by the governor on April 14!
Home Foreclosure Prevention due to Delinquent Property Taxes – HB 1410
What It DoesThis bill intends to prevent home foreclosures by eliminating harsh penalties and lowering the interest rate from 12% to 9% on delinquent property taxes.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House on March 5 and passed the Senate unanimously on April 5! It is now waiting to be signed by the Governor.
Anti-Displacement Property Tax Exemption – HB 1494
What It DoesThis bill creates the anti-displacement property tax exemption to exempt up to the first $250,000 of assessed property valuation on a homeowner's primary residence from property tax collection.
Bill StatusThis bill passed the House Finance Committee on March 31, referred to House Appropriations Committee on April 1.
Estate Tax – HB 1465
What It DoesThis bill makes the estate tax more progressive and generates funding for the Foreclosure Fairness program and a new Equity in Housing program to increase foreclosure prevention assistance.
Bill StatusThis bill had a hearing in the House Finance Committee on February 9 at 1:30 PM.
Fair Access to Civil Legal Aid – HB 1072
What It DoesThis bill removes one of the restrictions on the use of civil legal aid funds to allow representation regardless of immigration status.
Bill StatusPassed the House on February 12 and passed the Senate on April 5! It is now waiting to be signed by the governor.
Ban Private, For-Profit Detention – HB 1090
What It DoesThis bill would prohibit private incarceration (with some exceptions) in Washington state, including the Northwest Detention Center.
Bill StatusPassed the House on February 23, passed the Senate on March 30, and signed into law by the governor on April 14!
Unemployment Benefits for Immigrants – SB 5438
What It DoesThis bill would provide unemployment benefits to workers who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and not eligible for unemployment benefits due to immigration status.
Bill StatusPublic hearing in the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs on February 15 at 8:30 AM. The Senate included $77,000 in their state budget proposal to conduct a study on the feasibility and cost to implement unemployment benefits to undocumented residents.
HEAL Act – SB 5141