2019 Bill Tracker

Last updated: March 12, 2019

Thank you for following Poverty Action’s legislative priorities during the 2019 Legislative Session, and for advocating on their behalf! Check out our community-driven 2019 Policy Agenda to learn more about the issues we support.

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Revenue

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For years, Washington state has had the worst tax code in the country. Families making the least amount of money pay up to 6 times more as a share of their income in taxes compared with the wealthiest Washingtonians. We support legislation that balances our tax code and creates equitable and progressive streams of revenue for Washington state.

Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) – HB 1527, SB 5810

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What It Does

The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) was originally passed into law in 2008-- however, the state legislature 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 $400) to eligible households. This bill would fund the WFTC and modernize it to include a more progressive definition of work to include low-income college students and people who care for family members; it also allows people between the ages of 19 and 70 to be eligible for the WFTC and recognizes immigrant workers who are not eligible for the federal EITC to be eligible for the WFTC.

Bill Status

The House version of this bill has been scheduled for an executive session in the House Committee on Finance on March 14. The Senate version had its first public hearing last Thursday, February 21, in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

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Criminal Justice/Civil Rights

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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.

New Hope Act – HB 1041

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What It Does

This bill would modify the process of obtaining Certificates of Discharge and expands the types of convictions that are eligible to be vacated from criminal records. These changes would help formerly incarcerated people regain their civil rights; obtain housing, employment, and professional licensing; and reintegrate into their communities.

Bill Status

Good news! The New Hope Act passed the House, its chamber of origin! It is now in the Senate, and as of March 5, has been referred for a first reading in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

Driver's License Suspensions and Revocations – HB 1282

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What It Does

This bill would amend some of the reasons why a person's license would be suspended or revoked. Namely, it removes license suspension/revocation for failing to respond to a notice or requested hearing for a moving violation.

Bill Status

This bill was placed on a second reading by the House Rules Committee on March 11.

Notification of Voting Rights Restoration – SB 5207

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What It Does

This bill would require the Department of Corrections (DOC) to notify prison inmates of the process of voting rights restoration before they leave prison. It would also require that the DOC provide each person with with a voter registration form and instructions on how to complete it.

Bill Status

This bill has passed through the Senate, its house of origin! It is now in the House, where it was scheduled for an executive session on March 11 in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations. However, no action was taken.

Facilitating Reinstatement of Driving Privileges – HB 1489

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What It Does

This bill would create a program that would consolidate traffic-based fines & fees, thus making it easier and simpler for people who have been unable to pay their tickets because of economic hardship.

Bill Status

This bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on February 22.

Washington State Office of Equity – HB 1783

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What It Does

This bill would create a Washington state Office of Equity in order to prioritize the elimination of racist barriers across state agencies and prioritize the inclusion and leadership of people of color in state offices.

Bill Status

This bill was placed on a second reading by the House Rules Committee on March 4.

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.

Restore TANF as a Lifeline – HB 1603, SB 5684

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What It Does

This bill would ease harsh sanction policies, eliminate permanent disqualifications, allow time-limit extensions, and integrate the mandatory orientation into a recipient's evaluation in order to restore the program.

Bill Status

Good news! The New Hope Act passed the House, its chamber of origin! It is now in the Senate, where on March 9 it was referred to Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation for a first reading. The Senate version of the bill is unfortunately dead for the session.  

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Reinstate Child Support Pass-Through – HB 1136, SB 5144

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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, this bill appears to be dead for the session.

Expanding Dental Coverage for Pacific Islanders – HB 1218, SB 5274

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What It Does

Washingtonians who are enrolled in the  COFA (Compact of Free Association) premium assistance program have health insurance but no dental coverage. As such, they do not currently have access to routine dental care. This bill would fix this and would increase access to dental care for COFA islanders (people from the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau) who are currently residing in Washington.

Bill Status

The House version of this bill was referred to the House Committee of Health & Wellness for its first reading on January 17. The Senate version was passed on to the Senate Rules Committee for a second reading on March 7.

Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products – HB 1053

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What It Does

This bill would exempt feminine hygiene products, such as pads and tampons, from the state sales tax.

Bill Status

This bill was referred to Rules 2 Review on February 28.

Sales & Use Tax Exemption for Diapers – HB 1054

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What It Does

This bill would exempt diapers from the state sales tax.

Bill Status

This bill was referred to its first reading in the House Finance Committee on January 14.

Subsidized Child Care for College Students – HB 1303, SB 5341

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What It Does

This bill would remove some restrictions on access to the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) program, a program that provides subsidized child care for low-income families in the state. It would remove the work requirements for full-time students, meaning that full-time students who need child care would be able to access it through WCCC.

Bill Status

Good news! This bill has passed the House, its chamber of origin!  It is now in the Senate, where it has been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education on March 15. The Senate version of the bill appears to be dead for the session.

Supporting Family Caregivers Through Unemployment Insurance – HB 1445

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What It Does

This bill would allow people who are caring for a family member to remain eligible for unemployment insurance if they cannot accept a job that would make it impossible to also care simultaneously for a family member OR to obtain that care from other providers. This bill would especially affect people who work jobs in the service industry, an industry that both pays low wages on average and also often requires employees to work non-customary hours, or be on call 24/7. This bill would provide a critical safety net for people who lose their job, through no fault of their own, because they were caring for a family member.

Bill Status

This bill was referred to Rules 2 review on February 28.

Requiring proof of residency for access to homelessness resources + services – SB 5722

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What It Does

Requires that any county, city, town or other municipal corporation that provides services to “homeless persons” must give priority to homeless persons who establish “proof of residency” in the county, city, town or other municipal corporation in which they are seeking services. The county, city, town or other municipal corporation may provide free transportation to the “appropriate municipal corporation” in which the they are eligible for services.

Bill Status

This bill appears to be dead for the session!

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.

Tax Lien Foreclosure – HB 1105

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What It Does

While mortgage foreclosures have steadily been decreasing throughout the state, tax lien foreclosures (foreclosures that result when people are unable to pay their property taxes) are on the rise. This bill would help prevent such home foreclosures by investing in services and resources that help homeowners pay outstanding property taxes and make it easier for homeowners to set up payment plans.

Bill Status

Good news! This bill has passed the House, its chamber of origin. It will now be passed on to the Senate.

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Pocket Service – HB 1066, SB 5034

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What It Does

This bill regulates the practices of debt collectors in our state and outlaws a practice known as "pocket service," which allows debt collectors to serve someone a lawsuit for outstanding debt without first filing that suit in court.

Bill Status

The House version has passed the House!! It is now in the Senate, where it has been scheduled for executive session in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on March 14. The Senate version of this bill appears to be dead for the session.

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Medical Debt – HB 1531

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What It Does

This bill would place regulations and restrictions on interest accumulated on medical debt, eliminate bench warrants for outstanding medical debt, and place restrictions on garnishments and property liens.

Bill Status

Good news!! This bill was passed out of the House, its chamber of origin! It is now in the Senate, where it was scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on March 14.  

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Zombie Debt – HB 1730

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What It Does

This bill addresses "zombie debt," (debt for which the collection period has expired) and makes it illegal to collect on said debt.

Bill Status

Good news!! This bill was passed out of the House, its chamber of origin! It is now in the Senate, where it was scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice on March 14.  

Regulating Debt Collection – HB 1602

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What It Does

This bill would regulate the amount of post-judgment interest that can be charged on outstanding consumer debt, and also regulates the amount of that debt collectors can garnish from a person's wages or bank account.

Bill Status

Good news!! This bill was passed out of the House, its chamber of origin! It is now in the Senate, where it was referred for a first reading in the Senate Law & Justice Committee.  

Property Tax Exemptions for Low-Income Senior Citizens, Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities – SB 5160

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What It Does

This bill proposes a modification of the income threshold for exemption from property taxes. It would create property tax relief for qualifying low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans.

Bill Status

Good news!! This bill passed out of the Senate, its house of origin. It is now in the House, where it was referred to the Finance Committee for its first reading.

Increasing the Jurisdictional Amount of Small Claims Courts – SB 5621

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What It Does

This bill would raise the amount that can be contested in small claims court from five to ten thousand dollars. Originally, it had raised this amount for both business and individuals, which would have ultimately made it easier for businesses to use small claims court for debt collection access. Since attorneys are prohibited from small claims court, individuals would have had no legal representation on claims up to $10,000-- something our organization opposed. However, this bill has now been amended to allow an increase for individuals only, not businesses. We now support this bill, as it protects people from unfair collection practices.

Bill Status

Good news!! This bill has passed through the Senate, its house of origin! It is now in the House, where it was , referred to Civil Rights & Judiciary for a first reading on March 6.

Education

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Equitable access to affordable and enriching educational opportunities is a key part of creating more opportunity in our state. Poverty Action supports bills that invest in affordable, diverse access to higher education, particularly to low-income students, students of color, and first-generation college students.

Providing Affordable Access to Post-Secondary Education – HB 1123

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What It Does

This bill establishes the "Washington Promise" as the state's commitment to affordable access to higher education. The Promise would provide free community college/technical college tuition and a $500 attendance stipend to eligible students.

Bill Status

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

Child Savings Accounts – HB 1592, SB 5704

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What It Does

This bill proposes the creation of a statewide Child Savings Account program to help families afford college for their children. CSAs are long-term savings or investment accounts that provide incentive for kids-- especially children from low-income families-- to build savings for college costs and tuition.

Bill Status

The House version of this bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on February 19. The Senate version was referred to the Senate Ways & Means Committee on February 18.