UWPNW Washington Legislative Update - January 25, 2021

The first all-virtual Legislative session is in full swing with public hearings being held online. Already there have been hearings that touch on all of the UWPNW Washington State priorities. Read on to get an idea of the action for our top objectives.

House and Senate Committees Take Up Omnibus Child Care Bill
The Fair Start for Kids Act is a multi-faceted approach to make child care more affordable for families, stabilize and expand the diverse child care workforce, support the provider expansion, and strengthen prevention and intervention services. The House Committee on Children, Youth & Families (wa.gov) has scheduled an executive session on the House version (HB 1213) sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) for January 27. Last Friday, the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education took testimony on SB 5237, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn). 

Senate Committee Takes Up Rent and Eviction Protection Bills 
The Senate Committee on Housing & Local Government Committee (wa.gov) received testimony on SB 5160, which would provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction, require repayment plans for unpaid rent during the pandemic, and ensure that landlords and tenants can access state rental assistance programs. The same committee also considered public testimony for SB 5139 which would limit the amount of rent increase allowed for 12 months after the rent moratorium is lifted. House Committee on Housing, Human Services & Veterans (wa.gov) will take up eviction protection, HB 1236, House Committee on Housing, Human Services & Veterans Tuesday morning. 

Nearly Half the House Legislators Sponsor Working Family Tax Credit Bill
Major momentum is building for the unfunded Working Families’ Tax Credit. Governor Inslee included partial funding of the credit as part of his proposal to cap greenhouse gas emissions. Last week, 46 House members signed on to HB 1297 which updates the Working Families' Tax Credit statute instituted in 2008 but never funded. Sponsor Rep. My-Linh Thai (D-Bellevue) was joined by co-sponsor Rep. Drew Stokesbury (R-Auburn) in seeking to update the statute. Funding the tax credit will require inclusion in the budget.

Washington 211 Team Testifies for 2021-23 Budget
Aundrea Jackson with King County Regional 211 and Madelyn Carlson with Greater Columbia 211 gave testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on the Governor’s proposed budget arguing for full funding. You can go directly to their testimony recorded by TVW right here.   

Dona Ponepinto Testifies for COVID Emergency Assistance to Families
United Way of Pierce County CEO Dona Ponepinto testified in strong support of House Bill 1151.pdf (wa.gov), which directs DSHS to expand emergency assistance options for families, provide a one-time cash benefit and transitional food assistance to qualifying households and update the standards of need for cash assistance programs during this recovery COVID period. Bill summary: HB 1151 summary

We encourage local United Way leaders, volunteers and partners to actively participate in supporting priority legislation this session. The various links above take you into the user friendly WA Legislature website. Here is a link to show you how to testify online and in writing: https://povertyaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Participate-in-a-Remote-Bill-Hearing.pdf