UWPNW Washington Legislative Update - March 16, 2021

While the virtual session has slowed the rate of bill passage, the House and Senate have taken some big policy strides this session -- including moving forward on an update of the Working Families Tax Credit with near unanimous consent. Here’s more on that and other bills that may affect the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest - Washington legislative priorities.

House Overwhelmingly Updates Working Families Tax Credit
In the 2008 legislative session, 37 House members voted against the establishment of the Working Families Tax Credit. Last week, the House passed an update of that statute with only two dissents. HB 1297 expands the application of the credit to all eligible taxpayers and simplifies the formula for determining the credit. While passage of HB 1297 does not guarantee funding, it is encouraging to see support for this program grow. We will know more about funding when the Senate releases its proposed budget later in the month.

Should Local Planning Include Affordable Housing and Emergency Shelters?
HB 1220, which passed the House, requires that local jurisdictions provide more detail in their Growth Management Act plans regarding housing affordability, particularly for moderate and low income households, and for emergency housing, emergency shelters, and permanent supportive housing. The Senate Committee on Housing and Local Government will hold a public hearing on this bill Thursday morning. You can note your support officially for this bill in committee. At that same session, the committee is scheduled to vote on HB 1236, which requires that a reasonable cause be established before eviction or denying a lease renewal.

House Considers Senate-Approved Capital Gains Tax
On Monday, the House Committee on Finance took up SB 5096 which would impose a 7 percent tax on the profit from the sale of long-term assets such as stocks and bonds. This tax if approved likely will be challenged in court. However, if it is approved and survives court challenge, the tax is projected to generate roughly $550 million annually starting 2023. This new revenue is expected to bolster funding for early learning/child care and the Working Families Tax Credit.

Fair Start for Kids Act Receives House Hearing on Thursday
Both the House and Senate versions of the “Fair Start for Kids Act” are still alive for consideration. The House bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate yet. But the House Committee on Children, Youth and Families is expected to hold a public hearing on SB 5237 this Thursday. You can register your support for this bill directly to the committee.