UWPNW Washington Legislative Update - February 23, 2021

From now until March 9, legislative action moves to the floor of the House and Senate as these bodies take up bills that have cleared their committees. This year because of the virtual nature of deliberations, it is possible to talk with legislators since they won't physically be tied up in chambers. 

Advocacy Matters -- Pierce County Mobilizes!
In the past week, United Way of Pierce County organized 20 staff and volunteers to participate in 21 individual meetings with state Senators and Representatives to promote critical needs for low income and ALICE families.

House Moves on Emergency Assistance
The full House has before it on Second Reading (as of Monday), House Bill 1151 which allows Consolidated Emergency Assistance to be provided to more than once in a 12-month period when directed by the governor; provides a one-time cash benefit and transitional food assistance; and requires the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to update standards of need for cash assistance programs.

Senate Capital Gains Tax Proposal in Rules Committee
The Senate Ways and Means Committee has approved on a split vote Senate Bill 5096 which would impose a seven percent capital gains tax starting January 1, 2022. The new tax would not apply to an individual's first $250,000 of gain and would not apply to sale of real estate, retirement accounts, and certain other sales. The tax would generate an estimated $550 million annually with the first $350 million each year deposited into the Education Legacy Trust Account, an account created to support schools -- and which has been amended to include early learning programs for the current biennium and two previous biennia -- but so far not for the next biennium starting July 1, 2021. Any remainder revenues beyond the $350 million would go into a new Taxpayer Relief Account (which likely could fund the Working Families Tax Credit).

Rental Protection Bill Passes to Senate Rules Committee
Senate Bill 5160 establishes some protections and rules regarding how to move beyond the state's eviction moratorium, established as a result of the pandemic and which ends March 31, 2021. The bill, which is now in Senate Rules Committee, would broaden the application of the landlord mitigation program to include unpaid rent accrued, require repayment plans that do not increase monthly payments by one third, and establishes a mediation process. The two-year moratorium on rent increases and evictions was removed.