Washington Legislative Update January 31, 2018

This Thursday, Washington United Ways are joining in the housing and homeless policy advocacy day in partnership with the WA Low Income Housing Alliance in Olympia. In addition to meeting legislators and participating in a "Rally for Homes," we will collaborate with Washington Information Network 211 in hosting an evening reception at the Governor's Mansion.  Governor Jay Inslee will kick off festivities.  We have a strong turnout -- thank you for joining us.

Here is what's been happening of interest in Olympia.

Home Visiting Budget Request Could Reduce Child Neglect and Abuse
A $5 million supplemental budget request would allow 665 more families to benefit from voluntary home visits. Currently, only one in five eligible families in Washington receive a voluntary home visit by a trained educator who teaches and encourages basic parenting skills. In a Journal of American Medicine Association published study that followed home visiting participants over two decades, by age 15, children had half as many verified incidents of child abuse and neglect. Moreover, by age 19, children in the control group had twice as many arrests and more than twice as many convictions than their counterparts who received home visits. Here's a fact sheet on the program. Please contact Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriation committee members to request their support.

House to Take Up Bills on Housing Funding and Public Assistance Eligibility
This week, we've been following two bills that are on the Floor Calendar for consideration by the full state House of Representatives. HB 1831 has been amended in committee but still increases the value ceiling for exempting a vehicle from personal assets in determining public assistance eligibility. HB 1570 also has gone through revisions and currently would make permanent the temporary $40 homeless housing and assistance document recording surcharge while also making it possible for counties to add up to an additional $50 local option surcharge. Contact your legislators to let them know you support these bills.

House Committee Considers Expanding Eligibility for ECEAP
Last Friday, the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee held a public hearing on Rep. Roger Goodman’s bill, HB 2659 which would shrink the opportunity gap for the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program by expanding the definition of full enrollment to include children in families living below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Here's the testimony. The committee has scheduled a vote for the bill today. Let the members of the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee know of your support for the bill.

Next Week is Cutoff for Bills to Leave Committees of Origin
The Legislature establishes deadlines for its bills and one of the key deadlines is fast approaching. February 2 is the last day in which non-fiscal committees can approve bills that originated in their house. Fiscal committees (Ways & Means and Appropriations for instance) have until February 6. In the week following that deadline, attention will move to the House and Senate Rules Committees and Floor. Bills that don't make the deadline are considered dead for this session. Here's an easy way to track the bills of interest.