Washington Legislative Update February 14, 2018

Today, the Legislature clears another hurdle in its self-imposed deadline for bills. After today, only bills that have passed their house of origin can be considered for further action.  Bills that are necessary to implement the budget are exempt from this deadline. Here's where we stand with roughly three weeks remaining in the regular 2018 session:

Effort to Restore TANF Grant to Pre-Recession Level - United Ways of Washington Priority!
Representatives David Sawyer (D-29) and Christine Kilduff (D-28) are urging their colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus to use this year's supplemental budget to restore the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant to pre-recession levels. The current maximum cash grant for a family of three is just 31 percent of the Federal Poverty Level - far below the deep poverty threshold and below the amount (even when not adjusted for inflation) provided in 2000. This is a key element in the United Ways of Washington's 2018 agenda: "Restore TANF grant cuts to 2011 levels and increase asset limits to help vulnerable families with children meet basic needs."

ACTION: Please contact your legislators and House Appropriations Chair Timm Ormsby to indicate your support.

Early Childhood Proposal Narrowed But Still Alive
While HB 2659 failed to make the legislative deadline for moving out of committee, SB 6419 is now in the House for consideration. The Senate bill allows providers more flexibility to enroll students of families with incomes that exceed 110 percent of the poverty level on a space available basis. (No state ECEAP funding provided for these students). This is an especially critical change to ensure rural areas are able to form classes. The House Committee on Early Learning & Human Services hears the bill on February 15 and a committee vote is scheduled for the next day.  

ACTION: Here's a link to a comment form for the bill.

HEN Barrier Bill in Senate Committee
HB 2667 removes barriers to the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program that currently prevent seniors and people with permanent disabilities who are homeless from accessing housing assistance. If passed, it would also restore access to housing assistance for people who are homeless and who are participating in treatment for a substance use disorder. The bill is currently in Senate Human Services Committee awaiting a hearing and vote.

ACTION: You can join a community letter of support for this bill.