Washington Legislative Update -January 9, 2019

The 2019 Legislative Session starts next Monday, January 14 with six new state senators and 23 new state representatives (counting the appointment to replace Rep. Manweller).  Here is what is going on in some of our key policy agenda issues:  

Initiative to Fund Washington's Working Families Tax Credit
Organizations (including United Ways of Washington) focused on poverty and economic equity are working to revitalize the state's moribund Working Families Tax Credit. Approved in 2008 but never funded, the tax credit would provide rebates to working low and moderate income (ALICE) households. Promoted by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center and the Statewide Poverty Action Network, this proposal helps create a fairer tax system in Washington and is based on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit that has helped millions of struggling Americans. In addition to funding the tax credit, the proposed revitalized Working Families Tax Credit would be expanded to more working people, including those without children and working immigrants, while also updating the definition of work. Here's a briefing on the issue by the Budget & Policy Center.  Here also is a fact sheet.

Governor's Budget Takes Strides Toward Enhancing Early Education
Governor Inslee proposed a capital and operating budget for 2019-21 that would authorize $173 million to build 142 classrooms, strengthen the statewide early learning referral system and expand the ECEAP pre-school program. See highlights. The Early Learning Action Alliance (ELAA), in a letter to the Governor, applauded these investments and asked that his administration expand the Working Connections Child Care Subsidy so more working families can access high-quality child care, and do more to recruit, train and retain early educators. Here is the ELAA 2019 legislative agenda.

211 Advocates Weigh In on Federal Study of National Suicide Prevention Number 
Directed by a federal act passed last summer, the Federal Communications Commission is pondering recommendations on whether a particular N11 dialing code or other simple 3-digit dialing code should be used for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and, if so, the logistics and costs associated with designating such a dialing code. The 211 national community have raised concerns regarding the overlap of mental health and drug-related calls that their systems handle and the lack of available N11 dialing codes. The FCC report needs to be submitted by August 14, 2019. First round of comments have been submitted.

Save February 28 for United Way Legislative Day
The Washington United Ways are joining with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance for its Housing Action Day on the morning of February 28.  In the afternoon, the United Ways will hold its own session. Registration will be available soon. Until then, please save the date.

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