Washington Legislative Update -March 6, 2019

We're keeping our tracking list up-to-date even though changes are happening quickly as the state House and Senate actively engage in floor debates. Here's what has happened so far this week. 

House Targets Need for More Affordable Quality Child Care
Yesterday (March 5th), the state House of Representative passed HB 1344 which identifies a serious lack of affordable, quality child care for working families throughout Washington. The bill calls for the Child Care Collaborative Task Force to develop a child care cost estimate model and determine how the state median income could be used in place of the federal poverty level when determining eligibility for child care subsidies.  The House floor vote was 72 to 24. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Revenue Sharing Housing Bill on House Floor
Also yesterday, the state House of Representatives approved HB 1406. (Senate Companion is SB 5646) This bill would create a revenue sharing partnership between the state and cities and counties for affordable housing construction. The bill would allow local governments to levy a sales and use tax (credited against the state sales tax) to support local low-income housing and
services. Local governments could issue bonds supported by this revenue. The Association of Washington Cities produced a chart showing that if all local governments imposed the tax, the bond potential would be $382 million.

ECEAP Expansion Bill Moving Well Through Legislature
Senate Bill 5437 is on the Senate Floor Calendar and could be voted at any moment. The House companion, HB 1351, is in the House Rules Committee.  The Rules Committee is a procedural committee that holds bills until they are ready to be voted on by the full body. While these bills started out as the same, the committee process has made them different.  However they both still move in the direction of expanding access to the Early childhood Education and Assistance program -- known nationally as a high quality program. Sadly, every year 22,000 low-income children in Washington enter kindergarten unprepared for the experience.

A big thank you to the 60 plus staff and volunteers from local United Ways who made the trek to Olympia last Thursday to advocate for the United Ways of Washington policy agenda.  Also, thanks to all those who have called their legislative offices or left messages with the legislative hotline (1-800-562-6000) in support of bills that promote the agenda.