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Washington State Legislative Session Update – Day 22

By January 30, 2023January 31st, 2023No Comments

Here is a rundown after 3 weeks of session on Food Lifeline’s advocacy priorities before the Washington State Legislature.

As with every policy proposal, the strategy is to get a bill introduced, scheduled for public hearings, and advanced through committees to an eventual floor vote by both the House and Senate. If successful with all this, the bill is passed and sent to the governor for his signature into law. A second part of legislative session is for development of state operating and capital budgets. This part happens second so that lawmakers can know how much budget is involved with the policy bills that are passed. Food Lifeline’s advocacy agenda includes priorities that require policy to implement and some that are strictly for the budgetary process. This update will focus on the policy bills in motion.

It’s important to note that we have been having conversations with lawmakers and agency staff about hunger relief systems needs that exist right now, prior to July 1 enactment of the 2023-25 biennial budget. We are hopeful that additional funding can be identified for the 2033 Supplemental budget for commodity purchases. Additionally, we are having conversations about the state’s hunger relief capital budget needs in preparation for that budget’s development.

Hunger Action Day

Join us and hunger advocates from across the state for Hunger Action Day on February 7 – sign up here. The event will be hybrid with an on-line option for those not able to travel to the Capitol in Olympia. For those attending in person, we’ll meet at Temple Beth Hatfiloh, 201 8th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. There will be info sessions to brief advocates on priority issues and meetings will be schedule with lawmakers so that we can advocate for their support. Hunger Action Day is hosted by the statewide Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition.

Bills in Motion

This list will continue to be built out as session moves forward.

  • Free School Meals (HB 1238 and SB 5339) by Representative Marcus Riccelli and Senator T’wina Nobles – in motion. The title says it all!
  • Working Families Tax Credit (HB 1075, HB 1477SB 5249) by Representative My-Linh Thai and Senator Sharon Shewmake – in motion. These bills make technical fixes to the existing program but also provide for its expansion to include more people in the benefit.
  • Basic Income Pilot (HB 1045) by Representative Liz Berry – in motion. A bill creating a pilot program to test an unrestricted fund benefit in Washington.
  • Voting Rights Act (HB 1048) by Representative Sharlett Mena – in motion. A bill to promote more equitable access and other processes related to voting.
  • Vehicle Pursuit Policy (SB 5533) by Senator John Lovick – A bill to create a workgroup with many stakeholders, including community, to determine model policy to guide public safety guidelines.
  • Hunger Free Campuses (HB 1559 and SB 5566) by Representative Debra Entenman and Senator Sharon Shewmake – hearing Tuesday. A bill to improve community, technical, and 4-year college campus support systems related to basic needs, like food and housing.
  • Residential Rent Increases (HB 1388) by Representative Nicole Macri. The bill extends basic consumer protection rights and tools to tenants.
  • Military Spouse Employment (HB 1009) by Representative Mari Leavitt – in motion. This bill would speed the process of out-of-state licensure reciprocation so that military spouses can continue their careers in Washington. Thereby addressing one of the many obstacles contributing to military family hunger.

Key Budget Requests in the Works

  • We Feed WA & Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) at WSDA – $116 million for the biennium
  • South Seattle Community Food Hub – ~$3-4 million, one-time, Capital budget
  • Fruit & Vegetable Incentive at DOH – $3 million

Spotlight on Upcoming Equity & Social Justice

Bill hearings with public hearings for the week of January 30th.

  • HB 1513Traffic Safety for All, 1/30 Hearing in House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry.
  • HB 1579Independent Prosecutor, 1/31 House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry.
  • SB 5533Vehicular Pursuits Workgroup, 1/30 Senate Law and Justice Committee.
  • HB 1586Workgroup on Vehicular Pursuits, 1/31 House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry.

Tax Policy

See WFTC above. Other bills, like SB 5486, Wealth tax, coming soon.