Fifty days down and ten more to go in this 60-day Legislative Session. At last we wrote, the future looked promising on key bills related to housing and homelessness. Then came our February 24th Take Action alert regarding two crucial bills that needed additional, feverish support. What followed has been a flurry of call-to-actions via Facebook posts, Coalition e-mails, and direct phone calls — anything to get movement on devastating (and incredibly unnecessary!) roadblocks in the Senate. At this point, some of our bills continue on with smooth sailing, others require heavy lifts, and others have been tabled until next session.
Seasoned advocates, led by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA), will keep working to revive key bills until the very end of the session on March 13. Every call each of us makes reinforces the message that ending homelessness is a priority.
What follows are updates and Action Alerts (when applicable) for each bill we’ve been following. Please take action today; call the free State Legislative Hotline (1-800-562-6000) between the hours of 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. to leave a message for your legislators.
- Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (aka Document Recording Fees): Failed to pass out of Senate Committee — this bill is currently dead
- Update: Despite bi-partisan support in the Senate, Co-Chair Sen. Jan Angel abruptly ended the Senate’s FIHI Committee meeting before the bill was to come up for a vote. For a more detailed report, check out WLIHA’s blog post. Sen. Steve Hobbs (Angel’s Co-Chair!) had this to say: “To simply do away with a primary source of funding that actually helps solve the homeless problem is ignorant at best and evil at worst.” WLIHA is pushing to find a workaround.
- Action Alert: Call your legislators today and say, “Please make sure the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge fees do NOT “sunset”: Support ESHB 2368. Also, please help all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes: make a deeper investment in affordable housing. Neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in our State Housing Trust Fund.”
- Fair Tenant Screening Act, Part 3: Failed to pass out of Senate Committee — this bill is dead
- Update: Again, Co-Chair Sen. Jan Angel refused to bring this bill to a vote in the Senate’s FIHI Committee, which effectively killed the bill for the 2014 Legislative Session. Supporters will bring it back for the 2015 Legislative Session.
- Youth Opportunities Act: Passed out of Senate’s HSC Committee, awaits floor action in the Senate Rules Committee
- Update: HB 1651 has passed through the House, then the Senate, and now needs to be “pulled to a floor vote” in the Senate Rules Committee by this Friday, March 7 or else it will die. Some groups have withdrawn their opposition. Still, it’s dire that we counter the opposition’s calls to Senators!
- Action Alert: Use this link from the Children’s Alliance to send a message of support to your Senator. Please also call your Senator with this simple message: “Please ensure HB 1651 gets a vote in the Senate! The time is now; we cannot afford to wait. This bill will help prevent another 10,000 youth from having their records unnecessarily distributed over the next year!”
- Homeless Children’s Education Act: HB 2373 is in Senate Rules Committee, SB 6074 is in House Rules Committee.
- Update: Both bills successfully passed through both houses, and are in their respective Rules Committee. One difference is that the Senate Budget includes funds to support the bill, but the House Budget does not.
- Action Alert: Please call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your Representatives to amend their Operating Budget to include the necessary funds for SB 6074.
- Housing and Essential Needs & Aged, Blind or Disabled: No cuts
- Update: Both the House and Senate supplemental budget proposals make no cuts to HEN and ABD. Plus, mystery bill SB 6573 has been explained. In short, it changes the definition of disability for both programs, which would result in savings that would be swept into the General Fund. (Read a more detailed report here.)
- Action Alert: Call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your lawmakers to “to pass SB 6573 and to reinvest its savings into HEN. Also, please use any incapacity exam savings to reinvest back into HEN and ABD.”
- Housing Trust Fund: No budget appropriate in the Senate, low appropriation in the House.
- Update: Advocates were surprised by the low appropriation of funds in the House’s supplemental budget, but not surprised by the Senate’s lack of appropriated in their supplemental budget. Check out WLIHA’s Budget Tracker to get the big picture differences among each proposed budget.
- Action Alert: Call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your lawmakers to “please help all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes: make a deeper investment in affordable housing. Neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in our State Housing Trust Fund.”
- Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity: House Bill Died — No action this session
- The Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity did not make it out of the House (HB 2399), and did not have a companion bill in the Senate. The bill is no longer being considered this session; stay tuned for another attempt to pass CROP next session! Contact your Legislators throughout the year to let them know the importance of CROP.
Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to ensure that Everyone Counts 365 days a year.