The Coalition’s State Legislative Priorities

The State Legislative Session has begun! Check back here for an updated list of our top legislative priorities.
Last updated 3/1/24 at 12:30 PM.

Bills That are Still “Alive”

Fund affordable housing & shelter (HB 2276, SB 6191, $70 million budget request to backfill the document recording fee shortfall)

HB 2276 and SB 6191 would fund more affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund by increasing taxes on the sale of real estate over approx. $3 million, and decreasing taxes on the sale of less valuable real estate. Because these bills are “necessary to implement the budget”, they are not subject to legislative cutoff dates.

In addition, we need approx. $70 MILLION added to the budget to prevent cuts to homelessness shelter and services. This is due to a shortfall in Document Recording Fees collected in recent years. We can’t afford to lose any capacity in these vital services.

Address high insurance costs for housing providers (HB 2329) – PASSED THE LEGISLATURE

Organizations that provide housing for people with low or no income face astronomical costs to insure their buildings, and these costs are quickly going up each year. HB 2329 would commission a study to learn why costs are increasing so dramatically, and would make recommendations to the legislature to help fix the problem. The legislature often commissions studies as an early step towards fixing a problem, and this is a step in the right direction.

Reinstate the child support pass-through (HB 1652) – PASSED THE LEGISLATURE

This bill would ensure that low-income families get their whole child support payment. Currently, the State takes a chunk of child support payments before passing the payment on to low-income families receiving TANF benefits.

Help people keep TANF benefits when they need them (HB 2007)

Note: this bill has been amended multiple times and winnowed down so it only applies to very few people.

Now, there is a lifetime limit to how long someone can receive TANF benefits. Once you meet that limit, you can never get TANF again, even if you would otherwise still be eligible. HB 2007 would allow people to remain on TANF if losing their benefits would cause “financial distress”. This bill was amended so it only applies to families receiving TANF who have children under 2 years old, AND who qualify for an exemption under WorkFirst.

Reduce Cuts to Public Health in King County (HB 2348, HB 2044) – PASSED THE LEGISLATURE

HB 2348 would allow King County to raise additional funds for Harborview Medical Center, which is King County’s key public hospital, where many King County and Washington residents receive life-saving care.

HB 2044 would allow the County more flexibility on what they can use property tax levies for, and would allow the county to use property tax levies to fund functions previously funded by general fund dollars (i.e., public health).

Background: Because of a decades-old Tim Eyman initiative, King County can’t raise property taxes to keep up with increased population and increased needs in our region. The arbitrary 1% per year limit (or lid) on property tax increases was declared unconstitutional in court but upheld by the legislature. The legislature could have corrected this situation with SB 5770, but that bill did not pass. King County can’t keep up with increased costs or increased community needs without additional revenue. These two bills will help soften the blow of public health budget cuts, but they will not prevent them.

Bills That are “Dead” for the 2024 Legislative Session, and Will Not Move Forward This Year

Protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases (HB 2114 – DEAD)

HB 2114 would limit rent increases to 7% each year (note: this was originally 5%, and was amended to increase the limit). Excessive rent increases force people into homelessness, and we need the legislature to act!

SB 5961 (the Senate companion* bill to HB 2114) died after it was not passed out of the Senate Committee on Housing, even after it was amended to allow landlords to raise rent by up to 15% annually. This shows there will be significant advocacy needed to pass HB 2114 through the Senate.

Raise King County’s property tax limit to pay for critical public services (SB 5770 – DEAD).

Thanks to a Tim Eyman initiative, King County can only raise property taxes by 1% each year. This isn’t nearly enough to keep up with the rising cost of providing services. As a result, King County is in a financial crisis and will need to make massive cuts to human services (including closing most or all of their public health clinics) if nothing changes. SB 5770 would let King County raise property taxes up to 3% each year, and would go a long way towards averting financial disaster for human services funded by the county.

Prevent Cities From Discriminating Against Affordable Housing and Shelter (HB 2474 – DEAD)

This bill would have given the State more oversight of, and power to withhold funding from, cities who use zoning ordinances to block the development of transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency housing and shelters. This would help prevent cities like Kenmore from discriminating against the development of housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Even though we are sad this bill won’t move forward this year, it is a significant victory that it made it as far as it did, and it sent a strong message to cities that they need to increase their supply of affordable housing and shelter.

Make sure cities allow affordable housing (HB 2113 – DEAD)

The Growth Management Act (GMA) requires many counties (including King County) and cities (including all cities in King County) to allow affordable housing to be built in their jurisdictions. However, some cities are ignoring the law and are preventing the development of affordable housing. HB 2113 would give the State government more oversight of cities to make sure they are actually allowing for affordable housing.

Protect the right to vote (HB 2030 – DEAD)

HB 2030 was not voted out of committee on time, and will not be passed in 2024. But this is not the end! Bills like this can take many years of discussion before becoming law, and it was a big win that HB 2030 got a public hearing this year.

This would have restored the right to vote for people who are incarcerated, unless they are convicted of a crime punishable by death. Currently, people who are incarcerated for any felony lose their voting rights while they are incarcerated, and they need to register to vote again when they are released.

*Companion bills are the same bill, introduced in both the House and the Senate to give the bill a better chance of passing.

FAQ

What does it mean to sign in pro? Signing in pro means that you add your name to a list of supporters for a bill. Signing in pro is important because it shows lawmakers that there is broad support for a bill.

How do I sign in pro? To sign in pro, simply follow the links above, under “position”, select “pro”, and fill in your information. You don’t have to use your full address, just your city, state, zip code and contact info. It is super fast and easy!