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The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 5 and 6

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Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Although this legislative session is technically a short one, there has been a lot of movement on bills so far. With only three weeks left, we are happy to share that all of our key lead and support issues are still alive, and many bad bills are dead for the session. We still need your advocacy though. Please take action now to tell your lawmakers to fix the shortfall in homelessness funding and to invest in affordable homes.

What happens next

Although this legislative session is technically a short one, there has been a lot of movement on bills so far. With only three weeks left, we are happy to share that all of our key lead and support issues are still alive, and many bad bills are dead for the session. We still need your advocacy though. Any bills still alive will have closely timed hurdles to get through in order to keep moving. The first floor cutoff was last week, Feb. 17th. All bills had to clear their house of origin (House bills had to clear the house, Senate bills had to clear the Senate). The process was already a long one for these bills: They had to make it out of their policy and/or fiscal committee, get out of the Rules Committee, and then get an affirmative vote on the Floor. Bills that have made it this far will face the same hurdles in the other chamber.


The next cutoff is this Friday the 26th. Bills must be voted out of the opposite chamber's policy committee by then. Any bills with fiscal impacts must also clear the opposite chamber's fiscal committee by Monday the 29th. The only bils that are not subject to these deadlines are bills considered "necessary to implement the buget". Those bills are not subject to any cutoffs, other than the last day of session, which is scheduled for March 10th.

One key bill, HB 1565, is at rist because it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing:

HB 1565 will outlaw discrimination based on a renter's use of housing assistance or income assistance. It was passed out of the House last week, but Sentor O'Ban, the chair of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee must bring the bill up for a hearing and a vote. Please contact hime to ask him to give the bill a hearing. It only has until Friday to keep moving this session!




Email to Senator O’Ban embedded in the email blast text:

Steve.O'Ban@leg.wa.gov

Subject: Please give HB 1565 a hearing! Everyone deserves an opportunity to live in safe, affordable home!

Content:

Senator O'Ban,

 

Please give HB 1565 a hearing and bring the bill up for a vote. This is a very important bill that will open up housing opportunities for vulnerable households including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, households with young children and more. We need the private market to be partners in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Housing assistance is a necessity for many of Washington’s households - without it, many are unable to leave homelessness or will face it. Every renter should be given an equal opportunity to apply and shouldn’t be turned away because of stigmas and stereotypes. Please help ensure that HB 1565 keeps moving in the legislative process.
 

 

Below is a grid that outlines where all the key bills are at, including our lead bills! As you can see, things are largely still looking good. Only two bills that we oppose are still alive, but many important housing bills are still moving.
 

Housing Alliance position
 

Bill

Title

Status

Next steps

Sponsor

Lead

HB 1565

Concerning the preservation of housing options for participants in government assistance programs.

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Senator O'Ban (28th LD) needs to schedule the bill for a hearing. (not scheduled as of 6:00 pm 2/19)

Ormsby

Support

E2SHB 1605

Modifying certain provisions governing benefit charges of fire protection districts and regional fire protection service authorities.

Senate Committee on Government Operations & Security

Hearing 2/25 10:00 AM

Peterson

Support

3SHB 1682

Improving educational outcomes for homeless students through increased in-school guidance supports, housing stability, and identification services.

Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Fey

Support

ESHB 1875

Concerning the definition of work activity for the purposes of the WorkFirst program.

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Hearing 2/25 12:00

Walsh

Support

SHB 2396

Concerning access to nonemergency, outpatient, primary health care services for unaccompanied homeless youth under the federal McKinney-Vento homeless assistance act.

Senate Health Care

Senator Becker (2nd LD) needs to schedule the bill for a hearing (not scheduled as of 6:00 pm 2/19)

McBride

Support

SHB 2585

Concerning private activity bond allocation

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance.

Hearing 2/24 1:30

Robinson

Support

ESHB 2834

Homeless youth

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00

Senn

Lead

EHB 2971

Addressing real estate as it concerns the local government authority in the use of real estate excise tax revenues and regulating real estate transactions.

Senate Committee on Ways & Means

Hearing 2/23 at 3:30 PM

McBride

Oppose

SSB 5221

Concerning the disposition of tenant property placed upon the nearest public property.  

House Judiciary

Heard on 2/18

Benton

Oppose

SB 5894

Addressing unlawful activities on certain rental properties

House Judiciary

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00 AM

Sheldon

Support

SSB 6211

Concerning the exemption of property taxes for nonprofit homeownership development.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Dammeier

Support

2SSB 6239

Providing local governments with options to preserve affordable housing in their communities.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Fain

Support

SSB 6337

Disposing tax foreclosed property to cities for affordable housing purposes.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Darneille

Support

SSB 6342

Concerning private activity bond allocation.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Miloscia

Lead

ESB 6413

Modifying residential landlord-tenant act provisions relating to tenant screening, evictions, and refunds.


 

House Judiciary

Hearing 2/24 at 8:00 AM

Mullet



Budgets will be released starting Monday the 22!

The House will release their Supplemental Operating Budget on Monday and their Supplemental Capital Budget on Wednesday. This is the second half of the biennium so the budgets are based off of last year’s and are therefore “supplemental”. Given the recent bad news in the revenue forecast (see below) it is wise to not expect many new allocations in the budgets. The Senate is likely to release and hear their budgets on Wednesday the 24th, but at the time of publication they had not publicly released their plans.

The Housing Alliance has been working hard to make sure that the Operating Budget includes the needed language to address the significant shortfall in homelessness funding (also being talked about as the shortfall in the Consolidated Homeless Grants). We will continue working to ensure that there are no cuts to key safety net programs such as the Housing and Essential Needs program and the Aged, Blind and Disabled program.

The Capital Budget is where the Housing Trust Fund is funded and we have been working hard to ensure that there is new money available for affordable housing. We have also been encouraging lawmakers to include the Governor’s budget recommendations, especially one which creates a landlord mitigation fund for landlords with rental units in jurisdictions that protect against source of income discrimination.

Once the budgets are released, the Housing Alliance will be using our blog and social media to share updates. You can join this us by taking action and by using your own social media to help more people get the message. Watch for a shareable graphic to use on facebook and twitter. We encourage you to share it on your own page to promote others to take action. Use the message "Our leaders should be working to create homes, not homelessness."

Take Action Today

Now is an optimal time to take action on the budget. There is still time to influence budget writers! Please take action now to tell your lawmakers to fix the shortfall in homelessness funding and to invest in affordable homes.

State Budget Forecast - Gloomy Outlook

On Wednesday the 17th, the State’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the latest economic forecast. The council is required to provide lawmakers with an economic forecast that they can use to then write the state budget. The budget outlook was bleak and they forecasted deeper deficits than previously anticipated. In a rare move, Representative Dunshee voted to reject the Council’s forecast. As the lead budget writer for the House Operating Budget, his rejection of the forecast was a surprise move. It is unclear how it will impact the looming budget negotiations, but concerns about cuts are deepening. Stay tuned for updates on budget news and check out the Budget and Policy Center’s blog. They make a good case that new revenue is needed.

Keep the advocacy coming!

Housing and homelessness advocates have been making your voices heard this session. From the 700 of you who attended advocacy day earlier this month, to the hundreds of you who have taken action each week - your input is making a difference! Please keep it up as we near the end of the session. These last weeks will be critical and every one of you is needed to push these important bills and budget asks to the finish line. Don’t forget to take action now!

 

Michele and the Housing Alliance team

 

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