Legislative Advocacy

FEN's Role in Policy & Advocacy

As a network organization, FEN is at the nexus of policy leaders and community-based organizations. In this role, FEN holds compelling stories about the challenges and successes of people experiencing poverty and resource scarcity through our partnership with community leaders across sectors. From these stories, FEN holds the following assumptions:

·        Poverty is a systemic issue, not an individual one.

·        Poverty is created by oppressions such as racism and sexism but maintained and codified by public policies.

·        People affected most by poverty know what they need, but often lack — or are prevented from accessing — the tools needed to successfully move out of poverty.

2024 Legislative Session

Picture of the Washington Capitol and Legislative buildings

These are the policies that FEN is watching this legislative session organized by bill number, not priority level. As opportunities to get engaged come up we will do our best to include them here

  • HB 2007 (Peterson) reinstate Hardship Time Limit Exemptions to TANF benefits to increase equity and ensure that all families that need help can receive it. Federal rules limit the length of time an adult may receive TANF benefits to a cumulative total of five years. Time limit extensions may be offered to families on the basis of hardship, as defined by the state, or in instances of family violence. Before 2011, families that still qualified for help past the time limit were still able to get it. During the great recession, cuts were made and narrow exemptions to the time limit were put in place that did not impact all families equally. The TANF time limit extension is expanded to include circumstances when, by reason of hardship, termination or denial of cash assistance would result in financial distress for the recipient's family. (Updated 3/7/2024)
    • Governor Inslee Signed!
    • Effective July 1, 2024

  • SB 5908 (Wilson) providing extended foster care services to youth ages 18 to 21. The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families will provide essential information to youths aging out of traditional foster care. This includes details about benefits, eligibility criteria, and incentives. The program’s current opt-in requirement will be transformed into an opt-out system. This change ensures that eligible youth automatically receive extended foster care support unless they choose to opt out. This bill establishes an incentive program to encourage education and employment among foster care youth. (Updated 4/3/2024)
    • Governor Inslee Signed!
    • Effective June 6, 2024

  • SB 6025 (Stanford) seek to protect consumers from predatory products by further defining what constitutes a loan. For example, these bills would close the "rent-a-bank" loophole where a predatory lender contracts with a bank to use them as a front for doing high-interest lending that would otherwise be prohibited. This legislation would also have the effect of reigning in products like home equity sharing agreements. (Updated 2/20/2024)
    • Governor Inslee Signed!
    • Effective June 6, 2024

  • SB 6069 (Mullet) establishing Washington saves, an automatic enrollment individual retirement savings account program. Retirement security is largely dependent on people saving through a plan provided by their employer, but millions of Americans lack access to this important benefit. Research shows that workers are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they can use payroll deduction, but many small businesses are unable to offer retirement benefits due to high startup costs and lack of administrative capacity. (Updated 2/29/2024)
    • Governor Inslee Signed!
    • Effective June 6, 2024

HB 1045 (Berry) create the evergreen basic income pilot program. Guaranteed basic income is built on the principle that everyone should be able to cover basic needs regardless of their employment status. States and localities including the State of Alaska, Marin County in California, and Shreveport, Louisiana have all shown that basic income programs work. They buoy households through difficult life transitions, sustain students and workers who make low wages, and keep people from all backgrounds from slipping into financial desperation. (Updated 2/6/2024)

HB 1075 (Thai) and SB 5249 (Shewmake) expand the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) to independent working young adults 18 and older and seniors over 65. Under the current WFTC statute, households without a qualifying child are subject to the 25 to 65 age restriction resulting in most young adult workers and working seniors being excluded from the credit. Whether you are a college student or working senior, the need for cash assistance is great and this legislation would increase eligibility by 30% thereby expanding the WFTC to an estimated 114,000 more households. (Updated 2/22/2024)

HB 1714 (Stonier) allowing school districts to apply for financial literacy education professional development grants. Gaining the skills, knowledge, and confidence to talk about money is a significant undertaking. FEN devotes a large portion of our energy to building capacity of financial coaches. To sustainably ask teachers to add financial education to their workload requires providing resources or professional development. Currently, the Financial Education Public Private Partnership (FEPPP) has grant opportunities for school districts to address this need for professional development but is limited to one year of funding per grant cycle. This bill will allow school districts to apply for funding more consistently, making future financial education in public schools more attainable. (Updated 2/29/2024)

Treasurer-request HB 1915 (Rude) make financial education instruction a graduation prerequisite. Acquiring and applying a basic knowledge of personal finance is critical to the economic well-being of all adults. Without this knowledge, people are much less well equipped to navigate the complicated financial issues of modern life, including household budgets, consumer debt, loan applications and obligations as well as successful retirement planning. (Updated 3/14/2024)

HB 2083 (Ryu) and SB 5930 (Stanford) reduce the APR on payday loans to no more than 36% and insert anti-evasion language. This legislation would give all Washingtonians the same interest cap protections the Military Lending Act gave to our service members in 2008. We hope to join the 20 other states who have this provision. A national poll in December 2022 had 76% support, across party lines, for lowering interest rates on payday and other high cost loans to 36%. (Updated 2/5/2024)

SB 5591 (Nobles) provide dependent youth with financial education and support. Young people in Washington state who are in foster care need access to financial literacy skills and a bank account at a young age. This would help them be successful when they leave care, and without these resources, they can become trapped in a cycle of poverty. This bill directs the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) to establish bank accounts for youth in foster care ages 14+ with a monthly allowance deposited, paired with financial education beginning at 12 years of age. (Updated 2/29/2024)

SB 5968 (Stanford) regulating home equity sharing agreements under the consumer loan act. Unlike a home equity loan, HESAs are unregulated, deceptive, and predatory contracts between a homeowner and an investor in which the homeowner receives a sum of money upfront in exchange for a share of their home equity. There are currently no foreclosure protections and these contracts are not subject to mortgage contract laws. These agreements mislead consumers into thinking they are taking out a loan, rather than selling their home equity. Homeowners count on using their home equity to buy a new house, pay for end-of-life care, or fund retirement, but find themselves trapped in a downward spiral that often results in bankruptcy, foreclosure and eviction. (Updated 2/22/2024).

Stay Connected!

If you have any questions about how FEN engages with the legislative process or have suggestions on policies that we should have on our radar please reach out!

All policy & advocacy questions can be sent to Ryan Davis.