2015 Legislative End-of-Session Report
Food & Hunger
- State Food Assistance (SFA) — monthly assistance for legal immigrants, particularly from the Pacific Islands. This program was fully restored (about $10 million). This is a great culmination after 5 years of working to fully restore this important food assistance program that enables the families served to stay out of poverty.
- Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) — $1.6 million was added for the new biennium. This goes to our 300+ food banks in this state that help our needy households.
- WIC/Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) — the $125,000 from last year was carried forward into the new biennium
- Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) monthly grant was restored at 9% (infusion of about $31 million for the program). This means approximately $50 more per month (depending on family size) for participating families, and also means more families will be eligible for the TANF grant. This program received several cuts from the legislature during the recession years, so this is only a start at getting funding restored to where it once was.
- Housing & Essential Needs for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (HEN/ABD) — fully funded
- Housing Trust Fund — funded at $75 million with an addition of $15 million for weatherization of low income households
Capital Budget Project
- New Life Community Development project — Previous appropriations for this project in downtown Bremerton were approved to be combined, so now the project can move forward. FAN Advocating Faith Community Emanuel Apostolic Church and its pastor, Bishop Larry Robertson, are very involved in this project, the goal of which is to be a positive place for at-risk youth to recreate and learn.
- HB 2263 — signed on June 30. This allows counties (via a vote of the people) to increase by one-tenth of 1% the sales tax in that county for the purposes of affordable housing and mental health services.
- Joel’s Law – SB5269 was signed by the governor on May 14. Joel’s Law gives family members who have a relative struggling with mental illness more authority to intervene during crisis situations.
- New revenue from a capital gains tax and a tax on carbon emissions was removed from the budget negotiations in the final week. The compromise resulted in the addition of $185 million from repealing two tax exemptions, one of which was for software equipment that will primarily affect Microsoft and was worth about $57 million per year of the biennium.
- No advancement of the wage theft bills
- “Poison Pill” in Transportation Budget – This language in the transportation budget prevents the governor from issuing an Executive Order related to regulation of carbon emissions. If the governor does, monies would automatically be moved away from transit, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation projects.
- After passage in the House and much negotiation on all sides this session and in previous sessions, the Washington State Voting Rights Act was not brought up for a vote in the Senate.