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2021 Legislative Wins!

All WSCADV Priority Bills PASSED!

The 2021 Washington State legislative session adjourned on April 25, marking the end of a truly historic session. WSCADV member programs identified community economic resilience and housing security as the highest priorities for survivors and their families. We are delighted to share that all of our priority bills passed! We are also encouraged by the final biennial budget, which includes significant investments that get us closer to a more equitable economy. Below are our highlights from this year’s legislative session.

Housing Security

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Survivors and their families need access to housing, tenant protections, rental assistance, and utilities support. We advocate for funds and measures that can help stop the cycle of both homelessness and domestic violence.

  • Just Cause Eviction Protection (HB 1236) will close a significant loophole in Washington’s tenant protections and fair housing laws by requiring landlords to have a legitimate business reason to make someone move. It will end the practice of giving tenants 20-day “no cause” notices of eviction.
  • HB 1277 creates a new, permanent fund for rental assistance and efforts to prevent and end homelessness through increasing document recording fees by $100. This will raise almost $300 million over the next two years.
  • Right to Counsel (SB 5160) provides legal representation for low-income tenants facing eviction, requires repayment plans, bars landlords from refusing to rent to tenants who fell behind during the pandemic, and provides an opportunity for mediation.
  • The Capital Budget includes $350 million to build and preserve affordable homes, including $175 million for the Housing Trust Fund.

Community Economic Resilience

The second biggest risk factor for experiencing domestic violence is limited financial resources, which can entrap people in abusive relationships. Access to cash gives survivors more choices, making them safer and more stable. Survivors often access assistance when they are trying to leave abusive relationships, or to begin to rebuild financial stability after an abusive partner has sabotaged their finances.

  • The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) will provide a cash rebate of $300-$1,200 each year to eligible low-income households. This includes those who file with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), a group that can include survivors of domestic violence and undocumented immigrants.
  • Progressive Revenue: A tax on capital gains will raise more than $400 million annually to expand investments in education, childcare, and early learning. This tax and the passing of the WFTC are positive steps in balancing our state’s unfair tax code, making sure the wealthiest in our state finally pay their share.
  • Investments to our state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program include a 15% increase to the monthly cash grant for all TANF participants, beginning July 1, 2021. This is the largest grant increase in the history of Washington’s TANF program!
  • HB 1151 will modernize the need standard, a study used to set cash assistance levels. This helps lay the groundwork for future advocacy to provide benefits at a level that responds to what people and families actually need to meet their basic needs.

Other Bills We Supported:

  • HB 1078 restores voting rights for people who have been convicted of a felony, including survivors who have been incarcerated, but are not serving a sentence of total confinement. Judy Chen (WSCADV Executive Director) and Kiantha Duncan (WSCADV Board Member) wrote this op-ed in support.
  • HB 1072 ensures undocumented people would also benefit from civil legal aid services in Washington. This means undocumented survivors and their family members could access state-funded representation for domestic relations and family law matters, government assistance, healthcare, housing and utilities, employment, disability rights, education, and more.
  • HB 1054 establishes restrictions on tactics and equipment that police officers can use. As a coalition dedicated to ending domestic violence, we seek to end all violence in our homes and communities, including institutional abuses of power that systematically take away people’s freedom and safety.
  • HB 1320 will harmonize protection orders in Washington by offering a single petition form that may be used to file for any type of protection order, except an Extreme Risk Protection Order. This bill allows hearings to continue to be conducted in person or remotely. Survivors across the state have told us that remote hearings during COVID-19 have increased their options for safety.  

Thank you to everyone who responded to our action alerts and participated in our virtual Advocacy Day. We had over 100 advocates and survivors participate in our virtual rally before holding 46 legislature meetings representing 20 legislative districts! Contacting your legislators, educating them, and sharing your experiences made a strong impact this session. These efforts will benefit survivors across our whole state. For more information, see our 2021 Legislative Session Summary and 2021 Legislative Session Wrap-up webinar recording.