Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

2024 Legislative Agenda

In 2024, EOI is focused on passing legislation that invests more of the tremendous wealth generated by our economy in innovative programs for the public good, counteracting systemic racial inequities, and boosting support for workers and families.

We must take bold action now to create thriving communities throughout Washington. People across our state are struggling. The state’s regressive tax code hits low and middle-income households far harder than the wealthy, while CEO compensation soars above workers’ wages. Access to affordable childcare, paid leave, and healthcare can lead to a better quality of life for all – but for too many people in our state, those essentials are out of reach.

EOI will focus on legislation requiring multimillion-dollar corporations and individuals to start paying what they owe so that we can fund and expand these vital programs, boost economic stability and promote a better quality of life for every Washingtonian.

Affordable and Accessible Health Care

Everyone deserves quality, affordable, and accessible health care. But right now, our health care system is dominated by big industry players like hospital chains and drug companies that prioritize profit over community need. Addressing our state’s health care affordability crisis will require bold leadership from our state legislature to improve oversight, address industry-wide monopolies, and hold bad actors accountable.

Many of EOI’s health policy priorities have been developed in partnership with Fair Health Prices Washington, a group of consumer and patient advocates, workers, and businesses working together to drive down health care prices with data-driven policy solutions.

Learn more about the health care policies EOI is advancing this legislative session below:

Prioritizing:

Strengthening the Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HB 1508): This bill gives our existing Board more authority to collect key affordability and hospital financial data to better understand health care spending – and the ability to bring high-priced outliers into compliance. This bill gives our existing Board more authority to collect key affordability and hospital financial data to better understand health care spending – and the ability to bring high-priced outliers into compliance.

Anti-competitive provider contracting practices: EOI and our coalition partners are working on a bill to help correct the negative impacts of health care consolidation by stopping hospitals from using anti-competitive contracting practices.

Keep Our Care Act (SB 5241): KOCA will help bring down health care costs and protect access to health care by allowing the Attorney General to review new potential consolidations and block those that would diminish access to affordable, quality care.

Supporting:

Health Equity for Immigrants: Immigrants in our state are 11 times more likely to lack health insurance than U.S. citizens. Building on the success of prior years, which created a state-funded Medicaid-equivalent program, as well as an Exchange coverage program with subsidies for lower-income immigrants, the Health Equity for Immigrants Campaign now demands a strong budget allocation to fund and implement these programs.

Read our latest health policy research, Controlling Health Care Costs in Washington.

Updates:

Strengthening the Health Care Cost Transparency Board (HB 1508):  This bill passed the House 94-3 with strong bipartisan support on 2/6/24. While slightly pared down from its original form, the version of the bill entering the Senate has strong provisions to keep patients at the center of our health care system. The bill strengthens our state’s Health Care Cost Transparency Board by enabling it to: track consumer affordability challenges; add patient, labor, and business representation to the advisory committee; evaluate how industry profits contribute to health care spending; and provide an annual public hearing on cost trends. The bill is scheduled for both a hearing and executive session in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Thursday 2/15/24.

Anti-competitive provider contracting practices (HB 2066): This bill died in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee after a strong hearing that highlighted the negative impact on patients when hospitals use anti-competitive tactics to negotiate unreasonably high payment rates. These high rates are especially problematic because they don’t result in higher quality care or better access for patients. The bill would have prohibited hospitals from using these tactics to raise their rates. 

Keep Our Care Act (SB 5241): After hours of floor debate on the bill and 14 amendments (most of them from Republicans), KOCA passed the Senate 28 to 21 on 2/8/24! This bill gives the Attorney General oversight over health entity mergers and consolidations that would result in reduced access to care or higher prices for patients. The bill is now scheduled for a hearing in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee on Wednesday 2/14.  

Health Equity for Immigrants (budget ask): Last year, the legislature funded the launch of our state’s new Apple Health Expansion program to provide Medicaid-like health coverage for undocumented individuals at or under 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. However, the funding was only for a limited number of enrollees, leaving thousands without coverage. This year’s budget ask is to cover more eligible individuals, add funds to support a waitlist and community based outreach, as well as money for state agencies to forecast remaining affordability gaps. A budget proviso has been submitted by legislative members. Further actions to support the budget ask will be forthcoming during budget negotiations. 

Stable and Dignified Work for All People

Everyone deserves job security, living wages, and time to care for themselves and their loved ones. We have been successful in creating strong public policies that promote fair work practices like Paid Family and Medical  Leave (PFML), paid sick days, and equal pay, but we could go further to increase equitable access to these programs and policies. Addressing inequity in these programs requires the legislature to make improvements to current policies that provide protection for workers.

Learn more about the healthy workplace policies we are advancing this session:

Prioritizing:

Paid Family and Medical Leave improvements (HB 2102/SB 6177): Changes to existing law would require a maximum timeframe for medical providers to certify PFML requests promptly. Without a medical certification, workers who need extended leave cannot apply for PFML. Sometimes, providers take too long to sign the medical certification, extending the time when a patient can begin to receive their benefits.

Expanding family definition in Paid Sick and Safe Days (SB 5793): Changes to existing law would expand how family is defined in Washington's Sick and Safe Days law (PSSD) to be more equitable and align with Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) policy. In 2021, the state legislature included chosen family in the PFML definition, recognizing that not all families were related by blood or through a legal connection. PSSD needs to be updated to make the same recognition so that all families can participate in caring for their loved ones.

Amending the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (HB 1905): This bill strengthens the Equal Pay and Opportunities Act, expanding equal pay and wage discrimination protections to all protected classes.

Supporting:

Child Care and Early Learning DCYF (budget strategy): Request for $22,442,000 from the general fund in 2024 to increase child care provider participation in the Working Connections Child Care program which would support increased BIPOC and low income family eligibility in 2025.

Updates:

Paid Family and Medical Leave improvements (HB 2102/SB 6177): HB 2102 was voted out of the House of Representatives on February 8. The bill was amended in committee with language that clarifies that medical providers are not responsible for signing a medical certification for which they have little or no knowledge.  An additional amendment changed the requirement to sign a medical certification from 5 to 7 calendar days. The bill now moves to the Senate for a hearing in the Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Friday Feb 16. HB 2102 would direct medical providers to sign the medical certification within five calendar days and prohibits charging a patient for getting the form signed. The medical certification form is required to apply for PFML. If passed, the law will help workers receive their benefits in a timely manner.

Making PSSD more equitable: Expanding family definition in Paid Sick and Safe Days (SB 5793): SB 5793 was heard in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and received strong support, with over 100 people singing in Pro. Testimony included personal stories to highlighting why chosen family is an important part of a family’s fabric.  This original bill also included language that would have allowed workers to use PSSD when businesses and schools close due to extreme weather. An amendment removed this language. A small fiscal note of $190,000 is attached for outreach and materials. This bill passed the Senate and now moves to the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee and will be heard on Feb 16.

Amending the Washington Equal Pay and Opportunities Act (HB 1905): This bill made it through the House and it has already been heard in the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce. The committee will vote on this bill on Feb 15, and will likely be referred to the Rules Committee. HB 1905 adds certain protected classes to the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. In addition to gender, this bill allows for a person to file a complaint to bring an action asserting discrimination based on a person’s protected class:  employee’s age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. The Washington Equal Pay Opportunity Act has been amended four times since it was enacted in 1943. 

Economic Stability Through Meaningful Investment

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have been systematically excluded from building economic stability in many ways from land theft of Indigenous people, to a GI Bill that was created to accommodate Jim Crow laws, to today’s immigrants who pay taxes but are prevented from accessing financial safety net programs. BIPOC communities owe disproportionate amounts of debt, such as medical and student loan debt and have less access to cash when they need it.

Learn more about the bill we are advancing to improve economic opportunity for Washingtonians:

Prioritizing:

Washington Future Fund (HB 1094/SB 5125): Also known as Baby Bonds, this legislation would provide every child on medicaid (Apple Health) a $4,000 bond by their first birthday that they can access between the ages of 18-35 to use for college, buying a home, or opening a business. The racial wealth gap in Washington continues to widen. Today Black families on average make $33,000 less than white families. Income gaps and other institutionalized racist policies and practices prevent Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color from building generational wealth. The Washington Future Fund would shrink this racial wealth gap and provide longer term economic stability to low income Washingtonians.

Resolution 4204/8205 Constitutional Amendment for investment purposes: This resolution would allow the State Treasurer to invest Washington Future Funds in higher-yielding securities, enabling those funds to grow larger and ensure a more meaningful payout when the funds mature for each individual. This is an important tool to ensure that Washington Future Funds are useful in the decades to come, understanding how education, housing and other costs continue to rise.

Washington Saves (HB 2244/SB 6069): A state-run ''Automatic IRA'' can help some workers and families improve their future financial security – and recent federal legislation may make federal matching contributions available to low-income savings starting in 2027. Washington Saves is a strong step toward making retirement saving convenient, cost-effective, and portable for workers. If it covers all workers – and especially if federal matching funds come through – Washington Saves would be a small but meaningful and measurable step toward improving retirement security for everyone in Washington.

Supporting:

Working Families Tax Credit expansions (HB 1075/SB 5249): This bill will expand eligibility for people without qualifying children, allowing everyone 18 and older who meets the income eligibility to apply. It would expand WFTC access to 210,000 more Washington households, reaching more young adults and seniors, and increasing the number of eligible households by nearly 50 percent.

Cost Free College (College Grant expansion) and other Communities for our Colleges priorities (SB 5712): Introduced last year, this bill expands the existing Washington College Grant by increasing the maximum grant amount for middle income families, makes permanent the Bridge Grant, a stipend for those receiving the maximum college grant, and also establishes the Washington College Promise Program, which is essentially cost-free Community Technical College.

Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot (SHB1045/SB 6196): This bill would offer monthly unrestricted cash payments to households who qualify based on income. Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) offers more freedom, dignity, and choice in how people care for themselves and their families. Although we have several vital public assistance programs in Washington, they fall dramatically short in helping low income households make ends meet. GBI would close that gap and give struggling families what they need to live safe and healthy lives.

Updates:

Washington Future Fund (HB 1094/SB 5125): Currently, advocates continue to work to uplift the policy by pushing for a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee even if it doesn’t receive a vote. The Washington Future Fund bill would provide a $4,000 government investment to children born under or enrolled in Apple Health when they turn one. This investment can be used upon turning 18-35 to attend post-secondary school, buy a home, or open a business.  This legislation aims to work as a “start-up” capital and advance the economic security of people born into a cycle of poverty. Also known as the “Baby Bonds Bill,” the Washington Future Fund sits in both fiscal committees. 

Resolution 4204/8205 Constitutional Amendment for investment purposes: This bill did not move out of the House Rules Committee and does not have a path forward this session.

Washington Saves (HB 2244/SB 6069): Currently,  EOI and its allies (including AARP Washington) have urged legislators to pass both bills. The Senate has passed SB 6069; that legislation is now headed to the House for consideration. A state-run ”Automatic IRA” can help some low-income workers and families improve their future financial security by making workplace-based retirement saving more convenient, cost-effective, and portable between jobs – and recent federal legislation may make federal matching contributions available starting in 2027. Washington Saves would be a small but meaningful and measurable step toward improving retirement security for Washington residents.

Working Families Tax Credit expansions (HB 1075/SB 5249):  This bill had a hearing in the House but was not voted out of committee. We are disappointed that this legislation will not be moving forward this session, meaning that seniors and young adults without kids will continue to be excluded from receiving this critical cash boost. We are looking forward to the 2025 session, when we will continue to call on lawmakers to fund the needs of our communities and expand the Working Families Tax Credit. This legislation would expand eligibility for people without qualifying children, allowing everyone 18 and older who meets the income eligibility to apply. It would expand WFTC access to 210,000 more Washington households, reaching more young adults and seniors, and increasing the number of eligible households by nearly 50 percent.

Cost Free College (College Grant expansion) and other Communities for our Colleges priorities (SB 5712): SB 5712 is not moving this session. Several other bills that would expand the Washington College Grant eligibility (SB 5999) or provide a cost free year of Community and Technical College (HB 2374, HB 2309) were heard, with great support from students, faculty and higher education advocates but have not made it past the cutoff. Other bills are moving through the process: SB 5904 would expand the length of the Washington College grant to 6 years and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Postsecondary Education & Workforce.  HB 1889, a priority of the Communities for our Colleges coalition. provides pathways to professional licensure for immigrants and undocumented people; this bill has made it through the House and is now in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. 

Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot (SHB1045/SB 6196): These bills were heard in the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Committee on Human Services, but neither voted out of committee and will not be moving forward this session.  However, forward progress was made with the introduction and hearing of the Senate bill and momentum built between lawmakers and the GBI Coalition committed to real solutions for the 1.7 million people in our state who can’t afford to cover basic needs like rent, food, and healthcare. This bill would offer monthly unrestricted cash payments to households who qualify based on income. Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) offers more freedom, dignity, and choice in how people care for themselves and their families. Although we have several vital public assistance programs in Washington, they fall dramatically short in helping low income households make ends meet. GBI would close that gap and give struggling families what they need to live safe and healthy lives. 

Fair Taxes that Provide Ample Funding

Everyone should be taxed fairly according to their means, but Washington has the most regressive tax code in the nation  [according to a newly released analysis from ITEP, we are now, in fact, in 49th place, rather than last place, due to the passage and implementation of the Working Families Tax Credit and the Capital gains tax], overtaxing working people while subsidizing the very wealthy and large, profitable corporations. Not just unfair, the tax system results in insufficient funding for community needs and vital programs and services. Addressing this will take reforming our tax code by making existing taxes more progressive and by taxing extreme wealth and profitable corporations.

Learn more about the progressive revenue policies we are advancing this session:

Prioritizing:

Wealth Tax on Billionaires (HB 1473/SB 5486): The Washington State Wealth Tax closes a glaring loophole in our tax system and in doing so raises billions of dollars in public funds every year. The tax works as a 1% tax on financial wealth, assets like stocks and bonds traded on Wall Street, in which the first $250 million in value is exempted from taxation.

Supporting:

Progressive Real Estate Excise Tax (HB 1670): The Real Estate Excise Tax is a tax paid when a house or other real estate is sold and the rate is based on the selling price: the more expensive the property, the higher the rate. Legislators are seeking to make it more progressive and bring in additional revenue for different housing programs.

1% Property Tax Growth Limitation (SB 5770): This bill seeks to overturn part of law put in place by a Tim Eyman initiative in the early 2000s.

A tax on extreme wealth is the missing link in Washington’s tax code. Read our latest report, Share the Wealth, Washington, to learn more about the billionaire wealth tax.

Updates:

Wealth Tax on Billionaires (HB 1473/SB 5486): The wealth tax legislation, which was heard in both the House and Senate in the 2023 session, has not been moved forward this legislative session. However, the Department of Revenue has initiated a study on the policy and posted its first status update on the study, slated to be completed in the fall of this year. Read that update, here.

Progressive Real Estate Excise Tax (HB 2276/ SB 6191): New legislation introduced this session by Rep. April Berg was heard on January 18th with a large turnout from the affordable housing and disability justice community supporting the bill. Its companion bill was heard on January 25th in the Senate.  This bill adjusts the tiers of the real-estate excise tax (REET) to raise revenue for affordable housing, including establishing (for the first time) a permanent funding source for the Housing Trust Fund. The adjustments to the tax will provide a tax cut for most home-sellers and a small tax increase for those selling homes worth more than $3 million. The bill is expected to move forward as it is deemed Necessary to Implement the Budget. Read our blog post about the legislation, here.

1% Property Tax Growth Limitation: (SB 5770): A substitute bill was heard early in session, but will not move forward this session. The bill would have adjusted the maximum amount that local property tax levies may increase year over year, changing the growth limit from 1% to the lesser of 3% or inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.