2022 Legislative Agenda
Washington’s people and communities face huge challenges. The COVID pandemic has undermined health and economic security, exposing the harm caused by decades of disinvestment in public services and by the racism, sexism, and economic inequality embedded in our structures. While the wealth of the top 1% soars and many highly-paid professionals prosper, frontline workers face daily risk, many small businesses have closed, and families teeter on the brink of economic disaster.
Our state must invest NOW to prevent further damage and begin undoing deeply entrenched inequality. By strengthening the core pillars of our economy – including child care, health care, educational opportunity, economic security, and our public revenue system – we can diminish economic, racial and gender inequity.
Together, we can build a state where all our people and communities thrive.
These bills are our top priorities for Washington’s 2022 Legislative Session.
March 10, 2022
February 22, 2022
Washington legislators unveiled their proposals to amend the current state budget that runs through June 2023. They had plenty of money to potentially spend, since state tax revenues are coming in faster than expected and federal COVID relief funds remain unallocated. Our people and state also have extraordinary needs. The legislature has between now and March 10 to negotiate a final budget and finish up work on a slew of policy bills. We need an ambitious budget to help our all people and communities thrive.
February 15, 2022
Policy bills must now have passed their “house of origin” – either the House or Senate – to continue being considered this year. Bills that have survived this cut-off now move to the other chamber. Senate committees will take up House bills and vice versa. Those bills now have until March 4 to pass the full legislature. Bills considered necessary to implement the budget and the budget itself are exempt from these deadlines, and continue to be active until the last day of session.
February 8, 2022
By the end-of-day on February 7, all bills must have passed both policy and fiscal committees in either the House or the Senate to continue to be considered during the 2022 legislative session, except for bills considered “necessary to implement the budget” (NTIB). While NTIB can be a flexible category, most bills that have not advanced as far as the Rules committee of one of the Chamber’s are considered “dead” – except for very high priority bills, revenue measures, and the budget itself.
A Just Tax Structure for Ample Investment
Many Washington workers, families, and small businesses struggle to pay for food and rent, while the wealthiest individuals and corporations make record profits. Tax reform is one tool to add fairness to our regressive tax system, provide funds to help families and small businesses get through these hard times, and jump start a recovery that provides opportunity and healthy communities for all.
Washington needs to increase investments in core pillars of our economy, but not on the backs of working people through regressive taxes. Taxing concentrated wealth is a step toward transforming Washington’s regressive and insufficient tax structure.
Learn more about the progressive revenue bills we are advocating for this session:
NOTE: Revenue bills are necessary to implement the budget, therefore not subject to the same cut-offs as other policy bills. Final decisions on revenue bills are likely to be made late in the legislative session.
The Wealth Tax SB 5426 was heard on February 1st in the Senate Ways & Means committee. Twenty four advocates testified in support of the bill from a variety of perspectives and life experiences. Check out the hearing here! Over two thousand people signed in in support of the wealth tax, showing that there’s a lot of grassroots energy behind this policy.
Estate Tax reform (HB 1465) is not moving this session.
Implementation fix for the Working Families Tax Credit (HB 1888) passed the House 87 to 9. On to the Senate!
For more information on the Wealth Tax, click here.
To read more about the importance of a more fair tax code in rebuilding Washington’s economy, click here.
Amply Funded Child Care
Child care and early learning are critical to child development, family wellbeing, and business prosperity. Yet even before the pandemic, child care was in crisis. Our state’s economic recovery depends on quality, affordable child care, with well compensated teachers and caregivers, available to all working parents and their kids.
We must expand and stabilize our subsidy structure and invest in:
- COVID health & safety supplies and reopening assistance
- Compensation and health care for childcare teachers
- Affordability for families
Important requests to stabilize and expand access to affordable child care have been made to state budget writers, including:
- $63 million for extra COVID-related paid sick leave
- $175 million to increase subsidy rates by basing them on 2021 rather than 2018 cost data
Health Care Access
Health care is a human right. But high costs and insurance based on employment, age, and immigration status block access to health care for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians. COVID has exacerbated disparities. We must make health care more accessible in the short-term, as we also push towards larger health care system transformation that provides quality care for all and reins in cost.
Learn more about the health care bills we are supporting this session:
Immigrant health care access (budget strategy): Creating a Medicaid look-alike program will help erase disparities by ensuring access to health coverage for low-income immigrants who are disproportionately uninsured due to federal restrictions
Keep Our Care Act (SB 5688): Mergers and acquisitions between health care entities like hospitals and provider organizations are driving up patient costs and concentrating enormous revenue for health industry giants – without improving health outcomes or quality. Regulating consolidations would help hold big health systems accountable and maintain patient access to care.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board (SB 5532/HB 1671): Creating a PDAB would drive down outrageous pharmaceutical costs, hold drug companies accountable, and rein in overall health spending by creating an upper price limit for overpriced drugs and fining manufacturers for unsupported price increases.
Read our latest health policy research, Controlling Health Care Costs in Washington.
Immigrant health care access: Advocates are pushing for $80-100 million in the 2022 supplemental budget to fund immigrant health care for people with incomes under 138% of the federal poverty level. This approach aligns with Governor Inslee’s proposed budget, but asks for additional funding to ensure the program has sufficient resources to begin by 2024. Meanwhile, state agencies continue to pursue options to cover people with incomes between 138-250% FPL.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board (SB 5532): The Senate passed SB 5532 with a vote of 27 to 20. It now moves on to the House. Amendments significantly watered down the bill, including removing the fines on manufacturers for excessive price increases, limiting affordability reviews to only 24 drugs per year.
Surprise Billing (HB 1688): House committees passed the bill which is now in the Rules Committee. Amendments extended the implementation of the federal dispute resolution until 2023 and clarified the relationship between network adequacy, balance billing protections, and alternate access delivery requests (AADR). An AADR system provides patients with access to medically necessary care when an in-network provider is not available.
Fair and Safe Workplaces
All workers have a right to living wages, safety at work, freedom from discrimination, the right to organize, and time to protect their own health, care for family, and engage in community life.
Washington’s PFML program has helped over 250,000 workers and families maintain economic security while coping with a serious health crisis or welcoming a new child since 2020. We can make modest improvements to ensure the program equitably serves vulnerable workers and those who lost work during pandemic shutdowns.
Learn more about the bill we are supporting to expand and improve Washington’s PFML program:
Paid Family & Medical Leave access improvements (SB 5649): Allowing advance applications, continuation of caregiving leaves following the family member’s death, and other technical improvements will provide more equitable access to PFML and enhance economic stability and health of Washington workers, families, and businesses.
To view our SB 5694 Factsheet, click here.
For context on recent news regarding the PFML trust fund, click here.
PFML improvements (SB 5649) passed Senate policy and fiscal committees with amendments, following the announcement of a possible shortfall in the PFML trust fund due to high program demand and the ongoing impacts of COVID. Amendments removed advance application; pared down leave following a family member’s death to be available only to new parents and for just 7 days; and added an actuarial study and a taskforce to make recommendations on long-term program solvency. See bill hearing here.
Partner-led Support Agenda
EOI supports additional policy advances led by allied communities and organizations to undo racist structures, promote equitable access to educational opportunity, and build lifelong economic security for all.
Reform Legal Financial Obligations (HB 1412): Allowing low-income Washingtonians to seek relief from exorbitant and unpayable legal debts would help them successfully re-entering society after release from prison and address racial and class inequities embedded in our policing and incarceration systems.
Strengthen WA Cares Act (HB 1732 & HB 1733): Technical fixes to the first-in-the-nation universal long term care insurance program delay implementation and allow certain people unlikely to be able to use the benefit to opt out.
Expand apprenticeship pathways with wraparound supports (SB 5600): This bill creates the framework for significantly expanding apprenticeship programs and grant supports, to enable more students to access pathways to secure careers.
Low-interest student loans (HB 1736): This bill establishes low interest (1%) loans for students, including those seeking graduate degrees deemed to be in “high demand” graduate fields. It would be better to have student loans available for all graduate programs and to establish tuition and fee-free higher education at all levels. However, having a low interest, fee-free loan program will help students in the current system.
Strengthening Unemployment Insurance for caregivers (HB 1486): Allows people to be eligible for unemployment insurance is forced to quit a job because a schedule change made care for a child or vulnerable adult inaccessible.
Undoing Racist Structures
Washington Future Fund (Baby Bonds SB 5752/HB 1861): After hearings and passing out of both the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation and the House Housing, Human Services & Veterans committees, these bills were not heard in fiscal committees and will not move forward this year.
Lifelong Economic Security
Diaper Subsidies (SB 5838/HB 1947): The Senate passed SB 5838 with a vote of 48 to 1. The bill was amended so the size of grants will depend on the amount appropriated by the Legislature. The Senate bill now will move over to the House.
Strengthen WA Cares Act (HB 1732 and HB 1733): This pair of bills was among the first to be moved through Washington’s 2022 legislature. Both have passed the Legislature and been signed into law by the Governor.
Access and Equity in Education
Expand apprenticeship pathways with wraparound supports (SB 5600): This bill to enable more students to access pathways to secure careers passed Senate policy and fiscal committees and is now in the Rules Committee.
Low-interest student loans (HB 1736): The bill to establish the Washington Student Loan Program offering 1% student loans passed House policy and fiscal committees and is now in the Rules Committee.
Expanding the Washington College Grant (HB 1659): A bill to expand the Washington College Grant and allow students who receive the maximum grant to receive additional money to help pay for books, lab supplies, and more, passed House policy and fiscal committees and is now in the Rules Committee.
Strengthening Our Economy
Strengthening Unemployment Insurance for caregivers (HB 1486): Passed through House committees and is awaiting a vote on the floor of the House.
Wage & Salary Information (SB 5761): The Senate passed this bill, with a vote of 27 to 21, to reduce the racial and gender wage gap by requiring information on pay range be provided to job applicants. It now moves on to the House.