In the regular 2020 legislative session, Quaker Voice focused our efforts on protecting and extending ways to help these people get out of poverty, through food, housing, and income support. Our top priorities were:
House Bill 2453/ Senate Bill 6379. Just Cause for Evictions. This bill requires landlords to provide a legitimate reason to evict a tenant. Eviction is a major factor cycling struggling families into homelessness. Landlords should not be able to cause such a crisis without a legitimate reason. This bill passed the House but did not reach the Senate floor for consideration.
Add-on funding for Housing and Essential Needs (HENS). We supported Rep. Macri’s proposal to add $4 million to HENS funding, to bring it closer to meeting the state’s needs. Even larger amounts were approved, but it remains to be seen whether they will survive impending budget cuts following the COVID-19 slowdown.
House Bill 1694. Installment deposits for rentals. This bill requires landlords to let tenants pay their security deposits over three months instead of in a lump sum. Since so few American families have savings, and even fewer poor families, this leeway is critical to getting families into their own housing and out of shelters or off the streets. The bill passed and was signed into law.
In addition to these focus actions, we had additional priorities for legislative action in this session.
HB1587. Needed funding again this year for incentives to buy fruits and vegetables with food stamps. This bill passed.
HB2262/ SB6309. Needed funding again this year to extend food stamp purchasing power when buying at local farmers markets. This bill stopped in committee in the House.
House Bill 2441. TANF improvements. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is a major source of bridging support for families trying to get back on their feet. This bill gives some leeway for the state to extend benefits when families are trying their best but do not meet the ever-tighter federal rules. This bill passed.
HB1136. Allows 100% of child support to go to the family, not the state. This bill stopped in committee in the House.
HB 1527. Working Families Tax Credit. State version of the highly successful federal Earned Income Tax Credit, extending it to more families with broader criteria for need. This bill stopped in committee in the House.
HB1591. Homeless Bill of Rights. Aligns state law with Martin vs. Boise ruling that governments cannot criminalize sleeping outdoors if there are no alternatives provided. This bill stopped in committee in the House.
SB6366. Affordable housing tax exemption. Provides Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) exemption for nonprofits purchasing property to provide affordable housing. This bill stopped in committee in the Senate. A related House bill (HB 1219) was passed but vetoed in the Governor’s April budget action because it would reduce revenues.