On Monday, January 15, nearly 300 people from across the state joined Solid Ground’s Advocacy partner, the Statewide Poverty Action Network, at their annual MLK Lobby Day! Poverty Action was excited to welcome nearly 150 people from the east side of the state (including approximately 70 from both Spokane and Yakima!).
Long-time Poverty Action member Sally Mary de Leon and her children, Mark and Bernadette Sheran, have made a family tradition of attending MLK Lobby Day each year. “[MLK Lobby Day] is definitely empowering and educational. It is a tool that helps you connect. It is our social responsibility to take care of one another. We can show what it looks like to reach out and give back to the community. We can teach kids the value of their vote and the value of their voice.”
MLK Lobby Day attendees have the opportunity to visit their legislators’ offices to raise their voices on issues that are most important to them and their families. Mark and Bernadette wrote and hand-delivered the letters below to their legislators’ offices — getting first-hand experience advocating to make real change.
2018 Legislative Agenda
MLK Day launched this year’s Washington State Legislative Session, which is “short”: Legislators have just 60 days to consider bills and pass a supplemental budget. Poverty Action has a full slate of policy priorities – developed in partnership with community members – which we will work to advance this year. You can download the full 2018 Policy Agenda, including in-depth Racial Equity Analyses for each priority area, but the following is a synopsis of the 2018 priorities and positions:
MEETING BASIC NEEDS FOR ALL PEOPLE
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Increase the TANF grant amount to help families actually meet their basic needs.
- Invest in WorkFirst so it provides real educational and training opportunities.
- Eliminate or significantly increase TANF asset limits, so families with basic resources, such as a vehicle or money saved for a rent deposit, can participate in the program.
- Reinstate the Child Support Pass-Through, which would allow parents to receive a portion of their child support directly rather than have it taken by the state to subsidize the TANF program.
Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) | Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD)
- Preserve funding for HEN.
- Preserve and increase the ABD grant.
- Pass legislation that allows free access to medical records for people appealing a denial of SSI/SSDI.
Medicaid Adult Dental
- Ensure the state’s changing approach to Adult Dental maintains or improves affordable dental care.
- Expand Adult Dental to include access for elderly immigrants with disabilities who do not meet the federal qualifications for Medicaid Adult Dental.
BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO REENTRY
Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs)
- Pass legislation that reduces or eliminates non-restitution LFO debt.
Washington Fair Chance Act (Ban the Box)
- Pass the Washington Fair Chance Act to “ban the box.”
ENACTING FAIR & REASONABLE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
Debt Collection Practices
- Prevent exploitative debt collection practices, particularly with medical debt, to help Washingtonians avoid debt or lower their amount owed.
- Strengthen policies and practices governing hospital charity care.
- Maintain the payday lending protections already put in place by the legislature.
- Oppose the creation of any new lending products that carry high interest rates and threaten to trap families in cycles of debt.
BRIDGING THE OPPORTUNITY GAP
Equity in K–12 Education
- Ensure that resources for education are distributed equitably, providing students experiencing the opportunity gap with the most support.
- Expand the pipeline for educators and leaders who serve students facing the greatest opportunity gap.
- Build systems to track progress over time to strengthen supports for under-performing schools and struggling students.
Fair Discipline in Schools
- Support and strengthen equitable, compassionate and effective methods of discipline in schools.
Access to Higher Education & Training
- Support funding and policies that increase access to higher education and training for people with lower incomes, as well as previously and currently incarcerated people.
- Maintain and expand funding for need-based financial aid such as the State Need Grant, College Bound Scholarships, and Opportunity Grants.
- Maintain and expand funding for the I-BEST program that supports adult basic skills students in post-secondary occupational education and training.
- Reform student loan practices to prevent high-cost debt as a result of accessing higher education.
BUDGETING TO INVEST IN WASHINGTON’S FUTURE
- Create a progressive, steady revenue source that can support a healthy economy and meet the needs of our state, such as a capital gains tax.
- Close corporate tax loopholes.
Working Families Tax Rebate
- Fund implementation of the Working Families Tax Rebate.
Children’s Savings Accounts
- Create and fund an equitable, statewide Children’s Savings Account program, which provides a larger “seed” deposit for children born into families living with poverty.
Questions? Contact Solid Ground Advocacy Director Marcy Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.694.6799.
Check out this photo gallery of MLK Lobby Day 2018!
Featured image at top: Sally Mary de Leon and her kids with President & CEO Gordon McHenry Jr. and Advocacy & Statewide Poverty Action Network Director Marcy Bowers on MLK Lobby Day (photo courtesy of Sally Mary de Leon)