Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

How Kids Fared in the 2018 Legislative Session

Adam 03/12/18

It’s a win for kids: Due to the work of parents, youth, and community-based leaders during the 2018 legislative session, thousands of Washington kids will grow up in families where the adults who love them can get health care.

That’s because our advocacy resulted in state lawmakers passing Senate Bill 5683, which assists Washington adults from three Pacific Island nations—the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau—in getting health coverage.

Residents from these three nations live in the United States due to Compacts of Free Association (COFAs) with the U.S. government. An estimated 6,000-8,000 COFA migrant residents live in Washington state. They work, pay taxes and serve in the U.S. military, but since 1997 have been denied Medicaid health coverage and the affordable treatment and greater economic security it offers.

We know that a child does better when every member of their family can get the health care they need. That’s why we placed Senate Bill 5683 on our legislative agenda. The bill will correct a longstanding injustice and ensure greater family and community health. Bravo to the many parents, health advocates and community leaders who achieved this victory!

Another victory was achieved in the last hours of the legislative session, as lawmakers reached a compromise to improve state law regarding the use of deadly force by police. Children’s Alliance supported the efforts of the De-Escalate Washington campaign; we endorsed the campaign as it gathered signatures for the ballot, then testified last month about how kids can benefit from improved community trust in law enforcement officials. Watch our testimony from Children’s Alliance executive director Paola Maranan:

Apart from these positive developments, in three policy areas, legislators adjourned with key work still to do when they return to Olympia in January 2019.

Early Learning

We set out together this session with an ambitious vision of a better future by expanding access to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, our state’s preschool program. House Bill 2659 proposed to raise the income eligibility for ECEAP from 110 percent of the federal poverty line to 185 percent—the same standards as for free and reduced lunch or WIC. The bill passed the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee, but did not advance. We will keep fighting to expand access to high-quality preschool for our kids.

Children’s Health

Congress inflicted unnecessary stress on parents when it let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expire last fall, jeopardizing the future of kids’ health care. That’s why we crafted a plan to protect Washington’s progress in kids’ health. House Bill 2660 and Senate Bill 6304 proposed to protect Washington’s kids from the continuing efforts by the President and some in Congress to undermine our progress in child and maternal health care. The bill had successful hearings in the House and Senate and passed the Senate Health Care Committee, but did not advance. Congress has now renewed CHIP for 10 years, and—in more good news—state lawmakers fully funded Apple Health for Kids and the pregnancy care that CHIP supports.

Federal policy and budget proposals still threaten kids’ and families’ coverage. We will continue to protect Washington’s kids—and our progress in kids’ health care.

Revenue

During this legislative session the state saw levels of overall growth in revenue that we haven’t seen since prior to the Great Recession. While growing revenue creates resources to invest in our kids, lawmakers ought to ensure our tax system is fair and sustainable. We supported two bills to create revenue that increases children’s access to opportunity. House Bill 2967 proposed to make our tax system more fair by creating a state capital gains tax and reducing state property taxes. Senate Bill 5203 proposed to establish a carbon pollution tax. Neither bill passed, though a coalition of clean energy and environmental justice organizations has filed an initiative to put a price on carbon emissions. We’ll continue to work toward fair, sustainable revenue that follows these principles for climate justice.

When parents and community leaders raise their voices together, we can build a state that’s great for kids. The leadership of people like Lorna leads to tremendous accomplishments. Watch Lorna explain why she came to Have a Heart for Kids Day in support of Senate Bill 5683.