On March 31, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill from state Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-University Place) to bolster economic recovery and provide food and cash assistance to families in need.
“Washington state communities have been hit hard by the pandemic, leaving many families struggling to make ends meet or worrying about where their next meal will come from,” Leavitt said. “This new law will help get more assistance to families who need it most.”
The bill, HB 1151, passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support.
HB 1151 expands a cash assistance program for families, allows for five additional months of food assistance and requires the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to update the standards of need for cash assistance programs — last updated three decades ago. Food insecurity has risen during the pandemic. This bill will update existing programs to help ensure families have options beyond food banks to put food on the table.
Families’ needs have changed over the past 30 years, and HB 1151 will update or modernize standards of need to include expenses like internet and child care. This is potentially life changing for low-income communities and helps make sure efforts to address poverty over the long term will be geared to what people need to get by and get ahead.
HB 1151 is Leavitt’s first bill this legislative session to be signed by the governor. The bill’s expanded cash assistance for families will go into effect immediately.