First week of session: New Legislature and new Governor begin

First week of session: New Legislature and new Governor begin

The legislative session began on Monday but the Senate was in flux after the takeover by the “majority coalition,” made up of Senate Republicans and two breakaway Democrats. This new “majority coalition” elected Sen. Rodney Tom as Senate Majority Leader. Consequently, decisions regarding Senate committee membership, leadership, and structure were not finalized until mid-week and no budget hearings could proceed in the Senate.

For more information about new committees, all House and Senate committees are listed here – you can search by your legislator or by committee:

The House Appropriations Committee held two days of budget hearings. Thurston Co. Food Bank staff did a fantastic job representing the emergency food network at Tuesday’s hearing on Natural Resources budget issues; their testimony supported our campaign to add $3.7 million to EFAP.

The EFAP campaign secured a champion in the House: Rep. Brian Blake (D-19th), Chair of the Agriculture Committee and a board member of Coastal Harvest. Our next step is to work with Blake’s office in developing a letter that will be addressed to Appropriations Chair, Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48th). In the coming weeks, we will circulate a draft letter to advocates to share with their networks to help generate phone calls/emails asking their legislators to sign on to the letter for additional EFAP funds in the final budget.

Coalition member lobbyists met with legislators throughout the week to talk about our priorities and gather support for them in both the House and Senate’s key committees. We’ll keep you up date on progress!

Hunger Action Day 2013

Setting lobby day appointments with your legislators:

Hunger Action Day (Friday, Feb. 22) is a unique lobby day because once you register, we work hard to get appointments for you with your legislators. An appointment gives you time with your lawmaker (or their staff) they have set aside to hear about what’s important to you and hungry people in your district. REGISTER NOW and we’ll start scheduling for you!

Pacific Coast Harvest has generously donated 150 oranges for bright orange, nutritious tokens for you to deliver to your legislator at your meeting.

Thanks, Pacific Coast Harvest!


Hotel rooms reserved already! Stay in Olympia on Thursday night so you’re fresh and ready for Friday lobbying – contact Governor Hotel and ask for the discount rate arranged by WA Food Coalition (thanks, Julie!).

Transportation Funding:

If you are a partner program of Northwest Harvest who can bring at least one client to Hunger Action Day, NW Harvest can with a gas card to help pay for transportation costs. This offer is limited to 25 of our partner programs and gas card amounts will be for $25, $50 or $100 depending on distance from the Capitol. For more information please email (Note: NWH will not start filling in slots for cards until after their electronic partner newsletter is released, so all partner programs have an opportunity to hear about this offer.)

There’s more than Hunger Action Day – lobby for our priorities in Olympia more than once this year:

Have a Heart for Kids Day

(Wed., January 30) is always a powerful, energizing day in Olympia. We’ll be there talking about State Food Assistance and hungry kids – will you? Register here.

Martin Luther King Day

This Mon., January 21 is Statewide Poverty Action Network’s annual lobby day brings together advocates committed to ending poverty and addressing the root causes of it. Details here for transportation, training and meeting with legislators.

Monday, Feb. 4 will be Good Food and Farming Lobby Day – we’ll be there talking about the importance of restoring WSDA’s Farm to School and Small Farms Programs. Register here and join us!

Federal update:

Congress has appointed members to committees, too, and Washington’s east King County members now have important opportunities to positively influence food stamp (SNAP), welfare and agriculture policies. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-1st CD) will serve on the House Agriculture Committee, a critical committee overseeing SNAP, as well as agriculture issues. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8th CD) is chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources.