Asking for champions at session halfway point – and vote no on the Roach Amendment

Remember to complete Hunger Action Day survey!

With 200 advocates meeting with legislators in Olympia two weeks ago, our lobby day was a big success – don’t forget to take our quick Hunger Action Day survey by Monday evening (March 11) so we can plan an even better lobby day next year.

What’s Happening in Olympia:

This week marked the halfway point for the 2013 legislative session. Each of our anti-hunger priorities has a legislator sign on letter and we’re looking for more champions for all of them. When you ask your lawmakers to sign on to a letter of support, you’re letting them know what’s important in their communities.

Take Action! Reach out now and ask your lawmakers to sign letters of support for our hunger relief programs:

State Food Assistance:
Since benefit levels were cut in half last July, the average household on SFA now receives only $78.23 per month for food – just one-third of the resources needed  to be ‘food secure’ according to USDA’s own calculations. Our goal is 25 Senators to sign on to the support letter (lead by Senators Fain and Billig) to restore benefits for SFA.

We’re near our goal but not there yet! If your Senator isn’t listed, call them today and ask them to sign on. As of Thursday, these Senators have signed on: Fain, Billig, Cleveland, Dammeier, Darnielle, Frockt , Harper, Hasegawa, Hatfield, Hobbs, Keiser, Kline, Kohl-Welles, Litzow, McAuliffe, Rolfes, Ranker, Schlicher and Shin.

Emergency Food Assistance Program:
The number of food bank client visits has gone up by almost 40% since 2008, and the amount of food available to food banks hasn’t kept pace. Since 2010, the amount of food per client has been declining at the same time there has been more demand. Please make sure your organization has signed onto Washington Food Coalition’s community letter of support here.

If your lawmaker isn’t listed below, call them today and ask them to sign on! The Senate letter of support to add funds to EFAP, led by Sen. Hatfield, has been signed by: Billing, Conway, Harper and Hasegawa.

The House letter, championed by Reps. Blake and Standford, has the following signers: Bergquist, Cody, Liias, McCoy, Moscosco, Orwell, Pollett, Reykdel, Riccelli, Ryu, Standford, Tharinger, and Wylie.

Farm to School/ Small Farms Programs:

WSDA’s Farm to School and Small Farms Programs were de-funded and will be eliminated altogether if this year’s budget doesn’t restore funding to support this critical work to support healthy kids and economic opportunities for agricultural businesses. Contact your lawmakers if they have not signed letters of support to restore state funds for these programs:

Senators who support funding: Billig, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Fraser, Harper, Hasegawa, Hatfield, Hobbs, Kline, Kohl-Welles, McAuliffe, Mullet, Murray, Pearson, Ranker, Rolfes, Schlicher Shin, and Parlette.

Representatives who have signed on: Blake, Condotta, Dunshee, Farrell, Fey, Goodman, Green, Haler, Hunt, Kagi, Lytton, McCoy, Moeller, Morrell, Ormsby, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollett, Reykdel, Riccelli, Ross, Ryu, Smith, Standford, Tarleton, Tharinger, Van de Wege, and Zeiger.

Last Thursday was a great day for Washington families -Supreme Court ruling on 2/3 supermajority on closing tax loopholes or raising revenue:

The state Supreme Court once again ruled unconstitutional another Tim Eyman initiative. This one required a 2/3 supermajority to close loopholes or raise revenue, rather than the simple majority (1/2 plus 1) that our state’s constitution requires. As legislators grapple with complying with last year’s Supreme Court McCleary ruling that requires our state to fully fund education, as well as the new federal funding cuts that Washington will face as a result of sequestration, advocates are thrilled that this ruling allows the Legislature to make smart choices for our future.

Unfortunately, Eyman and conservative Senators aren’t taking “no” for an answer.

Sen. Pam Roach has introduced an Amendment that would enshrine Eyman’s super-majority in our state’s Constitution forever.  Our Constitution is the foundation of our laws and values as a state. Yet conservative legislators see this amendment as a way to protect unjust tax loopholes for corporate special interests and the ultra-wealthy.Even worse,The Roach Amendment would lock in the recent cuts to classrooms, teachers, and opportunities for our children.

Now that the two-thirds majority rule is gone legislators should quickly move to reform our state’s outdated tax code. That includes closing unjust loopholes. Closing tax loopholes is an important part of raising revenue to prevent deeper budget cuts and fund the services that feed hungry people, growing minds and a healthy economy.

Take Action: Call your lawmakers – tell them to vote no on the Roach Amendment and reform our revenue system!

Town Hall Meetings:

Calling, emailing and faxing your lawmakers are great – attending our lobby day in Olympia was great -even better is showing up with your neighbors and friends  at town hall meetings. Now that they are approaching the really tough decisions  about funding programs, closing tax loopholes and weighing options for building  a more fair budget for families, many lawmakers are planning town hall meetings  in the next few weeks. Click here to find a meeting in your district – and speak up for hungry people! Questions or comments on any of this information are welcome – please contact Claire Lane at ClaireL@WithinReachWA.org or (206) 830-7642.