Washington State House Democrats


Sawyer bill to end cycle of family poverty signed into law

OLYMPIA – Services, programs and organizations focused on poverty will better coordinate and expand their efforts to address “intergenerational poverty” thanks to a bill signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Rep. David Sawyer (D-Tacoma) sponsored the bill (HB 1482) to stop the cycle of poverty that passes from generation to generation.

“Too often, children born into poverty remain in poverty their entire lives. These children face barriers that can’t be addressed in a vacuum,” Sawyer said. “We need a holistic approach that focuses not only on a child’s immediate needs, but also the financial stability and education of the entire family unit – this is how we disrupt the cycle of intergenerational poverty.”

The bill creates “…a legislative-executive WorkFirst poverty reduction oversight task force and an intergenerational poverty advisory committee in order to lay the groundwork in Washington for advancing intergenerational prosperity and reducing poverty.”

In the past, the former WorkFirst Oversite Task Force essentially only oversaw the state’s poverty assistance programs. Now, the newly formed groups will take a more proactive approach by:

  • Overseeing operation of the WorkFirst and TANF programs
  • Researching best practices on poverty reduction from service providers and experts across the country
  • Bringing partner agencies together to collaborate on data sharing and policy ideas
  • Recommending specific policy actions to the governor and the Legislature to reduce intergenerational poverty

This framework for addressing poverty is modeled on successful efforts in Utah and other states. Like the program in Utah, HB 1482 requires a five-year plan to reduce intergenerational poverty. The task force will review its work in 2024 and make updates as needed.

“The root causes of poverty are complicated and multi-faceted,” Sawyer said. “If all involved coordinate their various services and work together on new and innovative policies, we can significantly improve the prosperity and productivity of generations to come.”