Legislative Wrap Up 2022
For the fourth year in a row, Ventures entrepreneurs joined staff and community partners to advocate for the needs of micro and small business owners during Washington State’s legislative session. Our advocacy was once again virtual. Nevertheless, a committed and inspired group of people gathered for Advocacy Day and built momentum around policies that impact the lives of micro business owners.
Ventures’ 2022 policy agenda focused on equity in entrepreneurship. Two of our policy priorities passed into law and the third continues to generate excitement and support. Here’s an update on all three items:
Equitable Access to Credit Act (HB 1015): As a member of the Washington Community Investment Coalition, Ventures was proud to partner with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), community leaders, and anti-poverty activists on legislation which will increase access to capital for historically underserved communities. On March 8, 2022 the Equitable Access to Credit Act passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Inslee. This program creates a new funding source for CDFIs (mission-driven lenders like Ventures). CDFIs will then use this fund to increase access to capital in markets that are underserved by banks, such as communities of color, native communities, and very rural parts of the state.
Ventures entrepreneurs provided essential insight and support to help pass this legislation. At Advocacy Day, entrepreneurs who received loans from Ventures shared with lawmakers about the importance of access to capital and the barriers they face from traditional lenders. Business owners like Lauren Anderson of Grain Artisan Bakery, continue to share powerful stories about the role CDFIs play in business opportunity and growth. Lauren Anderson and Ventures’ Executive Director, Beto Yarce, recently collaborated on an OP-ED with The Everett Herald about the positive impact the Equitable Access to Credit Act will have over the next 5 years. Read it here.
Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC): In 2021, the WFTC passed into law after more than a decade of work by committed advocates including Ventures. The WFTC created a program to provide cash assistance in the form of tax refunds for low- and middle-income Washingtonians across the state. Working within a coalition of 40+ organizations, Ventures was the small business voice for this legislation. Although the WFTC became law in 2021, we redoubled our efforts in 2022 to ensure implementation fixes were made and all eligible families could access this cash support. We also successfully advocated for a $10 million budget item to provide outreach support across the state as this program rolls out.
The “Tamale Bill.” It was powerful to witness lawmakers come together in response to a pressing need and pass the Equitable Access to Credit Act. We were heartened that the technical fixes to the WFTC were made law. But the 2022 legislative session was also a reminder that important change does not always follow a linear path. Our bill to regulate home cooking by creating a statewide Microenterprise Home Kitchens permit will need more time to move forward.
In 2021, we were able to pass the bill through three committees in the House, a full House vote, and three committees in the Senate before just missing the deadline for a full Senate vote. Based on this past success and hard work of Representative Noel Frame and others on this bill, we were optimistic about the bill’s chances for success. 2022 was not the year for the “Tamale Bill” to become the Tamale Law, but we will continue fighting for it in the years to come.
After the legislative session, Ventures launched a coalition to capture and build on the excitement for the Tamale Bill. At our first coalition meeting last month, over twenty home-cooks, community partners, and advocates joined to share stories and work for change. Chefs like Alex Dorros of Siembra explained how legislation like the Tamale Bill would remove barriers and increase opportunities in a tight commercial rent market. Our partners at the COOK Alliance also shared their experience of passing a similar law in California in 2018..
Moving forward, we remain committed to creating opportunity and equity for entrepreneurs through legislation like the Tamale Bill. Continuing to move this legislation forward is a big task, but we have a strong and growing community of advocates working together on this important project. If you want to learn more or share your story of home cooking, please reach out to Rebecca [email protected] or Will (hablo español) [email protected]
Thanks to generous support from funders like the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Ventures will continue growing our movement and making progress on our existing goals throughout 2022. We will also continue to build momentum and look ahead to more successes in 2023 and beyond. We invite you to join us during this exciting time and help increase access to entrepreneurship for all.