State Rep. Debra Entenman, D-Kent. COURTESY PHOTO

State Rep. Debra Entenman, D-Kent. COURTESY PHOTO

Kent’s Entenman wins Legislative Champion Award from Food Lifeline

Sponsored 2020 bill to improve food access

State Rep. Debra Entenman, D-Kent, was named one of the winners of Food Lifeline’s Legislative Champion Award for 2020.

Food Lifeline is a Seattle based non-profit organization that supplies food to over 275 food banks across Western Washington. A member of the Feeding America network, Food Lifeline also advocates at the local, state and federal level to combat the root causes of hunger in America including poverty, systemic inequality and social injustice.

Legislative Champion Awards are given to legislators who have made significant contributions to ending hunger in Washington. Entenman was recognized for her work in sponsoring and passing House Bill 2441 which improved access to the Workfirst/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

“It is an honor to receive this award from an organization that fights tirelessly to provide basic human rights to everyone in Western Washington,” said Entenman in a Jan. 7 House Democrats news release. “TANF is the last, best hope for those in poverty and this legislation will ensure that our government is working to prevent people from sliding into homelessness instead of punishing them for perceived non-compliance.”

The winners were announced on Dec. 23.

TANF already has strict restrictions on its use including a five-year lifetime limit on receiving benefits and stringent job training requirements. After the financial crisis of 2008, families were given a shorter grace period for falling out of compliance and the Legislature made it possible to sanction a full family if the parent was not in compliance.

HB 2441 extends the grace period that parents receive if they fall out of compliance with TANF requirements. It also ends the full family sanction by only reducing a family’s grant by 40% if a parent is out of compliance. TANF can be the difference between a child being fed or not.

HB 2441 was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on April 3 and went into effect on July 1.

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