Edmonds Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Sydney Brown
Washington State Journal 

Free lunches get House approval; bill's sponsor from Mill Creek


Last updated 2/18/2021 at 10:15am

As a single mother who survived on food stamps, and added $20 monthly cost for her four children’s lunch was more than Rep. Melanie Morgan (D-Tacoma) could afford at that time. Eliminating copays on her children’s lunch would have made a dramatic difference for her and her children, she said.

“There was a reason I was on food stamps,” Morgan told the House of Representatives Feb. 12. “This may not seem like a lot to many people, but for me … $20 was a lot of money.”

House Bill 1342, which would force schools that have lunch programs to get rid of lunch copays for students eligible for reduced-price lunches, passed with an overwhelming majority in the House in a 95-1 vote.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. April Berg (D-Mill Creek) told the House this would address the many students who went hungry especially as a result of the pandemic.

“Hungry kids can’t learn, and there are far too many hungry kids in our state today,” Berg said.

Another bill addressing school costs, HB 1119, passed the House in a 96-0 vote. The law would require four-year institutions to let students know if cheaper textbook materials are available.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen (R-Puyallup), said open-educational resources should be made available for students who need or want to save money.

“This bill provides helpful transparency so students can see when courses have low-cost materials or have open-educational resources associated with them,” said Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue).

Lawmakers also passed a law to allow people who completed a state-approved apprenticeship program to become certified substance use disorder professionals.

HB 1311 passed in an 85-11 vote. Sponsor Rep. Dan Bronoske (D-Lakewood) told the House this law would meet an increasing need for behavioral health workers and help retain them in the long-term.

“We certainly do need the workforce … We need to take care of our own communities,” said Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) in support of the bill.

The Beacon is a member of the Washington State Journal, a non-profit news website managed by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. Learn more at http://www.wastatejournal.org.


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