OLYMPIA – Legislation to explicitly authorize candidates running for office in Washington state to use campaign funds for childcare was heard in the Senate State Government & Elections Committee today.

Senate Bill 5855, sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes), would clarify rules on the use of campaign funds.

“This legislation is an important step to create elected bodies that looks more like the communities they represent,” said Lovelett. “Too many parents, and especially single moms, are not able to run for office – not for a lack of desire but because they are unable to balance their family demands with those of a campaign. Clearly allowing the use of campaign funds for childcare would create the opportunity for more parents to have a say in their government and give them a seat at the table on the important decisions that affect them.”

Current Washington law states that childcare can be reimbursed with campaign funds if the expense would not have occurred but for the campaign. SB 5855 would codify this in state law and expand the allowable use of campaign funds to include childcare and other primary caregiving duties.

“We have an opportunity with this legislation to open doors for our community members who have children to access elected office,” said cosponsor Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest). “We not only break down a harmful institutional barrier that has kept some people out of office, but by supporting candidates with children, we build the kind of representative democracy that will allow our state to flourish.”

You can watch the public hearing on TVW.org. The legislation now awaits further action in committee. The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.