House Passes Riccelli Bills to Promote Healthy Children, Healthy Families

OLYMPIA – Seeking to promote healthy children and healthy families, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, sponsored a series of bills designed to improve health care services. Those bills range from enabling health care students to provide minor medical assistance at community events like Spokane’s Hoopfest to requiring Critical Congenital Heart Disease screenings for newborns. They all passed the state House of Representatives this week unanimously.

“Too often we fail to identify serious medical issues, which can result in disaster,” said Riccelli, a father of two small children. “We can do better, and we must. By passing these practical reforms, we can head off problems before they cause our children unnecessary harm. Making sure our families have the access to care they need is a top priority.”

Each bill targets a specific area supporting the overall health of our community.

HB 1285 – Requires all newborns in Washington to be screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. CCHD affects nearly 1 in 100 infants. Early detection and intervention is critical for a good health outcome for these infants.

“Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of death for children with a birth defect,” said Lindsay Hovind of the American Heart Association. “Pulse oximetry screening is a painless, inexpensive, and effective way to save lives.”

HB 1369 – Expands opportunities for students of nursing, pharmacy, and medicine to volunteer in schools and at community events like Hoopfest and Bloomsday by simplifying supervision requirements. Under this bill, a student in any of the above fields could offer basic services like cholesterol screenings, patient education, immunizations, and taking vital signs under the supervision of a professional in any of those fields trained in that service area. This will lessen the often prohibitive challenge of finding the supervisory staff needed to make voluntary clinics possible.

HB 2021 – Helps uninsured and underinsured patients access low-cost prescription medications. The Prescription Drug Assistance Program has been helping uninsured people access low-cost drugs for the past decade. The passage of the Affordable Care Act has cut down the ranks of the uninsured, but many people still cannot afford the high cost of prescription drugs. This bill will expand eligibility for prescription drug assistance so that more people can access the life-saving medicine they need.

The bills will be sent to the senate for its consideration.

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House Continues Focus on Healthy Children by Passing Breakfast After the Bell

OLYMPIA – Because House Democrats know hungry kids don’t learn, they led the way in passing HB 1295 Breakfast After the Bell with a bipartisan vote of 65-33. Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, was the prime sponsor.

“Giving a nutritious breakfast to a poor kid in the classroom expands on existing programs and funding,” said Rep. Hudgins. “It makes sense for the kids, for their peers, and for better outcomes in our schools which we are working towards fully funding.”

“These programs already exist in districts like Tukwila, and now kids across the state can start the day ready to learn instead of being distracted by a growling stomach,” Hudgins added.

Every study done on the issue concludes that hungry students do not achieve the same level of academic success as those who eat healthy meals for breakfast. As poverty and homelessness among children has increased, so has the number of students who go without meals in the morning. Breakfast After the Bell offers nutritious meals for all students without interrupting instructional time. Breakfast programs for low income children are reimbursed in part or full by the federal government, and currently only have a 17% utilization rate in our state. Breakfast after the Bell is expected to increase participation in those existing programs. By moving breakfast after the bell, instead of before, we make sure everyone receives a meal without having to stand in line and miss instructional opportunities.

The bill will now go to the Senate for its consideration.

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Walkinshaw’s opioid antagonist bill clears House

OLYMPIA – Lawmakers in Olympia passed a bill on Monday that would allow third party providers to have opioid antagonists on hand to help reverse the effect of a heroin overdose.

“We are seeing a very concerning uptick in heroin use and overdoses around the entire state,” said Walkinshaw. “This bill will allow first responders, community providers, and family members to have life-saving drugs on hand for someone experiencing a heroin overdose. In short, this bill will save lives.”

“This idea was brought to me by a constituent with family members who have struggled with heroin addiction. It further demonstrates how everyone can and should be a part of the democratic process to make their communities better,” said Walkinshaw.

Under current law, access to heroin overdose drugs like Narcan is restricted to licensed health care professionals and those with prescriptions. Walkinshaw’s bill will expand access to those that interact with heroin users on a regular basis, like first responders, homeless shelters, and family members.

The bill passed out of the House of Representatives 96-1. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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UPDATE: Today’s House vote on Minimum Wage bill likely at 2 p.m. instead of 4

The House of Representatives will consider the minimum wage bill, as well as other middle-class prosperity bills today starting at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. as previously announced.

 

The House Rules room will be open to members of the media and stakeholders at 2 p.m.

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The House of Representatives will debate House Bill 1355 as well as other middle-class prosperity bills on the Floor this afternoon.

HB 1355, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle) and backed by 40 other lawmakers, would increase the minimum wage, currently of $9.47 per hour, to $12 over the course of four years, starting in 2016.

Supporters of the measure say that while raising the minimum wage won’t end poverty in the state, it will benefit more than half a million workers and will bring greater equity into the labor market.

For a person working full-time earning $10 an hour, an increase to $12 would mean an extra $347 per month to spend on rent, food or utilities.

The House Rules room will be open to members of the media and stakeholders at 2 p.m. where they will be able to ask questions and get comments from legislators and workers before or after the vote.

The other middle-class prosperity bills that may be voted on this afternoon are Paid Sick and Safe Leave (HB 1356) and Worker Anti-Retaliation (HB 1354)

WHAT: Media availability on middle-class prosperity bills

WHEN: Today, March 3, 2015 starting at 2 p.m.

WHERE: House Rules Room

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