Our Budget Works For Everyone, Not Just The Wealthy Few

 Legislative Support ServicesA lot of talk has been going on about what will happen with the budget. I’m sorry to say the Senate Republicans have refused our efforts to negotiate and have been blaming us in the press. While claiming they want to negotiate, they refuse to consider our proposals and instead want to cut tens of millions out of the State Need Grant, raid the marijuana prevention and education funding setup by I-502, and pass a major property tax increase.

The House Democrats’ budget aligns our shared values and makes real investments in the future of our economy and the well-being of our children, families, and communities. With this budget, we are supporting an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Our plan does a lot. It increases funding for K-12 education by 21%, adding in all-day kindergarten statewide, reduces class sizes for K-3, and provides funding for important everyday tools like textbooks, classroom supplies, and general school operating costs. We’re also investing in college-readiness programs, and giving our hard working teachers and school employees a LONG overdue cost of living increase.

We’re also investing in early learning opportunities and child care. And, we’re freezing college tuition while increasing the funding for the State Need Grant so both middle class and low income students have the chance at a college education.

Finally, we’re putting much needed funding into our mental health and social safety net programs. Everyone deserves dignity and respect, and unfortunately our current mental health system is leaving too many people with mental illnesses in prisons, in emergency rooms or on the streets, because there is no room at our mental health facilities. By funding more beds in community mental health facilities and state hospitals, we can make sure that people are getting the treatment they need.

To me, the choice is clear: We must fund a budget that is responsible and meets both our constitutional and moral obligations. A budget is a values statement about who we are and what we believe in. If we simply cut, cut, cut and leave those with the most need behind, we are failing. But if we choose to move forward together and make investments in our future, we will have a stronger, healthier, and happier Washington for everyone.

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Final approval for Walkinshaw bill to make emergency overdose medication available to all

OLYMPIA – The governor is set to sign a Rep. Brady Walkinshaw bill that will put life-saving heroin overdose medication in the hands of first responders, community providers, and family members and friends of users.

Opioid antagonists like naloxone — commonly known as brand name Narcan — save lives by reversing the effects of a heroin overdose. But under current law, access to heroin overdose drugs like Narcan is restricted to licensed health care professionals and those with prescriptions.

Walkinshaw’s (D – Seattle) bill allows pharmacists to provide Narcan to the people who have the best chance of saving heroin addicts — first responders, homeless shelters and family members.

“We have a life-saving tool at our disposal to save families from losing loved ones to increasing heroin addiction in our communities,” Walkinshaw said. “But we haven’t put that tool in the hands of those best prepared to save addicts – their friends and family. Shortly, this bill will save lives.”

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Legislature passes Jinkins’ Consumer Protection Bill

The House convenes on April 14, 2015, the 93rd Legislative Day. Legislative Support ServicesOLYMPIA –Today, the legislature passed a bill reforming our state’s medical liens system, House Bill 1503. The bill, prime sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma that will protect consumers.

“For those suffering from traumatic injuries, time in the hospital can be incredibly costly,” said Jinkins. “It’s wrong that unbeknownst to patients, years after they have paid their medical bills, they can still have a huge black mark on their credit. Consumers deserve a fair and transparent system.”

HB 1503 makes significant changes to our state’s medical lien laws. Currently, when a patient receives emergency treatment, a medical lien (a way to secure payment of debt) can be placed on that patient. Sometimes, hospitals place an immediate lien against a patient’s property without informing them and corrupt collection agencies aggressively pursue consumers who have these medical liens placed on them. Because of flaws in the law, patients aren’t aware they have a medical lien out against them. The problem doesn’t stop there. Even for patients who are aware and have paid their liens, some hospitals and health clinics fail to lift the liens in a timely fashion, or at all.

“Washingtonians deserve better,” said Jinkins. “Medical emergencies are stressful enough without predators making the situation worse. HB 1503 is a common-sense bill that will help restore balance in the system again – ensuring that patients have notice of a medical lien being placed and that liens are lifted in a timely fashion when the bill is paid.”

HB 1503 will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session concludes.

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Goodman’s disaster response bill passes legislature

 Legislative Support ServicesOLYMPIA – Major floods, landslides and earthquakes have devastating effects, yet firefighters, who are highly-trained first responders and often closest to the scene, are currently prohibited from helping out in the most serious disasters.

Washington state law prevents fire departments to be mobilized in response to disasters other than fires. This deficiency in the law kept firefighters away from the rescue and recovery efforts after the Oso landslide. House Bill 1389, sponsored by Rep. Goodman, fixes this deficiency.

“Tragedies like the Oso landslide leave a long-lasting impact on our communities,” said Rep. Goodman, who chairs of the House Public Safety Committee. “If we had been able to mobilize firefighters to the scene at Oso, it’s possible we could have saved lives, and we would have been able to recover victims sooner.”

“Firefighters have special training and expertise that qualifies them to tackle disasters of all kinds, not just fires,” said Goodman. “They are part of our best response effort. This bill will ensure that all first responders will be available to protect and save lives in case of major disasters.”

The final version of House Bill 1389 was approved today by the House and now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature.

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Gov. Inslee signs Springer bill to help students

 Washington State Legislative Sup

Bill Signing, HB 1004

OLYMPIA – Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland knows good wine and good public policy. And also he knows that in order to make good wine, or good beer or good spirits for that matter, you must be able to taste them.

That’s why he championed House Bill 1004, to allow alcohol tasting for students at colleges or universities in our state training in specifically related degree programs. Today, Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1004 into law.

“As a local wine shop owner for almost 30 years, I know that it’s impossible to tell if a wine is good or bad without tasting it,” Rep. Springer said. “For the future sommeliers, viticulturists and brewers of our state, learning how to properly taste the potential product is essential.”

When Rep. Springer and his wife opened their wine shop in 1986 Washington had eight wineries. There are now over 850. The craft brew and distillery businesses have exploded too.

“These expansions have brought hundreds of career openings to our state. We need to make sure that young adults who want to fill these jobs, can,” Springer noted. “This bill will allow Washington students to remain competitive in the job market.”

Prior state law only permitted students over age 21 to taste alcohol in school. HB 1004 will permit schools who apply for and successfully obtain a special license from the liquor control board to allow students in sommelier, wine business, enology, and viticulture degree programs 18 years of age and older to taste alcohol.

House Bill 1004 will go into effect 90 days after the conclusion of the legislative session.

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