Rep. Blake’s newsletter: Wildfire Prevention / Surprise Hospital Bills / Page Program

The 2019 Session began a couple of weeks ago and all members of the House took our oath of office. I was sworn in to begin my ninth term and I am excited to be back in Olympia representing all of you.

Oath

Utility Wildland Fire Prevention Task Force

The “Camp Fire” in California has brought focus on the need to expose and minimize potential fire hazards associated with utility infrastructure.

NW fires

For the entire West, wildfire season continues to be devastating, both for the families directly impacted and on local economies. Developing a strategy to recognize vulnerabilities in our own utility infrastructure will be an important step in fire management moving forward.

I introduced HB 1334, which directs the Commissioner of Public Lands to form a task force of utility representatives and fire science experts. Together, they will strategize how to reduce the risk utility infrastructure plays on wildfires.

The 19th is a rural district where we enjoy leisure and sport activities, but where we also rely on our natural resources as an economic driver. I am committed to preserving our identity, and I believe bringing groups together to encourage dynamic solutions is a good starting point toward that goal.


Ending “surprise” hospital bills

Have you ever visited an emergency room, provided your insurance information and paid your co-pay, only to find a bill mailed out weeks or even months later? You may have seen a story in the news such as this one, where a LaCenter mom received an $112,000 bill after the hospital assured her that her visit was in-network.

emergency

These surprise bills cause stress and create a serious financial burden. The practice is known as “balanced billing” and like me, you likely agree that it should get fixed.

What usually happens is you visit a hospital that is in your network, but the doctor you see happens to be visiting or filling in, and is not in your network. So you get stuck with a much higher bill than you anticipated.

House Health Care & Wellness Committee Chair Eileen Cody has been working with insurance providers, doctors, and hospitals to address why this care is not covered by insurance, and how to get patients and their families out of the middle of the tug of war between hospitals and insurance companies.

I’m fully supporting Rep. Cody’s bill to fix balanced billing, especially for emergency room visits where the last thing you need to worry about is whether the doctor treating you is covered by your insurance.


Send us your teen for a week

Taking part in the page program is a great opportunity for young people to gain a unique perspective of the legislative process.

Every year, students ages 14 to 16 come from all over the state to serve as legislative pages at the House of Representatives.

pages 2014

Pages perform a wide variety of responsibilities, from presenting the flags to distributing amendments on the House floor. In addition to contributing to the efficient operation of the Legislature, pages receive daily civics instruction, draft their own bills, and participate in mock committee hearings.

The future of our representative democracy depends on preparing our youth to be informed and effective citizens today. Sometimes paging is the spark that lights the path to a life of public service,

Pages are sponsored by members of the Legislature, usually from the district in which they live.

To help lower income families participate in the program, the House of Representatives created the Gina Grant Bull Scholarship. Check out the FAQ page to see if you can apply.

If you have a teen who could benefit from this experience, I encourage you to consider sending him or her to Olympia for a week.

For more information, please visit the House Page Program website.


Keeping you updated

As in previous years, I will do my best to keep you informed on what goes on in Olympia through my e-newsletters and videos, as well as press stories on the issues I am working on. So check out my website for the latest information.

Please feel free to contact me anytime on specific legislative issues, if you need more information on a particular bill, or to share your concerns. I, or Dawn Thomas, my Legislative Assistant, will get back to you promptly.

Be sure to stop by my office on the 4th floor of the Legislative building if you’re in town. You’ll find great information on visiting the Capitol campus here.

Sincerely,

blake sig