Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Orwall’s e-Newsletter for February 23, 2015

Children’s Day 2015

Last Monday was Children’s Day at the state Capitol. This is a great tradition that allows young ones to see the Legislature in person. This is always a fun day at #waleg!

Check out the House Democrats Facebook page for more photos from Children’s Day 2015!

Hasina Freeman, daughter of Farhana Satti & David Freeman, joined me at the podium for Children’s Day! (Photo courtesy of Legislative Support Services)


Update on my bills

  • I’m very excited to report that HB 1069, which creates a standardized way of protecting DNA evidence, passed the House!  Although 35 states have a standard protocol for preserving DNA evidence, the State of Washington does not. It is important that we have a way to identify and prosecute persons responsible for serious crimes. The bill now moves on to the Senate!
  • HB 2118 offers a strategy to help some small businesses faced with especially high increases in the cost of association health plans for their employees under the Affordable Care Act. The bill had a public hearing in the House Finance Committee on Friday.
  • Federal law categorizes foster youth between the ages of 18 and 21eligible for extended foster care services as those pursuing high school, those pursuing secondary education, those with significant barriers to employment, those who are working more than 80 hours a month, and those with significant medical conditions.  We have been successful in our state getting all of these groups eligible, except the group with significant medical conditions – those that are the least able to survive on their own, let alone on the streets. HB 1735 expands eligibility for extended foster care services to include youth who are not currently able to participate in a qualifying activity due to a documented medical condition. The bill is progressing and I hope to see if advance to the House floor.


Outdated and Unfair — Talking Taxes in Washington

 USA Today recently reported that Washington had “by far the most regressive tax system nationwide.” In the video above (click on the image to play), my colleague, Rep. Reuven Carlyle, outlines Washington’s broken and regressive tax structure, and explains how Washington’s high reliance on a sales tax has placed an unfair tax burden on its poorest citizens. Our system isn’t working, and it’s unfair to the middle class. According to the data in the USA Today story, the poorest 20% of Washington families pay nearly 17% of their income in state and local taxes, while the wealthiest 1% in Washington pay just 2.4% — “one of the highest such ratios nationwide.”


Did you miss the deadline? No worries, there’s still time to get covered

By last Sunday night 160,000 Washingtonians had signed up for private insurance on Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange, including 66,000 new customers and about 94,000 people who renewed insurance they bought during the previous open enrollment period. But if you are among the 50,000 who didn’t meet the deadline either because you encountered technical glitches, or because you simply didn’t know there’s a penalty for not signing up, a special enrollment period will run until April 17:

  • If you were unaware of the tax penalty, complete an online application at wahealthplanfinder.org. When prompted to select the type of special enrollment you are applying for, select “other.” You will then be asked to contact the toll-free Customer Support Center to request a special enrollment at 1-855-923-4633.
  • If you had a technical problem when trying to sign up, or your income could not be verified, call 1-855-923-4633 or email customersupport@wahbexchange.org to request a special enrollment.

For more information about the spring special enrollment opportunity, please click here for frequently asked questions.


 In the News:

AP: House committee weighs bill to abolish death penalty

Auburn Reporter:Education opportunity: Equal but unequal? Legislators tackling student-achievement gap

Olympian editorial: Oil-by-rail regulation needs bolster


 Photo courtesy of Rob Van Tassell, Director of Housing and Community Development, CCS

Many groups visit the Capitol each week to lobby for various causes and interests. This week citizens came to Olympia for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.

I hope to see you in Olympia sometime soon!