Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Orwall’s Feb. 10, 2017 Legislative Update

Town Hall, Air Quality, Language Access,  Sexual Assault, Sex Offenses, Surprise ER bills


Dear neighbors,

As many bills are heard in the policy committees and then make their way through the legislative process, we are wrapping up week five of session and, with so much going on, it’s time for an update.

As you likely know, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension of President Trump’s executive order that restricted refugees and immigrants from certain countries from entering the United States.

In Washington state we enjoy world-renowned businesses that employ a workforce that includes immigrants. They contribute to our state’s economy, our technology, agricultural, educational, and medical sectors. While we all share in the desire to protect our nation from any enemies, we know our country has been welcoming to many immigrants and serves as a beacon of hope to the world.

Air Quality

Many of us are concerned about air quality and its effects on our community, particularly since our district is home to the fastest growing airport in the country. I introduced HB 1171 to fund the completion of a study of environmental impacts, including ultrafine particulate matter air pollution, associated with aircraft traffic at Sea-Tac Airport.

The Department of Commerce will contract with the UW School of Public Health to complete the two-phase study that will help us understand the health impacts and recommendations to mitigate these effects. For example, we know that areas that use biodiesel have lower rates of ultrafine particles.

HB 1171 had a hearing and passed out of the House Environment Committee this week.

For more information on this issue, here are links to a newspaper article and a TV story:

Highline Times article

KOMO story

Language Access

Our district is very diverse and culturally rich.  In the Kent School district alone, over 130 languages are spoken by students and their families.  To support students, families and staff, we need to provide schools with the tools they need to communicate effectively with families to ensure all students can be successful.

So I sponsored HB 1451, which directs the formation of a language access advisory committee to develop tools and recommendations to improve language access for public school students and families with limited English proficiency.

A wonderful group of parents testified, with interpreters, on HB 1451 in the House Education Committee.  The committee chair, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, joined us for this picture.

HB 1451 passed out of the House Education Committee this week.

Victims of Sexual Assault

Last month I mentioned my bill relating to supporting victims of sexual assault, HB 1109.  I’m happy to report that it passed out of the House Public Safety Committee and had a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee this week.


Felony Sex Offenses

I’m pleased to collaborate with colleagues to address this important issue, so I co-sponsored Rep. Dan Griffey’s bill, which makes felony sex offenses crimes that may be prosecuted at any time after they are committed. We took this picture after testifying on our bills in the House Appropriations Committee.

Surprise Emergency Room Bills

When you’ve had to seek care at an emergency room you provided your insurance information and paid your co-pay. That’s normal procedure. But was that visit followed up with an unexpected bill weeks or even months later? This surprise billing causes stress and creates a financial burden on working families.

These “balanced billing” issues have affected many people. What sometimes happens is that you go to a hospital that is in your network, but that doesn’t mean the doctor treating you is part of that network, he could be a visiting physician or maybe filling in.  So you are stuck with a much higher bill than you anticipated.

Our Health Care & Wellness Committee chair, Eileen Cody, has been working with insurance providers, doctors, and hospitals to address this problem.  I am supporting her bill to fix balanced billing, especially for emergency room visits where the last thing on your mind is making sure the doctor treating you is in your network and, therefore, covered by your insurance.

My Video Playlist

Click here to watch my Ask Tina and my Legislative Update videos.

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter. Be sure to let me know what you think, if you have concerns you’d like to share with me, or if you have ideas to continue making our district a great place to live, work and raise a family,