Last week we kicked off the 2018 Legislative Session! I am excited to be back in Olympia, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for policies that will make a difference in our district and around the state.
During his opening day speech, Speaker Chopp reminded us that we are One Washington, and that when people from across the state come together for a common purpose, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
I am excited to work with the Senate to put people first and address not only the work left from the 2017 session, but the critical issues facing families and communities across our state. Education will continue to be a focus, as all Washington students deserve to have access to high-quality early learning, public schools, and higher education opportunities. Democrats will take steps to address the growing housing crisis, environment, as well as improving care and treatment for people fighting opioid drug addiction. We will also continue the fight for access to affordable healthcare and to improve the behavioral health system.
I am ready to get to work in addressing these important issues and many others in the upcoming legislative session!
My Legislative Priorities
Throughout the session, I will provide updates on policies I am working on. As a sneak peek, I’ve provided some brief information about my bills.
To ensure we can connect unaccompanied homeless youth to appropriate services, my bill (House Bill 1630), allows minors to choose to share their information so we can work to give these youth the help they deserve. I’m proud to say that earlier this week, the House passed this bill on a near unanimous vote (96-2)!
Children’s Mental Health Hotline
House Bill 2451 will help families and pregnant women or new mothers seeking mental health services by expanding the Partnership Access Line (PAL) program, which was originally designed as a resource for providers.
Across Washington, hundreds of thousands of families have benefited from affordable housing projects built using the low-income housing tax credit. To ensure they can continue to operate, House Bill 2444 puts the existing practice of exempting these projects from the real estate excise tax into law.
Prescription Medication Costs
The costs of health care are continually rising, making it harder for Washingtonians to afford things like prescription medications. My bill (House Bill 2296) also known as the Affordable Medication for Patients Act will help reduce the cost of medications by limiting the maximum you can pay and will prohibit penalizing a pharmacy telling customers about less expensive alternatives.
When your doctor sends a prescription to a pharmacy, it is reasonable to expect that your information will be protected and your medications dispensed safely. I have introduced two bills: one that will update regulations for sending prescriptions digitally (House Bill 2289); and one for pharmacies outside of Washington operating within the state (House Bill 2288).
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the need for us to take action at the state level has increased. My bill (House Bill 2294) will ensure that Washington reduces greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the agreement, moving our state toward a cleaner future.
Washington state is a leader in aviation and we are poised to push the envelope and begin work to transition our air transportation sector by encouraging the use of electric or hybrid electric aircraft for regional and short distance air travel. This session, I’ve introduced House Bill 2295 to outline a set of goals and stakeholder discussions to help link communities around our state and potentially revive small airports by envisioning a connected future of decreased airplane emissions with this new transportation option.
Equal Pay Passes!
Yesterday, the House passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act for the fourth year in a row! I was proud to stand in support of this strong legislation, and want to thank my colleague, Rep. Tana Senn, for sponsoring this bill and fighting to empower women with the information and protections they need to get equal pay for equal work!
Science, Technology, and Innovation Caucus
I am proud to be a co-chair of a newly established caucus here in the legislature dedicated to fostering and promoting science, technology and innovation! The SciTech Caucus will be working to support legislation that creates competitive jobs, promote the technology and innovation climate in Washington state, engage on emerging policy issues, and improve the use of science and technology to benefit all Washingtonians.
Legislative Page Program
Every year, students ages 14 to 16 come from all over the state to serve as legislative pages at the House of Representatives. 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.
This week, I was proud to sponsor Pranav Prasad as a page. Pranav is the son of Vandana and Vishwa Prasad of Bellevue, and a student at Interlake High School.
Visit the website for more information about the Page Program, to fill out an application, and to apply for the Gina Grant Bull Scholarship.
Visit Us in Olympia
Now that we are back in Olympia, please feel free to schedule a visit! Tours are available and I will do my best to schedule time to connect with you while you are on campus. Even if you can’t make it down during the session, please always feel free to give me a call or send an email to share your comments and ideas. Thank you to the constituents I have already had the pleasure of meeting in person this past week or have received an email from – your engagement is valuable and appreciated.
My Olympia office is in the John L. O’Brien Building, Room 336, the phone number is 360-786-7936, and my email is Vandana.Slatter@leg.wa.gov.
Thank you for reading my legislative update, and I hope to hear from you this session!
Rep. Vandana Slatter