Discussing Childcare with the Association of Washington Business
I had the pleasure of joining a panel at an Association of Washington Business and U.S. Chamber Foundation event titled “The Business Case for Childcare” last week.
While the State currently provides childcare and early learning subsidies through Head Start and Working Connections, too many middle class and working families are struggling with childcare costs every month that are breaking budgets and they need more options.
Businesses in our state recognize the need for public-private partnerships to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare. At the event we discussed that need and the desire for business to be involved as the state explores ways to help families.
That’s why I’m very happy the legislature passed my new law that establishes the Childcare Collaborative, a Governor appointed task force that includes the business community, parents, early learning advocates, childcare providers, and lawmakers. Together, we’ll recommend solutions to the legislature that should improve childcare access and cost for families like yours and mine through employer supported care.
Respecting Our Service Members
As a granddaughter, daughter and twin sister of veterans, respecting our service members and veterans is very important to me. That means ensuring they have the federal services they earned, that they are treated fairly in their communities, and the same for their families. The last two years, my colleagues and I have passed new laws that help maintain our commitment to veterans and service members.
- HB 1055: Provides free legal services to military families when a service member is deployed overseas and requiring legal assistance at home.
- HB 1056: Ensuring consumer protections for military service members who have to cancel contracts, like gym memberships, without penalty when given a change of station order.
- HB 1571: A bill I sponsored that assists veterans in rural and remote areas with accessing federal earned benefits. It didn’t make it passed the finish line this year, but I’ll keep fighting to ensure every veteran gets access to the services they earned.
- HB 1802: Another law I sponsored that creates a shared leave pool for veterans and their spouses who enter state government service.
- HB 2009: A $500 book stipend for Gold Star family members pursuing higher education, a law I passed this year.
- HB 2851:Clarifies the calculation of military leave for employees who work shifts spanning more than one calendar day.
- HB 2582: Requires that the individual managing a veteran state home is a licensed nursing home administrator to ensure they receive the best possible care. Additionally, we added $6 million to improve care at veterans homes across the state.
This past session, I voted yes to HB 2456, which would promote employment for military spouses. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it through the Senate. However, as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs, I am committed to working on improving the lives of our military spouses and expanding their employment opportunities. These families have sacrificed so much for us, and we need to make sure they are taken care of.
New Health Care Laws to Ensure Access and Care
Healthcare access and cost continues to be a driving concern for many families, especially seniors on fixed incomes. It’s a complicated issue, made worse by continued changes at the federal level to attempt to revert back to the days when families were denied care due to preexisting conditions and were completely at the mercy of private companies.
Much has changed, but people still struggle with healthcare in America and in Washington state. I’m proud of the work the legislature has done in the last two years, but it’s not enough.
Some improvements that benefit you include the passage of a new law that guarantees certain preventive services are covered by insurance providers. Those include:
- Preventive care and screenings for children, including immunizations and autism screenings;
- Blood pressure and cholesterol screenings; and
- Screenings for certain diseases, including diabetes, colorectal cancer, and HIV.
In addition to that law, lawmakers passed a new requirement that should guarantee every county in Washington has at least one healthcare plan available on the state exchange. In the past, insurance providers have threatened to pull out of certain rural counties. That would leave local residents without a public healthcare plan.
Finally, another major problem is the flood of opioids in our communities. Too many of our loved ones have fallen prey to addiction and lives have been ruined. Washington is fighting back with new investments in our budget that include:
- Funding for opioid use disorder treatment;
- New data tracking to improve supply distribution;
- Increased staffing for the Prescription Monitoring Program, which helps identify when prescriptions are being abused;
- Increased access to drugs that can reverse overdoses, like Narcan/Naloxone;
- Increasing funding for outpatient treatment programs; and
- A new statewide Drug Take-Back program to encourage individuals to return unused prescription drugs to a safe disposal site.
Please reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns to share.