MLK Day at the Capitol
There are exciting things happening in Olympia this week! Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and while this may be a day off work for you, it is always among the busiest days of the legislative session for us. In the spirit of civic engagement championed by Dr. King, the halls and courtyards of the Capitol were full of passionate Washingtonians advocating for an enormous variety of causes and issues. With only minutes at a time to dedicate to each group, we had a hectic (albeit rewarding) opportunity to hear from you, our constituents from around the 34th District . As busy a day as it was, it was extremely rewarding and refreshing to speak to engaged, active individuals who are willing to take action on matters that are important to them and their communities.
It is especially gratifying to see that many of those who came to the Capitol this week were children and young adults—some not yet old enough to vote, but more than capable of speaking out about issues that affect them. Yesterday, we had a chance to spend some time with an 8th grade class, from West Seattle’s Hope Lutheran School. We spoke to that class about topics ranging from the transportation revenue package to our paths to the legislature, to the inner workings of the caucus.
Eileen, Joe, and Senator Sharon Nelson with an 8th grade class from Hope Lutheran School
Many of the advocates, students, and constituents that visited on Monday asked us a variation of the same question—what does MLK Day mean to us? The legacy of Dr. King continues as one of civic engagement, of standing up and advocating for what you believe in, sometimes against all odds. His message was not exclusive to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, but endures today. We saw it Monday, and we urge each and every one of you reading this to continue that tradition the rest of the year by getting involved in the political process, whether by coming to Olympia to lobby or testify, or by calling and emailing with your concerns and support.
Anyone can make a difference
This morning the House Health Care and Wellness Committee voted to pass House Bill 2153 out of committee, moving it one step closer to becoming a law. This bill is a great illustration of how ordinary citizens can impact the greater community by involving themselves in the legislative process. The primary proponent of this bill, Jeff Schwartz, isn’t a high-paid lobbyist; he is a regular guy with a full-time job and two great kids. A few years ago, Jeff came to Eileen with a problem. Jeff’s younger son, Jacob, had a rare gastrointestinal disorder that caused his body to reject real food. Jacob needed a particular type of formula to get nutrition, but when his insurance company stopped covering the formula, his family resorted to paying hundreds of dollars a month out-of-pocket.
Jeff and his family with their fellow advocates after testifying in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee
Jeff has been working with Eileen and other legislators in Olympia for the past several years to pass this legislation. HB 2153 would require insurance companies to cover the powder-based formula that Jacob and other kids suffering from the same disorder need to survive. Thankfully Jacob was recently cured of his disorder. If the bill passes this year families like Jeff’s won’t have to face financial hardship on top of dealing with a sick child. And that will all be thanks to an ordinary citizen’s resilience and commitment to changing the status quo.
Town hall announcement
We look forward to keeping in touch with you throughout the 60 day session with these email updates. We will also be having a telephone town hall.
Our telephone town hall has been rescheduled for February 3rd at 6:00pm. This will be a chance to ask us questions and hear about what we are up to in Olympia.
To participate on February 3rd, please dial 1-877-229-8493 and use the pin 18646 at 6:00pm. The audio for the telephone town hall we held last year is available here.
Joe with Anthony, a Page for the House of Representatives
Do you know a young person who is interested in being a Legislative Page?
We are still accepting applications from residents of the 34th District between the ages of 14-16 to serve for one week during the legislative session as pages.
Visit the Page Program website or contact our legislative office for more information.
Health insurance update
2013 brought on exciting changes to health care both nationally and across Washington State. If you or your family have been living without health insurance, it’s not too late to sign up for a plan through Washington’s Healthplanfinder! You may even be eligible for Washington Apple Health or a federal subsidy to help pay for your new plan. You have until March 31st to sign up for 2014 coverage. If you’d rather sign up by phone or in person, click here to review your options