Legislative Update: First in the nation

Dear friends & neighbors,

We had an incredibly successful legislative session, creating landmark legislation that puts people first. Washington has long been an incubator for progressive policy ideas, and we have repeatedly led the nation on worker’s rights, reproductive health care, environmental issues and so much more.

We wanted to highlight some of the incredible new policies passed this session that lead by putting people first. 

Leading our nation

Long-Term Care Trust Act

Too many Washington families struggle with long-term care. During the 2019 legislative session, we established the nation’s first social insurance program for long-term care to help protect families from the high cost of providing care for their loved ones as they age. The Long Term Care Trust Act is funded by a payroll deduction of 0.58% of wages, with a total lifetime benefit of nearly $37,000. The benefit will be available to eligible beneficiaries in 2025 and covers a broad range of services from home modifications and home delivered meals to in-home personal care and nursing home care.

Cascade Care

Cascade Care offers working families affordable health care on the individual market, known as Washington Healthplanfinder. The new policy creates a state-designed and procured health plan that uses standardized plans to lower deductibles, provide more services before the deductible and provide transparent and predictable cost-sharing. While not perfect, this is the first in the nation state-based public option, and other states are already lining up to follow in our footsteps.

UW Behavioral Health Teaching Hospital

Establishes a behavioral health innovation and integration campus within the University of Washington School of Medicine. It will be one of the first in the nation to provide an innovative and holistic approach to behavioral health crises. By creating up to 150 new beds for behavioral health patients at the University of Washington and a robust telepsychiatry program, this campus will not only tackle the shortage of care for people in crisis, but also encourage the training of behavioral and mental health care professionals that are sorely needed in every part of our state.

Wage Transparency

Washington made history by passing the strongest in the nation pay transparency legislation. The new law prohibits an employer from seeking the wage or salary history of an applicant in most circumstances.  It also requires an employer to provide the wage or salary range for the job title to a job applicant or employee both upon hire and annually, upon request. Washington will be the first state to extend this right to job applicants.

Energy Efficient Buildings

Buildings are the fastest-growing source of emissions in Washington as well as the sector in which emissions are cheapest to reduce. With this first in the nation energy efficiency standard for large commercial buildings, we’ll retrofit older buildings and build even more efficient new ones, cutting carbon emissions quickly and economically while creating good-paying jobs.

Human Composting

Washington garnered much state, national, and international news this year by becoming the first state in the nation to allow human composting. Many people want to make big and little changes in their life to help the environment and take a personal stand against contributing to climate change. With this new form of burial, alkaline hydrolysis and natural organic reduction are added as allowable reduction methods for handling deceased persons’ bodies for their disposition. Alkaline hydrolysis is the reduction of human remains to bone fragments and essential elements in a licensed hydrolysis facility using heat, pressure, water, and base chemical agents. Natural organic reduction is the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.

Free summer meals program in King County

school lunches

Last session, we passed Breakfast After the Bell, which increased access to nutricious meals for low income families in public schools throughout the school year. However, for some families, access to healthy, regular meals ends when the last school bell rings for summer break.

Each summer, United Way of King County sponsors the Free Summer Meals Program for youth 18 and under. The program establishes “summer meal sites” in easy to access locations, like parks, apartment complexes, community centers across King County. Many sites have family friendly recreational activities, including arts and crafts, science experiments and outdoor activities for kids to hang out and be kids.

Find your closest summer meal site at freesummermeals.org or by texting “FOOD” to 877-877. 

Thanks for reading!

Cody and Fitzgibbon Sig