Legislative Priorities and Staying Engaged in 2022

Dear friends and neighbors,

Just like last session, we’ll be doing most of our work virtually to help keep the public, staff, and lawmakers safe during the 2022 legislative session. This fast-paced, 60-day session will go fast, but here are some of the ways you can stay informed and engaged throughout the process:

  • Learn — You can find a guide to the whole legislative process, from start to finish, on the Legislature’s website by clicking here.
  • Watch — Go to TVW.org for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate. Can’t watch live? Check out TVW’s “Legislative Review” recap of what happened each day of session. It’s a quick and easy way to learn how the legislature works and you can stream or download it on your mobile device!
  • Research — To look up legislation by lawmaker or topic, just click here.
  • Testify — The 2021 Legislative Session proved that remote testimony is a great way for everyone to have a chance to share their voice without having to make the long drive (or ferry ride!) to Olympia. Learn how to testify or submit written testimony remotely by clicking here.
Note from Eileen:

As we begin the 2022 Legislative Session, we’re continuing the push for affordable and accessible healthcare by focusing on ways to relieve extreme medical debt and bankruptcy, as well as expanding access to healthcare so our low-income and uninsured residents receive the quality care everyone deserves.

Prohibiting balance billing has been one of my top priorities, and I am proudly sponsoring House Bill 1688 to guarantee that no surprise medical bills pop up after an emergency hospital visit. While we have passed balanced billing legislation in the past, there is more work to do. Mirroring the best aspects of the federal No Surprise Act, HB 1688 also covers medical bills from emergency behavioral health treatment. In the past, specific behavioral health crises services and centers were not included under this coverage, leaving Washingtonians to seek mental health support at locations unspecialized for these specific emergencies. HB 1688 ensures that every citizen can receive proper and appropriate treatment for any healthcare emergency without having to worry about receiving a hefty bill in their mailboxes. I have high hopes for the swift passage of this bill to ensure that money does not affect access to proper healthcare treatment for Washington families.

This session we are also prioritizing the passage of Representative Simmons’ HB 1616, a major update to our charity care laws. Charity care currently provides healthcare coverage to people below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and partial coverage for those below 200%. The passage of HB 1616 will expand full coverage to people up to 200% of the FPL and coverage on a sliding scale for those up to 400%. Taking this step will cement our state’s place as a leader in charity care nationwide. Although charity care is not a replacement to insurance, this bill will help people who are low-income and uninsured have access to healthcare without driving anyone into bankruptcy from severe medical debt.

In addition to those bills, the Legislature is also taking action to improve the Long-Term Care Act, also known as WA Cares, based on your feedback. House Bills 1732 and 1733 will result in a stronger policy that supports the right to access long-term care services when and where you need it. As a district we will continue to listen to our constituents’ voices and fight for every person’s right to affordable and accessible healthcare.

Note from Joe:

As the Chair of the House Environment & Energy Committee, I am dedicated to creating a greener future for Washington. This session, I am working hard to pass important legislation that will bring us closer to this goal. Here is a look into some of my current priority legislation for the fight for a cleaner environment.

HB 1799 Organic Materials Management

Since 2019, Washington has had a goal of reducing our annual food waste generation by 50% before 2030. Recently in December of 2021, the Department of Ecology adopted the “Use Food Well Washington Plan” that formally established the food waste reduction goals. In order to achieve these goals, Washington must develop plans to manage food donations and composting.

My HB 1799 will establish programs and plans to help us reach our goal of sustainable food management, and improve funding for programs that expand materials management. This bill will also create the Washington Center for Sustainable Food Management within the Department of Ecology. And finally, it will set clear goals for food waste care. By connecting plans for organic materials management at the local and state levels, we will make a huge difference in how Washington tackles the problem of food waste.

HB 1619 Energy Efficiency Standards

Washington and federal law currently set energy efficiency standards for a small selection of appliances like portable electric spas, commercial hot food cabinets, and residential ventilating fans. If we want to get serious about reducing our impact on the environment and be smarter in the way we use energy, we need to expand the categories of appliances covered by these standards.

My HB 1619 expands the list of appliances to include air purifiers, commercial ovens, and equipment for electric vehicles. This bill will also update energy efficiency standards for some current appliances as well. The steps we take to be more conscious of our energy use will help us achieve our goal of a safer, cleaner, and healthier future for all Washington families.

Thanks for reading!