Rep. Jinkins starts legislative session in key health care, transportation roles

After being sworn-in on Monday, the 27th District’s newest legislator wraps up session’s busy first week

OLYMPIA – As the 2011 Legislative Session opened this week, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, continued her long career as a health care leader, earning a key leadership position as vice-chair of the Health Care & Wellness Committee, in addition to serving as a member of the Capital Budget, Transportation, and Environment Committees in the House of Representatives. With these committee assignments, her own policy agenda items, and the state’s looming budget challenges, Jinkins is optimistic but forecasts many tough decisions.

“The recession’s effects are still causing great harm to local families, businesses and public services, so solving our budget challenges and promoting economic recovery will be my top two priorities this session,” Jinkins said. “Health care costs represent a significant portion of the state’s budget, so getting control of these costs while doing all we can to increase access to care is something I’ll be spending a lot of time on.”

Jinkins says one of her top priorities this year is to make sure that the insurance commissioner continues to have the authority to review and approve or deny health care insurance rates.

“I’m very concerned about health insurance access and affordability, especially in this economy where families are losing coverage when someone is laid off and our public safety-net programs are being cut,” Jinkins said. “Double-digit premium increases are pricing more people out of access to medical care. This is a huge problem for the well-being of our state.”

Combining health and environmental goals, Jinkins also wants to bolster prescription drug disposal programs in the state.

“Unintentional drug overdoses are the number one cause of injury in Washington, many of them from unused prescription drugs obtained from friends or family, sometimes without their knowledge. Although many law enforcement agencies in Pierce County are collecting unwanted prescription drugs, we need a more comprehensive solution,” Jinkins said.

“We need to make sure that these drugs don’t fall into the hands of children when they are left sitting in cabinets and also don’t threaten our fragile water systems when flushed down a toilet,” Jinkins said. She plans to work with children’s advocates, public health officials, and the environmental and pharmaceutical communities to explore ways to address the issue.

The 105-day Legislative Session continues through April 24. Jinkins encourages constituents to reach out to her throughout the session to express their ideas, reactions and concerns on state issues. Her office can be reached at 360.786.7930 and laurie.jinkins[at]