Legislative Review: First in the nation

Thanks so much for following along with my wrap-up series highlighting our policy and budget outcomes from this year’s legislative session. If you missed my first edition, check it out here!

This was an incredibly successful legislative session, marked by the overarching theme of “putting people first.” Our state has long been an incubator for progressive policy ideas, and we’ve led the country on many initiatives for worker rights, health care, the environment, and many more.

We’re continuing that tradition with new policies that lead the nation in “putting people first.”

Here are a few ways we led the nation this year.

Long Term Care Trust Act

Too many Washington families struggle with long-term care. Creates a first in the nation 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 almost $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, aka Washington Healthplanfinder. The new law 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 UW 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 mental health care professionals that are sorely needed in every part of our state.

Wage Transparency

We 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 Efficiency in 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. And, the idea came from right here in the 43rd Legislative District!