Dear friends and neighbors,
This past Friday was the deadline for fiscal committees to pass bills and tomorrow we start Floor action all day every day for a week and a half. It will be hectic, but I trust we will get a lot of bills passed. To follow the action, watch it live or recorded on TVW, and check out the Floor calendars.
Come to our Town Hall Meeting on March 18!
In my previous newsletter I asked you to save the date for our town hall event and now here is the follow-up information and details. I hope you will be able to join Sen. Karen Keiser, Rep. Mia Gregerson and me on March 18 at 1:30 pm, at the LIUNA Labor Hall in Des Moines.
Click HERE to send us your questions in advance!
Two of My Bills are already on the Floor Calendars!
If you’ve been following my work through these newsletters, you’re probably familiar with my legislation requiring coverage for hearing instruments. I am happy to report that HB 1222 was added to the Floor calendar on February 22!
I have heard from so many people, not only in our district, but across the state, telling me that if this measure becomes law, their lives will improve dramatically. I believe it.
Were you surprised to find out that hearing instruments are not currently covered by health insurance? I certainly was! You know what else is surprising?
Washington is one of 25 states that don’t require coverage for hearing aids. It’s time we join the other half of this nation that already has this law in the books.
I don’t have hearing loss, not yet anyway, so it is very hard for me to imagine what life must be like for the 15 percent of adults and the two to three in 1000 kids who struggle with hearing issues.
Over the course of this process, as my bill advances, I have learned a bit of the history of hearing aids. It’s nothing short of fascinating. From the ear trumpet in the 17th century, to the vacuum tube in the 1920s, to the transistor in the 40s, the microprocessor and compressor in the 70s, and the high-speed processors in the 80s, we’ve sure come a long way to the high-tech hearing aids of today.
There are devastating long term consequences of not having access to hearing aids. Sound is just the beginning; hearing aids allow the world of communication, open many doors, and enable children to learn, play sports, and hear their teachers and friends.
I think we need to get to a point where hearing aids are a very common, easily accessible, every-day thing, like eyeglasses, and this legislation would be a firm step in that direction.
The other bill, HB 1349, was added to the Suspension Calendar on February 14. It concerns foreclosure protections such as extending the notification periods required for foreclosure.
As you know, in 2011, I sponsored the legislation that created the Foreclosure Fairness Program, which provides homeowner foreclosure assistance by offering free housing counseling, civil legal aid, and foreclosure mediation. It helps homeowners and lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution whenever possible.
The group of homeowners, homeowner attorneys, and banking industry members that got together to create the Foreclosure Fairness Program continues to meet. Along the course of the last decade, we have been strengthening the program to keep more families in their homes during these difficult times and this bill is a continuation of that process.
There has been a lot of collaboration and agreement among stakeholders that the provisions in this legislation will do a lot to help and add clarity for all parties involved.
I have two other foreclosure-related bills that are still very much alive. Right now they are both in the Rules Committee, which is where bills are considered one last time and the final decision is made on whether they will go to the Floor for a vote:
HB 1636: Concerning foreclosure protections for homeowners in common interest communities.
HB 1637: Prohibiting excessive fees or other charges for locating or recovering foreclosure surplus funds and other unclaimed property.
While we are on the topic of foreclosure prevention and protections, this is a good place for a reminder on the resources available to struggling homeowners:
In my latest video update I discuss a couple of bills, the first, which was added to the Floor calendar a few days ago, is one I am cosponsoring and would ban the sale of over the counter sexual assault kits because they cannot be used in court. The second bill, which is in the Rules Committee, is about providing survivors and witnesses of crimes more protections by giving prosecutors the necessary tools to work with people who have been traumatized by crime.
Keep in Touch… and don’t forget the town hall!
In closing, I want to share a very short video I recorded for the TVW Legislator Profiles series back in January. It’s a brief overview of who we are, where we come from and a bit about the districts we represent.
Thank you for reading this report. Please stay in touch and contact my office for any additional information on any of the bills discussed here, or on any other legislative matter.
Your involvement in the process is very important to me, so I hope you will join us in our upcoming town hall meeting.
JLOB 326 | PO Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504
(360) 786-7834 | Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-562-6000 | 1-800-635-9993 (TTY)
Mary Soderlind – Mary.Soderlind@leg.wa.gov
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