Cutoff week for bills, March 16 town hall

Hello from your state capitol, where it’s the last week for House fiscal bills to advance out of fiscal committees in order to remain “alive.” As a member of both the Capital Budget and Transportation committees, I’ve spent most of the week in hearings. This newsletter focuses on a couple of bills of importance to Spokane that continue to move forward in the process.

Momentum building for the Long-Term Care Trust Act

I am proud to have helped pass the Long Term Care Trust Act off the House floor on February 21. House Bill 1087, the first of its kind in our nation, aims to address a looming crisis facing our state and nation.

The need for long-term care services and supports as we age is an inevitable fact of life for most of us, but an alarming number of us – 90 percent –  are not financially prepared to take on these costs. With the private long-term care insurance market unable to meet this need, the financial shortfall faced by families threatens not only our loved ones but also our state budget. We are literally forcing people to spend their way into poverty so they can access Medicaid long-term care.

The Long-Term Care Trust Act builds upon our state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program. Washingtonians would receive long-term care insurance benefits that would help pay for a comprehensive array of services – from in-home care to assisted living to meal delivery. Learn more about our bipartisan work to protect Washington families in this video clip. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

A more inclusive planning process

This year, I am sponsoring legislation to bring equal representation to our tribal communities. House Bill 1584 is about respecting government-to-government relations in regional transportation planning organizations (RTPOs).

RTPOs exist to identify transportation needs and conduct transportation planning by region. Officials ranging from city council members, tribal leaders and county commissioners engage in the RTPO process by meeting, bringing their varied interests to the table and discussing actions going forward.

Right now, federally recognized tribes do not have a guaranteed vote or even a seat at the RTPO table. Despite the decisions of the council undoubtedly affecting tribes, they are given no guarantee of a having a say. My bill would make giving tribes a seat at the table a condition of state funding to RTPOs. It’s unfortunate we need a law to ensure an inclusive process in regional transportation planning, but it’s the right thing to do. The bill had a public hearing in the House Transportation committee on February 13. The Inlander covered the bill with an article earlier this month.

Spokane’s Gabby Alvarez is YMCA Youth Governor

Last week, the 2019 YMCA Youth Governor, Gabby Alvarez, came to visit me and other lawmakers at the state capitol. Gabby is from our own community of Spokane, and she’s a great example of the benefits of local community youth programs on student engagement. Empowering teens to speak out and get involved in the legislative process is vital. Democracy only works with an active and engaged citizenry, and the passion exhibited by teens like Gabby makes me hopeful about our next generation. Click here to watch Gabby address the state Senate – the first time a YMCA Youth Governor has done so.

Save the Date: Town Hall on March 16


It’s an honor to serve you. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions, feedback, or concerns.

Best regards,

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