Capital Budget Update, Improving Public Health Boards, and Vaccines!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have reached the final week of the legislative session! We will be working from now until Sunday, April 25th to wrap up this year’s legislative session. This week we will finalize our operating, transportation, and capital budgets, and finish the concurrence process.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Olympia to help our floor team manage voting bills off the House floor. For an update from Olympia as well as a breakdown of wins for Spokane in the capital budget, check out my video message:

Improving Public Health Boards

We have seen all too clearly what happens when politics infects public health. We need to ensure that our health boards put science, medicine, people, and public health over politics. That is why I introduced House Bill 1152, which was sent to the Governor last week.

HB 1152 works to eliminate politics from local public health boards by requiring that they balance elected officials and nonelected people who have a diversity of expertise and lived experience. Adding nonelected experts such as doctors, nurses, public health professionals, consumers, tribal representatives, individuals from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, and representatives from the business community, will help ensure that public health is put over politics and lead to healthier outcomes across the state.

The bill also forms a Public Health Advisory Board to look for ways that the state can create efficiencies and improvements to foundational public health through shared spending. In addition, the Board will be able to look back at our COVID response, help plan for future responses, and make recommendations to improve public health performance.

We need to use the experience of the last year to improve our foundational public health. Everyone everywhere in Washington should be able to rely on a standard level of public health. HB 1152 will help us get there.

You can listen to a Spokane Public Radio story on HB 1152 here and read more about the bill in this article from the Spokesman Review.

Get Vaccinated!

Photo Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Photos

COVID cases are once again on the rise across the state. This past Thursday, April 15th, vaccine eligibility opened up to all Washingtonians over the age of 16. While vaccines are being administered as quickly as possible, it is important that we continue to wear our masks and socially distance to mitigate the current rise in cases.

The past three ‘waves’ of COVID have been devastating, and we must do what we can to avoid a fourth wave. COVID variants are responsible for almost one third of cases in Washington, and common COVID variants are anywhere from 40%-80% more transmissible.

To sign up for a vaccine, you can use the state Department of Health’s Vaccine Locator tool to find appointments close to you. Spokane Arena is a mass vaccination site and you can sign up here. You can also check the websites of local pharmacies who are administering vaccines like Rite Aid, Albertsons, and Safeway.

It’s an honor to serve our community.

Best Regards,

Representative Marcus Riccelli

3rd Legislative District – Spokane