Quick update on vaccines and supporting our children in need

Friends and neighbors,  

This week marked the beginning of full time floor action, which means that from morning until evening, all 98 members of the House of Representatives are carefully considering and voting on bills. I’m happy to report that one of these bills was something I worked hard on in order to ensure that vulnerable kids in our community have the support they need. 

Supporting children in need 

I wrote to you last time about my bill to help kids by providing more trauma-informed mental health professionals in schools. This week, I want to tell you about another bill I introduced to help take care of kids experiencing homelessness.  

Too many of our kids don’t have a stable home where they can get the support they need to thrive. The Legislature can put aside partisanship and act in the best interest of all people in Washington, and we did just that by passing my bill, HB 1221, to streamline services for our most little kids. 

By focusing on doing right by the little kids who need our help, we can help kids get from couch surfing and crashing on friends’ floors to sleeping in their own beds. 


I know that some of you have been waiting patiently for a vaccine appointment. Here’s the information I have to share about how many vaccines are coming to Whatcom County. This week, local providers were due to receive 2,540 first doses and 3,270 second doses. 

For more information, you can check out the COVID-19 data dashboard. There’s even a new video explaining how to navigate this vaccine dataWe are still in Phase 1BTier 1, which means vaccines are available to anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household, in addition to healthcare professionals. You can see a full list of vaccine sites, if they have appointments available, and how to book an appointment by using this map of from the state Department of Health. 

You may have already heard, but we’re soon going to get a boost to vaccination availability in Whatcom County. Starting in March, Bellingham Technical College  will host a large-scale community vaccination clinicIf the clinic is able to receive enough doses, the goal will be to vaccinate 5,000 people per week. BTC, Family Care Network, PeaceHealth, Sea Mar, Unity Care NW, and the Whatcom County Health Department are all partners in this effort. This is in addition to plans for mobile vaccinations to get to folks who may not be able to access the community sites. 

Supporting restaurants 

On Thursday, we passed HB 1480 to continue some of the curbside and delivery options for alcoholic beverages that were set up in the pandemic to help restaurants surviveAs I said on the House floor, this is about our small businesses:  the Italian restaurant that’s been owned by the same family for 50 years, the place you go to celebrate your birthday or your anniversary, or where you take the soccer team after the big game. Everyone got hit hard by the pandemic, but small businesses, especially restaurants, got hit the hardest. Our restaurant owners are families.  

As a lifelong social worker with children, I’m concerned about youth access to alcohol, but I believe that we have safeguards in the bill and our laws to confront that issue. I was proud to vote in favor of this bill and give one more tool to small businesses and restaurants so they can emerge from this pandemic successfullyYou can watch my remarks and the full debate here.    

Constituent corner 

Starting this week, I’ll be dedicating a section of newsletters to answer questions directly from you. Our office receives hundreds of emails each day, and while my legislative assistant, Emily, and I do our best to get back to you individuallywe also want to provide some answers to questions that are the top of many of your minds.  

This week we received more than 100 emails urging the Legislature to fully fund Medicaid rates in order to provide stable funding for seniors in nursing homes. 

I want to let you all know that I believe seniors deserve dignity and respect, regardless of their income or how they’re paying for care. What I’ve learned so far, is that there have been several efforts in the Legislature to better align nursing facility Medicaid payment rates with the operating costs of these facilities. I appreciate folks pointing me towards the state Department of Social and Human Services recommendations and helping to bring me up to speed on these issues. As the budget is being developed by the Appropriations Committee, Ill keep an eye on investments that support our seniors using Medicaid. What and how we invest in the system this year or in future years needs to be considered in a thoughtful systemic approach. 

Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out at 360-746-3744 or Alicia.Rule@leg.wa.gov. It’s an honor to serve the 42nd Legislative District. 

Alicia Rule