23rd LD Update: An Update on Important Bills

Dear friends and neighbors, 

Did you know I get ideas for the legislation I introduce from so many of you? When I meet with you 1:1 or at community events or town halls, I take your concerns seriously and oftentimes these turn into bills that I introduce and later become law. I also put forth several budget requests to support projects for work in our communities—also because of listening to you. Thank you for your input—it truly makes a difference!   

We are now about a week away from sine die, the time when the legislature adjourns for the 2024 legislative session, and I come back home to work on issues in our communities. In today’s newsletter, I’m sharing vital information with you on a bill of mine that passed both chambers and is now awaiting signature from the governor before becoming law, as well as an update on important Senate Bills introduced by my friend and colleague, Sen. Emily Randall. Read on.

Bills on the Move

House Bill 1972: Passing unanimously in the House on Feb. 6 and in the Senate on Feb. 22, this piece of legislation strengthens the financial support for the Washington Physician Health Program (WPHP). The WPHP is a confidential, therapeutic alternative to professional discipline and provides early intervention, assessment, treatment referral, and post-treatment monitoring for health professionals who may not be able to practice safely due to impairing or potentially impairing health conditions such as substance use problems and cognitive and neurological conditions.   

COVID-19 was stressful on everyone, but particularly for our doctors. They are facing growing mental and behavioral health challenges unique to their profession. During the pandemic and beyond, doctors have been there for our loved ones, caring for their needs and providing their expertise. This piece of legislation shows that we care about doctors and their needs, and it will support them as they navigate through challenges brought on by job stressors.  

This piece of legislation will harmonize fee schedules across diverse healthcare disciplines, fostering efficiency and uniformity in financial structures. Periodic adjustments in surcharge fees are highlighted as indispensable to cope with inflationary pressures and secure the long-term sustainability of the program. The increased funding will facilitate service expansion, outreach initiatives, and the overall well-being enhancement of healthcare professionals statewide.   

Senate Bill 5241: This bill has taken some time to get any traction in Olympia. In 2022, after hearing your concerns, I introduced House Bill 1809, otherwise known as the Keep Our Care Act, which protects healthcare consumers when local hospitals are bought up by the bigger system. In rural communities, residents may only have the choice of one hospital or clinic. Passing this piece of legislation would be a big step toward protecting all types of care, but especially end of life, gender affirming, and reproductive care. Sen. Randall, has joined me in this effort by introducing Senate companion bills the past two years (in 2023, the bills were House Bill 1263/Senate Bill 5241; in 2022 the Senate companion was Senate Bill 5688). This year, I’m so thrilled that Sen. Randall’s bill is moving. It passed the Senate 28-21 on Feb. 8 and came out of committee in the House just yesterday. I will be shepherding this bill along from now until it is heard on the House floor. I know it’s an issue that’s important to so many of you and I am committed to doing what I can to get it across the finish line.  

Senate Bill 5893: The companion bill to my House Bill 1995, passed the Senate with a vote of 34-15 on Feb. 13 and passed out of committee in the House last week. It will soon be up for debate on the House floor. This piece of legislation, if passed, will extend the provision of gate money to individuals transferring to partial confinement settings and community custody and aligns gate money for furloughed individuals with gate money requirements for other releases. As someone with my own lived experience of being vulnerable upon reentry from incarceration, trying to help others lead better lives and move on from their past troubles is a personal passion of mine and what will make our communities safer. I will also be championing this bill in the House and cheering for its victory towards the finish line.  

Please continue to share your hopes and concerns with me. My wonderful teammate, Zach Ellis, and I are honored to serve you. We are looking forward to returning to the district after sine die and reconnecting in person.  


Rep. Tarra Simmons