Dear friends and neighbors,
Did you hear? Last week U.S. News & World Report Magazine issued its 2019 Best States Report and it ranks Washington the overall best state in the nation. Our state is described as a booming economy fueled by energy and invention and a tech-sector powerhouse. Last year we ranked 6th, which is still within the top ten, but nothing beats being number 1!
In this second installment of my 2019 Session Report series, you’ll find information on policies that matter to us as Washingtonians. Policies like expanding health care access, ensuring we have more long-term care resources as we age, and preserving the environment for future generations. I am also happy to share details in this newsletter on property tax relief for seniors and veterans.
In future newsletters, we will provide information on the operating budget, capital budget, and workforce development. In the meantime, please continue to contact my office with any questions or concerns.
Property Tax Relief for Seniors and Veterans
People on fixed incomes across our state are looking for housing alternatives because increases in their property taxes are putting them at risk of losing their homes.
We passed a measure that provides property tax relief to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and veterans who reside in areas with a high cost of living. Under current law, the senior property tax exemption is based on statewide income thresholds. Under the new law, which will go into effect in 2021, eligibility will be based on each county’s median household income. To cover more veterans, it will also adjust the disability rating qualification for the disabled veterans’ property tax exemption program from 100 to 80 percent.
A groundbreaking legislation signed by Governor Inslee will give Washingtonians who purchase healthcare coverage on the individual insurance market an option in 2021 that will decrease the cost of premiums, copays and other out-of-pocket expenses. The plan, known as Cascade Care, is the first public health insurance option in the nation and will be available to all Washingtonians, regardless of income, who are not covered by employer health plans. Read more about Cascade Care here.
First in the Nation on Long-Term Care
A historic bill, signed by the governor earlier this week, establishes the Long-Term Care Trust Act to help aging Washingtonians with the costs of certain activities such as bathing, dressing and taking medication, as well as rides to the doctor and even home modifications like a wheelchair ramp.
For most families in Washington, caring for an aging parent is a significant burden since the monthly out-of-pocket costs can be in the hundreds or even thousands. People are often surprised to learn that, when it comes to long-term care, Medicare only covers limited services such as skilled nursing. And to qualify for Medicaid, you’d have to spend down your lifetime savings.
This bill is an investment that will bring peace of mind and security for all of us as we age.
Leading on Clean Energy
This session Washington made great strides toward addressing the challenge of climate change and meeting the state’s greenhouse gas emission reductions targets. Our legislation to transition to 100 percent clean energy includes innovative provisions to cap costs and smooth the ability of utilities to transition. It lays out a timeline to phase out all coal power by 2025, achieve a carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2030, and transition to a 100 percent clean energy supply from renewable and zero-emission sources like wind, solar, and hydropower, by 2045.
A huge crowd came to the bill signing in Seattle on May 7, 2019
Protecting our Endangered Southern Resident Orcas
With only 75 of our iconic southern resident orcas left, the Legislatuire took bold action this year passing a suite of policies to help our whales survive, they include: