Environmental bills progressing, long-term care act passes, upcoming town hall

Rep. Thai and woman with glasses take selfie in front of capitol building at Environmental Priorities Coalition Rally

Posing for a selfie at the Environmental Priorities Coalition Rally back in January. Photo: LSS

Thank you for your heartfelt emails in support of environmental bills

I have received many emails from constituents asking me to support environmental bills currently advancing through the House. Like many of you, I am deeply concerned about climate change, our dwindling orca population, and the plastics accumulating in our landfills and oceans. I also want to make sure that as lawmakers tackle these problems, we are aware of the impacts our policies have on every community. For example, advocates for people with disabilities have expressed concerns about banning plastic straws. It is important to me that we listen to these concerns. Since today (February 22) is the cutoff date for House policy bills to advance out of House policy committees, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a brief update on where certain bills currently stand:

Climate bills

Clean Fuel Standard (HB 1110): This bill addresses our state’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions: the transportation sector. Did you know this sector makes up 45 percent of our emissions? A clean fuel standard would improve local air quality and provide economic benefits to our communities by increasing demand for biofuels produced right here in Washington. The bill advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee and the Transportation Committee, and yesterday it had a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee. Bills that are in fiscal committees like Appropriations have until March 1 to advance, so over the next week we will know if HB 1110 is moving forward. Stay tuned.

100% Clean Electricity (HB 1211): This bill will help transition our state to a clean energy future by removing carbon emissions from the generation of electricity. It requires utilities to gradually transition away from fossil fuel-generated electricity, setting a preliminary “coal elimination” deadline of 2025, and a final “clean grid” deadline of 2045. The bill advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee earlier this month, and was voted out of the Finance Committee yesterday. This brings it a step closer to a vote by the full House.

Participants at the Environmental Priorities Coalition Rally, holding signs on capitol steps
Photo: LSS

Orca bills

Increasing habitat for Chinook salmon and other forage fish (HB 1579): This is a modest, common-sense, science-based bill that provides protections to ensure that people, fish and orcas can coexist and thrive in our beautiful state. It was voted out of the Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources, and had a public hearing in the Appropriations Committee this week.

Protecting our Salish Sea from oil spills (HB 1578): This bill would reduce threats to Southern Resident orcas by improving the safety of oil transportation on our waters. It moved out of the Environment & Energy Committee this week.

Reducing sources of toxic chemicals (HB 1194):  Phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic flame retardants, phenolic compounds, and PCBs are polluting our homes and our waters. Exposure to certain harmful chemicals has been clearly linked to a variety of illnesses, birth defects, and reproductive issues. This bill reduces sources of toxics to help protect children and public health, as well as the recovery of endangered salmon and orca whales. It advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee and is now in the Appropriations Committee.

Reducing vessel noise and disturbance (HB 1580): Noise levels from vessels interfere with and can even impede an orca’s ability to communicate and find food. This bill requires vessels to stay at least 400 yards away from Southern Resident orcas and to travel under seven knots within one-half nautical mile of the whales. It advanced out of the Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources.

Photo: LSS

Plastics-reduction bills

Reducing pollution from plastic bags (HB 1205): Plastic bags are one of the most common items found in cleanups along our coast. They also pose problems in the recycling stream and to commercial composters, as well as contributing to the amount of waste we send to landfills. This bill encourages the use of reusable bags by restricting retail establishments statewide from providing single-use plastic bags. It advanced out of the Environment & Energy committee, and has a hearing in the Finance Committee next week.

Reducing pollution from single-use plastic food service ware (HB 1632): Sets up a timeline and process to restrict the sale or provision of plastic food service products, including utensils, straws, and containers for food service businesses and  other retail establishments. It advanced out of the Environment & Energy committee this week.

Leading the nation: House passes Long-Term Care Trust Act

Seven out of 10 people age 65 and over will need some type of long-term care services or supports. But 90 percent of them are unprepared financially to pay for this care. Instead, they have to spend themselves into poverty before they can access Medicaid long-term care. That’s bad for families, and it’s bad for our state budget. As our population ages, more and more people will rely on Medicaid for long-term care, costing the state billions of dollars. That’s why I enthusiastically voted YES yesterday on the Long-Term Care Trust Act, which builds upon our state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program with a new long-term care insurance benefit. If the bill makes it through the Senate and to the governor’s desk, Washington could be the first state in the nation to have this kind of insurance program. Click here to watch my seatmate, Rep. Tana Senn, speak on the House floor about why this is both the responsible, and the loving, thing to do.

My reflections on President’s Day

I was honored to be asked to deliver remarks on the House floor in celebration of President’s Day – an annual tradition in the Washington State House of Representatives. Our nation was founded with a radical notion: that everyone is equal under the law – even the president. Instead of the people serving a king, as had been the case before our country’s independence, presidents are supposed to serve the people. For me President’s Day is about all of us coming together, united by our common principles and purpose as Americans. To watch my full remarks, click here.

Save the Date: Join me for a town hall meeting

Rep. Tana Senn, Sen. Lisa Wellman and I are hosting a town hall meeting next month. We hope to see you there!

Date: Saturday, March 23

Time: 10 AM – 12 PM

Location: Bellevue College, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Room N-201, Bellevue  Click here for map

Parking is available for free on the weekend. Click here to see available parking lot designations.

It’s an honor to represent you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions, comments or concerns.

Rep. My-Linh Thai