Legislative Update: Important Housing & Healthcare Updates for Older Adults

Dear friends and neighbors, 

We’re now in week seven of this year’s legislative session and have just two weeks to go! Last week, on Feb. 13, it was “House of Origin” cut-off, which means that everything that passed off the House floor by this time will be sent on to the Senate for further consideration, and any bills passed in the Senate will now be considered in the House. Bills need to pass both chambers before becoming law.  As of this writing, the House has passed 270 bills; 146 were unanimous and 205 have received strong bipartisan support (80+ votes)!  

In today’s newsletter, I’m important housing and healthcare updates for older adults. Read on. 

Housing News You Can Use

Rep. Walen responds to a constituent question at a town hall on Feb. 17, 2024.

It was great to see so many of you at our town hall last weekend. A hot topic of discussion was housing, where my seatmates and I fielded a lot of questions. In particular, we heard a lot about House Bill 2114, the rent stabilization bill, which has been in the news a lot lately. If you want to read more, check out this article the Seattle Times put out about it earlier this week. While most of my fellow Democratic members of the House voted in favor of this bill, I did not. Here’s why: I believe we need to adjust the policy as it’s currently written to exclude small landlords and/or reduce penalties on them. So many of you in our communities are property owners with tenants and rely on this rental income to age in place with comfort and dignity. I am eager to see how this bill advances through committee hearings in the Senate to see if it is fine-tuned to a place where I can get behind it, while also being able to support your needs. 

This session in the legislature, we also heard about House Bill 2418, which would have increased the working families’ tax credit to reflect the economic burden of property taxes incorporated into rental amounts charged to tenants. Sadly, this bill didn’t make it out of committee this year, but it’s an issue that will most certainly come up again in the legislature. Until that happens, I’d like to share information on a program King County already has for seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans. The program is about property tax exemptions and deferrals; to see if you qualify, click here to learn more. 

A model ADU on the Capitol grounds during the 2023 legislative session.

Last session, which was billed the “Year of Housing,” a lot of important housing legislation was passed and signed into law. One of these that I’m particularly fond of is about accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that people can build on their property. 

ADUs can fill several roles, like providing a place for an aging parent to live instead of a nursing home. They can also be used as living quarters for a caregiver or a relative who requires care, or for an adult child who may need to return home after college, has lost a job, or for one of many life-changing moments. ADUs can also be used for additional finances for someone on a fixed income. Click here to learn more. AARP also has good resources on ADUs; click here for details.

Did You Know?

Before I sign off today, I also wanted to make you aware of three helpful healthcare tips for older adults. These include: 

  • Hearing aids—Insurers are now required to pay up to $5,000 for these vital devices. Click here for details. 
  • Help for diabetics—Since last spring, our state now has a permanent cap on the cost of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply. Learn more 
  • Help around the clock—Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Office of the LTC Ombudsman to address complaints and advocate for improvements in the long-term care system. In Washington, you can find information on this office and how it can help you here. 

 In service,   

Rep. Amy Walen