Dear friends and neighbors,
Summer is done and kids are back in school. This is a good time to give you a quick update as we prepare for the 2020 session, which starts on January 13.
This year a total of 2,211 bills were introduced, 467 passed and were enacted into law, but the remaining bills are not dead. Next year will be a short session. The bills that didn’t pass this year will be automatically reintroduced so they can go through the legislative process again. Issues will include data privacy, special education, local needs for transportation and expansion of our Cascade Tech Center and more.
We have many new members and a diverse state. There will be a multitude of ideas on the table to address constituent needs and demands throughout Washington.
Some of my priorities for 2020
- As vice chair of the Transportation Committee, I worked hard to ensure the importance of the I-5 corridor was a priority. We made significant investments to resume the process of finding a solution to replacing the I-5 bridge that works for both Oregon and Washington. Our state must address our aging infrastructure. Our current dependence on gas tax doesn’t work for more energy efficient cars and the number of vehicles using the system.
- As a trade-dependent state our innovative industries and economic vitality are influenced by national tariffs and an educated workforce. We need to continue to diversify our economy and support our people when they are impacted by technological or other changes.
- We need a resilient and less regressive tax system. Less regressive to ensure fairness and resilience to have stability in a volatile and changing economy.
- My prior career as a management consultant means that I like to shepherd bills that make government more effective and efficient. As we move toward more types of clean energy the process of reviewing and approving energy facilities siting needs to be updated. We made progress but still have work to do.
Putting People First
In my last newsletter I shared how we’re making investments that put people first in all three budgets. I said I’d follow up with a report on other issues in which we made great strides such as healthcare, debtor protections, and the environment.
This year we established the nation’s first social insurance program for long-term care to help protect families from the high cost of providing care for their loved ones as they age.
The Long Term Care Trust Act is funded by a payroll deduction of 0.58% of wages, with a total lifetime benefit of nearly $37,000. The benefit will be available to eligible beneficiaries in 2025 and covers a broad range of services from home modifications and home delivered meals to in-home personal care and nursing home care.
We’re also offering working families affordable health care on the individual market with passage of Cascade Care, a state-designed and procured health plan that uses standardized plans to lower deductibles, provide more services before the deductible and provide transparent and predictable cost-sharing.
Other health care accomplishments include:
Medical bills can create a debt spiral. To help consumers, we’re lowering the interest rate that often accrues before a patient ever sees a bill.
We’re transitioning to a clean energy future by requiring utilities to transition away from fossil fuel-generated electricity.
With a preliminary “coal elimination” deadline of 2025, and a final “clean grid” deadline of 2045, Washington is firmly on a path to 100-percent clean energy from renewable and zero-emission sources like wind, solar and hydropower.
We are also transitioning to a zero-emissions transportation sector with incentives to make electric vehicles obtainable, help utilities invest in vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure, and creating a grant program to help transit agencies electrify their fleets.
Other environmental victories include:
Every year, students age 14 to 16 from all over the state go to Olympia to serve as legislative pages at the House of Representatives. Pages perform a wide variety of responsibilities, from presenting the flags to distributing amendments on the House floor. In addition to contributing to the efficient operation of the Legislature, pages receive daily civics instruction, draft their own bills, and participate in mock committee hearings.
Taking part in the page program is a great opportunity for young people to gain a unique perspective of the legislative process. For more information, please visit the House Page Program website.
How can you become more involved?
I always meet with local and state leaders before each January session begins. This is also a great time for you to let me know what’s on your mind. If you see a problem in our district that might be solved with legislation, let’s get together for coffee. You are also welcome to visit my office in Olympia during session.
Don’t hesitate to call my office and get on my calendar. I value your input because it helps me serve you better.
Till next time,