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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Tuesday represented the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session. This meant a lot of House floor action this week. Next Tuesday is house of origin cutoff, meaning that all of the bills that originate in the House and Senate must pass out of those respective chambers or they are considered “dead.” The exception to this rule are measures necessary to implement the state operating, capital and transportation budgets. But for the most part, the House will be considering Senate bills, and the Senate will be considering House bills, for the next few weeks.
It would be difficult to provide you an update on every piece of legislation in the state House of Representatives, but we have compiled a list of good bills and bad bills and where they stand in the legislative process. You can find this list here. This link will be updated, so you can check back later too.
Governor Inslee imposes a moratorium on the death penalty
In a surprise move Tuesday, Governor Inslee announced he would be imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in our state as long as he's in office. To read the governor's news release, visit this site. If you'd like to learn more about the convicted murderers who may benefit from the governor's decision, click here.
I do not support the governor's decision for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's insensitive to the victims and their grieving families. I can't even imagine what the family of Jayme Biendl must be feeling right now. The father of another victim, whose 12-year-old daughter was murdered, put things in perspective when he recently said: “His (Inslee) decision has prolonged my agony, not shortened it. It's reopened a lot of wounds.” You can learn more here.
Secondly, and more close to home, I am worried the governor's action will embolden inmates serving life sentences to harm our correctional officers because the threat of the death penalty does not hang over them. Thirdly, capital punishment is the law of our state. If the governor wants to change the law, he should work through the legislative process – including the public's involvement. Finally, the governor's announcement is a distraction from the issues people care about the most – jobs and the economy, K-12 education, health care, transportation, and responsible state spending. These are the issues I am focused on.
Video update: What's the latest on the transportation tax package?
Last week, I taped a video update that you can find here. In this video, I talk about the proposed transportation tax package, problems with the new Seattle tunnel and SR 520 Bridge replacement projects, and the need for reforms at the state Department of Transportation. Please consider watching it and providing your feedback.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus unveiled its transportation tax package yesterday, which includes several reforms. They are encouraging the governor to take a leadership role in negotiations that have stalled since December. To learn more about their proposal, click here. You can also watch their news conference from yesterday here.
Telephone town hall results
I'd like to thank everyone who participated in my telephone town hall on February 6. We had more than 3,500 people participate in the community conversation. The questions and feedback were great and much appreciated. Rep. Elizabeth Scott and I asked two poll questions. You can read these poll questions and their results below:
If you could pick one issue that is most important to you – the one that impacts you the most – what issue would that be?
- Jobs/the economy 19.5%
- K-12 education 9.3%
- Health care 19.5%
- State spending 26.3%
- Transportation 9.3%
- Other 16.1%
The state Supreme Court recently chastised the Legislature, saying lawmakers need to put more money into education and teacher salaries right away, despite the fact we spent over a billion dollars more in K-12 education in last year's budget. Do you agree with the state Supreme Court's ruling?
- Yes 27.3%
- No 59.7%
- Not sure 13%
Feedback from last week's e-mail update on health care
In my e-mail update last week, I shared my concerns about federal health care reform and what it's doing to consumers in our state. I asked you to share some of your health insurance experiences with me. Below are a few responses I wanted to pass along to you:
- “I am going to be 63 years old in June of this year. I lost all medical coverage at age 58 when the company that I had worked for 22 years went bankrupt. Did not acquire employment and took S.S. retirement at 62. My wife's and my combined monthly income is $2,200. According to the calculator for a subsidy my income is $500 over the poverty level to qualify. The least expensive (Bronze) plan is $498 a month with a $6,000 deductible. This is 25% of my income and puts me at the poverty level. Medicade is not an option as we have savings (that we used to live on up to when My S.S. went into effect ) that exceed the amount allowed (I don't think you're allowed any). So, there you have it: I will not be signing up and will have to pay the penalty for 2 years, until I qualify for Medicare and continue to be uninsured in the meantime. I am not a 'happy camper' where our current government is involved.”
- “Here is my story or actually my 26 year-old-son's story. He works as a part-time firefighter and also works another part-time job to make ends meet for his family. Neither employer offers health insurance. Before the ACA, he could go out on the individual market and get at least something for around $130.00. However, his income did not support this expense with two children he supports. Since the ACA, he can go out there and spend $310 to get covered as he is in the “young and healthy” category. However, neither his income, nor family situation, has changed at all. He will still be uninsured but now faces the $95 penalty. This entire thing is a Ponzi scheme and our young people are smart enough to figure it out. I am just wondering now how those of us who work full-time and have the integrity to continue to work full-time, will be able to support those who will choose less income for a government-subsidized health care plan? Thank you for the time to listen. I know my family is not the only one struggling.”
- “Of the 290,000 Washingtonians in the individual market who received those cancellation notices, how many were offered a new more expensive policy by their insurance carriers because of the mandates of coverage which are required to be in policies under Obamacare. For my family the comparable policy to what I had before rose in price by more than $300 per month.”
- “You asked for personal experiences related to Obamacare & I wish to share my positive experiences on many fronts. 1. I now have better insurance at lower cost than previously and though I could have perhaps found even better options on the plan with perhaps a subsidy even, I chose instead to remain with my current individual plan provider but at lower cost with additional benefits and dental (that I did not have before) and the process on the exchange to select this plan was not a problem at all. I have no problem with the “cancellation of my less offerings/for more $” plan! 2. Each time I had a question I would make a phone call and get a response PAINLESSLY-no waiting, very helpful/knowledgeable staff and good follow-through when requested. 3. When there was an issue related to “plan implementation” (& what plan ever is perfect at orientation?), the issue was researched and resolved to my complete satisfaction. So, am I a fan? Absolutely!!”
In your service,
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7967 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000