Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2018 legislative session adjourned on time Thursday, March 8. After 60 days of committee hearings, meetings with stakeholders, and floor action, it was nice to return home to the beautiful 14th District to reconnect with our communities.
This session had its share of successes and disappointments, and we hit the ground running from day one. During the first couple of weeks, we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement on a Hirst solution that lets rural property owners build on their land again and we passed a new, two-year capital budget that will allow projects in our district and throughout the state to begin. The session continued with productive debate on hundreds of pieces of legislation that will help Washingtonians.
This was also the first session since 2013 the state Legislature was under one-party control, with Democrats holding majorities in both chambers as well as the governor's office. As a result, we did see more fervent calls for new taxes, spending increases, and other controversial policies than we have in years past.
In this e-newsletter, I'll provide an update on my legislation that made it through the legislative process, share details on the supplemental operating and capital budgets, and more.
Three of my bills signed into law
This session, three of my priority bills were signed into law. Each passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support:
House Bill 1539, or Erin's Law, requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to establish a coordinated program to provide age-appropriate information and training pertaining to the prevention of sexual abuse of students. It also directs the OSPI to disseminate existing information and curricula to school districts.
With the governor's signature, we are the 33rd state to enact Erin's Law legislation!
I've received a tremendous amount of support on this bill, including from the bill's namesake herself, Erin Merryn, and local childhood sexual abuse survivor Olivia Holderman. I'm so thankful for their bravery and advocacy on such an important piece of legislation. To learn more, watch this recent report from KCPQ-TV.
House Bill 2951 would require the Washington State Patrol (WSP) to work with tribal law enforcement, federally recognized tribes, Urban Indian organizations, and the Governor's Office of Indian Affairs to conduct a study to increase state resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women throughout Washington state.
A recent report from the National Institute of Justice found that more than four out of five Native American women have experienced violence in their lives. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control noted in 2016 that homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native American women between the ages of 10 and 24. The Department of Justice has also reported Native American women are 10 times more likely to be murdered than other Americans.
This bill will help us address this unacceptable epidemic, so all communities can have greater success in identifying and finding their missing loved ones.
House Bill 2101 requires the Office of Crime Victim Advocacy (OCVA) to develop best practices for local communities seeking better access to sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). It also calls for the OCVA to develop strategies to make SANE training available to nurses in all regions of the state without requiring the nurses to travel unreasonable distances or incur unreasonable expenses. Currently, the only SANE training available in Washington is at Harborview Medical Center.
This was one of the priority bills that was recommended by the SAFE Task Force, which I co-chair along with Democratic Rep. Tina Orwall. It's been an honor serving on this task force the past two years, and I look forward to our continued efforts to reach bipartisan solutions that will improve the treatment and care of sexual assault survivors.
Combatting opioid use disorder with Jeremy's Law
This year, I introduced House Bill 2447 to help prevent opioid abuse and addiction. The bill is known as Jeremy's Law for local former high school wrestling champ Jeremy Wolfe, who injured his knee and was prescribed Oxycontin and Vicodin to manage the pain. He developed an addiction to the opioids, and evidence shows this may have been the reason he eventually tried heroin. He overdosed, leaving him in a coma for 11 days and in the hospital for a month.
Jeremy Wolfe testifies in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee in favor of Rep. Gina McCabe's 'Jeremy's Law'
Thankfully, Jeremy has been clean for more than a year now. While that challenge is behind him, that didn't stop Jeremy and his family from wanting to help others in similar situations.
Jeremy's Law would have required health care practitioners to discuss dependency and overdose risks as well as provide pain management alternatives to opioids when prescribing them for the first time during the course of a patient's treatment. Since the misuse of opiates can lead to experimentation and addiction with heroin and other drugs, it's important we give patients the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions about their pain management regimens.
During the session, the governor's office reached out and asked if they could make Jeremy's Law part of omnibus opioid legislation they were pursuing this session that would dramatically change the way we treat and prevent opioid use disorder. While that bill did not pass this year, the governor's office and I are hopeful provisions from Jeremy's Law will be implemented via rulemaking in the fall.
Local construction projects receive funding in supplemental capital budget
Lawmakers approved the 2017-19 capital, or construction, budget toward the beginning of this year. With the help of my seatmates Sen. Curtis King and Rep. Norm Johnson, we were able to secure millions of dollars in funding for local, Eastern Washington projects, including:
- $14.2 million for modernization projects in the Mount Adams School District;
- $2.25 million for the Goldendale Observatory expansion;
- $448,000 for the Schilling Road Fire Station in Lyle;
- $348,000 for predesign work to address a safety problem to the current access to Beacon Rock State Park;
- $195,000 for the Family Medicine remodel in Goldendale;
- $150,000 for the Wishram School CTE Facility;
- $134,000 for the Centerville Grange renovation, and much more.
These monies are in addition to the funding provided in the 2018 supplemental capital budget we passed at the end of the session. Some of these projects include:
- $500,000 for the SOZO Sports Center in Yakima;
- $450,000 for the expansion of the Goldendale Observatory;
- $103,000 for Stevenson's waterfront trail development;
- $40,000 for Skamania County Fair horse stall panels;
- $18,000 for the Beacon Rock entrance road realignment;
- $15,000 to renovate the historic officers quarters at Fort Simcoe.
Legislature passes unsustainable supplemental operating budget That's Short on meaningful property tax relief
The Legislature approved the 2018 supplemental operating budget on the final day of session. While the budget does some good, including making additional investments in our K-12 and mental health systems as well as avoiding capital gains and carbon taxes, I voted against it because it grows state spending at an unsustainable rate. It increases state spending by $1.2 billion in 2017-19, and another $600 million in 2019-21 — all amounting to a nearly 16 percent increase in spending since the 2015-17 budget was enacted.
The budget also provides some property tax relief. While the minimal relief it provided is appreciated, Republicans had proposals that would have offered meaningful relief this year, but they were rejected. It is concerning that, since another budget will be enacted before the reduction goes into effect, there are no guarantees lawmakers won't take back that money next year if the state sees an economic downturn.
Representing you in Washington's Capitol
The 14th Legislative District is geographically large and consists of residents and communities with diverse sets of interests and priorities. Since beginning my legislative service in 2014, I've made it my mission to stay involved in policy conversations on a wide range of issues.
Due to my background as a business owner, House Republican Caucus leadership selected me to serve as the ranking Republican on the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. I'm also the assistant ranking Republican on the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee and serve as a member of the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Gina McCabe serves as the assistant ranking Republican on the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee.
In addition to my committee assignments, I also participate in other groups and caucuses. In 2016, I worked across the aisle to launch the bipartisan, bicameral Business Caucus, which meets throughout sessions with employers throughout the state to talk about policies that would help businesses thrive and create jobs. Just last year, I started the House Republican Women's Caucus to work on issues that uniquely affect Washington women. I also participate in the following caucuses:
- Wildfire Caucus
- Kids Caucus
- Outdoor Recreation Caucus
- Local Government Caucus
- Human Trafficking Caucus
If there is ever an issue before the state Legislature that you want to learn more about, or that you would like me to look into, please don't hesitate to contact me.
STAYING IN TOUCH
Even though session has adjourned, I work for you 365 days a year. Please continue to reach out to my office to share your thoughts on issues affecting our communities and state. I can also speak to groups to provide legislative updates. To reach me or schedule time for us to meet, you can call (360) 786-7856 or send an email to Gina.McCabe@leg.wa.gov. You can also contact me directly from my website, as well as learn more about me and the bill's I've sponsored, at RepresentativeGinaMcCabe.com.
Honored to serve you,