Dear Friends and Neighbors,
On Jan. 8, lawmakers returned to Olympia to kick off the 2018 legislative session. This year, we are scheduled to be in Olympia for 60 consecutive days, during which we will do supplemental work (i.e. making adjustments for unanticipated changes to entitlement program workloads or caseloads, and accounting for emergencies) to our state budgets.
As session continues, it's important I hear from you about the issues facing our communities and state. Here are some ways you can stay informed about what is happening in your state Capitol:
Visit my website at RepresentativeGinaMcCabe.com.
Listen to my radio interviews and other audio reports on SoundCloud.
Subscribe to the Capitol Buzz for weekday news clips from around the state.
Watch committee hearings, floor action, and more on TVW.
Legislature's to-do list: Hirst fix and a capital budget
Lawmakers started the 2018 session with some unfinished business: a permanent Hirst solution and a capital budget.
For more than a year, lawmakers have been grappling with problems created by the outcome of a state Supreme Court case, known as Hirst, that jeopardized rural development and left property owners in limbo. But with new legislation signed into law, rural Washington families are finally getting some long-awaited relief.
We also passed the 2017-19 capital budget, which makes important investments in schools, mental health, housing, and numerous community projects, including:
- modernization projects in the Mount Adams School District;
- the Goldendale Observatory expansion;
- the Schilling Road Fire Station in Lyle;
- predesign work to address a safety problem to the current access to Beacon Rock State Park;
- the Family Medicine remodel in Goldendale;
- the Wishram School CTE Facility;
- the Centerville Grange renovation, and much more.
Fighting the opioid crisis: Jeremy's Law
When you get a flu shot, you're handed information on the risks and side effects of the vaccine, yet when you're prescribed painkillers, many times all you're handed is your prescription. That seems inconsistent to me.
In 2016, 694 people in Washington died due to opioid abuse, and opioid overdoses led to more than 1,400 hospitalizations. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four patients who are prescribed opioids long-term struggle with addiction.
Jeremy Wolfe and his family are all too familiar with those statistics. At the age of 14, Jeremy — a four-time state wrestling champion — injured his knee and was prescribed Oxycontin and Vicodin to manage the pain. He became addicted, and that eventually led him to try heroin. He overdosed, leaving him in a coma for 11 days and in the hospital for a month, and nearly died twice.
I'm so proud of the progress he has made since then. Thankfully, Jeremy has been clean for a year now but he never wants to see another person, or their family, go through what he did.
That's why I've sponsored Jeremy's Law, a bill that would require doctors to warn patients about the risks of opioid use and provide pain management alternatives when prescribing opioids for the first time during the course of a patient's treatment. The Washington State Department of Health would also be required to post a warning statement on their website about the dangers of opioid use.
The bill was given a hearing in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee Jan. 19, and Jeremy and his family were able to attend and testify in favor of the bill. Several news outlets are following this bill's journey, including KING 5 News and The Goldendale Sentinel.
Keeping our children safe: Erin's Law
This year, I'm continuing my effort to enact Erin's Law legislation in Washington state. My bill, House Bill 1539, would establish a work group tasked with creating age-appropriate sexual-abuse prevention curriculum in our schools. We teach our children fire safety, how to stay safe during earthquakes, and 'stranger danger,' but we don't teach them what to do when they're being sexually abused.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 10 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control estimate one in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18.
This bill was brought to me by a constituent and childhood sexual abuse survivor, Olivia Holderman. Olivia testified in favor of the bill earlier this session. I encourage you to listen to her story and powerful testimony here.
Erin's Law has passed in 31 other states. It's time to make Washington number 32!
Shining the light on domestic violence
An average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, yet only 34 percent of people who are injured by an intimate partner receive medical care. For some, going to work is often their only escape from the abuse. As a business owner, I believe employers have an opportunity to create even safer, more inclusive workplaces.
I've sponsored a bill that will do just that. Under House Bill 2820, employers may solicit one or more volunteers to serve as designated contact persons within the workplace for employees to ask questions and seek information about domestic violence, sexual harassment or other unhealthy relationships. If an employee sought out one of these volunteers, they would be provided a link to a multimedia presentation (to be created by the Employment Security Department) on ways to identify healthy relationships and resources to get help.
Employers often say 'employees are like family.' If one of my family members was enduring abuse or in an unhealthy relationship, I know I would do everything I could to make sure they were connected to the resources they needed.
The bill received a public hearing in the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee on Jan. 23.
Free state park access for disabled vets
Currently, Oregon extends their disabled veterans state park passes to non-resident veterans, including those living in Washington state. Larry Jose, a veteran from Goldendale, says we should return the favor, and I agree.
House Bill 1247 would allow Oregon veterans with a 30 percent service-related disability to be eligible for Washington's Lifetime Veteran Disability pass. It's important we recognize the contributions of all military men and women, including those across the river from us.
The bill received a hearing Jan. 9 in the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee.
Thank you for reading this legislative update. Should you have any questions about the information in this email, or want to learn more, please don't hesitate to contact me. My contact information is below.
Honored to serve you,