Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now more than two-thirds of the way through the legislative session. A lot of legislation, good and bad, has died. You can find a list of some of the more notable dead/alive bills here.
A number of my bills passed the House of Representatives and have made it out of their respective committees in the Senate.
- House Bill 2565 would change the frequency local sales and use taxes may be changed from four times a year to three.
- House Bill 2433 would allow certified public accountants in Washington to do business in other states, under the same rules and guidelines out-of-state CPA's have in Washington.
- House Bill 2584 would remove from public disclosure security plans, delivery and travel routes, and personal financial information of marijuana producers, processers, and retailers.
- House Bill 1659 would add grief counseling to the list of benefits a group life insurance policy may include, and permits disability insurers to offer noninsurance benefits similar to group life policies.
Right to Try
A few weeks ago, I introduced legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to access experimental treatments and investigational medical products.
House Bill 2961, deemed “Right To Try,” would authorize an eligible patient and his or her physician to request that a manufacturer of an investigational product make it available for treatment. The legislation would require an agreement between the patient, physician and manufacturer.
I feel if people have the right to end their life under our state's death with dignity law, people should also have the ability to try and save their life as well. People should have the ability to work with their doctors and decide what potentially life-saving treatments may benefit them, and what they would be willing to try – without needing the government's approval to save their life.
No action will be taken on my bill this session, but it has started a conversation and I plan to introduce it again next year. The “Right to Try” law has already passed in 24 states.
House Democrats operating budget
House Democrats unveiled their proposed budget on Monday. It is more of a negotiating tool than a realistic budget plan. One of the budget gimmicks Democrats use is excluding the projected expenditures for McCleary in 2017-19 for K-3 class-size reductions. They also propose raising taxes by almost $400 million the next four years. The tax proposals are ones we have seen before the last several years. Details about the tax increases can be found here: House Bill 2996.
The budget did pass the House on a party-line vote 50-47. House Republicans offered a number of amendments to improve the spending plan and direct funds to areas or issues we feel are not being prioritized. We offered amendments that would:
- backfill higher education dollars lost from our historic tuition reduction plan;
- help reduce the cost of college by allowing open source textbooks;
- provide a solution to the charter school situation;
- direct funding to career and technical education (CTE's) from the McCleary penalty fund;
- require agencies with rulemaking authority to delay the effect of new rules until the Legislature can review them.
Unfortunately, these and many other amendments failed on party-line votes.
Senate Majority Coalition Caucus budget
The Senate budget proposal is much more realistic and fiscally responsible. Their supplemental spending plan makes investments in mental health, increased protections for people with developmental disabilities, and wildfire prevention and suppression costs for the Department of Natural Resources. The budget also invests and makes reforms at the Health Care Authority, Western State Hospital and Department of Corrections.
The Senate doesn't use proposed tax increases or budget gimmicks. The Senate supplemental plan complies with the four-year budget outlook, unlike the governor's and the House Democrat budget proposals.
It is imperative as the final budget negotiations take place that we don't follow the House Democrats lead but instead work toward the Majority Coalition Caucus supplemental spending plan.
It was great to see some friendly faces from the 18th District this week – Craig Stein of Craig Stein Distribution, BIAW members from Clark County, Fort Vancouver High School students, Clark County Parent Coalition members and I also had the opportunity to meet with WSU Inaugural Dean of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Dr. John Tomkowiak.
I encourage you to contact me if you ever have any questions, ideas or concerns the final two weeks of the session. You can send me an email at Brandon.Vick@leg.wa.gov or give me a call at (360) 786-7850.
It's an honor representing you.