Update from Olympia

The battle for control of the State Senate, which, if the Democrats are successful, would help pass meaningful healthcare legislation rather than mouth platitudes about undefined social goals, which is what the Republicans are currently doing, instead of engaging in real legislation. This from the Reproductive Health News

 Last Tuesday the state Senate became a tied body (24 Democrats and 24 members of the Republican Caucus) with the resignation of Sen. Dansel (LD-07) to accept a post in the Trump administration. Along with the frequent absence of Sen. Ericksen (LD-42) and Sen. Baumgartner (LD-06) to assist with the Trump transition, there is now an ongoing standoff in the Senate, with the controlling Republicans unable to convene floor action for fear of being outvoted (and possibly losing control) to Democrats who are actually able to put more senators on the floor. (The tie was ended on Monday when Rep. Shelly Short was appointed to the open Senate seat.)

· 2017 Legislative Priorities:
o 12 Months of Birth Control (HB 1234) – This proactive bill has been formally scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday 2/1 in the Health Care & Wellness Committee and we are working with allies to coordinate speaker panels. A Senate version, SB 5554, has been introduced with the bi-partisan support of two Democrats and two Republicans (both members of the Senate Health Care Committee, including the Chair who has indicated she will give it a hearing).
o Paid Family & Medical Leave (HB 1116, Robinson; SB 5032, Keiser) – These progressive bills would put in place an integrated, holistic system for paid leave. The House version was passed out of committee last week and has been referred to House Appropriations, and the Senate version has been scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 30 in the Senate Commerce, Labor and Sports Committee. A competing Republican version (SB 5149, Fain) that is significantly less progressive is also scheduled for a public hearing.
· Partner-Led Priorities:
o Voting Rights (SB 5267, Hunt) – There has been no movement on this progressive, proactive bill to enhance voting rights in WA. SB 5067 and SB 5068, two alternative Republican-sponsored bills that our allies who lead on voting rights issues oppose, had a public hearing in the Senate Committee on State Government but have not yet been scheduled for a vote. We are continuing to educate legislators on the crucial differences between these competing versions.
o Healthcare Consumer Protection (HB 1043, SB 5124) – The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) requested our support on bills to exempt personal healthcare information from being subject to disclosure under the state public disclosure act. The House version had a public hearing and is expected to be passed out of committee. The Senate version had a public hearing but has not yet been scheduled for a vote by the Senate Health Care Committee.
o Healthy Starts Act (SB 5299) – Formerly known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, this bill has broadened in scope to encompass a wider range of protections for maternal and child health. It had a a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor & Sports on Jan. 30.

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