State Representatives during today’s issues sessions were optimistic and appreciative of the unified voice being presented at the Capitol by our delegation. Our group was repeatedly assured that the attention and continued engagement as a holistic business community was recognized throughout the Legislature as an effort that worked toward prosperity for all.
A major focus of today’s issues sessions was health care. Representatives from both sides of the aisle made mention of how imperative it is to pay attention to the need for specialized health care, “Outside of education, probably nothing impacts us as much as health care,” said Senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane).
As of today, the bill to modify state law allowing WSU to pursue a state-run medical school has 60 sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate. Regarding health care in general, we saw broad support for increases in primary care givers, especially in high-need areas, in our meetings with Representatives Eileen Cody (D-Seattle), Joe Schmick (R-Colfax) and Senator Randi Becker (R-Eatonville). “My dog in this fight is rural areas and the underserved,” said Schmick. “How do we incentivize to get them to come to rural areas and how do we keep them?”
One of the GSI 2015 State Legislative Priorities is to secure funds for regional support networks. A common thread throughout the day was the critical need for mental health services in our region. Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) summarized the situation with this sentiment: Homelessness and the mentally ill – these are not just moral issues, these are public safety and money issues.
One of the Governor’s priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session is climate change. Legislatitors of energy and environmental committees we spoke with today had plenty to say on the issue. The Cap and Trade bill aims to reduce the carbon output in the state of Washington by targeting large producers. The good news is that Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), Energy & Environment Ranking Minority Member and sponsor of the Governor’s Carbon Bill, expressed flexibility in how the state of Washington reduces emissions. On the other side, Shelly Short (R-Addy), Environment Ranking Minority Member, conveyed that mandates do not bring best market results and that the impacts are burdensome on citizens, especially those of low-income.
These issues are not only important when we are in Olympia, but affect affect each of us as we go about our daily business. Stay tuned for future updates on these issues and learn how you can join us in our advocacy efforts, from Spokane.