Health Policy News - March 14, 2016

Welcome to our special session edition of Health Policy News! The legislature adjourned Sine Die at 9:14 p.m. on Thursday, March 10th after a 60 day regular session. Governor Inslee immediately called the legislature back into a 30 day special session at 10:00 p.m. after they failed to come to agreement on a supplemental operating budget. Governor Inslee followed through on his threat made earlier in the week to veto bills on his desk for signature if the legislature could not finish their primary job, agreement on the budget by Sine Die. He vetoed 27 bills, and signed 10 bills . The 10 bills the governor signed had a "common thread of public safety and health and law enforcement." Vetoed bills can be passed by going back through the legislative process during a special session or by a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override the governor's veto.

Friday, March 11, 2016, the Senate released a second version of their budget. In the afternoon, Senate Ways and Means held a hearing on the budget. The new proposal adds about $178 million to the spending level of the two-year, $38 billion two-year operating budget adopted last year. That's an increase from the $34 million that was added under the proposal passed last month by the Senate. It also uses $190 million from the state's emergency fund to pay for wildfire costs.   Between the release of the Senate's budget and the Senate Ways and Means hearing, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, House Appropriations Chair Hans Dunshee and House Finance Chair Kristine Lytton spoke with the media regarding the budget negotiations process with the Senate Friday afternoon. During the media availability, Majority Leader Pat Sullivan noted the House and Senate had been exchanging budget offers on a daily basis. Representative Dunshee stated the House submitted their last budget proposal to the Senate on Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m. The Senate did not respond to the House proposal and was silent. Representative Dunshee observed if the Senate had sent an offer back on Tuesday evening, they could have concluded budget negotiations before the deadline on Thursday. It was not until sometime "in the swirl" on Thursday evening Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair John Braun notified him the Senate would be releasing their own budget. Representative Dunshee also noted that working with Senator Braun has been productive and amicable.   Congratulations, to the winner of last week's Policy Quiz. Our lucky winner received a Starbucks gift card. The correct answer for this last week can be found in the "Quiz Box" to the right.   Last Thursday our colleagues Amy Brackenbury and Nick Federici were having fun with the fact the Legislature was not adjourning Sine Die. They were throwing about the phrases, "Psyche Die" and "Sine Lie." In lieu of a Policy Quiz while we are hanging in the dangle, Whitney had the brilliant idea of holding a T-shirt contest. Send us your best ideas, tag lines, and slogans about what should be on a T-shirt at the Washington State Legislative Gift Shop. Your submission doesn't need to include Sine Die.   

The first three people with the best submissions, will win a prize. Good luck!   

We will be continuing to keep you updated with future status updates as appropriate. While we are waiting and watching, if you have bill or policy questions, please feel free to direct them to Julie Peterson at or my Twitter handle.   Ever forward!

Health Policy News You Can Use March 14 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - March 7, 2016

Welcome to the ninth week of the legislative session! We are in the waning days of the 60 day legislative session. Sine Die is Thursday, March 10th. The question is will the House and Senate conclude negotiations on the supplemental operating budget in time for Sine Die? House Appropriations Committee chair and lead budget writer Rep. Hans Dunshee offered his viewpoint to TVW Inside Olympia Host Austin Jenkins regarding where the budget negotiations stood. Differences in philosophy and spending was also highlighted by Senator Bruce Dammeier, Vice Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee in his thoughts on the negotiations and differences in the versions of the budget. The differences between the House and Senate transportation and capital budgets seem to be smaller and less contentious.

Stay tuned. It will be an interesting week as the members, staff and lobbyists wrap up business.

Health Policy News You Can Use March 7 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 29. 2016

Welcome to the eighth week of the legislative session! As you will recall from last week, today is another cut-off. Bills (which would cost the state money) have to be voted out of the opposite house fiscal committees by 5:00 p.m., unless they have the coveted designation of NTIB (by now, you knew I was going to say that!).

Last week, the House and Senate released their respective supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets. On Monday, the House released their budgets. "This is not a year to sit on our hands and do nothing. We have some significant issues, some significant crisis and we intend to do something about them with this budget," said House lead budget writer Rep. Hans Dunshee at a press conference Monday. The supplemental budget spends $467 million, including $99 million to address the state's teacher shortage. The proposal would raise starting teacher salaries from $35,000 to $40,000 a year, and offer teachers a $650 yearly bonus for continuing professional certification. The budget also calls for tapping the state's emergency "rainy day fund" to pay for $190 million in fire suppression efforts during the devastating 2015 wildfire season, as well as nearly $38 million in homeless programs, and $47 million for mental health programs including Western State Hospital. The supplemental budget can be found here.

On Wednesday, the Senate released their budgets. "Not only does it make investments where we need it, but we also have policy and reforms to go along with those investments," said lead budget writer Sen. Andy Hill at a briefing with reporters. The Senate supplemental operating budget spends $54 million on mental health, including salary increases and extra staffing at Western State Hospital. $6.6 million is included for Charter Schools from the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account, as well as $173 million for wildfire costs from last summer. Watch the media briefing by Majority Coalition Caucus and House Republican Leadership about the House budget. Senate budget documents can be found here


Health Policy News You Can Use February 29 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 22, 2016

Welcome to the seventh week of the legislative session. With the House of origin cut-off last Wednesday, it has been a scramble to figure out which bills are alive or dead. The next cut-off is Friday, February 26th. Bills must be out of the policy committee in the opposite house by 5:00 p.m. This cut-off is followed tightly by the next one, Monday, February 29th. Bills (which would cost the state money) have to be voted out of House fiscal committees, Senate Ways and Means, or Transportation Committees by 5:00 p.m. Unless, they have the coveted designation of NTIB. Wednesday, February 17th the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its revenue forecast. The state revenue forecast showed that the current two-year $38 billion budget that ends June 30, 2017 falls about $78 million short of what was originally predicted. The forecast lowered its forecast for the next two-year budget by $436 million. The projected overall state budget for 2017-19 is expected to be about $41 billion. Look for the release of the House Supplemental and Capital Budgets, followed by the Senate's budgets next week. 

For the latest Health Policy News You Can Use, click here

Health Policy News You Can Use February 22 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 15, 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the sixth week of the legislative session. We are past the half way point of the legislative session. As you know, last Tuesday marked our second cut-off. Bills (which would have cost the state money) had to be voted out of House fiscal committees, Senate Ways and Means, or Transportation Committees. Unless they have the coveted designation of NTIB. You will note many bills are now Dead. The next cutoff is 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17th. Bills must be moved out of their House of origin.

Next Wednesday, February 17th the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will release its revenue forecast. This is an important part of the budget process. We will learn what is occurring with state revenues. Are they up? Down? Or coming in as predicted. It is expected we may see the Supplemental Budget the week of February 22nd. The pace of the legislative session will quicken. 

For more on the bills that have moved out of their house of origin and those that are now dead in committee, click on for the full Health Policy News You Can Use

Health Policy News You Can Use February 15 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 8, 2016

Welcome to the fifth week of the legislative session! As you will recall, Friday marked our first cut-off. Policy bills had to be voted out of their committee of origin. Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9th is the fiscal cut-off. Bills (which will cost the state money) must be voted out of House fiscal committees, Senate Ways and Means, or Transportation Committees. Unless, they have the coveted designation of necessary to implement the budget (NTIB). It is a stressful time for all parties trying to move legislation through the process.
Last week, Healthy Gen sponsored and joined our colleagues at the Washington State Public Health Association (WSPHA) Public Health Legislative Education day. Over 140 participants were able to make 100 legislative visits. Advocacy days are wonderful opportunities for individuals to participate in our democratic process by meeting with their legislators (or their staff) with a visit to Olympia to express their opinion on an issue. A few weeks ago, we had Zombies, the NRA, and motorcyclists all on one day visiting their legislators and rallying on the steps of the Legislative Building! Here is the campus events calendar. It gives you a feel for the groups who will be in Olympia on a given day. Remember, these are the groups who are registered. Many groups and organizations stage their events off site and walk on to campus.
For what we're watching this 5th week before the #waleg fiscal cut off and some of what we're reading in the world of health policy and prevention, click on for this week's full Health Policy News You Can Use
Health Policy News You Can Use February 8 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 1, 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the fourth week of the legislative session. Friday, February 5th at 5:00 p.m. marks the first cut-off. It is critical to have policy bills out of their committees of origin, or they are declared dead. As you will recall from Health Policy News last year, policy bills are exempt from this fate if they receive the coveted designation of 'necessary to implement the budget' (NTIB). It is a hectic week for all involved with trying to move their bills out of committee and along the next step in the process, which is followed by the next cut-off Tuesday, February 9th, the fiscal cut-off.

I have received many e-mails and calls this week from readers and health advocates excited about the Tobacco 21, E-cigarette, PE, and sugar-sweetened beverage bills. I love hearing from all of you and your enthusiasm, or concern about these proposals. However, I'm not the person you need to be asking to "do all you can to pass this bill or stop this bill." I'm not a legislator. You, however have two representatives and a senator who need to, and would welcome hearing from you. On this topic, check out the latest edition of Convergence Emergence, a weekly blog from our Executive Director, Melanie Gillespie. She's digging into these issues right now too from her own unique perspective.

In January, Whitney, Rachel, and our friend Dennis Worsham were fortunate to hear TVW Host and NPR Reporter Austin Jenkins at City Club Tacoma before the 2016 session began. In response to an audience question about impacting the legislative process, Austin replied that in his experience, constituents have about a 50/50 chance of impacting your legislator about legislation or policy you care about if you have a clear issue you can present.

My friends, if you have bills you care about, I encourage you to call 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your legislators. Don't worry if you don't know who your legislators are, or if you didn't vote for them. All you need to do is give your home address to the friendly operator who answers, and s/he will figure out who your legislators are and take your message down and pass it on to them. 

For the latest on bills that we're tracking and what we're watching this week in Session. Click on for more Health Policy News

Health Policy News You Can Use February 1 2016.pdf

The Science of HOPE - Save the Date!

Save the Date 

2017 Conference - April 26 & 27, 2017 - Seattle, WA

The 2016 Science of HOPE conference delivered two full days of workshops and skill-building symposiums to encourage an asset-focused learning community around health equity. Together, we learned from the nation’s leading scientists, practitioners and policy-makers about key health equity issues. Participants left ready to engage neighbors, community and youth in hopeful, future-oriented action; acquired skills and tools to address the most complex problems of health equity in thoughtful, participatory and high-leverage ways; and were able to infuse deeper understanding of today’s leading-edge science into policy, practice and planning.

Learn more: watch keynotes, highlights & workshops from the 2016 conference!

E-cigarettes: Delivering Chemicals, Cannabis, and Nicotine to Growing Number of Washington Youth

The popularity of e-cigarettes and other “vapor products” is on the rise, posing a threat to youth health, yet these products are not adequately regulated at a federal or state level. The American Public Health Association has recommended that states and municipalities enact laws prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public areas and places of employment due to their potential as a source of pollutants. These devices produce an aerosol of exhaled nicotine, ultra-fine particles and other toxins rather than a harmless water vapor.

One in five high school seniors in Washington reported e-cigarette use in 2014, up from one in fourteen in 2012. Nicotine is particularly harmful to brain development in children and a recent study found that teens who start using e-cigarettes are 8 times more likely to take up smoking.

Recent studies have shown the increasing popularity among high school students of using e-cigarettes to smoke cannabis. Kids who use nicotine or marijuana at a young age are susceptible to addiction and continued use in adulthood. “As compared with persons who begin to use marijuana in adulthood, those who begin in adolescence are approximately 2 to 4 times as likely to have symptoms of cannabis dependence within 2 years after first use.”

E-liquid, the nicotine-containing component, can poison children via ingestion, inhalation, ocular exposure, and skin contact. In 2015, at least 61 e-cigarette poisonings have been reported, with 59 percent involving 1 to 3 year olds. E-liquids are often sold without child resistant packaging and in alluring candy-like flavors, including caramel apple, wacky taffy and bubble gum.

The FDA does not currently regulate ingredients or safety claims made by manufacturers. Some products that are labeled “nicotine-free” actually contain small amounts of nicotine. A Harvard study also recently discovered diacetyl, an ingredient known to cause “popcorn lung” (bronchiolitis obliterans), in 75 percent of the flavored e-liquids they tested.

In Washington, state law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but doesn’t do anything else to regulate e-cigarettes or the people who sell them (including online sellers). Grant, King, Pierce, Clark, and Snohomish Counties have passed ordinances regulating e-cigarettes. Other counties are considering similar ordinances.

E-cig Youth_FINAL.pdf

Health Policy News - January 25, 2016

Welcome to the third week of the legislative session! The pressure is on. If your policy bill has not been scheduled for a hearing for this week, it may not have a hearing this year. Next week most of the committee time will be spent on "executive action" or voting policy bills out of committees before the February 5th cut-off.

Last Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing ruled Initiative 1366, Tim Eyman's latest tax-limiting measure, was a thinly veiled constitutional amendment and can't be done by initiative. "It is solely the province of the legislative branch of our representative government to 'propose' an amendment to the state constitution," Downing wrote. "That process is derailed by the pressure-wielding mechanism in this initiative which exceeds the scope of initiative power."

For more on Initiative 1366 and prevention bills that we're tracking click here, for the full Health Policy News You Can Use for this 3rd week of the legislative Session. 

We will be continuing to keep you updated with future status updates. If you have bill or policy questions, please feel free to direct them to Julie Peterson at or via twitter at healthygenjulie.

Health Policy News You Can Use January 25 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - January 19, 2016

Dear Friends,
Welcome to the second week of the legislative session! Generally, our lobbyist Erin Dziedzic reports that around 450 new bills were introduced this first week of session. Things are moving fast which reflects the fact that this is a short session, which will conclude on March 10th. The first policy cut off is on February 5th! If you would like to follow the Legislative Calendar so you can monitor the next cut-off deadlines, click here.
Have you been reading a bill, but aren't sure what certain things mean? Click here for a Guide to Reading a Legislative Measure.
We will be continuing to keep you updated with future status updates. If you have bill or policy questions, please feel free to direct them to Julie Peterson at or my Twitter handle. And for the bills that we're tracking so far this 2016 Legislative Session, click here for the full Health Policy News You Can Use


Health Policy News You Can Use January 19 2016.pdf