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Special Edition Health Policy News You Can Use: Health Equity in Washington State

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Dear Friends,
Welcome to a special edition of Health Policy News. This year is a milestone anniversary for our state. We mark the 10 year anniversary of the passage of a package of bills in the Washington State Legislature to impact health disparities. One of these bills created the Washington State Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities. The Council is charged with identifying priorities and creating recommendations to the Legislature and Governor to eliminate health disparities by race/ethnicity and gender.
But how did this happen? All legislation has a backstory. I was privileged to hear the story from the prime sponsor, Senator Rosa Franklin. Vazaskia Crockwell, member of the Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities arranged a meeting with Senator Franklin for members and staff last year. Also invited were Board of Health and Health Care Authority staff.
In her remarks, Senator Franklin noted the importance of The Heckler Report, named for US Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler. This report, released in 1985 was the first convening of a group of health experts by the U.S. government to conduct a comprehensive study of racial and ethnic minority health. The report elevated minority health to a national stage. The Heckler Report celebrated its 30 year anniversary in 2015 and influences awareness of the importance health equity today. Trained as a nurse, Senator Franklin had been acutely aware of the importance of health care access and health inequities throughout her career.
In 1994, the Washington State Legislature created the Joint Select Committee on Health Disparities. The committee was co-chaired by Senator Rosa Franklin and Representative Dawn Morrell. The committee held a series of meetings and hearings on health disparities. The Joint Committee produced a final report found here, and as a result of the report, Don Sloma, Senate Health Care Staff Director drafted an omnibus bill. The omnibus bill was later divided into five bills. The larger of the five created the Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities. Senator Franklin insisted the agency remain in the executive branch of government. The Council creates an action plan for eliminating health disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender in Washington, convenes advisory committees, and has developed many recommendations to support language assistance.
The Legislature authorized the Washington State Board of Health to conduct Health Impact Reviews (HIRs) in collaboration with the Council. A Health Impact Review (HIR) is an analysis of how a proposed legislative or budgetary change will likely impact health and health disparities. HIRs, an evidence based practice, can only be requested by the Governor or a state legislator. To receive additional information about HIRs, including how to request a review, copies of past reviews, or to be added to the HIR email distribution list, please visit the Washington State Board of Health website.
On April 20th, Healthy Gen will honor Senator Rosa Franklin for her contributions to creating enduring healthy equity through public policy in Washington State with the presentation of an eponymous award. Dr. Maxine Hayes, will also be honored for her contributions to creating enduring health equity through public health practice. The award will be followed by a panel discussion, "The Frontiers Of Health Equity: Past, Present & Future." For more information about the Science of Hope Conference, click here.
As always, if you have a bill or policy questions, please feel free to direct them to me at or @healthygenjulie.
Ever forward!


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Special Edition Health Policy News You Can Use Health Equity.pdf

Health Policy News - April 4, 2016

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Welcome to our wrap up edition of Health Policy News for the 2016 Legislative Session!

The Legislature adjourned Sine Die shortly before 11:00pm on March 29th on the 20th day of the special session. The House passed the supplemental operating budget on Tuesday afternoon with a vote of 78- 17. The Senate then voted on the budget Tuesday evening with a vote of 27-17. The supplemental operating budget will increase the $38.2 billion biennial budget by $191 million. The costs of last year's wildfires were covered by using $190 million from the state's "Rainy Day Fund." An additional $7 million was included to retain more teachers, $15 million for youth homelessness programs that pair with housing programs and $28 million to improve safety at Western State Hospital and other psychiatric hospitals. Access budget details here

Prior to the Legislature adjourning Sine Die, both chambers overrode the 27 bills Governor Inslee had vetoed. As you will recall, the governor vetoed the bills to encourage the Legislature to come to agreement on a supplemental operating budget prior to the end of the regular 60 day session. After long negotiations, the Senate passed ESSB 6328, 'Concerning vapor products in respect to youth substance use prevention' on Monday, March 28th, followed by the House on Tuesday, March 29th. Advocates worked very hard to negotiate the best compromise to protect the public's health. The hard rule about the legislative process is we never get everything we want. When you are up against the powerful tobacco industry, it is very difficult. I call your attention to two articles in the "What we are reading section" about how the tobacco industry is deeply involved in safeguarding the ecigarette industry. Access an overview of ESSB 6328 here. Congratulation to the negotiators and advocates who have worked tirelessly on this issue!

So what comes next? Well, we will be sending out special issues of Health Policy News in the future. Watch for them this spring! Of course, we will also resume weekly issues of Healthy Policy News next January when the legislature convenes for the 2017 session.

For the rest of the bills we were watching for prevention this #waleg session, take a look at the full Health Policy News for the 2016 Legislative Session here

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Health Policy News You Can Use April 4 2016.pdf

ESSB 6328 Analysis

State Legislation Regulating E-Cigarettes and Vapor Products 

The proposed striking amendment to Senate Bill 6328 has broad support among health organizations. It will bring statewide regulation and enforcement to a nearly unregulated e-cigarette and vapor products market and strengthen protections against the sale of these harmful products to youth.
Problem: Currently, the Liquor and Cannabis Board does not have the funding or the authority to enforce the state prohibition of selling e-cigarettes and vapor products to minors. Because a license isn’t required to sell these highly addictive nicotine-delivery devices, the state does not know how many vape shops there are or where they are located.
Solution: This striker accomplishes the following actions:
  1. Establishes important youth access protections.
  2. Provides meaningful enforcement and penalties for those who break the law.
  3. Regulates Internet and distribution markets.
  4. Provides common-sense consumer protections such as warnings and nicotine content disclosure.
  5. Raises tobacco fees and doubles fines — the first increase in 23 years; pays for enforcement, prevention and education.

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Health Policy News - March 14, 2016

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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!

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Health Policy News You Can Use March 14 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - March 7, 2016

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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.

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Health Policy News You Can Use March 7 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 29. 2016

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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


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Health Policy News You Can Use February 29 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 22, 2016

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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

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Health Policy News You Can Use February 22 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 15, 2016

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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

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Health Policy News You Can Use February 15 2016.pdf

Health Policy News - February 8, 2016

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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

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Health Policy News You Can Use February 8 2016.pdf
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