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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.