Public Policy

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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

Health Policy News - February 1, 2016

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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

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Health Policy News You Can Use February 1 2016.pdf

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

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ISSUE
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.
 
WHAT WE KNOW

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.

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E-cig Youth_FINAL.pdf

Health Policy News - January 25, 2016

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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 juliep@healthygen.org or via twitter at healthygenjulie.

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Health Policy News You Can Use January 25 2016.pdf
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