Happy New Year!
The first week of the year is also the last week before the Washington State legislative session begins. For those of us who work with lawmakers, legislative staff and agency leaders, it’s a week of preparation and prognostication.
“What’s going to happen this session?”
Of course no one knows what will happen, but here are some things to pay attention to:
- The WSHA legislative agenda. It might be a short session, but we still have a legislative agenda based on our fundamental purpose: Improve access to high-quality care in Washington State communities. Join us for our legislative session kickoff webcast at noon January 11 to learn more about our priorities for this session.
- It’s a short session, which means the state’s budget should only need an update. Increased tax revenues should theoretically make it easier, but there’s a court order to make additional large investments in K-12 school funding, along with ongoing desire for greater spending for housing, mental health and other services.
- The state may have to quickly respond to decreased federal funding for health programs and changes to the Affordable Care Act. If Congress does not agree on long-term funding of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) quickly, it’ll be up to the states to pay for health care for tens of thousands of children.
- For the first time in several years, the House and Senate both have slim Democratic majorities, changing committee leadership and impacting the kinds of bills that move forward. We’ll be tracking legislation very carefully and working with lawmakers to ensure there’s real understanding about a bill’s impact on health in our communities.
Our members set our legislative agenda, and your involvement throughout session is valued both by staff and lawmakers. If you are a WSHA member and would like to get involved, I look forward to hearing from you!
WSHA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
P.S.- To stay informed about our progress through session, please sign up for Inside Olympia. It generally comes out on Mondays during session, with special editions around budgets.