Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is Week Six of session. The cutoff date to pass bills out of their “House of origin,” or House bills to the Senate, was 5 p.m. Tuesday. We were on the House floor until 12:30 a.m. on Monday to get our work done. We are now hearing Senate bills in committees.
The federal Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress in 2010, but states are still implementing the law and adapting to it. Two major health care bills passed the House this week. I opposed both bills. The bills would give government more control over health care services. House Bill 2572 is part of the federal health care program and encourages new state-based health care models funded by taxpayers through the federal government. House Bill 2594 directs the Health Care Authority to implement a Basic Health Program and report back to the Legislature on enrollment, costs and impacts. Among other problems with this bill, purchasers in the Exchange would be required to pay higher fees.
I believe the path to less costly, more accessible health care is in the hands of doctors, patients and free markets – not big government. Innovative market-based policies are waiting to be adopted at the state level.
My colleague Rep. Matt Manweller introduced two bills, House Bill 2220 and 2221, which would allow Washington residents to buy catastrophic health care plans in other states and would instruct the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to enter into compacts with other states to facilitate the purchase of out-of-state health care plans. Neither bill survived the House cutoff, but these are the kinds of policies that will make health care more affordable and accessible for Washingtonians.
In Olympia, it is often stated the best ideas come from constituents. House Bill 2567 is a perfect example. A frustrated homeowner within a homeowners' association (HOA) contacted me because his association holds its annual meeting in the first quarter of the year. However, the minutes are not presented until the next annual meeting, an entire year later. Issues and concerns can be forgotten in a year's time when the minutes are finally presented. House Bill 2567 simply requires an HOA to make meeting minutes available to owners of record for examination and copying within 60 days after a meeting. The bill passed the House unanimously and is now being considered by the Senate.
On Wednesday, I had the privilege to speak on the House floor for the “Day of Remembrance.” Every year on this day the Legislature remembers the internment of Japanese-Americans, such as the hundreds of Puyallup Valley Japanese-Americans who were interned in the Puyallup Fairgrounds in 1942. You can watch my floor speech here. At a lunch with some of the visitors on who were in Olympia for the day, I met a man who was born during the internment and spent his earliest days in the Fairgrounds, known as “Camp Harmony.” I also met veterans of the highly decorated all-Japanese-American 442nd Infantry Regiment. I was reminded of the importance of preserving liberty in our own time.
Finally, Eagle Scouts from across the state came to Olympia this week to share their annual “Eagle Scout Report to the State.” The Scouts met with lawmakers, and I got to spend part of the lunch hour speaking with them about public service and taking questions. They were recognized in the House chambers and in the House Republican Caucus. As an Eagle Scout myself, I always enjoy this time with fellow Eagle Scouts at the Capitol.
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