Today is Day 16 of the 2019 legislature. We are 3.5 weeks from the first policy cutoff, so we are right in the middle of a policy storm.
Sara Gentzler and Emily Boerger have some great, multimedia coverage of the session this week that I’m proud to highlight for you. If you have suggestions for topics we should be covering, drop us a note.
With help from Emily Boerger and Sara Gentzler
1. Medicaid eligibility, undocumented young adults
Rep. Nicole Macri has a new bill that would extend Medicaid eligibility to undocumented young adults. This follows California’s lead, a state that has extended benefits to undocumented children, as a practical reality of getting kids coverage regardless of immigration status.
Rep. Macri tells our reporter, Sara Gentzler, that “Budget issues are always hard. I’m actually more concerned about the budget impacts than the policy gaining traction.” The bill has fourteen other sponsors in the House.
2. Podcast: Republican leadership
Earlier this month, our sister site hosted the 2019 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference. We recorded this podcast during the “Policy Leadership: Republicans” panel where attendees had the opportunity to listen to Sen. Randi Becker and Rep. Paul Harris break down their vision for healthcare legislation in the 2019 legislative session.
Sen. Becker is the Senate Republican Caucus Chair and is a member of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. Rep. Harris is the House Minority Caucus Chair and a member of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. During this podcast, the two legislators discuss their priority bills and big issues we can expect to be tackled during session, as well as their plans for working through key health policy questions in the 105-day convening.
3. Both chambers address statutes of limitations for felony sex crimes
Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate put forth bills to change the statutes of limitations for certain felony sex crimes this session. The first hearing of the year for two of the bills was last week. Wire reporter Sara Gentzler talked to bill sponsors about their respective approaches; the relevant committee chairs from both chambers are optimistic about action on the issue this session.
Rep. Dan Griffey’s bills (HB 1234 and HB 1231) get rid of the statute of limitations entirely for certain crimes, making it possible for the crimes to be prosecuted no matter how much time has passed. Sen. Manka Dhingra’s bill (SB 5649) is more nuanced, getting rid of the statutes of limitations for some crimes, extending it for others, and changing the definition for rape in the third degree.
4. Wire Insider: Representative Mary Dye
Rep. Mary Dye represents Washington’s 9th legislative district and is the Assistant Ranking Minority Member of the House Environment & Energy Committee. She joins us as a “Wire Insider” to discuss becoming more holistic in the legislature’s approach to policy.
“I think that we need to be more multidisciplinary and more holistic in our approach to policy, so that we consider all of the unintended consequences and the externalities of those choices, and really be thoughtful about policies that help everyone instead of having policies that divide the state into winners and losers.”
5. Lisa Brown, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce
Gov. Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Lisa Brown as director of the Department of Commerce this morning. Brown is a Democrat from Eastern Washington, where she recently lost a congressional race to Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She previously served as a Washington State Senator for 16 years, as a State Representative for four, and held leadership roles in both chambers.
Brown will take over for Brian Bonlender starting February 11. “I am very excited about helping the Department of Commerce carry out its mission of strengthening communities,” Brown said in a press release from the governor’s office. “Commerce plays a crucial role in the economic health and vitality of the state with initiatives around affordable housing, statewide broadband, green jobs and much more.”
6. The future of automated delivery
Bills heard in the House and Senate Transportation Committees yesterday would define and regulate “personal delivery devices,” used by businesses to deliver goods like take-out food and packages to customers’ doors. If passed, regulations on the bots would require them to essentially act like pedestrians on Washington sidewalks and crosswalks, with a few extra rules (like yielding to people and bicycles).
Utah, Arizona, Ohio, Idaho, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have already adopted regulations for the devices—will Washington be next? Lead sponsor in the House, Rep. Shelley Kloba, made the case for her peers’ support yesterday, saying, “I want you all to embrace the future that is right here, now, in front of us.” Watch the House Transportation Committee meeting here via TVW, and watch one of the bots in-action here.