And, we’re back! We re-started content this week at the Wire ahead of next week’s session. That means our Morning Wire newsletter is back, too! I also want to welcome to the Wire team Madeline Shannon, a new reporter who joins us following a 12-year career with newspapers in Oregon and California.
This year will be a big one for us at the Wire, with more growth, community engagement, and content. We’ll have more on that in time. Until then, here is your morning briefing for Washington State policies, politics, and personalities.
With help from Emily Boerger, Michael Goldberg and Madeline Shannon
1. Podcast: A conversation with gubernatorial candidate Joshua Freed
We launch our Wire Podcast season with this interview with former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed. Freed is running for governor in 2020 and centering his platform around the homelessness crisis. He is building a campaign in the Republican primary geared toward what he believes is a moderate consensus in Washington State. He aims to provide an alternative to Washingtonians who feel overtaxed, a feeling he believes was reflected at the ballot box this past November.
At the 2019 Re-Wire Policy Conference, I had the opportunity to sit down with candidate Freed to discuss his campaign, his professional evolution from family therapy to real estate development to politics, and his policy vision for Washington State.
2. Pre-filed bills ahead of session
Reporter Madeline Shannon takes a look at four pre-filed bills benefiting women and girls. Two deal with expansion of Medicaid and medical assistance coverage to postpartum mothers for up to one year after the end of a pregnancy. It’s currently limited to about 60 days post-partum. Another bill would require student health insurance plans to cover abortion services for full-time college students, while another would mandate public schools supply menstrual products in girls and gender-neutral bathrooms.
Meanwhile, Senior Reporter Emily Boerger recently reported on Sen. Keiser’s five bills targeting the pharmaceutical industry and their pricing. They range from a bill that will cap out of pocket costs for insulin to bills that would facilitate travel to or importation from Canada for purchase of prescription drugs.
3. Wire Insider: Rep. Jake Fey
Rep. Jake Fey represents Washington’s 27th Legislative District and serves as Chair of the House Transportation Committee. Fey is one of Olympia’s most important policy makers, as it falls to him to guide one of the appropriations committees, one more prominently in the news after the election. He joins us on “Wire Insider” to discuss I-976 and the outlook for the transportation budget heading into the 2020 legislative session.
“We have to deal with the passage of Initiative 976 and budget reductions – the actual hard money that will not be available until and unless there is a successful lawsuit to roll back the initiative. So, my focus will be to try to find, with my legislative colleagues, the best way to spread the pain in a way that doesn’t do long-term damage to our transportation infrastructure.”
4. State of Reform Health Policy Conference this week!
It’s a big week here at the Wire. On top of getting ready for the start of the legislative session next week, our sister site is hosting the 2020 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference in Seattle on Thursday. Now in the tenth year, the 2020 Washington State of Reform Health Policy Conference is the state’s largest, most diverse convening of senior health care executives and health policy insiders.
This all-day event features industry experts and policy-makers, covering the most complex issues facing health care today. If you you are interested in understanding what occurs at the nexus of health care policy and politics, then this is the event for you. It’s not too late to register!
5. Public records reveal DOR’s strategy on capital gains
In an interesting post over a year in the making, Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center posts documents gained from a public records request related to a proposed capital gains tax. They appear to show that DOR’s recommended legislative strategy for a capital gains tax is to craft language that would be directly contrary to Washington State case law.
The strategy would purposely create legislation drawing stark legal contrasts so the Supreme Court could have the chance to revisit precedent. One memo says its purpose is to detail “A list of legislative elements needed to ensure, when challenged, the Washington State Supreme Court has an opportunity to reverse, point by point, the longstanding precedent that an income tax is unconstitutional.”