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    Inslee signs Frockt bill designed to help prevent school shootings

Inslee signs Frockt bill designed to help prevent school shootings

May 7th, 2019|

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today to update Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) statute so that it’s more applicable to minors.

Senate Bill 5027 was sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). The terms of the bill came at the unanimous recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim after the shooting in Parkland, Fla. and school shooting incidents in Washington. 

“We are unfortunately raising a generation of children who are the lockdown generation, who are used to active shooter drills,” Frockt said. “We’re trying to prevent these shootings through a variety of avenues, including better threat assessment, improved social and emotional supports and by removing access to weapons from the equation for those exhibiting threats to classmates.”

The bill clarifies the application of ERPOs to minors, and is designed to keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill allows for people to apply for ERPOs for people under the age of 18. If court approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

The Mass Shooting Workgroup, comprised of representatives from all parts of Washington, heard extensively about how the ERPO process can and should be applied when warranted, and that it should be extended to these youth with notification to their parents or guardians.  This common sense measure drew bipartisan support in the Senate.

According to a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, shooters exhibited warning signs indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others before shooting in about half of all mass shootings.

“We know that in the majority of cases, school shooters obtain firearms from their homes, or the homes of a friend or a relative,” Frockt said. “We know that these troubled teens often exhibit warning signs. This bill addresses both of those trends by making sure that minors who are in crisis don’t have easy access to guns.”

Background

Frockt introduced the original ERPO statute as a bill in 2015. After the legislation stalled for two years, Washington voters enacted an ERPO initiative in 2016, with an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote. The measure had strong support in nearly every corner of the state.

Washington was the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Nine other states have since passed similar measures. The ERPO statute allows people to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms if that person poses a significant danger to themselves or others.

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    Historic ‘public option’ healthcare bill passes Legislature, heads to Inslee’s desk

Historic ‘public option’ healthcare bill passes Legislature, heads to Inslee’s desk

April 28th, 2019|

— A bill passed April 27 by the Washington State Legislature would create a public option for health care coverage, available through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange. The plan would be known as Cascade Care, and would be the first public health insurance option in the nation.

Senate Bill 5526, sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), and led in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Eileen Cody, will give Washingtonians who purchase healthcare coverage on the individual insurance market an option that would decrease the cost of premiums, copays and other out-of-pocket expenses. Gov. Jay Inslee also supported the legislation, and worked with lawmakers throughout the process.

The bill passed with a 56-41 vote in the House, and a 27-21 vote in the Senate.

“Under the current administration in Washington DC, health care policy has gone backwards,” Frockt said. “Their policies have led to dramatic increases in premiums and deductibles for our residents who don’t have employer sponsored coverage rely on coverage from our health benefit exchange.”

Cascade Care will lend predictability by establishing standard benefit packages that are easier for consumers to understand and navigate, and will lower cost sharing — which includes deductibles and copays. The plan will also make cost sharing more transparent and predictable.

“Cascade Care is the next step in affordable and accessible health care for everyone and further demonstrates the Democratic desire to ensure access to care. It is that dedication that has led to the state’s lowest uninsured rate ever and a guarantee of essential health benefits to keep Washington families healthy,” said Rep. Eileen Cody, Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

Cascade Care will be available to all Washingtonians, regardless of income, who are not covered by employer health plans. Washingtonians who receive care through an employer, Medicare or Apple Care will not be affected.

The bill has passed both the House and the Senate, and now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing

“Every Washingtonian deserves access to consistent and affordable health insurance,” Frockt said. “We need to ensure that people in every county of our state have options to buy into the individual market. Cascade Care takes imperative steps to establish lower premiums and deductibles. This new option with standardized plans will not only make insurance coverage more affordable, but will allow people to have better access to care when they need it.”

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    Senate’s capital budget proposes life-changing investments in infrastructure

Senate’s capital budget proposes life-changing investments in infrastructure

April 28th, 2019|

The Washington State Senate today approved a two-year capital budget that would invest in priority infrastructure across the state in the areas of behavioral health, affordable housing, education and the environment.

The budget passed with a unanimous vote.

“The bipartisan support of this budget highlights the investments it makes on behalf of all Washingtonians,” said Sen. David Frockt, vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “The capital budget supports our schools, improvements to our behavioral health system, the environment, and other values that are so key to the Washington way of life.”

The budget invests $120 million in community based behavioral health investments, helping patients transition to care in their own communities.

It also includes $33.2 million for predesign, planning and design of a new, 150-bed behavioral health teaching facility at the University of Washington Medical Center. This project has broad bipartisan support and is seen as a critical component of Washington’s long-term strategy to create a new paradigm for mental health treatment in Washington State. 

“Washington is transitioning to a behavioral health system that helps and protects our most vulnerable neighbors, and this budget supports that,” Frockt said. “Our investment in the Housing Trust Fund compliments that investment — particularly a $35 million investment in housing with behavioral health supports.”

The budget includes $175 million in affordable housing loans and grants through the Housing Trust Fund. Allocations within the Housing Trust Fund include:

  • $10 million for high-quality modular housing to transition people out of homelessness quickly.
  • $35 million for supportive housing and case management services for people living with behavioral health disorders.
  • $10 million for competitively awarded grants for state matches on private contributions to fund affordable housing
  • $10 million for housing preservation grants
  • $5 million for housing veterans
  • $5 million for housing to serve people with disabilities

The capital budget invests about $148.4 million in toxics cleanup, prevention and stormwater assistance to local governments.

Additional environmental investments would prevent wildfires and help the orca population. Forest hazard reduction would receive $14.2 million. The budget contains funding spread across a variety of projects that would aid orca recovery, including habitat restoration.

The $63 million invested in state parks would expand Washingtonians’ options for outdoor recreation. About $3 million of that funding would go to a new, full-service Nisqually State Park near Eatonville. About $35.4 million would fund park maintenance.

An additional $85 million would fund outdoor recreation projects though Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grants.

The budget would invest about $1.1 billion in K-12 education, with about $1.04 billion dedicated to the School Construction Assistance Program. About $23 million would benefit distressed schools, and $20 million would fund small district modernization grants.

The state’s higher education system would receive $974 million.

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    Frockt ‘disappointed’ by Republicans’ refusal to vote for capital budget funding

Frockt ‘disappointed’ by Republicans’ refusal to vote for capital budget funding

April 8th, 2019|

Senate Republicans on Monday blocked funding for the 2019-21 Capital construction budget by voting against SHB 1101, which had received unanimous, bipartisan support in the House on Wednesday.

The bill failed because a 60 percent supermajority is required to approve a bond bill.

The move is reminiscent of the 2017 Legislative session, when then-majority Senate Republicans blocked funding for the 2017-19 Capital Budget. Senate Republicans ultimately failed to pass the budget at all that session, which marked the first time in recent history the Legislature failed to pass a construction budget.

“I am extremely disappointed,” said Sen. David Frockt, the Senate’s chief capital budget writer. “This is a good budget for every part of the state. These projects were negotiated in good faith in a bipartisan fashion. There is no good reason to withhold votes for the bond bill today.”

The capital budget invests in infrastructure projects throughout Washington. Below is a list of just a few of those projects and policy areas funded in the budget:

  • $1 billion for school construction statewide
  • $200 million for behavioral health projects statewide
  • $3.5 million: Housing in Airway Heights near Spokane
  • $2.5 million: Veterans housing in Yakima
  • $2 million: Sewer project in Wenatchee
  • $2 million: Business park in Ridgefield
  • $2 million: Food bank in Moses Lake

 For a complete list of projects, please click here.

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    Bill designed to help prevent school shootings passes Senate

Bill designed to help prevent school shootings passes Senate

March 5th, 2019|

A bill to update Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) statute to improve school safety passed the Washington State Senate today with a strong bipartisan 43 to 5 vote.

Senate Bill 5027 would amend an initiative passed by Washington voters in 2015, and is sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). The bill came at the unanimous recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim.

“We are facing the emergence of a school shooting generation of children, normalizing lockdowns and active shooter response plans amongst other safety drills,” Frockt said. “This is not normal and I believe our country needs to do more to prevent these tragedies that have affected not only Parkland and Sandy Hook, but Freeman and Marysville in our own state.”

“We can lead the way in our own state with this legislation that was agreed upon by the workgroup comprised of a number of different professionals including law enforcement, educators and behavioral health.”

This new bill is designed to clarify the application of ERPOs to minors, and keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill would allow petitions for ERPOs to be applied to people under the age of 18. If approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

According to a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, shooters exhibited warning signs indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others before shooting in about half of all mass shootings.

“We know that Washington’s ERPO law has saved lives, and we know that there are typically warning signs before school shootings,” Frockt said. “To me, applying this existing, effective law to minors is the logical next step along with many other bills we are going to pass to provide many more behavioral health supports to our kids.”

Background

Frockt introduced the original ERPO statute in 2015. After the bill stalled for two years in the legislature, Washington voters enacted an ERPO initiative in 2016, with an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote. The measure had strong support in nearly every corner of the state.

Washington was the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Nine other states have since passed similar measures. The ERPO statute allows people to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms if that person poses a significant danger to themselves or others. However, in Washington the statute currently only applies to adults.

Legislature Tackles Harms of Medical Debt

February 5th, 2019|

Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) and Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) have introduced companion bills – House Bill 1531 and Senate Bill 5530, respectively – to protect Washingtonians from mounting medical bills by regulating medical debt collection practices.

“Medical debt can send someone into a spiral of debt they had no idea they were accumulating,” said Representative Jinkins. “Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States. When people can’t pay for medical services, they’re forced to make drastic, often harmful, decisions, like increasing their credit card debt or cutting back on needed doctor visits and prescriptions. My hope is that we can alleviate this burden that so many face.”

On Wednesday, February 6, 2019 the Washington State House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill. The bill proposes several solutions to address the problem of mounting medical debt and the practices used to collect outstanding medical debt. Among its elements, the bill places restrictions on the collection of pre-judgment interest, requires debt collectors to provide people with more information about their bill and information about charity care when attempting to collect on an outstanding debt, prohibits bench warrants for medical debt, reduces the interest rate on judgments stemming from medical debt, and places restrictions on wage and bank account garnishments.

“Nearly every Washingtonian has an experience with medical bills that aren’t transparent or difficult to understand,” Senator Frockt said. “People shouldn’t become homeless, jobless, or bankrupt as a result of seeking critical medical care. We need to address this growing problem.”

Medical debt is a widespread and growing problem, both in Washington State and throughout the nation. Approximately nine percent of Washingtonians have outstanding medical debt, totaling more than $700 million. Medical services often arise out of unexpected, unplanned events — such as a car accident or sudden illness. For many, critical medical care leads to extraordinary medical bills, devastating a household’s financial security and stability.

“Medical expenses drive millions of people in the United States into poverty,” said Antonio Ginatta, policy director at Columbia Legal Services. “HB 1531 and SB 5530 provide fair relief to people burdened by sudden and debilitating medical debt.” 

Frockt applauds passage of I-940 update

January 30th, 2019|

The Washington State Senate today unanimously passed legislation that would update Initiative 940, a voter initiative that updated Washington’s deadly force statute.

House Bill 1064 applies a set of consensus revisions to the initiative, which was enacted by voters in the November election.

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) has long been a leader in Washington’s efforts to update the state’s deadly force statute.  He sponsored the Senate companion legislation to HB 1064 and served on the Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force.

“The agreement reached between law enforcement groups and DeEscalate Washington is one of the most profound and important agreements I have seen since my time in Olympia,” Frockt said. “For years, we worked to find common ground and to find a solution that will prioritize the safety of all Washingtonians.”

“No one is above the law, and no one is beneath the protection of the law. This bill acknowledges both these realities.”

Having passed the state House of Representatives on Jan. 24, the bill now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

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    Sen. Frockt to be lead Senate sponsor of Cascade Care, public option health plan legislation

Sen. Frockt to be lead Senate sponsor of Cascade Care, public option health plan legislation

January 8th, 2019|

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) announced today that he will sponsor a Senate bill to provide a public option for health insurance in Washington state. He released the following statement:

“The Trump administration has done everything in its power to undermine the health care coverage advances we’ve made in Washington. His policies have led to dramatic increases in premiums and deductibles for our citizens obtaining insurance on the individual market. His administration is today supporting a court case to overturn, in full, the Affordable Care Act including its protections for pre-existing conditions.”

“For those Washingtonians in the individual health insurance market, including those buying coverage on our exchange, Cascade Care is designed to apply downward pressure to the increases in premiums and deductibles that his terrible policies have led to. Over the last year, I have spoken directly with families and individuals who purchase coverage on the exchange who believe aggressive steps must be taken to bring premiums and deductibles down.”

“Cascade Care will lend predictability by establishing standard benefit designs that will be easier for consumers to understand and navigate by providing transparent and predictable cost sharing. Cascade Care will be available to all Washingtonians as it will have no income qualifier, but will not have any direct effect on the majority of Washingtonians who get their health care through their employers, Medicare or Apple Health (Medicaid).”

”I support and continue to support a universal health care system in this country. For the time being, the Trump Administration has put both a national and state based system out of reach. Cascade Care is an important step that can be done here in Washington that, in the long run, will lay the foundation for the universal system many of us are seeking.”

For additional information on Cascade Care, visit Gov. Jay Inslee’s Medium page.

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    Frockt announces bill to help prevent school shootings on 6th anniversary of Sandy Hook

Frockt announces bill to help prevent school shootings on 6th anniversary of Sandy Hook

December 14th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, pre-filed a bill Friday designed to update Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law to help prevent school shootings. This bill, which would amend Washington’s ERPO statute, will likely be one of several school safety measures considered during the 2019 legislative session designed to protect children in schools.

The new bill reflects the unanimous recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup to update the ERPO statute to insure that it can be applied to minors.

“Today marks the sixth anniversary of the devastating school shooting at Sandy Hook,” Frockt said. “On this solemn day, we must acknowledge that we must do more to try to prevent these incidents. This bill will be one of those tools.”

“Since Columbine, thousands of school age children in America have been subjected to school shooting incidents. In cases where the source of the gun could be determined, more than 85 percent of shooters brought them from their own homes or obtained them from friends or relatives. Washington has not been immune to these types of incidents from Marysville to Freeman. Just this week, schools in suburban Seattle were placed on lockdown to school shooting threats.”

Frockt’s bill also has the support of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

“We know that Extreme Risk Protection Orders have already saved lives in our state in the short time they have been in place,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “Clarifying the law’s application to minors is a crucial step that will help keep guns out of the hands of young people who are at risk to harm themselves or others. It will help keep our schools and communities safer from gun violence.”

Background

Frockt introduced the original ERPO statute in 2015. After the bill stalled for two years in the legislature, Washington voters enacted an ERPO initiative in 2016, with an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote. The measure had strong support in nearly every corner of the state.

Washington was the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Nine other states have since passed similar measures. The ERPO statute allows people to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms if that person poses a significant danger to themselves or others. However, in Washington the statute currently only applies to adults.

Frockt’s Bill

This new bill is designed to clarify the application of ERPOs to minors, and keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill would allow petitions for ERPOs to be applied to people under the age of 18. If approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

This update to the ERPO statute comes at the recommendation of the Mass Shootings Work Group, which met throughout the 2018 interim. The group heard from the King County Prosecutors Firearms Enforcement Unit and the Seattle Police Department’s Crisis Response Unit who have effectively utilized the ERPO tool to obtain court orders to remove firearms in cases of individual exhibiting threats to themselves or others.

But these experts acknowledged ongoing questions about whether the statute could be applied to minors when needed. Members of the task force, composed of law enforcement, school safety officials, behavioral health leaders and civil liberties advocates unanimously included this proposed update in their recommendations to the legislature.

“This legislation is only one element of these comprehensive recommendations which include counseling, behavioral health supports and better threat assessments,” Frockt said. “But it is an important recommendation that will compliment these other steps that are continuing to be developed in anticipation of the coming session.”

For information: Amelia Dickson, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7535

photo: Alliance for Gun Responsibility press conference with Gov. Inslee and legislators, Jan. 15, 2018.

Frockt to focus on expanding, improving behavioral health

December 12th, 2018|

OLYMPIA — Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) released the following statement today following Gov. Jay Inslee’s mental health plan announcement. Frockt will serve on the newly formed Behavioral Health Subcommittee during the upcoming legislative session, and plans to prioritize behavioral health projects in his role as the Senate’s Capital Budget chair and Ways & Means vice chair.

“There’s much to like in the governor’s proposal for behavioral health improvements. It meets the challenge of maintaining the support level of the current system while laying the groundwork for holistic, overarching changes.

“I particularly like the proposal to employ the University of Washington to expand our state’s field of providers. I also wholeheartedly support the proposed investment in permanent supportive housing as a proven way to provide people with both housing and services.

“I look forward to working with Gov. Inslee and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to implement compassionate and workable solutions to our state’s behavioral health crisis.”

For information: Amelia Dickson, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7535