Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As the weeks fly by in Olympia, we still have a lot of work to do – but we have made progress on a couple of important issues. Last week for example, the Governor signed a supplemental budget that will provide emergency funds for the Oso landslide, as well as the record forest fires we experienced in Eastern Washington last summer. There will also be more money restored to underfunded mental health and foster care programs that were cut significantly during the recession.

With the 2015 session nearly halfway done, I thought it would be a good time to check-in and let you know what is happening at the Capitol.

Transportation Funding

After nearly two years of negotiations, a transportation funding package was passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee. This is an important step toward much needed improvements to ferries, roads and bridges across Washington.

Unfortunately, despite the hard work put in by our Democratic negotiators, Senate Republicans included several political provisions that have nothing to do with getting Washington moving, and everything to do with ideology.

What is being referred to as the “poison pill” is just the start. This is a provision that says if Governor Inslee takes action regarding carbon reduction standards, all funding for transit is shifted to asphalt. In my view, an all-or-nothing mandate is not responsible governing, and Washingtonians shouldn’t be forced to choose needed transit over stewardship of the environment.

20140716_LegWA_0323abThen there are the funding sources – which includes a nearly $1 billion sales tax shift from the general fund (used to fund state operations, including education) to transportation. This means a $1 billion funding reduction from efforts to reduce class size, implement all-day kindergarten, and provide more funding for early childhood education and higher education.

Both Democrats and Republicans went into this legislative session saying a transportation package is necessary to keep Washington’s families and economy moving – but fully funding education is our paramount duty.

If Democrats were in the majority, the transportation proposal would have looked different. But in any negotiation there is give and take, and you expect to give up some things no matter who is in charge. We need this funding package. We all rely on safe roads and bridges and ferries to go about our lives, and we need them to make sure our economy can go about its business and continue to grow. I look forward to voting for a transportation package that does not make our state choose between critical funding for transit and reducing carbon emissions or funding education—that package would have broad Democratic support.

News You Can Use: Prescription Medication Unaffordable?

Are you struggling to afford your medication?

Several alarming reports from patients across the country are shining a light on insurance companies’ discrimination against the acutely and chronically ill. Fortunately, Washington’s Insurance Commissioner was authorized by the Legislature in 2012 to monitor health plans for “adverse selection” and take steps to prevent it.RX horiz

What does this mean?  It means insurance companies can’t design their health plans to weed out chronically an acutely ill patients and “cherry pick” only healthy customers. If you are experiencing problems affording your prescription medications, please take a few moments to contact my office as well as Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to let us know.

Email my office at sharon.nelson@leg.wa.gov

Contact Commissioner Kreidler at 1-800-562-6900 or visit the contact page by clicking here.

Other great resources to learn more:

  • Ask the Commissioner a question with “Ask Mike” by clicking here.
  • For the main information page on health insurance from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, please click here.

As always, thank you for subscribing to my newsletter and I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Sharon Nelson