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It’s time we covered all Washingtonians

May 1st, 2019|

From the Key Peninsula News

When I talk to our neighbors in Lakebay, Lake Holiday and Vaughn, I hear over and over that you are worried about health care costs.

Whether it’s high premiums and deductibles, limited networks that don’t include your family doctors, plans that don’t cover the care you need, family members who are out of work and can’t afford coverage on the individual market, or the nagging worry that you’ll lose your care if you lose your job—it’s hard to avoid the stress caused by our broken system.

I take those concerns to heart because my family has been there.

In 1993, when my sister Olivia was born with microcephaly, we didn’t know how long she’d live—or how we’d pay for the care she needed to stay alive. Even though my dad worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and had good health coverage, it wouldn’t come close to covering Olivia’s needs.

When the Legislature expanded Medicaid that same year, we felt a huge burden lifted. We could focus on keeping Olivia healthy and home with us, instead of worrying we’d lose our home. It didn’t solve all our problems, but it did pay for the specialists Olivia saw in Tacoma and Seattle, her many expensive medications, her feeding tube and supplies, her wheelchairs—the care we needed to help her live her fullest, healthiest life. For our family—and for Olivia—Medicaid was a lifesaver.

Ours wasn’t the only family to benefit. After that 1993 expansion, 100,000 more Washingtonians were covered by Medicaid in 1994 than had been in 1992.

We have a lot to be proud of in our state’s history of expanding care. Since 2012, when Washington again expanded Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, 600,000 more people have gained coverage. The uninsured rate in our state decreased from 14 percent to 5.5 percent by 2017.

That’s a huge improvement—changing hundreds of thousands of lives for the better. It means more of us are able to afford checkups, to fill prescriptions for asthma medicine, and to get preventive treatment from our doctors instead of waiting until it’s so bad we have to go to the emergency room.

But we haven’t done enough. There are still nearly half a million Washingtonians without health care coverage. And many families that do have insurance avoid going to the doctor because their premiums and deductibles are so high.

Given the urgency of this problem, I’m supporting immediate action while also working to establish a long-term solution.

Both houses of the Legislature this year have passed a version of our new Cascade Care health plan, which would create a public option for health care coverage. This plan would offer a good benefit package at an affordable price. And it would be available for any Washingtonian to buy into, without affecting those who already have health care through their employers or through Medicare or Medicaid.

This would make good health care more easily accessible and provide some healthy competition for private health care plans.

But just making care more accessible won’t address everyone’s needs. And no family—regardless of their income or financial situation—should go bankrupt or lose their home because they have a child born with special needs, are diagnosed with cancer, or get into a car accident.

That’s why I introduced a Pathway to Universal Health Care this year. This bill isn’t intended just to send a message or to check a box. It’s about taking concrete steps to prepare us for a future where we cover all Washingtonians.

The Pathway bill would bring all the stakeholders into one room—from patients to physicians, health care workers to employers, insurance carriers and hospitals—to hash out a specific plan to provide that coverage. That would put us in position for the next milestone in our proud history of leading the nation in health care coverage: the day we make worries about losing health care a thing of the past.

Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, represents the 26th Legislative District.

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    Senate passes Randall bill to eliminate barriers to reproductive health care

Senate passes Randall bill to eliminate barriers to reproductive health care

March 7th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted 28-17 today to pass the Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA).

Senate Bill 5602, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), prohibits health care discrimination on the basis of immigration status or gender identity. 

“Our state has a proud history of protecting and expanding reproductive freedom,” said Randall. “But our transgender and undocumented neighbors have faced continued discrimination and barriers to care. This bill protects the most vulnerable communities and provides access to the essential health care they need and deserve.”

The RHAA creates a state-funded program to cover family planning services for undocumented Washingtonians who would be eligible for the federal Take Charge program if not for their immigration status. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in all reproductive health services covered by Medicaid and private insurance plans. In addition, it extends reproductive health care access requirements to student health plans.

Last year, the Senate passed Sen. Steve Hobbs’s Reproductive Parity Act (SB 6219), which required all insurance plans in Washington state that cover maternity care to also cover the full range of reproductive health services.

The bill now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

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    Senate passes bill to provide assistance to homeless college students

Senate passes bill to provide assistance to homeless college students

March 6th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted today to pass a bill to provide assistance to homeless college students. The bill passed on a vote of 30-18.

Senate Bill 5800, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), creates pilot programs at four colleges across the state, two on each side of the Cascades, to provide assistance to homeless students and students who were in foster care.

“As a state, we’ve taken important steps to support young students experiencing homelessness while in our K-12 system, but once they get to college, they lose that network,” Randall said. “College students experiencing homelessness are facing so many overlapping challenges—LGBTQ youth become homeless at a much higher rate than their straight, cis-gender peers. Between this bill and the provisions in the Reproductive Health Care Access for All Act, we’re expanding support and health care to vulnerable college students.”

The services that the colleges will provide to eligible students include access to short-term housing or housing assistance; laundry facilities, storage, and showers; reduced-price meal plans; technology; and case management services.

Institutions eligible for the pilot program include all six public, four-year colleges and universities in the state, as well as all 34 and community technical colleges (CTCs). Participating CTCs will be chosen by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and participating four-year colleges by the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Colleges participating in the pilot program will collect data and issue a report in 2023.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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    Senate passes bill to improve safety for vulnerable road users

Senate passes bill to improve safety for vulnerable road users

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Senate passed a bill today to clarify how motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and other users are to share the road.

Senate Bill 5723, which passed unanimously, makes numerous changes to state rules on passing and following vulnerable road users, and provides an additional penalty for certain traffic infractions involving a motor vehicle and a vulnerable user of the road. Revenues from fines would be used to educate law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges about opportunities for enforcement of traffic infractions and offenses committed against vulnerable roadway users.

“This is a wonderful bill that protects folks on bikes, on foot, in wheelchairs, and others when they’re using our roads,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), the bill’s sponsor.

“The people of Washington—and our planet—are facing a collective health crisis. This bill encourages Washingtonians to get out and use alternative methods of transportation that will help keep themselves and our planet safe and healthy.” The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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    Senate would expand tuition waivers for service members, gold star families

Senate would expand tuition waivers for service members, gold star families

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted today to expand college access opportunities for veterans, National Guard members, and gold star families. The bill passed on a vote of 44-1.

Senate Bill 5755, sponsored by Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), increases the higher education tuition and fee waiver that gold star families receive from 200 to 250 credits.

This waiver, which is available at all public institutions of higher education in Washington, covers children, spouses, and domestic partners of eligible veterans and National Guard members who became totally disabled, became prisoners of war, went missing in action, or lost their lives while serving.

In addition, the bill expands access to optional tuition waivers at public institutions of higher education to include veterans and National Guard members who received a general discharge under honorable conditions. 

“As I’ve talked to folks around the district, I’ve heard that educational opportunities are one of the most important issues for veterans and their family members,” Randall said. “This bill makes those opportunities, and the good jobs they lead to, more accessible.”

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate passes bill to create Seattle Storm license plate

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — In the first week of women’s history month, the Washington State Senate voted today to create a Seattle Storm special license plate.

“The Seattle Storm license plate would be the first in our state for a women’s sports team,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), the bill’s sponsor. “I’m excited about this bill because it’s a great win for gender parity, and also because the funds raised by the plate will go toward investing in the promise of young women and girls.”

Senate Bill 5930 passed by a vote of 47-1. Proceeds from the sale of the Seattle Storm license plates will provide funds to the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council and the Association of Washington Generals.

The Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council, whose 22 members are 14-18 year old students from across the state, is the formal voice for Washington youth in the state legislature. The students get involved with state government, learn and experience the legislative process, voice opinions regarding issues of importance to youth, and become more politically aware.

The Association of Washington Generals works to expand opportunities for youth, uniformed services members, veterans, military families, and people with disabilities. Funding from the Seattle Storm plates will go toward grants that support and enhance athletic, recreational, and other opportunities for women and girls, especially those with disabilities.

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    E-News – Supporting military families + Monday evening Facebook LIVE!

E-News – Supporting military families + Monday evening Facebook LIVE!

February 23rd, 2019|

Friends, neighbors—

Today was policy cutoff day at the legislature. That means that we’ve introduced the last new bills of this session, and now we turn to moving the best of these bills along in the process. It’s our first big deadline, and I’m excited that we’re going to be able to keep moving so many great bills to improve our transportation system, make college more accessible, and expand health care to everyone who needs it.

Speaking of health care—I hope you’ll join me on Monday at 6:00 p.m. LIVE on Facebook to hear about the Pathway to Universal Health Care bill. I’ll be joined by some of our fellow Washingtonians who will share their personal stories about how access to—or lack of—health care can change lives.

Have questions you’d like us to answer? Just respond to this email and we’ll add your question to Monday night’s discussion!

*Even if you’re not on Facebook, you can keep an eye on what’s happening each day in Olympia—and watch my first floor speech—on TVW!

Spotlight: Supporting veterans and military families

On Wednesday, I gave my first speech on the floor of the Senate.* The bill I spoke about, SB 5603, is all about ensuring that the families that are serving us are served by the work we’re doing for them. It would allow the children of service members who are relocating to enroll in school before they have an address in district. This will improve the transition to a new school for the kids, for their families, and for their school districts. As we welcome many families connected to the USS Carl Vinson to our community this year, we want to make sure that no matter what the makeup of your family or how soon you know that you’re coming to our community, we clear the ground for you.

As I’ve talked to service members, veterans, and neighbors around our community, I’ve heard about ways that we as a state can better support our veterans and military families. That’s why I’ve sponsored four other related bills this session:

  •  SB 5571 will boost the economy around military bases by authorizing cities and counties near bases to establish military benefit zones. This program will allow for tax incentives and state grants to fund investment in public infrastructure, including streets, parks, and broadband access.
  • SB 5713 requires that disabled veterans who are entitled to federal Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services benefits qualify for in-state tuition at public higher education institutions in Washington.
  • SB 5755 increases the tuition and fee waiver for gold star families and expands tuition waivers to more veterans and National Guard members.
  • SB 5900 creates the position of LGBTQ coordinator in the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. The coordinator will conduct outreach to LGBTQ veterans, their spouses, and their dependents, and connect them to benefits and services earned through their service.

This week in Olympia

I believe in transparency, and I want to keep you all informed about what I’m doing on behalf of the 26th District in Olympia. That’s why I’m making a practice of posting my calendar each week on Facebook. You can always see the last week’s calendar on my Facebook page.

Keep in touch

We are all eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what we’re up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at 360-786-7560 or Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov. The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.

All my best,

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    Senate unanimously passes Randall bill to help relocating military families

Senate unanimously passes Randall bill to help relocating military families

February 20th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Legislation to ease the transition of children in military families to new schools passed unanimously today off the floor of the Senate.

“This is all about ensuring that the families that are serving us are served by the work we’re doing for them,” said Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton), the bill’s sponsor. “It will be good for kids, for their families, and for their school districts.”

Senate Bill 5603 will allow the children of service members who receive transfer orders to any base in Washington to enroll in school before they have an address in district.

The bill establishes a 14-day conditional enrollment period during which students can register for classes and schools can prepare for the new students.

“As we welcome the families connected to the USS Carl Vinson to Bremerton this year, we want to make sure that regardless of the makeup of your family or how soon you know that you’re coming to our community, we’ve cleared the ground for you.”

Randall’s grandparents on both sides moved to Bremerton to work at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and her father worked there for more than 25 years. 

This is one of five bills Randall has introduced this session to help military families and their communities. The others include:

  • SB 5571 will boost the economy around military bases by authorizing cities and counties near bases to establish military benefit zones. This program will allow for tax incentives and state grants to fund investment in public infrastructure, including streets, parks, and broadband access.
  • SB 5713 requires that disabled veterans who are entitled to federal Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services benefits qualify for in-state tuition at public higher education institutions in Washington.
  • SB 5755 increases the tuition and fee waiver for gold star families and expands tuition waivers to more veterans and National Guard members.
  • SB 5900 creates the position of LGBTQ coordinator in the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs. The coordinator will conduct outreach to LGBTQ veterans, their spouses, and their dependents, and connect them to benefits and services earned through their service.
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    The Everblue State podcast: Sen. Emily Randall on being a new senator

The Everblue State podcast: Sen. Emily Randall on being a new senator

February 7th, 2019|

In this week’s episode of the Everblue State podcast, Sen. Randall spoke about what it’s like to be one of the Senate’s newest members.

Her seat was previously held by a Republican, and she is working to make sure her constituents are fairly represented. She’s also one of the Legislature’s several new women of color, and is an LGBTQ leader.

She told the hosts what it’s like to serve in a Legislature that is slowly becoming more diverse. you can find the podcast here or below:

Podcast (everbluestate): Play in new window | Download

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS

Randall sponsors military benefit zones legislation

February 1st, 2019|

OLYMPIA – As one of her first official acts since being sworn in as Senator for the 26th Legislative District, Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) testified Thursday on behalf of her legislation to establish military benefit zones.

Randall’s bipartisan bill, SB 5571, would stimulate economic activity around military bases by authorizing cities and counties near bases to establish military benefit zones. This designation would allow for tax incentives to fund investment in public infrastructure, including amenities such as streets, parks, and broadband access.

Under this plan, local revenues could be supplemented with competitive awards from the state Department of Commerce. In past cases, the state has often supplied the lion’s share of the funds.

“My grandparents on both sides moved to Kitsap to work at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Keyport, and my dad worked at PSNS for more than 25 years,” said Randall. “The Navy presence is a big and important part of why Bremerton’s such a rich, diverse community.”

Similar programs have proven to provide a substantial return on investment for the state. The Local Revitalization Financing Program (LRF), established by the Legislature in 2009, received $6.6 million from the state and returned a state benefit of $199.7 million by 2014.

“I have met and talked to a lot of veterans in our community who would like to see investment that’s good for them, for their families, for their grandkids, and for our economy,” Randall added.