Sen. Annette Cleveland Newsroom

  • Permalink Gallery

    Cleveland: Budget deals good for students, bad for Vancouver taxpayers

Cleveland: Budget deals good for students, bad for Vancouver taxpayers

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued this statement after the Legislature approved a 2017-18 operating budget hours before state government would have had to shut down statewide.

“The citizens of this state have been waiting years for the Legislature to solve our education funding crisis. I worry every day about the kind of future we are creating for our children and grandchildren, and know providing a quality education is the single most important means of ensuring a better future for the next generation. To that end, this budget agreement meets the goal of amply funding the education of our children by investing an additional $7.3 billion over the next four years.

“That said, I am disappointed in the primary source of new funding, a property tax increase that will further increase housing costs at a time when too many in my district and across the state are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. I recognize that in this time of divided government the only way forward was through compromise and an acceptance of the fact that no one party or entity would achieve everything they wanted. In this case, Democrats basically got their way on funding education while Republicans got their way on what kinds of taxes would pay for it.

“Given the nature of competing interests in Olympia and across our state, this final agreement was the only viable solution in what was a very difficult legislative session. At the same time, unfortunately, it is a solution that is unfair and against the interests of my constituents, and for those reasons I had no choice but to vote against it.

“I remain committed to focusing my efforts on bringing back fairness and opportunity for all, by fighting to invest in and expand education, working to update our infrastructure while creating more jobs, and striving to boost social mobility for all of our citizens. We can deliver the funding our students and schools need, but we can do it in a more fair and evenhanded way, and those are my goals moving forward.”

June 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Cleveland, Cody say Democrats will fight to protect people’s health care

Cleveland, Cody say Democrats will fight to protect people’s health care

Key lawmakers say Democrats in the state Capitol will do everything in their power to provide Washingtonians continued access to affordable health care if the U.S. Senate should advance the bill that was passed today by the U.S. House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).

State Sen. Annette Cleveland, the ranking member of the Senate Health Care Committee, and state Rep. Eileen Cody, the chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, said Democrats in both chambers will be scouring the large and fine print of the federal legislation to identify provisions that would reduce access or affordability in Washington state.

“Congress rushed to a vote before the bill could be scored by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine how much it would cost and what it would do,” Cleveland said. “The CBO’s score of an earlier version of the AHCA determined that 24 million Americans would lose health care coverage over 10 years.  This is simply unacceptable. Citizens in our state need to know that we are carefully working to identify and craft state solutions to any federal changes that would affect Washingtonians, in the event the U.S. Senate passes the bill.”

Cleveland noted that the state’s public-private marketplace has been serving more than 1.8 million people, or one-in-four Washingtonians, reducing the uninsured rate by 60 percent to the point that now less than 6 percent are uninsured in our state

“Congressional Republicans have time and time again put politics above the health of Americans and today is another example of blind partisanship,” Cody said. “The AHCA takes away access to care for millions of Americans. It is clear that Trumpcare is not about patients but about cutting taxes for the ultra-wealthy. In Washington state, I will continue to fight for protecting patients, expanding access to care, and ensuring people with preexisting conditions can get health care. Our state will not be pursuing any waiver or policy that takes away healthcare from patients.”

The lawmakers said areas where Washingtonians might be undermined by the AHCA include: a reduction in federal subsidies that help cover the cost of private insurance for many Washingtonians; a reduction in Medicaid funding that provides health care to more than 600,000 Washingtonians; reversal of a reduction in average annual premium increases from 18.5 percent pre-ACA to 6.7 percent today; and a loosening of the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

May 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Legislature passes bill to reimburse for 12-month birth control refills

Legislature passes bill to reimburse for 12-month birth control refills

Insurance carriers will be required to reimburse refills for birth control for 12 months at a time instead of monthly under legislation passed today by the Senate. Having already passed the House, the bill now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

Currently insurance providers do not have a uniform rate at which they dispense birth control. House Bill 1234 requires that women receive a full year’s worth of contraceptives unless they request less.

Numerous studies document the benefits to increased access to contraceptives. One in four women say they have missed pills because they could not get a new pack in time. Dispensing one-year’s worth of birth control reduces the odds of an unintended pregnancy by 30 percent.

“There are all kinds of medical conditions for which women take birth control pills in addition to reproductive health,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “By making birth control pills more accessible, we make it easier for women to manage their health and live healthier lives.”

The bill also will help women who live in areas far from a pharmacy or those who are studying or working abroad. While legislatures across the country continue to attempt to restrict reproductive health care coverage for women, Washington state continues to lead the way in access to contraceptive care.

 

April 12th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    SW WA delegation bill to start effort on new I-5 bridge passes House

SW WA delegation bill to start effort on new I-5 bridge passes House

Legislation establishing a process to open discussion on a replacement Interstate-5 bridge spanning the Columbia River is one step closer to being sent to Gov. Jay Inslee following its passage today in the House of Representatives on a 59-37 vote. The bill had previously passed the Senate on a 45-4 vote, but since a few technical aspects were amended by the House prior to passage, the differences must now be reconciled between the two chambers before the bill can finally be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 5806, sponsored by Senators Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, proposes the creation of a joint Oregon-Washington legislative action committee to address a variety of concerns including the process for developing a new I-5 bridge. It lays out a structure based on months of discussions between regional lawmakers of both parties.

A House companion bill sponsored by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, HB 2095 takes the same approach. Wylie’s bill was also sponsored by Representatives Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, and Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver.

Key to the collaboration between the bipartisan coalition of seven southwest Washington legislators was an agreement to begin a process that starts with local legislators and stakeholders, Cleveland said.

“We all agreed that as legislators the only successful course was to take a bipartisan approach and lead on this process,” Cleveland said. “Our challenge is to develop a process that will allow for the best, most efficient and sensible solution.”

“We’ve worked together to set clear rules on how any discussion of a project should proceed,” said Wilson. “This is an important step for an open and collaborative process. We want to make sure any project is carefully and deliberately discussed before any commitment is made to a specific plan.”

“This legislation represents an opportunity to wipe off the slate and take a new look, together with Oregon, at what might be possible,” said Rivers. “What this does not do is lock anyone into a project. The joint committee this bill creates would act as a sort of ‘bridge authority,’ in my view, that is free to consider other crossings or investments to meet regional transportation needs. As someone who has long thought a third-crossing option deserves serious consideration, I wouldn’t have supported this legislation if it didn’t allow that kind of flexibility.”

Cleveland credited Wylie’s commitment to shepherding her Senate bill through the House just as Cleveland helped steer Wylie’s bill in the Senate. “Without Rep. Wylie’s strong efforts to move the legislation through her chamber, we might not have been able to take this crucial first step forward on what is likely to be a long journey to build a new I-5 bridge,” Cleveland said. “This very balanced legislation is the culmination of months and months of collaboration between colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle.”

SB 5806 also appropriates $350,000 for the Washington State Department of Transportation to conduct an inventory of existing data related to the construction of a new I-5 bridge over the Columbia River.

“We have valuable existing data that can expedite our efforts to move forward with a new bridge,” Cleveland said. “Culling this data can get us off to a running start as opposed to starting from scratch.”

Cleveland noted that the existing drawbridge is a choke point that averages 400 collisions a year; by 2030, when the bridge carries increasingly more vehicles and increasingly larger pieces of equipment by truck, the number of collisions is projected to double.  In addition to the need for improved safety and reliability, Cleveland sees a new replacement I-5 bridge as being critical for future economic growth.

###

For interviews:         Sen. Annette Cleveland, 360-786-7696

Sen. Lynda Wilson, 360-786-7632

Sen. Ann Rivers, 360-786-7634

 

For information:       Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

Jess Honcoop, Senate Republican Communications, 360-786-7869

Eric Campbell, Senate Republican Communications, 360-786-7503

April 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Bill to raise awareness of options for breast cancer patients passes full Legislature

Bill to raise awareness of options for breast cancer patients passes full Legislature

The public will be better informed of the availability of insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prosthesis, under legislation passed 97-0 today by the House of Representatives. As Senate Bill 5481 had already passed unanimously in the Senate, it now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

“Given the choice, nearly 60 percent of breast cancer survivors opt for reconstruction while others may choose to wear external prostheses, but the important thing is for everyone to know they have those options,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the bill’s sponsor. “Too many patients don’t realize reconstructive surgery and prostheses are covered by their insurance, either because they aren’t informed of their options or because they process only a fraction of the information that is shared with them at the time of diagnosis, which can be a highly stressful time.”

Cleveland’s legislation directs the state Health Care Authority to work with the state Department of Health (DOH) to develop a plan for distribution of information to better educate breast cancer patients on the availability of breast reconstruction following a mastectomy and prostheses or breast forms as an alternative to breast reconstruction surgery. The bill also requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and DOH to provide educational materials about insurance coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses.

“This bill will help ensure that accurate information on all options is available to patients prior to making important, life-changing decisions,” Cleveland said. “This will help many women simply by increasing awareness.”

Cleveland learned of the need for this legislation through the Pink Lemonade Project, a local advocacy group, and understood the importance of this issue due to her own mother’s diagnosis, treatment, recovery and recent recurrence of breast cancer.

 

April 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Cleveland bill to ease medical faculty recruitment heads to governor

Cleveland bill to ease medical faculty recruitment heads to governor

The Elson Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University and any other medical school in Washington state will be better able to recruit physicians to serve on their faculties, as a result of legislation passed today by the House on a 91-6 vote. Having already passed the Senate unanimously, the bill now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

Senate Bill 5413, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, updates state laws to extend practices already in place at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine. When the guidelines were originally written, they addressed only UW since its medical school was the only one in the state at the time. This bill corrects that arbitrary restriction.

“Until now, physicians from outside Washington state have been blocked from becoming fully licensed, making it difficult for medical schools to recruit faculty,” Cleveland said. “This will open the doors to experienced, capable physicians and allow our medical schools to recruit and retain the best faculties possible. This bill also creates an additional pathway to full licensure. More pathways for licensure means Washington’s citizens will have greater access to expert medical care and consultation.”

April 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    State Democrats: GOP’s failure to repeal/replace ACA offers hope for many Washingtonians

State Democrats: GOP’s failure to repeal/replace ACA offers hope for many Washingtonians

The inability of congressional Republicans to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is good news for Washingtonians, Democratic state lawmakers said today. The scheduled vote on the federal legislation stalled for a lack of support Thursday from moderate Republicans who feel the proposed GOP alternative is too harsh and from conservative Republicans who feel it is too generous. Though Republicans had rescheduled the vote for today, it was canceled when GOP leaders realized it would not pass.

“We’ve been preparing for the worst at the state level, drafting legislation to help backfill losses in coverage if the ACA is repealed, and urging our state’s congressional delegation to do whatever they can to preserve coverage for Washingtonians,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, the ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “If Congress is unable to repeal and replace the ACA, a lot of very vulnerable Washingtonians will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

Cleveland and Rep. Eileen Cody, the chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, have coordinated their caucuses’ state-level efforts to help Washingtonians retain access to health care if the ACA is repealed and replaced with the Republicans’ lesser proposal, the somewhat similarly named American Health Care Act (AHCA). They also credited the congressional delegation’s receptiveness when asked to work on behalf of Washingtonians’ health care access.

“The health care of more than 600,000 Washingtonians is at stake,” said Cody, a West Seattle Democrat. “Hundreds of thousands of people across our state have better care and have more secure futures thanks to the ACA. Under the TrumpCareLess Plan, all of those people could lose their access to care and that cannot be allowed.”

Cleveland, a Vancouver Democrat, said seniors are especially at risk.

“Under the Republicans’ plan, seniors could see their health care premiums rise to as much as five times what younger Americans pay,” Cleveland said. “The AHCA would also reopen the so-called donut hole,” she said, referring to a gap in coverage that left many seniors unable to afford expensive medications critical to their health. “Since the ACA closed the donut hole, 60,000 seniors have saved an average of $718 on annual drug purchases.”

Other aspects of the AHCA would eliminate aspects of the ACA that mandate the benefits participating insurers must cover — such as mental health treatment, wellness visits, and maternity and newborn care — and bar companies from setting insurance rates based on a person’s sex, medical condition, genetic condition or other factors.

“Until a viable alternative is put forward that puts patient access to care first, we will continue to work at the state level to protect the hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who rely on the ACA for health care,” Cody said. “We agree that there are changes that could improve delivery of care affordability, but we believe working collaboratively on refining the ACA is a better option than the TrumpCareLess plan.”

March 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Cleveland amendment would apply equal pay rules to state contractors

Cleveland amendment would apply equal pay rules to state contractors

State contractors employed by numerous state agencies would have to observe the requirements of the Senate’s proposed Equal Pay Opportunity Act as a result of an amendment adopted into the Senate’s proposed operating budget late Thursday.

“Pay inequity has economic consequences that extend far beyond gender,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver and the author of the amendment. “When a company discriminates on pay, it’s not just the employee who is short-changed; it’s everyone in that household. Even the larger community suffers, as smaller paychecks lead to a smaller tax base and less economic vitality.”

Cleveland’s amendment mirrors the requirements of her proposed Senate Bill 5140, which would update the state’s Equal Pay Act to ensure that Washingtonians who perform similar duties for the same employer must be compensated as equals.

“In many workplaces, for the same work as men, white women make 78 cents to the man’s dollar,” Cleveland said. “Latinas make 55 cents compared to men, African American women make 64 cents, Native women make 60 cents and native Hawaiian and Pacific Island women make 66 cents.”

Cleveland’s amendment would apply to businesses who have contracts with the state Health Care Authority (HCA) and the state departments of Commerce, Dept. of Corrections, Early Learning, Enterprise Services (DES), and Social and Health Services, which covers $1.6 billion in goods and services purchased by the state.

“This is one more step forward, and a valuable one,” Cleveland said, “but we must continue this fight until true pay equality is achieved for everyone.”

March 24th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Cleveland: The only path forward is across a new I-5 bridge

The Vancouver Business Journal today published an op-ed in which I make the case for a new bistate bridge connecting Vancouver to Portland. You can read the op-ed here.

March 9th, 2017|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Cleveland: Levy cliff bill ‘removes a monstrous cloud’ over schools

Cleveland: Levy cliff bill ‘removes a monstrous cloud’ over schools

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued this statement today following the Senate’s passage of legislation to postpone the so-called levy cliff that would have resulted in massive budget cuts to K-12 schools across the state.
“The passage of this legislation should provide long-sought and much-needed relief and reassurance to K-12 schools throughout our district and across our state. I know how much this means to the Vancouver and Evergreen school districts. This removes a monstrous cloud over this school year and next.
“Our educators can now concentrate on educating instead of doomsday budgets. Our teachers can now concentrate on teaching instead of layoff notices. And, most important of all, our students can concentrate on what’s going on inside their classrooms instead of what’s going on outside them.
“At the same time, the Legislature can concentrate fully on the larger task of funding our public schools, fully and fairly and in a sustainable structure.”

March 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|