Seniors, students, housing costs, drug prices and economic fairness round out the 2016 legislative priorities of Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver.
“Washington households face difficult challenges that are getting steadily worse, something I’m hearing more each day from my constituents,” Cleveland said. “Addressing these challenges for those who are struggling is my overriding goal this session.”
One of Cleveland’s priorities is to expand on the Clark County elder justice center model to better help seniors who are vulnerable to abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. Cleveland’s Senate Bill 6585 would enhance that model by coordinating the various resources available under a single roof through the creation of two pilot programs modeled after the state’s proven children’s advocacy centers, one in Clark County and one in Spokane County.
“Of all types of elder abuse and neglect, financial exploitation can hurt people most because it can deprive victims of their life savings and assets, eliminating their ability to be independent,” Cleveland said. “This harms not only the individuals and their families, but also negatively impacts the economy of our community and state. These centers would more efficiently address claims of abuse and enable seniors to address their needs through a single office.”
Another priority, Cleveland’s SB 6441, would require landlords who want to terminate a month-to-month tenancy to give the tenant 30 days’ notice, an increase from the current 20.
“With Clark County facing the highest rate of rental increases in the country, it’s harder than ever for people to find housing,” Cleveland said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that this modest increase in time could mean the difference between finding a new home and winding up homeless.”
Another ongoing priority is Cleveland’s SB 6442 which would close the gender pay gap by making sure women receive the same pay for the same work as their male counterparts — not 78 cents on the dollar, the current average disparity.
“Anyone who does a full day’s work should receive a full day’s pay, just as much as the person working next to them doing the same job,” Cleveland said. “This is about fairness and about steering more money into middle-class households at a time when they need it most.”
Cleveland’s other priority, SB 6569, would convene a group of stakeholders to examine the various reasons many drug prices are so costly and explore potential ways to contain costs.
“This is a complex problem, with numerous factors that contribute to a drug’s pricing,” Cleveland said. “I think there’s an opportunity to find some practical solutions if we can put together a balanced group of folks with strong knowledge in this area.”
Together, Cleveland’s priorities aim toward a single overall goal.
“Ultimately, all of my efforts focus on enabling people to live robust, secure lives, which is the keystone to a healthy community,” Cleveland said. “Each of these issues has been brought forward to me by members of my community. By working with my constituents, I can carry forward these issues for discussion in the Legislature and advocate for common-sense solutions to make headway on the needs that hit closest to home.”