Friends and Neighbors,
As we transition to fall, our sights are set on the 2022 Legislative Session. We will continue reporting about the work we hope to do and continue to gather feedback so that we may represent our community’s values at the legislative level. We’d like to share several opportunities for you to get involved and have your voice be heard.
Tax Town Hall
Washington state’s tax structure places a heavier burden on working families and small businesses than those at the very top of the income bracket. The system relies on sales, property, and other excise taxes to fund schools, public health, and other vital services. It’s fundamentally inequitable, but there are ways to change it.
The Tax Structure Work Group is hosting Tax Town Halls around the state. On Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 constituents and businesses from our district will be able to provide feedback. You may either register for the afternoon (2:30 – 4:00 p.m.) or evening session (6:30 – 8:00 p.m.). We look forward to learning more and hearing from our neighbors as the Tax Structure Work Group explores several scenarios on how to make our tax code better for everyone in our state!
Redistricting Maps: Now Online
Every 10 years, we redraw the political boundaries in our state to make sure districts have equal population–and that nobody’s vote is artificially strengthened or diluted. Washington state has a unique system, with an independent commission drawing the lines. The four proposed maps are now available for the public to view. Click here to view them.
And your voice is a vital part of this process. The next steps involve public comment and meetings around the state before commissioners start their work. You can attend one of the upcoming statewide virtual outreach meetings in October or leave a comment here. It is critical that the commission’s maps reflect your and your community’s input into our new Legislative District boundaries.
Please share your thoughts!
Junior or seniors attending a four-year college in Washington State or a Washington resident attending an out-of-state college may now apply for a Legislative Internship. While earning academic credit, interns work closely with our offices and are important to the process of getting Legislation across the finish line. The 2022 internship begins January 10, 2022 and ends March 10, 2022. If you or someone you know may be interested, visit http://www.leg.wa.gov/internships.
The priority deadline for applying is Oct. 15th and final deadline is Oct. 20th.
To increase access and accessibility to this incredible opportunity, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5431 during the 2021 session, which created the Rosa Franklin Legislative Internship Program Scholarship. Awards are determined based on need and will be distributed over the course of the legislative session monthly. Applying for this scholarship does not impact applicant acceptance into the Legislative Internship Program. Scholarship applications must be received no later than October 20, 2021 for consideration. For more information on this Scholarship, visit https://leg.wa.gov/Internships/Pages/Scholarship.aspx.
The new WA Cares Fund
The Legislature recently expanded social security in our state by creating a new long-term care program that everyone can access when they need it.
Just like Social Security and Medicare, the new WA Cares Fund is part of the social safety net that Washington residents can access when we need it, and since everyone contributes, everyone benefits.
Most of us will need long-term care support or services in our golden years, but almost no one saves for it. As we age, some of our daily activities may become more difficult, and we might need changes to our homes to get around or help getting to doctors’ appointments. WA Cares can be used for a range of services and supports, like building ramps for wheelchair accessibility around the house or hiring a home care assistant a few hours a week. There are a lot of ways to use our WA Cares benefit – without spending savings or relying on Medicaid. Click here or on the image above for an overview of the Washington Cares Fund in a 2-minute video.
We encourage everyone to visit the WA Cares Fund website at www.wacaresfund.wa.gov for more information. If you have questions or comments, we encourage you to contact the commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
OIC Credit Score information
Due to the pandemic, the federal CARES Act placed a temporary hold on credit scoring, resulting in bureaus collecting inaccurate credit histories. Because insurers use these credit histories to set rates, the models they use are now unreliable.
When this was set to expire, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) issued an emergency rule to ban the use of credit scores in setting insurance premiums for the next three years, which will help ensure that insurance rates are not excessive or unfairly discriminatory. With the pandemic causing devastating financial struggles across the state, this rule change helps protect low income and other vulnerable people who would otherwise have experienced unfair treatment due to their credit score.
The new rule is designed to protect those most greatly impacted by the pandemic from having to pay even higher premiums. It will also help people who will see their credit scores drop after federal CARES Act protections end. The OIC estimated that similar numbers of Washingtonians will see rate increases as those who see rate decreases.
If you have received a rate increase, you can contact your company to remind them you’ve been a loyal customer. For many of us, looking for new coverage is a great opportunity to save more money. You can also leave a comment for the OIC on their website. They want to hear from you and how you might have been impacted by credit scoring.
Getting in Touch
We encourage you to reach out to us with questions, thoughts, comments, and ideas you may have. Click here for Sen. Hunt’s contact information, here for Rep. Dolan’s and here for Rep. Bateman’s.