Dear neighbors,

We’re quickly approaching the end of the 2024 legislative session, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the progress we’ve made as well as some of the challenges we still face as Washingtonians. Throughout these months, I’ve had the privilege of working on meaningful policy addressing issues that matter most to our community—a privilege that I do not take lightly.

We’ve fought hard (and won) meaningful consumer protection reforms, from advancing healthcare initiatives to promoting economic growth in the sector, and we’ve won big for student safety by prioritizing NARCAN availability and Fentanyl/Opioid education in our schools. However, our work is far from over.

Here’s a look at some of what we’ve accomplished together:

Initiative 2113 (Police Pursuits)

In 2021, we passed a law about high-speed chases (HB 1054) to align with recent best practices from around the country and with what most law enforcement agencies in our state are already doing (including Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond). A chase is a high-risk event—it’s risky for the officer and it’s risky for bystanders, especially on a busy street or a residential neighborhood. That is underscored by the fact that over 50% of those killed or seriously injured in high speed chases have nothing to do with incident.

That’s why we limited police pursuits to those instances when an officer had probable cause to believe a serious violent crime or reasonable suspicion that a DUI had occurred. That standard was modified in 2023 with a compromise to permit chases when law enforcement had reasonable suspicion to believe a serious crime or DUI had occurred.

We are now being asked via Initiative 2113 to weaken that standard even further to permit high speed chases when any violation of law has occurred. Many people are surprised to learn this includes nonviolent violations like expired tabs, a broken taillight, or loud music, that are obviously not a threat to public safety. While I understand that reasonable minds can differ, for me the evidence was too persuasive that weakening the standard to permit chases for any law violation would unreasonably and unnecessarily put the general public at risk of injury or death due to high speed chases. I also was convinced there is technology tools available (like drones) that can eliminate the need for high speed chases altogether.

That’s why I voted no, both in Committee and on the Senate floor to weaken best practices and leave Washingtonians vulnerable. If you have any concerns about my vote, please feel free to reach out. [Scan the QR code for the differences between current law and Initiative 2113.]

Consumer Protections Package  

Communities across the state have called for increased protections and consumer safety. This was a big push to give back to Washingtonians, and I am honored to have had unanimous support of my colleagues while doing so.

We’re ensuring the insurance commissioner gets all the information necessary to protect you from predatory practices, extending the time you have to find new home insurance, and protecting social security numbers from large data leaks.

Here’s a look at those bills: 

SB 5806 enables the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to engage in important market surveillance work without worrying about disclosing sensitive data related to emergencies and hazard mitigation. 

SB 5798 extends the notice requirement for nonrenewal of certain insurance policies from 45 to 60 days,  granting homeowners more time to ensure coverage. 

SB 5842 helps protect social security numbers from unnecessary risk posed by potential large data leaks. 

NARCAN availability and the opioid epidemic in our schools 

Tuesday night the House voted unanimously (96-0) to pass my bill, SB 5804, which increases NARCAN availability in all school districts in the state, regardless of size, including charter schools, state tribal compact schools, elementary, middle, and high schools. 

This bill expands access to over-the-counter opioid overdose treatment (NARCAN) in schools with the goal of having these life-saving tools available for cases of both intentional and accidental exposure to opioids. We all wish laws like this weren’t necessary, unfortunately they are. And this bill is about saving lives.

Some very talented students from Lake Washington High School brought this idea to me. I am honored to have worked with them this session. So don’t believe those who say the younger generation doesn’t care about their communities – they absolutely do!

Pharmacy Benefit Managers  

This is another consumer protections bill that passed the Senate and House with broad bipartisan support. The main opposition to the bill came from the industry that I assume wants to protect their profit margins by preventing any change to the industry, as is highlighted in this recent NPR piece. I surmise this is particularly true of change that puts consumers first, which my bill does.

SB 5213 increases transparency and accountability for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in Washington for state-regulated (fully insured) plans, providing a voluntary “opt-in” for self-insured plans. It’s designed to help both patients and small, independent pharmacies.

There’s a place for PBMs in our state. This bill just adds a layer of much needed transparency to and accountability for some of their processes.

Signing off 

I’ll be on the ground here in Olympia for the next week. The work doesn’t stop until we run through the finish line Thursday March 7th.

As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments.

-Patty Kuderer,
48th Legislative District Senator