Despite the snow and ice this past week, we kept things moving at the Capitol! I introduced seven bills in committee—to provide supports for college students experiencing homelessness, to tackle congestion at our Park & Rides, to open doors to education for service members and their families. I met with constituents and stakeholders like the State Council of Fire Fighters (see below!). And I kept listening to you all and fighting for our shared values.
Spotlight: Universal health care
Washington has long been a leader in expanding health care access and coverage, but we have further to go. Every day I hear your stories about the ways that our health care system is falling short. Costs are too high; families are making tough choices about which prescriptions to fill and whether or not to go to the doctor; too many people are falling through the cracks. Nearly half a million Washingtonians are living and working without health care coverage. That’s why we need a bold fix—we need a system where everyone can get the high quality, comprehensive care they deserve.
My own family benefited from our legislature taking a bold step forward to expand Medicaid. 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. But once the legislature expanded Medicaid, we could focus on keeping Olivia healthy and home with us—not on the fear of losing our home.
I believe that no family—regardless of their income or financial situation—should go bankrupt or lose their home because of their medical needs.
That’s why I’m sponsoring SB 5822, the pathway to universal health care in Washington. 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.
Last year, the Legislature commissioned a study from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to analyze how single-payer systems work in other places.
This bill would take the next step and convene a group of stakeholders to lay out a clear, step-by-step path to implement a universal health care system in Washington.
We know that right now, we are not going to get the support—or the waivers—we need from the federal government for a universal health care system. This task force would put us in position to get that support when there’s a change of administration. We can’t afford to wait until our national politics heal—we need to start preparing now, and that’s what this bill does.
Introducing our staff
Kenzie Taylor is joining us for the legislative session as our intern. She hails from all the way over in Spokane (where my grandparents retired), and she is just finishing up her bachelor’s degree at UW. She’s putting her political science background to work by tracking my prime-sponsored bills and other proposed bills.
As Kenzie said, “I love learning about the way a bill works through the Legislature and seeing how thorough and detailed the process is, how many people hear and give input on each bill. Each one is so important because it could potentially affect everyone in the state.”
Kenzie has particularly enjoyed attending committee hearings and listening to people testify on bills they’re passionate about. She’s also sat in on meetings with me, where’s she’s heard from constituents and advocates about some of the most important issues facing our families and communities. She says her perspective was especially broadened by a meeting with Washington State Parks. “I’ve visited so many state parks, but I never stopped to think about the budget and effort it takes to staff, maintain, and preserve them.”
That’s one of several educational opportunities Kenzie has taken advantage of over the past weeks. And she’s looking forward to many more through the internship program. The interns will tour the Governor’s mansion, visit the state archives, and sit in on oral argument at the Washington Supreme Court.
The internship program is one of the most valuable ways that we open up the Legislature, by bringing in young people from across the state to learn about democratic self-government in action. You can read about some of our fabulous interns and learn about the program here.
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 see last week’s calendar here.
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,