We’re closing in on the final days of session and I wanted to share a brief update on some important issues lawmakers are working on this year. In the Senate this week, we are debating and approving House bills on the floor. The House is doing the same with Senate bills over in their chamber.

Next week will be focused on resolving any disagreements on policies between the two chambers before we adjourn on March 12.

Addressing the high cost of insulin

employee at pharmacy

SB 6087 helps stop price gouging by limiting out-of-pocket expenses for a month’s supply of insulin to $100.

SB 6113 will create a centralized purchasing process for insulin based on the approach used by the state to purchase childhood vaccines.

SB 6088 will establish a prescription drug affordability board that would review prices to see if maximum price caps are needed.

I’m pleased to report these bills are all still alive and could be approved by the House this week.

Improving public health

man vaping

SB 6254 will place additional restrictions around the vaping industry aimed at reversing the skyrocketing number of youth who regularly use vape products, now more than 5 million.

SB 6526 will allow pharmacies to accept drug returns and reuse some prescription drugs, and allow for pharmacies to donate certain drugs to other pharmacies for redistribution. This bill was approved by both chambers and will be sent to the governor’s office soon.

SB 6455 will require restaurants to offer healthy beverage options like water, milk, or a low-calorie option for any kids meals that come with a drink.

These bills as well are also working their way through the process and may receive a vote this week.

Other important issues still alive this session:

working at a laptop

Swatting: A House companion bill to my bill SB 6295 increases criminal and monetary penalties for fake reports to police that draw a swat team to another person’s house and leads to injury or death. An amended version passed the Senate yesterday, and the bill now goes back to the House for a concurrence vote.

Data Privacy: SB 6281 gives Washington residents meaningful tools to determine how their personal data is used and shared, which includes the right to know who is using consumers’ data and why, the right to correct inaccurate personal data, the right to delete certain personal data, and the right to opt out of the processing of data in key areas.

Office of Firearms Safety: If approved, the creation of an office of firearms safety would be a first-in-the-nation office that would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide. This bill is modeled after the successful “Shots Fired” project in King County, which brings a public health perspective to gun violence and emphasizes early intervention to reduce gun violence.

Coronavirus update

Lawmakers are receiving regular briefings from public health officials related to the coronavirus outbreak. I am committed to following science rather than politics as we fight this virus.  Health officials are also working as rapidly as possible to identify others in the community who have been exposed, isolate them, and get them tested. We are fortunate in Washington to have expert public health officials who have experience in responding to pandemics.

We can all do our part by staying informed and following health guidance carefully. The most important thing you can do is to follow best practices offered up by health officials:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow, sleeve or tissue
  • Good personal health habits (diet/exercise) help prevent respiratory infections, including coronaviruses and influenza.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

Thank you for the opportunity to be your voice in the state Senate. As always, please share any questions, comments, and concerns you may have about bills under consideration in the Legislature. I welcome your feedback.

Senator Jesse Salomon
32nd Legislative District