Update from Olympia

Sen. Short Banner

January 17, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2020 legislative session began this week, and one of my bills is already off to a fast start. SB 5887, which would prohibit health providers from requiring certain treatment visits to meet medical-necessity standards if a doctor determines the visits are medically necessary, was passed by the full Senate almost unanimously on day 3. Late in the 2019 session the Senate and House hit a stalemate on the bill so our vote sent it to the House again. It’s early enough in this 60-day session to work out the differences and get this important policy into law.  

Knowing how important health-care coverage is to families across our state, I’m co-sponsoring another bill on that topic this session – one that deals with regulation of health benefit managers. These entities have had an increasing negative impact on patient health and access to care, oftentimes denying what physicians have prescribed for their patients. SB 5601 seeks to regulate benefit managers, requiring licensing and reporting provisions. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner would also have oversight authority over benefit managers.

Planning to write to me? Read this first

I’ve updated the “Contact Me” page of my website to account for a December 2019 ruling from the state Supreme Court that each legislative office is an “agency” subject to the general disclosure requirements of the state’s Public Records Act. This means anything you send my office in paper or electronic form may be considered a public record that is available for viewing upon request.

I am still here to help you with questions or concerns (about laws, regulations, or interaction with other government agencies) but want you to be aware of the change, as sensitive information shared about yourself or a family member could be considered “public”. This ruling also has my office working towards becoming paperless – if you are coming to Olympia and want to meet with me this session, consider emailing your information ahead of time. Also, you can always contact my office by phone as an alternative to writing.

floor smiling

Listening to the voters

Washingtonians approved I-976 last November, sending a strong message that they’re tired of paying too much in car-tab fees.

However, several government agencies and transit organizations have filed a lawsuit, arguing I-976 violates a rule in the state constitution. The courts have placed a hold on the initiative, delaying the will of the people.

Now that lawmakers have convened in Olympia, it is time for us to ensure that you, the taxpayer, get the financial relief you approved in November. This is not without precedent; in 2000, the Legislature approved car-tab relief after the state Supreme Court struck down the original $30 car-tab initiative. I support the Legislature enacting $30 car tabs directly, which takes the matter out of the court’s hands.

Two of my Republican colleagues have already introduced legislation to help support this change; I cosponsored both of those bills. Sen. John Braun has introduced SB 6041 to take revenue from the state sales tax on motor vehicles (which now goes to general government operations) and repurpose it toward transportation improvements. His bill does it in a way that won’t interrupt current government operations. Sen. Steve O’Ban is sponsoring SB 6245 to limit state and local taxes and fees and other charges relating to vehicles.

You might be interested to know that in the 7th District, the “yes” vote for I-976 was 67.2% -- and I’m listening!

Protecting your Second Amendment rights

Each of us takes an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, and I work hard to protect the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues across the aisle do not feel the same way. This year, several bills have been introduced that absolutely infringe on your Second Amendment rights.

SB 6076 would ban a list of firearms deemed to be “assault weapons,” with few exceptions.

SB 6077 would require specific authorization to manufacture, possess, sell, transfer or distribute a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

SB 6161 would impose an excise tax on ammunition.

SB 6294 would require a person to prove that he or she has completed a recognized firearms safety training program within the past five years.

We need to remember that regulating law abiding citizens does not make sense.

Sen. Short during a committee meeting

Start the week with your 7th District legislators!

Each Monday from 8 to 9 a.m. during the legislative session, Reps. Kretz and Maycumber and I get together to do a live, joint interview with KOMW Radio out of Omak. We provide updates on what each of us is working on and what’s happening in the Legislature, as well as answer listeners’ questions. If you want to listen each Monday morning, just tune in to KOMW at AM 680!

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your state senator. If you need anything, my office is here for you. I can be reached by phone at (360) 786-7612. Please feel free to visit any time.  I would love to see friendly faces from back home!