Update from Olympia

Sen. Short Banner

March 13, 2020


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to thank you so much for the honor and privilege of serving you in the legislature.  I have appreciated all the phone calls, notes, email messages, and hotline messages you sent me sharing your comments and concerns.  

This session had many successes for patient access to care and to preserving the critical doctor-patient relationship.  I am proud of partnering or leading the effort on several of those bills and the bipartisan efforts that ensued to bring them to fruition.  The relationships we build based upon trust and the ability to have tough conversations are the things that ultimately allow good policy to move forward.   

There were also tremendous disappointments this session on $30 car tabs, mandatory sexual health education and others that show the democratic majority isn’t listening to the people and parents of Washington state.  I am proud of the Senate Republican attempts to restore $30 car tabs, prevent felons from voting before restitution is fully paid to victims and I’m incredibly proud of fighting against mandated sexual health education curriculum at every point in the process.  I was proud to lead the effort as floor leader to restore debate against the bill and for parents, when the majority party tried to end debate. 

I am looking forward to traveling back home to district and catching up with so many of you.  As always, please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss issues of importance to you or if there are events, tours and/or meetings you would like me to attend.  Thanks again for allowing me to represent you in the Legislature.


Supplemental operating budget

On the final day of the 2020 legislative session, we passed the supplemental operating budget.  I was glad to see that the final budget spent less than the previous proposals from the House of Representatives and Senate, but it still represents an 18% growth in spending from the previous two years!  I continue to be concerned that that kind of growth is unsustainable in the long-term. There are many excellent programs and services funded in this budget, such as mental health, levy equalization for our schools and public health funding to combat the coronavirus, to name a few. I am however, disappointed, that $30 car tabs were not re-enacted, special education enhancements needed were also not enacted and long-term care funding was reduced from what we passed in the Senate, as was developmental disability programs.


Comprehensive sexual health education

In a previous newsletter this session, I talked about Senate Bill 5395 – comprehensive sexual health education. I want you to know how hard the House and Senate Republicans fought against this dictatorial, insidious piece of legislation.    

Earlier this month, when the bill came before the House of Representatives, House Republicans fought for more than 6 hours against this intrusive and inappropriate legislation, proposing more than 200 amendments. None were accepted. After many long hours, the House of Representatives passed this bill at 2 a.m.– along party lines.

Last Saturday, this bill came back to the Senate for a vote after it had been amended in the House Education Committee. The debate quickly grew heated with majority Democrats moving to shut down debate. After discussion, the majority party rescinded their motion and debate continued. As floor leader, I stood up for my caucus and their right to speak on this bill and I stood with parents who have called my office telling me they do not support this curriculum in our schools I stood up and spoke on behalf of parents who have called my office to tell me they do not support this curriculum. You can watch my floor speech here.

Unfortunately, after debate concluded, the Senate passed this bill again – along a party line vote.

If you do not support this bill, I encourage you to contact Governor Inslee and request that he veto this legislation.


Adjusting Boeing’s tax rate

One interesting turn of this session was the recent vote the legislature took to repeal Boeing’s preferential tax rate. In February, Boeing came to the legislature requesting we revoke the tax break they were given to resolve issues with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over claims of the U.S. government subsidizing aerospace companies. Boeing is requesting the removal of the state aerospace tax break to avoid facing tariffs from Europe this fall. Boeing has also said it will be in full compliance with WTO rules once the Legislature rescinds this tax break.

This legislation also establishes an aspirational industry goal of 1.5% apprenticeship utilization rate over time and a working group of industry, labor, legislators and appropriate state government representatives, which is charged with identifying how to achieve the utilization goals.

While I am frustrated that an international body is able to exert such authority over a Washington business, and I am unapologetic about voting for the original tax incentive back in 2013, to do nothing would have ensured continued financial chaos for Boeing and other manufacturers.

Boeing is still the largest employer in Washington state and I supported this legislation because it will prevent the imposition of tariffs by the EU that pose significant harm to Washington state farmers, workers and businesses that could threaten the health and success of Washington’s economy.


I want to thank this excellent team for all their work on Senate Bill 5601!

Bills improving patient-doctor relationships moving towards finish line

Three bipartisan bills I have spent years working on that will strengthen the patient-provider relationship have passed both chambers of the Washington State Legislature and now head to the governor for his signature.

Senate Bill 5887 would prohibit insurance carriers and benefit managers from requiring immediate prior authorization approvals for certain treatment visits if a doctor determines the visits are medically necessary. While this legislation does not completely prohibit the practice of preauthorization, it would allow physical therapists and other therapeutic professions to begin treatments for patients without delay, increasing the opportunities for better health outcomes.

Senate Bill 5601 seeks to regulate health and pharmacy benefit managers, requiring registration and reporting provisions under the oversight authority of the Office of Insurance Commissioner.  Up until now, these benefit managers have not been directly regulated, yet were having a negative impact on patient health, access to care and the doctor-patient relationship.  No longer will these benefit managers be able to do what they please and needlessly deny what physicians have prescribed for their patients. For too long, these entities have compromised patient care, needlessly threatening the very livelihood of our rural providers and pharmacies, endangering patient access.

Senate Bill 6359 will cut through red tape by exempting rural home-health clinics that provide in-home services from certain regulations and a certificate-of-need review. The goal is to make it easier for patients in rural areas to receive much-needed in-home care. By streamlining procedures for these health workers, we could see more jobs in this field.

These bills represent the culmination of years of researching, tireless effort visiting with patients and learning about the impacts of access to care.

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 contact me throughout the year to share your thoughts and opinions on subjects important to you and our communities.