Governor Jay Inslee will sign the first bill of the 2019 session Monday, Feb. 4, after the House and Senate unanimously passed improvements to 1-940, the deadly force initiative passed by voters last November. Law enforcement representatives and community advocates spent thousands of hours negotiating the changes together.
Legislators held hearings on various orca protection bills this week. In addition, Inslee announced the state Dept. of Ecology is pursuing a proposal to increase water that spills over the federal lower Columbia and Snake river dams, which could support overall orca and salmon health and recovery. You can visit the governor’s website for an overview of his various orca recovery proposals to the legislature.
Another one of the governor’s priority bills is an opioid bill that had a public hearing this week. The bill focuses on a comprehensive package to prevent opioid use disorder and ensure treatment is available statewide for those who need it. The proposed treatment model for opioids is based on successes in other states.
Inslee’s proposed legislation about integrating behavioral health was also heard in committee this week. There are four key bills this session that aim to transform Washington’s mental health system, one of them that would build up a network of community-based facilities to provide treatment closer to a patient’s home.
Efforts are underway to make sure consumers in every part of the state have an option for high-quality health insurance coverage through a public healthcare option bill. The bill, which could improve affordability for customers, had its first public hearing on Wednesday. You can learn more on the governor’s Medium site.
School safety legislation also came up in Senate this week. The bill requested by the governor would increase staffing of school nurses, social workers, psychologists and guidance counselors in elementary and middle schools. The bill’s purpose is to increase the numbers of adults in school who can help support struggling or at-risk students.
The above is a release from Governor Inslee’s office. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents.