Olympia Reporter 4/26/17
Published Apr. 27, 2017
Sine die should have happened… but didn’t.
The term “sine die” (pronounced SIGH-nee dye) is a Latin phrase which means “without day”. This term in our legislature refers to the fact that they are adjourning without a specific day on which they will reconvene. The last scheduled day of the 2017 Washington State Legislature was April 23rd, but the budget still has yet to be finalized. Governor Inslee has called for a 30 day special session to start immediately. The Senate proposal balances their budget with revenue moved around in what people pay for property taxes while the House proposal includes some new taxes and closing loopholes. This is a major sticking point. The 5 corners (Governor Inslee, Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, House Democrats and House Republicans) must now have their budget writers sit down and negotiate a final budget.
How did services for developmental disabilities do in the budget?
The Senate released their budget proposal first, with the House budget coming out a week later. The most notable addition is for supported living wages. The House provided the amount requested, an increase of $2.25 an hour over two years. The Senate provided wage increases for a variety of providers, which included supported living. Unfortunately, the breakout amount to go to supported living is only 67 cents an hour.
To see more information about the budget items for DD services, check out our web site at http://arcwa.org/takeaction and follow the links under “Legislative Issue Papers”.
Bills of Interest – almost finished?
We have 19 bills that The Arc has been monitoring that are on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. Some bills can appear to have died, but because they could impact some portion of the budget, they could be considered NTIB (Necessary to Implement the Budget). With the legislature now being in special session, dead bills from the regular session get reintroduced and have the chance to start again in whatever committee they died in. The difficulty is that members are sent home once special session (except budget writers) starts so there are currently no hearings scheduled.
You can always find the updated list at http://arcwa.org/takeaction, just click on Legislative Issue Papers where you can access the Bills of Interest.
If you’d like to be notified on when a bill is signed, you can call the Governor’s office at (360) 902-4111 and give them the bill numbers you would like to be notified about. You can check daily for the list of bills scheduled for signature at www.governor.wa.gov and under “What’s Happening Now” click on “Bill Action”.
2017 Advocacy Days
Each week of Advocacy Day had a specific topic that we provided information to every legislator about. They received a handout along with a button identifying that week’s topic. Our theme this year was “Don’t Le-go of Our Services” with each button having Lego characters and a message about the topic of the week. Thank you to all the advocacy volunteers who helped us to deliver these messages each week.
February 1st - Employment Day and the Legislative Briefing/Reception
February 8th - Disability Protections
February 15th - Supported Living Services
February 22nd—Multi-Cultural Day
March 1st—Meet Your Legislators
March 8th—How McCleary Affects You
March 15—Family Services
March 22nd—Budget Overview
March 29—Self-Advocacy/Disability Pride
April 5th—Take Note!
As we look toward the 2018 Advocacy Days, look for weekly topic and button information on our web site. Click the “Take Action” tab, then click on Advocacy Days. Our theme next year will be “In Harmony”.
What can you do now?
Your legislators need to hear from you about which budget items you want funded at what funding level. Check our budget side-by-side at the link listed above. If there are bills that have been reintroduced for the special session, let them know your opinions on those too. Legislators also need to hear THANK YOU from you on bills they have passed that will make a difference to you. Contact them let them know that you appreciate that they funded DD services in their budget proposal and ask that they ensure those services stay funded in the final conference budget.
Make sure you are signed up on our Action Network so you can stay informed and respond if action is needed. When legislative session finally reaches “sine die”, the interim before the next session in 2018 is a great time to talk about concerns you may have with your legislators. Call them and ask them to meet you for coffee, get to know them and help them get to know you.
We all need to keep informed about Medicaid Services at the Federal level. Congressional members in the House wanted to cut much of the Affordable Care Act, which includes Medicaid, but advocates sent so many emails and phone calls that the bill did not pass. Your calls and emails were what stopped it! We need to remain vigilant though because they are still trying to find services to cut in the budget to pay for big tax breaks the Trump administration is proposing.
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding is set to expire at the Federal level on September 30, 2017. The CHIP program has provided low-cost health coverage for 20 years to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In Washington State, our CHIP program is called Apple Health for Kids. Be sure you are signed up on our Action Network at http://capwiz.com/arcwa/state/main/?state=WA and respond to the calls for action!
DON’T FORGET TO KEEP YOUR BLUE SCARF TO WEAR AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
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Questions? Need more information? Email me at Diana@arcwa.org.
Remember, change is being made by those who show up!