House Democrats last week released their version of the 2019-21 state operating budget. After working late into the night Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amended version of the budget bill, Substitute HB 1109, out of committee and onto the floor calendar for debate and vote by the full House. The House did pass a proposed $10 billion Transportation budget for 2019-21 by a 90-5 vote. The Senate released its nearly $52.2 billion state operating budget proposal Friday, and a hearing on the bill, SB 5153, is scheduled for 8 a.m. on Monday, April 1. Earlier last week, the Senate passed HB 1870, providing for federal Affordable Care Act mandates in state law, and HB 1074 raising the minimum age for tobacco and vapor products purchases to 21 years.

House Bill 1160, Making transportation appropriations for the 2019-2021 fiscal biennium. Passed the House on March 29, 2019 by a vote of 90-5, three members excused.

The bill would make appropriations totaling $9.952 billion for state transportation agencies and programs for the 2019-21 fiscal biennium . Highway and infrastructure expenditures would total $5.3 billion, and operating-related appropriations would total nearly $4.7 billion. Some of the larger appropriations for the fiscal biennium would include: $3.1 billion for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Highway Improvements program; $1.7 billion for debt service; $777 million for the WSDOT Preservation program; and $540 million for the Washington State Patrol. Supplemental changes to the current 2017-2019 transportation budget that would be made by the bill include decreases of $520 million in appropriated funds. The bill is now headed to the Senate for further consideration.

19 Rep. Brian Blake (Longview) (D) Y

19 Rep. Jim Walsh (Aberdeen) (R) Y

House Bill 1870, Making state law consistent with selected federal consumer protections in the patient protection and affordable care act. Passed the Senate on March 27, 2019 by a vote of 28-17, four members excused.

This measure would make a number of provisions mandated by the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA) part of state law. Under HB 1870, Washington insurance plans would have to offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions, provide a wide range of benefits, limit out-of-pocket expenses a covered person must pay, and eliminate lifetime limits on health care benefits paid by insurers, and other mandates under the ACA, often referred to as “Obamacare.” In support of the bill, Senate Democrats said that it was a way to assure that Washingtonians would not lose medical coverage promised by the ACA, as Congress and the administration continue to argue over health care coverage alternatives. Republicans, on the other hand, said passing the bill would mean supporting a national health care system that is failing to deliver on its promises of better access and lower premiums. The bill will now go back to the House to consider whether or not to accept the amendments passed by the Senate.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

House Bill 1074, Protecting youth from tobacco products and vapor products by increasing the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco and vapor products. Passed the Senate on March 27, 2019 by a vote of 33-12, four members excused.

Under this bill, which has now passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor for his signature, the minimum age for buying tobacco and vaping products in Washington will rise from 18 to 21 years beginning next year. Eight other states, including Oregon and California, and the US Territory of Guam have also raised the age to 21. The bill enjoyed bi-partisan support, but Senate members on both sides of the vote expressed concern that the change in state law would not apply to Indian reservations, and those under 21 could still buy tobacco and vapor products in tribal shops there. Under current law, the Governor has the authority to enter into tribal cigarette tax contracts regarding the sale of cigarettes, and some Senators expressed the hope that tribal leaders would follow the state’s lead and raise the age from 18 to 21 for all tobacco and vaping products. ?The bill is headed to the Governor for his signature into law.

19 Sen. Dean Takko (Longview) (D) Y

WashingtonVotes.org provides a free, periodic roll call service to media outlets as long as the Legislature is in session.

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