Together we often find better ideas and solutions than we can alone, and that is certainly the case in the Legislature.
Sunday marked the 105th day of the Legislative session and the end of the regular session and once again, we find ourselves headed for a special session.
The main issue before us continues to be the operating budget. While some in the Majority Coalition seem satisfied with the budget that passed off the Senate floor earlier this month, I am not. I view this budget vote as a statement on the values we hold for Washington and I see many improvements that must be made in the Senate budget before we can adjourn for the year.
When I look at the values for our state, I see an education system that is the gateway to opportunity, where every child gets the education they need to succeed. I see a thriving and successful middle class. I see a workforce that awakens each day with the security of a health care system that will cover them and their families. I see a safety net designed to help the most vulnerable men and women in our state. I see public programs that protect the elderly, provide housing for those going through hard times and lend a hand to working parents and single mothers.
The budget approved by the Senate, was essentially balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable and by using cost shifts and gimmicks that will leave us limping through the next two years and beyond. These steps are hardly the recipe for sustainability and will end up putting us back in the same sort of budget crisis. The budget sweeps capital funds meant for capital projects into the general fund, essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul and putting the state on the long-term credit card.
This is not a vision for a sustainable and prosperous Washington now or in the future.
We need to work together to take care of ourselves and each other, and I am anxious to work with my colleagues across the aisle and in the House to make sure that we leave Olympia with a budget that we can be proud of.
Lack of coordination between physicians and county mental health agents can hinder the treatment of men and women suffering from mental illness. A bill I sponsored and was passed on Saturday by the Legislature will break down those barriers.
Senate Bill 5456 will require that county mental health agents consult with physicians who first treat a patient suffering from a mental illness and document any concerns they have concerning the patients and the need for detention under the Involuntary Treatment Act.
When treating someone with a mental illness, every opinion needs to be taken into account, both in the interest of public safety and the patient’s well-being. Barriers between a physician and a county mental health agent can block patients from getting the treatment they need. When it comes to treatment and public safety, we have standards in place that must be followed. This bill builds a standardized communication plan for when there is a conflict that threatens those standards.
Abuse of prescription drugs costs the state millions of dollars in waste and treatment and is the cause of countless deaths. Last week I was thrilled to stand with Gov. Jay Inslee as he signed a bill I supported that is designed to cut into this abuse, save the state money and save lives.
House Bill 1565 will create a reliable funding source for the Prescription Monitoring Program which monitors the pharmacies and offices that prescribe schedule II through V controlled substances.
This monitoring program helps reduce fraud, waste and abuse, but more importantly, it helps keep people safe. Abuse of prescription drugs is responsible for thousands of accidental deaths and addictions that can destroy lives and families and cost the state millions of dollars in treatment, medical care, and Medicaid fraud.
Creating a stable funding source for this monitoring program will ensure that it continues its valuable task.
Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor) represents the Sixth District.