This legislative session is over and it was generally a great success! That’s because of all the hard work caregivers across the state did to make the world better for home care workers, our clients and our families. When we fight together anything is possible.
Read a quick recap of the 2018 legislative session below:
Our Long-Term Care Priorities
On March 27, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 6199, the Consumer Directed Employer Legislation, into law. This was DSHS requested legislation that impacts the way the state manages IPs. Case managers and advocates for seniors and people with disabilities supported the legislation because it allows case managers to get back to doing what they are trained, qualified and paid to do — serving vulnerable clients — instead of troubleshooting fixes for payroll and overtime.
Our executive board voted to support it because the legislation will: streamline and simplify employment and payroll processes for IPs, allow consumers — our clients — to remain in control, ensure IP wages and benefits are protected, provide opportunities for full-time employment, continue career pathways, put IPs in control of their future, and value home care aides.
Next Steps: DSHS will begin a competitive bidding process to identify who the Consumer Directed Employer will be. The State’s decision will include a robust stakeholder-involvement process including Parent Providers, IPs, and advocates for people with disabilities, including self-advocates. It will take over a year to get up-and-running so we will continue to bargain our contract as usual with the State this summer.
Visit our SB 6199 webpage for more information.
Long-Term Care Trust Act (HB 2533 / SB 6238)
SEIU 775 and Washingtonians for a Responsible Future moved the policy of a state-paid long-term care benefit from an ambitious idea to bona-fide legislation! Although the bill was not passed into law this year, we’ve built a lot of support and momentum for next year. The Long-Term Care Trust Act would provide long-term care insurance for people employed in Washington when they need it. There were multiple hearings, lots of press, bi-partisan support, and a commitment from stakeholders and legislators to aggressively try to pass it fully next year. The bill even achieved two budget provisos in support of the legislation — a rare feat for a supplemental budget like this. These two provisos will be used to fully flush out the policy so it is 100 percent ready to pass next session.
Learn more about the bill from Washingtonians for a Responsible Future. You can also read a story from The New York Times about the Long-Term Care Trust Act (subscription required).
Guardianship System Reform (SB 6479)
This year, we began the discussion in Olympia on guardianship reform. When we took an initial look at the guardianship appointment process, it became apparent that the entire system needed to be improved. SEIU 775 has now built and is leading a coalition of consumer groups and regulators who appreciate our leadership and are excited for change. Although the final legislative budget did not include the proviso that would have created a workgroup and a recommendation, the Union and the bill’s main supporter, Christine Kilduff (LD 28), have already come up with an alternative plan and we will move forward with a stakeholder-approved solution for next year.
Let us know if you have a story about how guardianship has affected you and we’ll contact you!
Other Important Issues That Passed
- Increasing the personal needs allowance (HB 2651) – increases the personal needs allowance for individuals with disabilities in home care or institutional care
- Breakfast After the Bell (1508) – allows students to eat breakfast in the classroom to ensure all students can get a nutritious snack at the beginning of their day
- Prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income (HB 2578) – makes it illegal for landlords to deny housing to a tenant based on their source of income, including Social Security, veterans benefits and housing vouchers
- De-Escalate Washington (I-940) On March 8, the State Legislature passed Initiative 940 into law! Led by De-Escalate Washington and supported by SEIU 775, I-940 focuses on law enforcement training and community safety, and House Bill 3003 strengthens and clarifies some of the language in the initiative. We heard compelling testimony from parent providers and advocates at our convention last year about how people with disabilities – as well as people of color – are disproportionately impacted by police shootings. They made the case that better training and de-escalation tactics can save lives and improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve.
- Several bills to make it easier for people to register and vote, including moving the registration deadline to Election Day (SB 6021), automatically registering people when dealing with the Department of Licensing or the Health Exchange (HB 2595), and allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote (HB 1513). The legislature also adopted the Washington Voting Rights Act (SB 6002) to correct long-standing inequities in voting practices.
- Increased protections against workplace harassment and assault, including making it mandatory to protect employees’ rights to file a complaint for sexual harassment or sexual assault in an employee’s contract (SB 6313), encouraging the disclosure of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace (SB 5996), developing policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment (SB 6471), and protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence from employment discrimination (HB 2661).
- Net Neutrality (HB 2282) – Washington became the first state to pass a law protecting “net neutrality,” preventing internet service providers from slowing down or blocking online content
- Student Loan Bill of Rights (SB 6029) – creates a student loan advocate for Washington borrowers and provides students with basic guarantees
- Washington Dream Act 2.0 (HB 1488) – protects undocumented students from losing financial aid eligibility if DACA is eliminated
- Ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ youths (SB 5722) – bans abusive conversion therapy and makes it so therapists, psychiatrists, or other healthcare providers could lose their licenses if they try to influence a minor’s sexuality or gender identity
Together we’ve fought hard for these bills, bringing topics to light that impact the ways Washingtonians live. These are huge wins for caregivers, our clients, families and the community in general. Together as a Union, we’re a strong and loud voice that is heard by our legislators.