I participated in five different committees, making this week one of the busiest this session. I met with the Legislative Audit Committee, the Senate Committee on Government Operations, the Senate Committee on Insurance, the Senate Committee on Elections and Local Government, and the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform.
Kapenga Bills in Committee
Two Kapenga bills made progress this week, one aimed at ensuring no health insurance mandates can receive a vote before the legislature is given a report on its impact, and the other is addresses an issue that is contributing to the workforce shortage in our great state. SB 319
clarifies in statute that the legislature may not vote on any bill or amendment that adds mandates on health insurance until all of the information regarding the impact of the mandate is distributed and made public. This will ensure optimal transparency on any piece of legislation that could change the coverage we all depend on. Additionally, SB 411 was passed out of the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform and has been recommended by that committee for adoption. SB 411
allows more apprentices to be hired in the skilled-trades and helps build up the workforce in an industry facing a serious shortage.
King Veterans Home Audit
The Joint Audit Committee heard testimony on the situation at the King Veterans Home. The King Veterans Home audit came after reports of problems at the facility. The audit addressed the finances of the state-run facility as well as a survey of staff members. While the audit showed that much of the facility is generally running well, it was not without issues. The audit revealed issues with agency transparency in providing information, and highlighted the issue of the shortage of nursing staff available. We will continue to monitor King and will be getting an additional report in January of 2018 on the progress in filling vacant nursing positions, reducing the use of overtime, assessing training needs, and ensuring steps are taken to encourage employees at King to report concerns.
Committee Public Hearings
In addition to the three meetings mentioned above, I also sat on the Committee on Government Operations, which heard SB 173
, a bill that addresses many of the technical concerns that were highlighted in the multi-jurisdictional brownfield study group. I also sat on the Committee on Elections and Utilities, which met for seven hours and gathered public input on a myriad of issues. The issues of the day included signature requirements for school board candidates (SB 260
), wetland mitigation (SB 406
), elected officials serving as poll workers (SB 66
), regulation of wireless facilities (SB 425
), and the organization of cooperatives (SB 281