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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now on day 95 of the 105-day legislative session. While there is talk of a special session, I believe the Legislature should finish its work on time and not burden taxpayers with the additional expenses. The cost of a special session is around $20,000 per day.
In my video update this week, I talk about job trends at the national, state and local levels. For example, companies are increasing capacity without increasing employees. Organizations are also expanding through mergers and acquisitions, and growing their workforces abroad. You can watch my short video (1:55) by clicking here or on the picture to the right.
If we want to get Washington working again, then we must address our competitive disadvantages. The Legislature took an important step earlier this year through unemployment insurance reforms. Now it's time to pass workers' compensation reforms through Senate Bill 5566. It passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but has not been allowed to move forward in the House. The measure would provide a new, flexible option for workers to voluntarily settle claims. It is needed because:
- workers' compensation rates increased by $117 million in 2010, and by $196 million in 2011;
- it would begin to address the $360 million shortfall in the state's Accident Fund; and
- 44 other states have utilized a voluntary settlement option with success.
In closing, there continues to be discussions on establishing a medical school in Spokane. I support this idea. The Inland Northwest faces a shortage of around 200 physicians, with primary care doctors being in short supply. Our country has 125 medical schools, but the University of Washington is the only major one in the region and it accepts just 175 students each year. There is a clear need for our communities and it must be met.
It is an honor to serve the people of Spokane. Please contact me if I can ever be of assistance. Have a great weekend.
421 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000