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Bills to watch

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A couple of key bills making their way through the state Legislature

JCD Elections Chair Diane Jones provided this information about legislation affecting internet service and health care in Washington state. The state Legislature is holding hearings on both bills the week of March 15, 2021.

HB 1336 would create and expand unrestricted authority for public entities to provide telecommunications services to end-users. HB 1336 has passed through the state House of Representatives and is waiting to be voted out of a state Senate committee.

SB 5383 is a watered-down version of this bill in the state Senate, but it would at least move us in the right direction. SB 5383 has made it through the Senate and will have a hearing in the House committee at 10 a.m. this Wednesday, March 17. You can watch the hearing here.

The pandemic has made it abundantly clear that having internet access is a necessity like water and electricity. Yet for decades, the internet service providers lobby has blocked even public utility districts from doing so in much of Washington.

If this bill were to become law, PUDs and others could apply for federal money to lay fiber and either directly connect end-users or attract and create competition for service providers to provide the service, which they do not want.

SB 5399 has passed through the state Senate and is now working its way through the House. It has a hearing at 10 a.m. this Thursday, March 18. You can watch it here.

Health Care For All – WA endorses SB 5399, stating that the legislation “builds on the actuarial work done for the UHC Work Group and begins the implementation of the plan favored by a majority of the Work Group: a unified plan for universal health coverage run through a state agency.”

Another organization supporting SB 5399 is Health Care is a Human Right, a coalition of 54 sponsor and allied organizations

JCD Elections Chair Diane Jones, who also serves on the Advocacy Committee for Washington State Democrats, urged people to go here to see these bills and many other key bills making their way through the state Legislature.