2019 Legislative Priorities: Our Process

Jennifer Donahue
Communications Manager, WCAAP

There is no shortage of issues the WCAAP could weigh in on during each legislative session in Olympia, but with limited resources the Chapter’s legislative committee must be strategic in limiting what we take on. We have developed a decision tree to help guide us as we prioritize issues to work on. We consider certain criteria:

  1. Does the proposed policy align with the vision and long-term strategy of the WCAAP?
  2. Does another body already coordinate the policy’s legislative and lobbying strategy?
  3. Is it critical for pediatric health care providers to frame and lead the public discussion on this issue?
  4. Is the policy politically feasible at this time? Does the issue have a legislative champion?
  5. Is it strategic to work on this policy if it is unlikely to pass in the near future?
  6. Is there lobbying capacity and expertise within WCAAP to work on the policy?

As the committee considers these criteria, we are able to determine whether an issue should be one of our top priorities, if we should play a support role, or if we need to leave the work to other organizations for the time being. Often, as is the case with increasing the Medicaid rate or ensuring safe storage of firearms, we know that that we are facing a multi-year effort. Occasionally, we can conceive, draft, and pass legislation within a few years. And every once in a while, as with the expanded Partnership Access Line(PAL),  we are able to identify a need, create a policy to address that need, and claim victory all in one session. Our priorities for the 2019 session are improving access to pediatric primary care, specialty care and behavioral health care as well as passing Tobacco 21.

The committee’s work is ongoing! The committee meets by telephone, weekly during the legislative session and monthly the rest of the year. If you’re interested in joining a call, please contact Jennifer Donahue. Outside of the legislative session, committee members are hard at work developing relationships with legislators and planning for the next session. Even if an issue doesn’t land among our top priorities, we are often doing work behind the scenes to help move a policy along. We are grateful to our community of passionate advocates who step up to write a letter to the editor, contact legislators, or come to Olympia to testify.

The 2019 legislative session kicks off on January 8th.   If you would like to help out by speaking up for kids’ access to care, access to behavioral health care, or tobacco 21, please let us know. If you are willing to travel to Olympia to testify, we will support that effort and help you prepare your testimony.

If you have not already done so, please mark your calendar for our annual Advocacy Day in Olympia, February 15, 2019. We bring together WCAAP members from communities across the state to meet with legislators and speak up for Washington’s kids. It’s a powerful opportunity to effect change beyond your clinic and improve children’s health and well-being statewide. Register today!

If you can’t make it on February 15th, but would like to support our advocacy work, you can make a donation via the same registration page.