McCabe bills pass House


February 14, 2018


A PRESSING NEED: From left to right: Darlene Williamson, Jeremy Wolfe, and Tia Black (Jeremy's sister) testify in favor of House Bill 2447, or Jeremy's Law, in front of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Jan. 19.

Last week, the state House of Representatives approved bills sponsored by or deriving language from a bill from Rep. Gina McCabe (R-Goldendale).

Monday, the House unanimously passed Rep. Gina McCabe's bill to help establish age-appropriate, sexual abuse prevention curriculum in schools.

Known as Erin's Law for childhood sexual abuse survivor Erin Merryn, House Bill 1539 would task the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) with establishing a coordinated program to provide age-appropriate information and training pertaining to the prevention of sexual abuse of students. It would also require the OSPI to disseminate existing information and curricula to school districts.

"For some students, school may be their only escape from sexual abuse," said McCabe. "This bill is a critical first step in ensuring our children are equipped with the tools they need to present so they can put an end to the abuse. As this bill is considered in the Senate, I am asking the entire legislative body to help me protect our children who are afraid to speak up."

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 10 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.

During public testimony on the bill in January, Olivia Holderman, who worked with McCabe on the legislation, testified in favor of the bill.

"I loved my grandpa. We did fun things together. We played games, we had tea parties. My grandfather was also a pedophile," she said. "He hurt me. He made me do things I would never think about doing, and I was terrified. If Erin's Law had been there, I could have told."

Currently, 31 other states have enacted Erin's Law legislation. The bill now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

The House last week also unanimously approved House Bill 2821 that will help lower inspection costs for some manufacturers. The bill would allow the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to delegate its inspection duties related to factory built housing and commercial structures to other qualified inspection agencies. Currently, L&I conducts inspections at factories where the manufactured entities are produced to ensure standards are met. Manufacturers bear 100 percent of the costs for the inspection. L&I inspects roughly 1,600 units a year.

During public testimony on the bill in January, representatives from L&I told members of the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee inspections were currently taking place in Poland at a factory producing units that will be used on the sixth floor of a Seattle hotel. The factory portion of the inspection will take roughly four months and will require the continual presence of one inspector.

"Think about all of the costs associated with getting an inspector over to Poland and having to wait at least four months before they're able to get their products to customers, and how much that inefficient process affects the final price to consumers," said McCabe, R-Goldendale. "House Bill 2821 aims to make the inspection process more efficient and cost effective, and ultimately allow manufacturers to charge less for the manufactured entity."

The bill now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

The House also passed omnibus opioid legislation, which includes language from McCabe's bill aimed at preventing opioid abuse. In January, McCabe proposed House Bill 2447-otherwise known as Jeremy's Law-to require health care practitioners to discuss dependency and overdose risks, as well as provide pain management alternatives to opioids when prescribing them for the first time during the course of a patient's treatment. The Washington State Department of Health would also be required to post a brief warning statement on their website.

House Bill 2447's provisions were rolled into House Bill 2489, governor-request legislation that would encourage the use of medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based treatments, and seeks to eliminate barriers to access to medications and services that may treat opioid use disorder. It will also provide resources for local jurisdictions and first responders so they may appropriately intervene and assist those struggling with addiction.

"Unanimously passing this legislation means the state of Washington is making a commitment to end this public health crisis," said McCabe, R-Goldendale. "In 2016, nearly 700 Washingtonians died from opioid abuse, and more than 1,400 people were hospitalized due to overdoses or opioid-related complications. At the national level, an average of 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. I can't help but think if patients fully understood the risks before being prescribed an opioid, we would see a decline in the number of deaths and the number of families destroyed, from this tragic epidemic. I don't want another family to go through what Jeremy and his family endured. This bill is a crucial step in getting us to that point."

Jeremy's Law is named for Jeremy Wolfe, a former high-school state wrestling champion who became addicted to prescription opioids, and eventually heroin, after suffering a knee injury.

During public testimony on Jeremy's Law, Darlene Williamson, Wolfe's mother, said she would have explored alternative pain management medications had she understood the full risks taking opioids posed.

"Had I known when he was young that he would have done what he did, I would have never filled a prescription for him," she said.


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