Long-Term Care Act, attracting ferry workers, and emergency powers reform

Long-Term Care Act, attracting ferry workers, and emergency powers reform

The Washington State Legislature convened at noon on Monday, Jan. 10, starting the clock on a 60-day legislative session. For the House of Representatives, at least for the first few weeks of session, that means another fully virtual format. For now, I am able to work out of my Olympia office. In the coming weeks, I will continue to push for changes that improve the public's ability to take part in-person in the legislative process.

Repealing the Long-Term Care Act

There will be some tough public policy debates this session. One of the most crucial is the Long-Term Care Act. It is imperative the Legislature address the major inequities in the program this session. The maximum lifetime benefit of $36,500 will not cover much. Whether you need a nursing home, assisted living services, or long-term care, the average yearly cost is closer to $100,000 or more, depending on how much help you need.

Worse yet, the program is fundamentally unfair. Many will be forced to pay into the program and not receive any of its “benefits.” Individuals must reside in Washington state to qualify. Those living in another state, but working in Washington, will pay into the program but not receive benefits. Current retirees who have no income from an employer are also ineligible.

At this point, it's clear the program needs to be repealed. Changes to the program will only cost more for taxpayers and those unable to opt out. That's why I have co-sponsored House Bill 1594, which would fully repeal the Long-Term Care Act.

Retaining and attracting more ferry employees | HB 1608

Another bill I've co-sponsored would remove barriers to hiring and improve working conditions for Washington State Ferry (WSF) workers. Current employment practices make it difficult to keep and attract new employees. House Bill 1608 would require a review of the collective bargaining agreements that govern state ferry employees to identify provisions that create hiring barriers. That includes looking at barriers for women, people of color, veterans, and other employees belonging to communities that have been historically underrepresented in the workforce. This analysis would be required prior to collective bargaining negotiations in 2023-25.

This bill takes a common-sense approach in managing the WSF's hiring and employee retainment strategies and is long overdue. More importantly, it would improve the traveling experience of the public relying on this crucial transportation service.

A bipartisan issue | Reforming the governor's emergency powers

The framers of our state government never intended for the governor to wield the kind of power he's maintained for nearly two years. The public, through their elected legislators, should have a voice in how we move forward. I am hopeful both sides can come together to pass balanced legislation on this issue in the coming months.

Please remember your input in the legislative process matters. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions — please call, write or email me. I'm happy to help.

Rep. Greg Gilday has practiced law locally for several years. He and his wife, Megan, live on Camano Island with their two sons, Laker and Graham.

State Representative Greg Gilday, 10th Legislative District
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 939-1211 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000