PORT ORCHARD — State Rep. Michelle Caldier wasted little time after her comfortable win in the general election in November to pre-file a batch of legislation before the state Legislature begins work Jan. 14.
Caldier, the 26th Legislative District’s Republican incumbent, pre-filed three bills when the window opened Dec. 3 for legislation to be introduced in the House of Representatives on the first day of the session next Monday.
“It will be a busy session and I think it’s important to get an early start on some very important bills,” the Port Orchard legislator said.
But before the session starts, Caldier has been getting her legislative “to-do” list checked off, including sitting down with the district’s new state senator, Emily Randall, who is replacing recently retired incumbent Jan Angel in the Legislature. Randall, a Democrat, barely edged Republican challenger Marty McClendon by 102 votes, a margin that was certified by election officials following a manual recount late in November.
Caldier said she is looking forward to working with Randall on issues of common interest for the district.
“We basically sat down and said, ‘Hey, we may not agree on every issue, but we’ll work together to improve the district and work on projects together,” she said.
“I have a long history of working across the aisle, especially with Rep. [Sherry] Appleton.” Appleton is a Democrat representing the 23rd Legislative District in the northern part of Kitsap County.
Caldier has filed House Bill 1017, which would allow a separate panel of nonprofit health carrier enrollees to set compensation and benefit levels of carrier board members and the top five highest-paid industry executives.
The measure is sure to attract fierce opposition from health care organizations. But Caldier said she is ready to take the fight to them.
“While we’re having to pay more in health premiums, CEO salaries have been going through the roof,” the Republican said.
The bill was crafted after Caldier discovered that Delta Dental decided to pay their CEO, Jim Dwyer, a salary of $2.7 million a year. That figure is nearly twice what he had previously been earning: $1.4 million. In addition, Delta Dental board members, she said, were earning salaries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for as little as three hours of work each week. Caldier said one board member reportedly was making more than $400,000 a year for seven hours of work each week.
“Basically, you have a system to where the CEO’s salary is determined by the board, and then the board members’ salary is determined by the CEO,” she said. “You have this constant backscratching.”
Caldier said her bill would allow the consumers who are enrollees to decide the appropriate salary levels of these nonprofit companies’ top executives.
The state representative also has pre-filed House Bill 1016, which would require hospitals to notify a rape victim within two hours of their arrival whether a rape kit or a provider trained in sexual assault examination were on the premises and available.
“Sexual assault victims are re-victimized when they wait in a hospital for hours without being told that facility doesn’t have the means to take evidence from a rape,” Caldier said.
She said that in these situations, either the evidence is no longer valid after such a long wait, or the frustrated victim may give up entirely, leaving the perpetrator to continue to victimize others.
A third bill, House Bill 1018, would extend Washington state’s health insurance “Bill of Rights” to dental insurance coverage. It would require insurers to have a utilization review program, prohibit denial of coverage for care previously authorized, provide a grievance process and require an independent review for resolving disputes.
Caldier said lawmakers will be busy creating a new biennial operating budget during the 2019 session. The session is set to end April 28.