Efficient Electric Heat Pumps the State Standard
New homes and apartment buildings built in Washington state must be equipped with electric heat pumps beginning in July. The state Building Code Council voted in favor of the requirement. The switch will reduce carbon emissions and reliance on nonrenewable heat sources. Natural gas is pollutive, contributing to health issues in gas-burning homes and creating greenhouse gases that accelerate global warming.
Electric heat pumps are efficient, and many units can both heat and cool living spaces. Washington state enjoys some of America's cheapest electricity; Seattle rates are 29 percent below the national average. In addition to low monthly costs, electric heat pumps often require minimal maintenance. Electric heat is also safer than gas heat - gas furnaces in disrepair can produce lethal, odorless carbon monoxide.
"Electric heat is the way to go. Here in Washington state, we have a clean and reliable grid, and some of the cheapest power in the country," Gov. Jay Inslee said. "New housing units will benefit from safe, efficient heating and I'm sure tenants will enjoy low monthly bills."
World Leaders to Discuss
Climate Change at COP27
The United Nations hosts an annual Conference of the Parties (COP), gathering world leaders to address climate change and its consequences. Gov. Jay Inslee will travel to Egypt to join COP27 to represent Washington state's clean energy advances and to marshal subnational efforts to reduce emissions. Inslee has established Washington state as a global leader of climate action, co-founding the U.S. Climate Alliance and international Ocean Acidification Alliance.
Reading, Math, Science, and Wellness:
Youth Mental Health New Educational Cornerstone
Youth mental health is in a state - 45% of high school seniors reported feeling sad or hopeless in the past year, according to the statewide Healthy Youth Survey. If nearly half of youths grapple with feelings of depression, every youth is due some education to help them recognize and overcome those feelings.
Washington state schools and leaders are building a variety of supports to improve the school climate, strengthen student resiliency, and intervene with supports when youth need them most.
Through surveys and screenings, schools are discovering shortcomings and charting improvements to instill a spirit of optimism. Through Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques, schools are instilling hope and helping students overcome trauma. Through Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) interventions, schools are discovering and responding to students who might benefit from counseling and individual attention. By investing in an improved staff-to-student ratio, the governor and legislature are surrounding students with more assistants, nurses, counselors, and psychiatrists to better support wellness in addition to education.
"Mental health is getting talked about. That's probably why students are recognizing, 'Maybe I'm not alone in this, maybe there's something that can help me,'" said Staci Cornwell, youth mental health coordinator for the Mead School District.
From bus drivers to teachers to parents to legislators, every Washingtonian can play a critical role in supporting youth and improving their mental health.
State Health Care Exchange
Begins Open Enrollment
The Washington Healthplanfinder opened allowing Washingtonians to select among low-cost health plans to insure themselves and their loved ones. Many low-income individuals and families may purchase health coverage for less than $10 per month thanks to new state subsidies.
More than 40 percent of Washingtonians who purchase insurance through WA Healthplanfinder are eligible for the new Cascade Care Savings program, available to individuals and families making 250 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Individuals making $32,000 or less, or families of four making $66,250 or less, are likely eligible.
"I do not believe health care is a privilege in the 21st Century - health care is a right," Gov. Inslee said. "I was proud to sign the nation's first public option plan into law, and I'm proud that we've advanced our cause since by making health coverage even more attainable for working families."
The Washington Healthplanfinder open enrollment period concludes Jan. 15, 2023.
Election Results Take Shape
While local counties and the Secretary of State's Office continue to verify the final results of the recent general election, many races have been decided. Washingtonians may visit the secretary of state's website and select their county to review local results. An estimated 2.7 million Washingtonians cast a ballot this election.
Washington State Celebrates Veterans Day
Last Friday, Nov. 3, was Veterans Day and the 104th anniversary of Armistice Day concluding World War I. The United States Congress officially recognized the holiday in June 1926, proclaiming, "It is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace."
Cities and towns across Washington state celebrate the holiday with parades and events to honor veterans. The City of Auburn hosted its annual Veterans Day Parade with 6,000 participants. The West Richland Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual parade, drawing 3,000 participants. The Tacoma Historical Society hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebration at War Memorial Park. Many more events are scheduled statewide.
"No matter how or where you celebrate the holiday, I hope you join me in taking a moment to honor our nation's veterans and the many thousands of Washingtonians who served," Gov. Inslee said. "And to those veterans: thank you. Thank you for your patriotism and sense of duty. It's your day."
Native and Strong Suicide
Prevention Lifeline to Launches
Washington state launched a statewide 9-8-8 crisis line earlier this year, meaning help is now just three digits away for any Washingtonian in crisis. Additional culturally-specific options are now coming online to support at-risk groups.
The Native and Strong Lifeline to launch Thursday, Nov. 17, is dedicated to American Indian and Alaska Native populations. It is the first such lifeline in the nation. Historical trauma, disproportionate poverty, and other factors contribute to an increased risk of suicide for Native populations. Native and Strong Lifeline operators are all tribal members or descendants, and they receive specialized training to help American Indian and Alaska Native people through crisis.