#TakeAction – April 11, 2019

What a week! Let’s keep it going with a few #TakeActions.

🔶 Urge Governor Inslee to Push for Action on Environment / Climate Change Legislation
🔶 Ask Rep. Schrier to Cosponsor the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act
🔶 Ask Senators to Oppose S.928, the Taxpayer First Act of 2019

1. (ACTION) Call Governor Jay Inslee, and urge him to push the legislature to support bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move Washington to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future with a clean energy economy.

  • Date: These bills must be passed in a floor vote by Wednesday, April 17 to remain eligible for passage during this legislative session.

  • Action: Call Governor Jay Inslee and urge him to push the legislature to support bills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move Washington to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future with a clean energy economy:
    • E2SSB 5116, Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future; and
    • E2SHB 1112, Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from hydrofluorocarbons. Each of these bills would make important changes benefitting Washington and setting an example for the nation.

  • Background: These bills have been supported by environmental groups and the League of Women Voters among others. Among the 8th CD representatives co-sponsoring one or more of them and their companion bills are Bergquist, Callan, Das, Dhingra, Goodman, Hudgins, Keiser, Mullet, Orwall, Senn, Wellman, and Wilson. By Tuesday the three bills addressing the environment and climate change must be passed by their fiscal committees. Passage is not guaranteed as some Democrats are breaking ranks to vote with Republicans and equally important is that the legislature must not water down the bills under pressure from fossil fuel lobbyists. Governor Inslee has made addressing climate change his signature policy. As leader of Washington Democrats, he can use his influence to protect and pass these bills. Passing them will be a declaration that Washington believes that a clean energy future is achievable, telling the fossil fuels industry and the world that we are serious about climate change. If we send this message now from Washington, the next president could send it from Washington D.C.

  • Sources – Bill summaries:
    http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/…/5116-S2.E%20HBR%20FIN…
    http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/…/1110-S2.E%20SBA%20TRAN…
    http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/…/1112-S2.E%20SBA%20WM…

2. (ACTION) Call Congresswoman Schrier and urge her to cosponsor the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

  • Action: Call Rep. Schrier and urge her to cosponsor H.R.1046: the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.
    • Prescription drug prices are substantially higher in the United States than in other high-income countries, and as a result, Americans spend more on prescription drugs than residents of other countries. Despite this, the government is not allowed to use its position as the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the country to bargain for lower prices for patients. H.R.1046 would give Medicare the power it needs to effectively negotiate with drug companies and bring drug prices down.

  • Background: This bill lifts the restrictions that currently prevent Medicare from negotiating with drug companies, but just as importantly it would give Medicare the leverage it needs to negotiate effectively without putting patients at risk. Here’s how it would work:
    • Under H.R. 1046, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to negotiate prices for covered Medicare Part D drugs (which is most drugs). This would help to bring down spending on prescription drugs by billions of dollars, since Medicare Part D has a tremendous amount of purchasing power.
    • If the negotiations don’t arrive at an appropriate price, the Secretary would be required to issue a “competitive license.” A competitive license means generic producers of drugs would be allowed to manufacture competitors to name brand drugs when the drug company that owns the patent refuses to responsibly negotiate with Medicare. This competition would subsequently bring down the price of the drug for patients.
    • This approach would put drug companies’ monopolies in the cross-hairs—not a patient’s access to medicine. Whether companies are willing to negotiate their prices down or have to deal with generic competition, patients will come out paying lower prices.

  • Source:
    Indivisible: https://indivisible.org/…/hr-1046-act-now-bring-drug…


3. (ACTION) Call Senators Murray & Cantwell, ask them to oppose the Taxpayer First Act in the Senate. (See Comments)

  • Date: On-going. The House passed its Taxpayer First bill (H.R.1957) on Tuesday 4/9/19.

  • Action: Call Senators Murray & Cantwell, ask them to oppose S.928 in the Senate.
    • Although this bill may have some good provisions, the provision to continue the IRS Free File System and preventing the IRS from preparing tax returns on its own must be removed by amendment or the bill must be defeated. This bill would make it illegal for the IRS to create free tax preparation software, software that could save millions of Americans from wasting their money on TurboTax, H&R Block, and other tax preparers currently profiting from the IRS’s failure to help taxpayers. The House version of this bill which passed on 9 April 2019 has been called “one of the most blatant pieces of corporate welfare in years”.

  • Background: ProPublica’s Justin Elliott reported that the Taxpayer First Act, sponsored in the House by Democratic Rep. John Lewis (GA) and Republican Mike Kelly (PA), and in the Senate by Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would prohibit the IRS from creating an online tax preparation system that would compete with TurboTax and H&R Block. As Elliott explains, this provision is a long-held priority of those tax preparers, who have spent massive sums of money ($6.6 million just last year) lobbying Congress to keep taxes complicated and prevent the IRS from simplifying the process. The IRS could prepare taxes automatically for the vast majority of Americans for whom it has all the required information. The bill, Elliott reports, would bar the IRS from the much more moderate step of creating software that competes with TurboTax.

    Sources:
    Pro Publica: https://www.propublica.org/…/congress-is-about-to-ban…
    Vox: https://www.vox.com/…/last-minute-tax-preparation-h-r…

**CALENDAR**
We are posting more and more events (both for our group and outside of it) on our calendar. Check it out! http://www.indivisible-wa8.com/calendar/

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