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Legislative Update: Cybersecurity, Health, and Clean Fuel Policies Advance

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Last Friday marked the 75th day of this year's 105-day legislative session and most legislation without a fiscal impact needed to pass out of committee this week to be considered further.

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation to strengthen the Office of Cybersecurity's ability to protect data across all state agencies. The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee, where it can be pulled to the floor for a vote.

On Friday, legislation that would move Washington state towards regional health districts was voted out of the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee. The bill, which would improve public health by increasing resources and coordination, now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

More governor-request legislation is scheduled for hearings in the coming days, with a low carbon fuel standard scheduled for a Hearing in Senate Ways and Means on Saturday, and a hearing on establishing an office of independent Investigations in Ways and Means on Tuesday.

The House and Senate also announced their 2021-2023 Budget proposals last week. The 105-day legislative session is set to run through the end of April.

1 Million Washingtonians Fully

Vaccinated; 3 Million Doses Given

Last week, the state crossed two major milestones in its ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts: The 1 millionth Washingtonian became fully vaccinated, and the state surpassed more than 3 million doses administered.

"Equity remains crucial to these efforts, which is why I'm pleased to say that since September, we have signed community outreach service contracts with more than 40-different local organizations that work with communities to raise awareness and trust in the efficacy of these life-saving vaccines," Gov. Jay Inslee said. "This includes the Yakama Nation, the Latino Community Fund, the Council On American Islamic Relations, the African American Health Board and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, to name a few. We've already invested $4 million into these outreach programs and we plan on investing much more."

The Department of Health's Vaccine Locator Tool launched last week is also helping a growing number of people who struggled to find appointments get the access they need. It has seen 396,000 users since going live and 265,000 people have had appointments using Vaccine Locator.

Social Distancing Reductions

in the Classroom to 3 Feet

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday he would sign an order giving schools the option to reduce social distancing in the classroom from six feet to three feet, following revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schools continue to have the option to use six-foot distancing between students in the classroom. Inslee said he hopes that COVID activity can be reduced enough by the summer to make three feet of distance mandatory, if not doing away with social distancing requirements in the classroom altogether.

"Students, educators and staff continue to return to the classroom under safety protocols that are proven to limit the spread of COVID-19," Inslee said. "Today I'm glad we can embrace new guidelines that are safe and allow even more students back to the classroom."

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