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Regional News

Bill To Balance Health Board Representation Sent To WA Governor

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Doug Nadvornick/SPR
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A bill that would adjust the makeup of local health boards in Washington is now headed to the governor.

Spokane Democrat Marcus Riccelli says his legislation brings more health expertise to local public health committees.“It means people with lived experience, with public health background, with medical backgrounds will balance those elected officials," he said.

Riccelli had hoped to create larger, regional boards of health, but people around the state complained their local governance systems are working fine. So, the bill now allows county boards led mostly by elected officials to retain their current structures if they also have public health advisory committees.

Riccelli says, if signed by the governor, this will even out the composition of Spokane’s Board of Health, which now has nine elected officials and three citizen representatives.

“They, at the end of the day, get to make the recommendation and then would publicly approve who they put on there. It just makes it a public process and brings that balance. I actually think it’s going to lead to better decisions being made," he said.

Riccelli’s bill also requires the state Department of Health to create its own Public Health Advisory Board and specifies who should sit on that committee.

He says he expects the legislature this year will also devote significantly more state money to public health.