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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2020 legislative session will be upon us in no time. I wanted to touch base with you on a facility opening in our region for young adults and provide an update on the vaping ban.

Caples Terrace project

In August, I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening celebration of Caples Terrace, a public housing project for young adults who have aged out of foster care or fallen into homelessness. There are limited resources out there for our young people who do not have housing, parental support or a safety net. This 28-unit project helps address some of that need.

All residents will pay 35% of their income, but it provides stability and an opportunity for the residents to become self-sufficient. It is an important project at a critical time as we work to address homelessness and affordable housing in all corners of Washington state.

Flavored vape products

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the Washington State Board of Health issued a 120-day emergency ban on flavored vape products.

The state board’s decision comes from the governor’s executive order released on September 27. The order directed the board to change how Washington will regulate the vaping industry given the recent crisis. For now the board has passed an emergency rule banning flavored vaping products. While the state Board of Health has taken action, we will be looking at this in the Legislature in the coming session.

As you are probably aware, there has been a surge in vaping-related illnesses across the country. There have been more than 1,000 reported cases of vaping-related lung injuries and 18 deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since October 1.

Washington is one of the many states that has reported vaping-related injuries. A King County teen was treated in early August at a Seattle-area hospital for acute-respiratory failure due to toxin inhalation. The teen reportedly had been using vaping devices for three years. One of the more shocking stories was about a teenage student-athlete in Illinois who doctors say has lungs similar to those of a 70-year-old man after vaping for a year-and-a-half. These stories are truly sad and scary.

I have had people from the vaping industry in my office many times over the last few years. They were concerned about having proper rules and regulations in place when it came to labeling and flavors. Their worst fears have come to fruition. Without knowing for sure what is causing the illnesses and fatalities, we must take action to ensure products are being thoroughly vetted and labeled.

Unfortunately, now we have vaping businesses closing their doors and people out of jobs, but we also cannot have our young people suffering from lung disease. It is critical we know how to regulate and label these products.

This is an issue the Legislature will be working on in the upcoming session. It is too early to tell at this point, what rules and regulations lawmakers may propose. I will keep you updated.

With the recent vaping news, I do want to remind folks that the Tobacco-21 law we passed last session does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020, but not a moment too soon.

National Distinguished Advocacy Award

I want to thank the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) for honoring me with the National Distinguished Advocacy Award (NDAA) for my work in getting Tobacco-21 signed into law. I am truly honored to receive the NDAA. Click here to read more.

Rep. Harris with members of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

If you have any questions or comments about this email update or issues before the Legislature please let me know. Also, if you need assistance navigating state government do not hesitate to contact me. You can call or email my office at (360) 786-7976 or paul.harris@leg.wa.gov.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia.


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7976 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000