Drug Take-Back Program

Still alive this session is one of WSALPHO’s top priority bills.  SHB 1047 protects the public’s health by creating a system for safe and secure collection and disposal of unwanted medications. Almost identical to local programs already in place in Snohomish and King counties, the bill requires manufacturers that sell drugs in the state to operate a Drug Take-Back Program and to collect and dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs from residential sources. The bill moved off the House floor as a striker amendment after negotiations with PhRMA. Details of the compromise bill can be found HERE but chief among the provisions are:

  • Reduces the time period in which a county may enforce a grandfathered ordinance after an approved drug take-back program begins operating and a manufacturer in compliance with a grandfathered ordinance is considered in compliance with the state law for purposes of that county from 18 months to 12 months
  • Clarifies that after the 12-month period that all local laws regarding drug take-back programs are preempted.
  • Requires drug take-back program collection systems to provide reasonably convenient access and that there must be a collection site for each population center plus an additional site for every 50,000 residents instead of every 20,000 residents;  
  • Subjects the authorization for drug take-back programs to the sunset review process, terminating the authority on January 1, 2029
  • HB 1047 is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care on February 19.  Should 1047 become law, it would be the first statewide drug take-back program in the nation.

Opioid Epidemic Bills

HB 2489 is the Governor request opioid use disorder bill. It passed unanimously out of the House. The bill proposes to:

  • Direct emergency departments to distribute opioid reversal medication to individuals at risk of overdose;
  • Allow pharmacists to partially fill prescriptions upon request of the prescriber or patient;
  • Require practitioners to discuss alternatives when prescribing opioid-based drugs to a patient for the first time;
  • Require practitioners to register for the Prescription Monitoring Program and to take continuing education course on best practices; and
  • Connect certified peer counselors with individuals who have had a non-fatal overdose.
  • Additional safety measures will also be put in place such as warning statements, risks, and safe disposal of unused prescriptions is mandated.

The bill received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Health & Long-Term Care on February 15. The companion to HB 2489 is SB 6150. A different substitute bill passed the Senate Health Care Committee. Substitute 6150 added a requirement for state agencies to develop a data collection plan on the number of opioid-related overdoses for non-English speakers; corrected several technical issues; broadens the scope of non-pharmacologic treatment recommendations to include acute and sub-acute pain; and removed health carriers as entities who can receive PMP data.  SB 6150 remains in the Senate Rules Committee.

Accessing Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services

HB 2572 removes health coverage barriers to accessing substance use disorder treatment services. A substitute bill was adopted by the House Health Care Committee and Changes in the substitute can be found HERE. The bill was approved unanimously by the House and is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Human Services & Corrections on February 22.

On-Site Sewage Systems

Environmental health, as always, is another big policy area this year. Several bills have seen movement that would impact local health jurisdictions.  HB 2420 establishes requirements related to SBOH rules addressing the repair, monitoring, and inspections of On-Site Sewage Systems. The proposed substitute bill with input from WSALPHO environmental public health directors, department of health, and the state board of health was approved by the House 96-1 and is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment & Technology on February 21.

The substitute bill eliminated the blanket prohibition on inspection, monitoring, or maintenance contracts as an OSS permit condition, and instead allows for OSS contracts or service agreements to be required where the LHO has local, site-specific evidence of risk to water quality or shellfish growing areas, and when certain conditions are met.

A carryover from the last session, HB 1476 ensures the ongoing viability of safe, reliable, on-site sewage systems in marine counties by identifying best management practices with accountability in on-site program management plans without creating or newly authorizing a fee or other program funding source.

HB 1476 proposes additional mandates and plan requirements:

  • Plan must be updated and approved by DOH every five years
  • LHJs must submit progress reports to DOH every other year on OSS implementation
  • Include additional definitions of “unsafe systems” that would include OSS that threaten safety by causing injury or death. 

Included in the plan:

  • Protocol for tracking failures of OSS by design and technology
  • Full implementation plan for LHJs
  • Plan to identify and track previously un-known OSS with the target of identifying 20% of un-inventoried OFF in a county annually.
  • Demonstration of how local OSS programs are currently funded and a funding plan for subsequent years, including expenditures and revenues by funding source and activity.

Last year, WSAC and WSALPHO opposed the bill based on the reality that current local funding and staffing levels across the state do not have the capacity to operate with these additional mandates.  They agreed that the planning requirements and safety consideration elements of the bill are good in purpose, and the primary opposition of the bill is the requirement to update a more robust plan with no assurance of funding.  The state should dedicate funds for these plans.  Further, planning development is a foundational public health service (FPHS) as defined in the Foundational Public Health Service Functional Definitions (created by DOH and LHJs).  As an FPHS, it should be funded through state sources and local fees.

Currently, OSS funding is almost completely funded through local fees.  LHJs assess these fees (costs to the public) annually and they are ultimately approved by the local board of health.  However, to cover new mandates and additional work, fees cannot and should not be raised just to cover deficits in state allocations. The bill will be heard in the Senate Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee on February 21.

Mobile Food Units Legislation

HB 2639 (Rep. Buys) would exempt certain mobile food units from state and local regulations pertaining to commissaries or servicing areas.  WSALPHO’s suggested amendments were adopted and executive action was taken by the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness.  The bill was approved unanimously by the House and is now scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks on February 20.


Jaime Bodden

Jaime Bodden is the Managing Director for WSALPHO. Previously, Jaime managed and oversaw the operations of a small health department as Health Officer/Director. Additionally, Jaime has experience in community engagement, health promotion, global health, and health policy. She holds Master degrees in Social Work and Public Health from Washington University in St. Louis.