Sen. Ann Rivers has been promoted to leader of the Senate Health Care Committee. She will begin as committee chair when the 2017 legislative session convenes early next month.
Rivers, (R-La Center), served on the health care committee for the past two years. Her priorities will include pursuing policy answers to the opioid epidemic in Washington; improving access to medical and dental services in rural and underserved areas; and working to gain better control of health care costs.
It is the first committee-chair position for Rivers, who is about to begin a second four-year term as 18th District senator. Although her first term included serving on other high-profile committees, from K-12 education to transportation to the budget, Rivers said that when it came to seeking the top spot on a policy committee, her frequent interaction with southwest Washington residents led her to health care.
“Our region has significant challenges when it comes to health care access. I know that as a health care consumer myself, and I hear about it from people wherever I go,” Rivers said. “And who among us doesn’t know someone whose life has been affected by opioid abuse?”
Rivers expects her first-term experience with other complicated issues will help her as committee chair.
“I’ve been willing to take the lead on complex or sensitive issues, whether it’s education funding or marijuana or rape kits, because these are things that need to be addressed,” she explained.
Rivers will continue to serve on the Senate’s early learning and K-12 education committee, and the Senate Rules Committee, which selects the bills that become eligible for votes by the full Senate. She also will return to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, on which she served in 2013-14. Next year, it will be responsible for developing the Senate’s 2017-19 operating- and capital-budget proposals.
The new legislative session opens Monday, Jan. 9, and is expected to end by Sunday, April 23.