Sequim lawmaker tapped for panel on aging, elderly

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — Rep. Steve Tharinger has been appointed to a joint committee he suggested be formed.

The speaker of the state House of Representatives appointed the Sequim Democrat to a joint committee whose mission is to determine how best to address the state's growing elderly population.

Tharinger said he helped secure about $200,000 in the state's 2013-2015 budget to create the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging and Disability, which will work to address long-term care, health care, transportation and housing issues.

During this year's regular special session, Tharinger sponsored a bill that would have created the committee.

When the bill died in the Legislature's first 2013 special session, Tharinger worked to secure funding for the committee that would last only for the 2013-2015 biennium.

“Fourteen percent of Washington's population is over the age of 65,” Tharinger said.

“In the district I represent, that figure is closer to 30 percent. We must come up with a plan to meet the unique and long-term needs of an aging population.”

Tharinger — along with state Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim — serves the 24th Legislative District, which comprises all of Clallam and Jefferson counties and a portion of Grays Harbor County.

Tharinger said the committee will analyze what resources are available to the state's elderly population, decide what is still needed and develop a strategy for making up what's missing.

The committee, which will include state representative and senators, a representative from the governor's office and state health officials, likely will meet for the first time in mid-September, Tharinger said.

The committee's goal for 2013 is to produce an interim report on the needs of the state's elderly population by the end of December, Tharinger said, with a final report and recommendations for the governor and Legislature due by December 2014.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 07. 2013 5:59PM
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