The Washington State Medical Association has named state Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, as its 2019 Legislator of the Year for his work advancing the association’s legislative agenda.
The association, the largest physician organization in the state, said it selected Harris as this year’s recipient for his:
• Prime sponsorship of legislation removing the personal/philosophical exemption for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Despite well-organized opposition, Harris worked with Democrats and Republicans to shepherd the bill.
• Prime sponsorship of legislation raising the purchasing age of tobacco to 21. Harris led the multi-year effort in the Legislature on this priority public health issue for the medical association.
Harris also supported the Washington State Medical Association by opposing legislation the association said would have negative repercussions for patients’ access to care, as well as physician practices, including:
n Legislation imposing a 20 percent surcharge on the business and occupation professional services tax paid by independent physicians.
• Legislation expanding exposure to liability for physicians, physician assistants, medical group practices and other providers by broadening who can sue in cases of wrongful death and what types of damages they can recover.
“The WSMA can count on Rep. Harris to consider the impact of legislation and budget issues on Washington’s physician community,” said Dr. Nick Rajacich, the association’s past president, who is chairman of the group’s political action committee. “Overall, the advocacy and leadership demonstrated by Rep. Harris on issues impacting public health and practicing physicians was unrivaled during the 2019 legislative session.”
Harris received the award Saturday at the association’s annual meeting in Seattle.
Harris, a former member of the Evergreen school board, has represented east Vancouver’s 17th Legislative District since 2010.