Why SJM 8006 Must Pass This Session

It’s more than symbolic — it’s a first step towards universal healthcare

Andre Stackhouse
5 min readFeb 8, 2024
Senator Bob Hasegawa (LD-11) motivates for SJM 8006 at the Senate Health & Long Term Care hearing in February 2023.

What if I told you one of the most important bills in the Washington State Legislature right now isn’t legislation at all? What is SJM 8006? And how does something that is not law or policy bring us closer to universal healthcare?

What the heck is an SJM?

A senate joint memorial — abbreviated SJM when given a bill number — is according to the Washington State Legislature online glossary:

A message or petition addressed to the President and/or Congress of the United States, or the head of any other agency of the federal or state government, asking for consideration of some matter of concern to the state or region. Proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution are also in the form of joint memorials.

In other words, joint memorials are requests from a state government to the federal government to take specific action. A senate joint memorial originates in the state Senate and passes through committees and floor votes in much the same way any legislative bill does.

Joint memorials are bills, but they do not create law.

SJM 8006 — Requesting that the federal government create a universal health care program.

SJM 8006 is a multipart request for collaboration between Washington state and the federal government on important steps towards establishing universal healthcare — both statewide in Washington and at the federal level. Here are the core asks:

  • Establish universal healthcare federally — this would cover every resident of Washington and the United States and we could all go home.
  • Pass the State Based Universal Healthcare Act (HR 6270) — this bill from Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) streamlines the process for states like Washington to establish statewide universal healthcare systems.
  • Grant Washington state federal waivers — these waivers are necessary for Washington to be able to integrate federal programs and federal money into a statewide universal healthcare system.

SJM 8006 is less than four pages long and very easy to understand. It’s worth a read if you have a moment and if you’ve never read a bill before this would be a fantastic one to begin with. You can find the full text here:

SJM 8006 full text

Why it matters

Even if you are in agreement with the asks of this resolution, you may be wondering if a nonbinding request from one government to another actually does anything to get people healthcare.

Symbolically, SJM 8006 signals that Washington state is ready for and committed to achieving universal healthcare statewide and is requesting as much federal support as it can get.

Practically, SJM 8006 plays an important role in acquiring federal money to expand state health programs and is part of the legal process necessary to fully integrate state and federal programs rather than maintaining them as separate entities. This is important in the creation of a single universal healthcare system as opposed to maintaining a complicated and piecemeal system like we have right now. Regardless, you cannot apply for the waivers without passing bills that specify what those waivers would apply towards. SJM 8006 provides the means to do just that.

It must pass this session

SJM 8006 was first introduced in the 2023 legislative session by Senator Bob Hasegawa. While it made it out of the Senate, it stalled in the House with the only reason cited being a lack of time.

“… when it comes to healthcare reform, delays are deaths.”

With exactly a month before the current legislative session ends (3/7/2024), it’s a critical moment for SJM 8006. If it doesn’t pass this session, the bill will be dead and any hope for its future will need to come with next year’s legislative session and beginning at ground 0 with a brand new bill.

While we do understand that legislators are busy and every session has more work than can be done, we must always remember that when it comes to healthcare reform, delays are deaths.

On January 22nd 2024 the bill was referred to the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, chaired by Representative Marcus Riccelli. The committee has scheduled a public hearing on 2/14 at 1:30pm (subject to change).

With one month left of the 2024 legislative session, will SJM 8006 get to a floor vote?

We can do this

SJM 8006 represents a major step forward for the healthcare reform movement in Washington. While historically there has been disagreement among legislators, activists, and organizations, a significant coalition of support has lined up behind SJM 8006 including:

If you would like to support SJM 8006 and help it reach a floor vote this session you can leave a PRO public comment online here:

While it is far from the last step towards universal healthcare, SJM 8006 represents an increasing alignment behind and commitment to universal healthcare across the Washington state government. It empowers our Universal Healthcare Commission to take next steps in defining what framework our state will follow. And it begins the state-federal partnership that will ultimately be necessary to get everyone the care they need in Washington. We cannot wait another year to pass this because the real work is what comes next.

Andre Stackhouse is a lifelong Seattle resident, political organizer, and writer with bylines at The Daily of the University of Washington and the International Examiner.

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Andre Stackhouse

An inventor, a pseudojournalist, a contrarian’s contrarian. Twitter: @CaptainStack