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Appleton on the attack for reform in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Though she is only half-way through her first biennium, chances are that even Sherry Appleton’s most fierce political adversaries across the aisle aren’t viewing her as a naive freshman legislator.

The political savvy and legislative know-how that Appleton (D-Poulsbo) gained in 11 years as a lobbyist in Washington’s capital was best exemplified when, unlike most of her first-year counterparts, she avoided taking on a bipartisan-backed bill with almost guaranteed passage.

Instead, she took on one of the most controversial topics around: health care reform.

“For freshman, they try to make your first bill your easiest bill,” Appleton said. “And what happened was that this was a very controversial bill.”

That piece of legislation, house bill 1168, would authorize the state board of pharmacy to regulate non-resident Canadian pharmacies, following a line of other bills aimed at importing prescription drugs from Canada to drive down health care costs. A centerpiece of Appleton’s campaign promises, the bill prompted more than a dozen floor speeches both for and against and debate raged for 40 minutes.

In her own speech, Appleton attempted to appease her opponents, who say the issue will hurt economically the American pharmaceutical industry.

“I think we all want senior citizens to be able to buy from American pharmacies,” Appleton said, citing her own mother as a beneficiary of Canadian imports. “But unfortunately, they can’t.”

The divide on the issue turned out to be almost purely partisan, the

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