Senate passes Padden bill to support free eyeglasses for the poor

Mike PaddenCalling it simply the “right thing to do,” Sen. Mike Padden today applauded the Senate’s passage of his bill to give legal protection to charitable organizations that are working to provide much-needed eyeglasses to our state’s poor, homeless and uninsured.

“I am glad to see such broad support for this common-sense measure to get government out of the way, and simply allow these organizations to do the good work they feel called to do,” said Padden, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 6216.

The Spokane Valley senator introduced the bill in response to a Washington Board of Optometry decision last year that interpreted federal law as preventing used glasses from being redistributed without a prescription.

“Organizations such as the Union Gospel Mission and Lions Club International provide an important service for our community and they deserve our support,” said Padden. “The thousands of eyeglasses they distribute to the poor and uninsured have changed the lives of countless individuals, who would otherwise have to go without.

“I hope the House of Representatives follows suit and shows a similar level of bipartisan cooperation and support for this measure and the good Samaritans it aims to protect.”

SB 6216 would grant immunity from liability to nonprofit and charitable corporations that distribute used eyeglasses free of charge to people who are at least 14 years old.

This immunity would apply only if the eyeglasses are provided by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist who personally examined the person receiving the eyeglasses or consulted with a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist who personally examined the eyeglass recipient.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.