The 2023 legislative session is underway. I want to thank you for sending me back to Olympia. I am humbled and appreciate your support. It is great to be on the Capitol campus and holding the legislative session in person. The last two years of remote session were difficult. The sessions lacked transparency and accountability.
I can tell you I have already been working much more closely with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on many issues.
Due to election-year restrictions this is my first email update since last May. I will be sending updates throughout the session. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested in following the Legislature. You may also unsubscribe below.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments, concerns or state issues you would like to discuss.
Virtual Town Hall
On Thursday, Jan. 26, 6 – 7 p.m. Sen. Jeff Wilson, Rep. Jim Walsh and I are holding a Virtual Town Hall. We will provide a review of the first couple weeks of session and take your questions on legislative and state issues impacting our communities. You can register here. There are more details below.
I encourage you to register early as space is limited to the first 500 attendees. You can also submit questions ahead of time when you register. I look forward to our visit.
Important issues to address
While there are major challenges facing us this session, my Republican colleagues and I will be focusing on four areas.
Reduce your cost of living: Tax relief is long overdue, such as sales tax or property tax relief. There is also legislation to repeal the regressive long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
Public safety: Crime continues to increase. We must restore vehicle pursuit for law enforcement (House Bill 1053 or House Bill 1363), increase the number of officers on the street and address drug addiction.
Empower all families: The learning loss from the pandemic needs to be addressed, while providing more school choice. We have also introduced legislation to expand the working families tax credit.
The housing situation in our state has impacted homelessness. Unfortunately, over the last ten years the change in homelessness in Washington state is staggering. As you can see by the chart below, what is being done is not working.
I am also working on other issues important to the 19th District and Washington state. Below is a breakdown on a few of those bills.
Assisting small schools with capital finances
One of my priorities carries over from last year when I introduced legislation to help our small schools with capital finances. In our region and across the state, there are many small schools that are unable to access state funding for construction. It could be due to a lack of bond capacity, or the property tax increase of a bond measure may be difficult to endure.
Unfortunately, in a virtual, short session it was a monumental task to get it through the legislative process. This year's legislation, House Bill 1044 is very similar to last year's bill. It would provide funding for small school districts through a grant process based on need. The current model allows some communities easier access for construction of quality school buildings than other communities that have consistently failed to pass construction bonds. School districts would receive a score based on certain criteria. The grant dollars would go to the school district whose score reflects the most need. Projects eligible for grant funding must correct critical physical deficiencies or essential safety concerns. That includes modernizing, repairing, reconfiguring, or replacing existing buildings and construction of new buildings. All students deserve a quality place to learn no matter their place of residence.
Providing revenue to small school districts
Continuing on the issue of school funding, I have prime-sponsored House Bill 1444, which is co-sponsored by the House Education Committee Chair Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos. The legislation would provide common school trust revenue to small school districts.
It would require the Common School Construction Fund to finance the prioritized project list of the Small School District Modernization Grant Program before appropriating funds for other capital projects if the money in the Common School Construction Fund exceeds the total grant project costs. It is another step to assist our smaller schools and equal the playing field for our kids in school.
The legislation has the support of the Washington State School Directors Association, the Rural Education Center, small school districts, and others. It will not have any negative impact on urban school district construction.
Olympia's impact on working families
Every session the Legislature passes bills into law that fiscally impact our state's working families. This year I have sponsored House Bill 1172 that would incorporate the fiscal impacts on working families into the fiscal notes of bills. The chances of it passing this session are probably minimal. However, I truly believe we should look at this more closely moving forward. Lawmakers may be hesitant to pass legislation knowing the financial or negative impact their actions are having on our working families if it is included in the documents of the legislation.
Clarifying emission limits and environmental permitting
I have two bills, House Bill 1223 and House Bill 1224, that seek to do the same thing. The legislation would help streamline the permitting process for large industrial projects without lowering our commitment to greenhouse gas emission standards. Right now, sometimes investors have to wait years before permission is granted to build and we often lose out on the opportunity as the project is built in another state or nation. Faster permitting times will bring jobs here and ensure that the buildings adhere to strict environmental standards.
During the virtual sessions I was impressed with how many of you stayed engaged. My office received thousands of emails, messages and phone calls on a variety of issues during the sessions and the interim. While the Legislature is back to meeting in person I encourage you to stay engaged with the many critical issues we are facing.
Here are some websites and links that will help you stay engaged this legislative session.
My legislative website | Here you can find contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, radio appearances, and much more.
The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips | Daily news clips.
The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
Legislature's website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
While it is not a virtual session, you can still testify remotely. You can use the links below to sign up:
Please do hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to keeping you updated during the session.
It is an honor to serve the great 19th District!
Your Humble Servant,