Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session is fast approaching. During even-numbered years, the Legislature convenes for 60 days, also referred to as the short legislative session. Legislators recently met virtually for Committee Assembly Days, which involves work sessions and previewing issues we expect to discuss and debate in January.
House of Representatives operation plan for 2022
The operation plans for the state House of Representatives were announced recently. There will be more legislators allowed in the House chamber this year, but they must be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated legislators must commit to a minimum of three COVID tests per week to access their offices on the Capitol Campus.
The public can access the galleries, but must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours. All committee hearings will be conducted virtually like last year. House Republicans are looking at additional options that may allow us to meet with folks in-person, but those details are a work-in-progress. Stay tuned.
Redistricting plan unfinished
The Washington State Redistricting Commission was unable to meet its midnight deadline on Nov. 15 to complete the redrawing of our state legislative and congressional districts. The responsibility is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court. The court has until April 30 to draw new boundaries, or it could agree to the final maps the commission came up with as the deadline passed. Whatever the court decides, it would provide some certainty to elected officials and citizens if the justices can make a decision in the near future. Those in Chelan and Douglas counties could be impacted the most by what the court decides.
- Redistricting Commission says it reached agreement Monday night; regrets 12th District split of Chelan, Douglas counties (KPQ Radio)
- Failed redistricting would have split Chelan and Douglas from 12th District, among other changes (NCW Life)
House Republicans unveil “Real” transportation solutions plan
Earlier this month, our transportation lead, Rep. Andrew Barkis, unveiled the Reprioritizing Existing Appropriations for Longevity (REAL) Act. The plan would create a sustainable and equitable transportation funding model, instead of continuing to rely on a funding system with declining revenues, such as the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.
On top of declining revenue, Washington's transportation system is facing a number of other challenges – not keeping up with road maintenance, failing bridges, outdated railways, increased traffic, staff shortages, route cancellations on state ferries and more.
The majority party is considering another transportation package with new taxes. With fuel prices increasing, and inflation driving up the price of goods and services, most probably wouldn't be excited about paying more for fuel.
This plan steps away from the old antiquated way of thinking about transportation and budgeting, and takes a different approach. This is not the first time we have made an effort to look at additional revenue options. Last session, I was able to get a provision in the transportation budget that would have taken a more proactive approach to creating a sustainable and resilient transportation spending plan for the future. Unfortunately, the governor vetoed it.
Other Republican solutions
House Republicans pushed for emergency powers reform last session, and will continue to do so in the upcoming 2022 legislative session. Other priority issues we want to address in the upcoming session include:
- Advocating for responsible state spending and property tax relief.
- Introduce legislation to ensure our communities are safe by addressing the problems created by some of the police-reform bills passed last session by the majority party.
- Repeal the new state long-term care insurance program and regressive payroll tax.
- Offer common-sense environmental solutions.
Following the Legislature and state government
With the 2022 session being mostly virtual again, I urge you to stay engaged in the legislative session and what is happening with our state government. Below are websites and links that may be helpful.
- My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, opinion pieces, and other information.
- How you can be involved in the legislative process: This includes a citizen's guide to effective legislative participation.
- TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
- The Ledger: A legislative news aggregator that is updated frequently.
- Capitol Buzz: Sent out each weekday, featuring stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
- The Current: This an online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans that is sent out every week during the legislative session and every month during the interim.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this email update or the upcoming legislative session. I appreciate your input and feedback on the issues impacting our state and communities.
Due to election-year restrictions, legislators will not be able to send email updates or newsletters until the legislative session begins on Jan. 10. However, if you have any questions about this update, the upcoming session or state government-related matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I can still respond to direct communications such as email, mail, phone calls, etc.