Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Despite calls from myself and my House Republican colleagues, the majority party in Olympia has decided the 2021 legislative session will be a remote one. Committee hearings, constituent meetings, debating and voting on amendments and legislation on the House floor, will all be done remotely. There will only be a handful of legislators in Olympia with no staff at all. On one hand, I'm discouraged that the peoples' business – YOUR business – has been relegated to ZOOM meetings, emails and texts, with very little to no face-to-face interactions.
On the other hand, there is an opportunity here for you to be involved in the state legislative session via remote testimony like never before. Remote testimony in the House was recently enabled in a limited fashion last session. But now, with COVID-19, remote testimony is available in ALL committees for ALL legislation!
The Legislative branch has its role…
Today, the House passed SCR 8402, which continues to give Gov. Inslee broad emergency powers with little oversight, guidance or firm deadlines to when his decrees expire. I voted against this legislation. It's time for this state to be governed by more than just one person. Our founding fathers never intended for one person to have so much power for so long. This legislation bundles 26 emergency orders from Inslee and extends them “until the termination of the state of emergency…or until rescinded by gubernatorial or legislative action.”
The governor's closure of small businesses, schools and much of our communities' interactions continues to have a devastating impact. These news stories are just from the last few days:
Foster youth are less connected to school than they were in the spring (The Seattle Times)
Current events, COVID-19 exacerbate mental health concerns as calls for help spike (KOMO TV)
King County reports sharp rise in fatal overdoses (AP)
'A horrible surprise for any business' — Washington lawmakers weigh bill exempting businesses from taxes on COVID-19 aid (The Seattle Times)
Historic Fall City restaurant 'on the brink' of possibly closing (KCPQ TV)
EDITORIAL: State must come clean about delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout (The Seattle Times)
Washington state's employment agency paid out fake claims on 10 of its workers (KING TV)
Fences around the state Capitol Campus…
It was frustrating to see fences around the state Capitol Campus this week. Because of the coronavirus, I was sworn into office last week at the Spokane County Public Works Building by Spokane County Clerk Tim Fitzgerald. While I was not able to travel to Olympia because of a COVID situation with a family member, the stark reality of armed National Guard troops and chain link fences at the state Capitol was maddening. The people should not be blocked from their government like this. I believe this sends the wrong message and will only discourage people who already feel shutout of their government.
I want to thank you for once again allowing me to serve you in Olympia. My office is here to help you navigate state government issues. And again, please stay engaged in the legislative process. Every committee meeting and floor session will be broadcast on TVW. Here are other helpful resources to help you stay involved and in the know:
- Washington State Legislature | https://leg.wa.gov/
- How a bill becomes a law | https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Bill2Law.aspx
- Accessing the Legislature remotely | https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Documents/2020/Accessing%20the%20Legislature%20remotely.pdf
- COVID-19 Session Operations Plan for the Washington State House of Representatives | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/2020/12/14/covid-19-session-operations-plan-for-the-washington-state-house-of-representatives/
- The Ledger – A legislative news aggregator | https://waledger.houserepublicans.wa.gov/ (Recently redesigned, now updated daily)
- Read and sign up for The Capitol Buzz | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/stay-connected/capitol-buzz/ (3,883 subscribers!)
- Read and sign up for The Current (caucus email update) | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/stay-connected/the-current/
- Our priorities | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/our-priorities/
- Republican letters to Gov. Jay Inslee | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/2020/05/22/republican-letters-to-gov-jay-inslee/
- Legislature's 'Four Corners' square off on state challenges in 2021 (op-eds from four caucus leaders) | https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/legislatures-four-corners-square-off-on-state-challenges/
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources | https://houserepublicans.wa.gov/coronavirus/
Stay safe, stay involved, and help keep your state government accountable.