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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's Day 46 of the scheduled 105-day legislative session and we're reaching some significant milestones and deadlines.
Last Friday, Feb. 17 was Policy Committee Cutoff. Bills that have not passed out of their respective policy committees by that date are considered “dead” for the session. Tomorrow, Feb. 24 is the Fiscal Committee Cutoff. Bills that have not passed out of their respective fiscal committees (In the House, these are Appropriations, Capital Budget, Finance, and Transportation) by 5 p.m. tomorrow are also considered “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the state budgets are exempt from the deadline. These self-imposed deadlines help to winnow down the enormous volume of bills and keep us focused on legislation that survive the cutoffs.
Next Wednesday, March 1, is the halfway point of the 2023 session. With the cutoffs behind us, much of our time, beginning Monday, Feb. 27 will be spent in our caucus and on the House floor as we discuss, debate and pass legislation that was sent to the floor from the committees. This is the time of the session when we are putting in long hours, and the days will get even longer the closer we get to the next deadline, which is the House of Origin Cutoff. That's the date when all bills must be passed from the chamber where they originated, or again, they are “dead” for the session. Although many of us consider nothing is truly dead until the final gavel falls on the last day of session, April 23.
What's alive and dead?
Here's a video update of my bills following the Feb. 17 policy committee cutoff. Watch it here, or click on the image below to see it.
I was honored to be a guest on TVW's Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins on Feb. 9, along with Rep. Shelley Kloba, as we discussed issues under consideration in the House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee, where I serve as ranking Republican. We talked about cannabis, alcohol, vaping and taxes. I invite you to watch here or click the image below.
Addressing our workforce shortages in long-term care
The long-term care workforce crisis is a pressing one in Washington state. We have a rapidly aging population and many long-term care workers have retired, are on the cusp of retiring, and some just walked away during the height of the COVID pandemic. I've sponsored House Bill 1568 to provide a few simple tools that would incentivize current long-term care professionals to stay on the job, and encourage qualified long-term care workers who left the profession for other positions or retired to return to the long-term care field.
Caregivers are the unsung heroes of our long-term care system. The work they do is challenging and the pay doesn't come close to compensating caregivers for the tremendous impact of the care they provide. This bill would ease the licensing burden on them by making their license good for two years, instead of one.
The bill passed out of the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee on Feb. 15. It is now on the House floor calendar awaiting a vote.
I'm pleased The News Tribune published an opinion-editorial I wrote on this issue that explains the bill and how it would help to relieve some of the staffing issues. Since a subscription is required to access the article from the newspaper's online site, I've posted it on my website. I invite you to read it here.
Chambers' bills in the House chamber
In addition to House Bill 1568 mentioned above, I have two other prime-sponsored bills that survived the cutoffs, were passed from their respective committees, have been sent to the House Rules Committee, and could soon come to the House floor for a vote:
- House Bill 1299 – Beverage alcohol/workforce: This bill would allow 18-21 year-olds to work in the manufacturing and production of liquor, which would help to alleviate a worker shortage in the area of manufacturing.
- House Bill 1421 – Voluntary Stewardship Program: This program under the state's Growth Management Act was created in 2011. It allows participating counties to develop local work plans that use voluntary and incentive-based tools as an alternative to regulation to protect critical areas and agricultural lands. Counties had to opt in to the program by 2012 and 27 counties chose to participate. This bill provides the opportunity for other counties to join the program through July 1, 2024.
Successful 25th District Town Hall
Many thanks to those of you who attended the 25th District Town Hall Meeting last Saturday at the fairgrounds in Puyallup with me, Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen and Sen. Chris Gildon. We had more than 65 people who came out to express their views and hear an update from us on the 2023 legislative session.
People shared their concerns with the lack of public safety in our communities that stems from law enforcement being restricted from pursuing dangerous criminals and the deadly impacts fentanyl is having on our communities and families. Attendees also affirmed their support for parental rights and disciplined fiscal policy.
It was wonderful to have an in-person meeting with citizens. Your input is vital to us as we vote on many upcoming bills!
Sign up for 'The Week Ahead!'
Get the latest House committee schedules by signing up for “The Week Ahead.” This document is updated on Fridays and lists the major committee action and events for the coming week at the Capitol. It also includes direct links on each bill for people to testify about or sign in for the committee hearing. This is another great way for you to participate in your citizen Legislature. Click here to sign up.
Come see your state Capitol
I always enjoy visitors to my office and to the state Capitol. This week, I was honored to visit with students from Zeiger Elementary School in Puyallup.
We are fortunate that the state Capitol is only about a 45-minute to an hour drive from most locations in the 25th District. If you can spare some time, come to Olympia and see your state Capitol. There are tours available of the building and the governor's mansion. You can find information here on the many tours that are offered. If you plan a visit, be sure to call my office to schedule a time that we could meet. My phone number is listed below, along with all of my contact information.
Also, feel free to call, email or write my office if you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation and state government.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!
426 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7948 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000