Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The holidays are behind us. And with a new year comes a new legislative session, which began Monday in Olympia. Due to election-year restrictions which prohibited me from sending email updates, it's been several months since I was last able to communicate with you via this newsletter. Those restrictions are now over, so I wanted to take a few minutes to bring you up to date.
Grateful to begin my fourth term in office
Normally, I take the oath of office in the state Capitol during the beginning of my term. However, due to changes from the pandemic, I was honored to be sworn in to office last Thursday, Jan. 7 at the Klickitat County Courthouse in Goldendale by our hometown District Court Judge Rick Hansen.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve you and your 14th District neighbors for this upcoming term in office.
A unique legislative session
The pandemic has impacted all of our lives in one way or another and changed our normal routines. The Legislature, with 98 members in the House, and 49 members in the Senate, is no different. However, the way the legislative session is conducted between now and its scheduled end April 25 will be completely different.
With the exception of Monday when all lawmakers were required to be at the state Capitol on opening day, the 2021 session will be largely conducted remotely, with lawmakers attending committee hearings and floor sessions through virtual computer programs, using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Under orders of the majority party, House facilities will remain closed to the public in the effort to keep everyone safe. Read the House operations plan here. Read the Senate session guidelines here.
Most legislators will be working remotely from their legislative districts. I encourage you to contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone: (360) 761-1194. Please note this is a new telephone number during this session that goes to my legislative assistant, Kole Musgrove. My regular Olympia office phone number is (360) 786-7856.
How you can participate during this COVID session
Since this will be a virtual session, I wanted to share some ways you can participate and be involved:
- Remote testimony: The Legislature has expanded remote testimony capabilities so people can testify on any bill from anywhere up to an hour prior to a committee meeting.
- Submit written testimony: Citizens have long been able to submit written comment on a bill, but prior to this year, those comments were sent directly to the constituent's own legislators. This year, the new written testimony system saves comments in which committee members and staff can access and read it. Committee staff also will later place it in the committee file and archive it where it will be maintained as part of the public record.
- Written testimony can be submitted at the same links used to sign-in for public testimony above.
- Set up a Zoom with your legislator: Due to Covid-19 protocols, legislators won't be meeting in person with constituents, but people may schedule Zoom meetings with me and other representatives and senators.
- To find legislators' contact information and schedule a meeting: https://app.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/
- Watch it unfold on TVW: Every committee meeting, floor session, press conference and special event will be broadcast at TVW.org.
Honored to be chosen for leadership roles, committee assignments
It is an honor to be chosen to once again serve in leadership as deputy-chair of the Washington State House Republican Caucus for the 2021-22 term. I was first chosen for this position two years ago, in which I assist in presiding over daily caucus meetings when bills, amendments and voting are discussed. I am honored to be part of the caucus leadership team, which gives me a stronger voice on issues for the 14th District. Read more about this role here.
This year, I have also been assigned as ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee. The committee considers issues relating to law enforcement agencies, crime prevention, criminal penalties and sentencing, impaired driving, registration and civil commitment of sex offenders, and adult correctional programs and institutions.
My family has strong ties with law enforcement. My father was a Clark County Sheriff's Department deputy reserve officer. I also carry a badge as a member of the Klickitat County Sheriff's Posse. Keeping our streets, neighborhoods and citizens safe is one of the most basic and important elements of government. I'm looking forward to working with the exceptional colleagues on this committee.
I will also be serving as assistant ranking Republican on the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. The committee considers issues relating to industrial insurance, unemployment compensation, collective bargaining, family leave, safety and health standards, occupational health, and employment standards such as wage laws and employment discrimination.
I expect much work on this committee will center around creating more accountability with the Department of Employment Security, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars to fraud, and was overwhelmed by massive unemployment claims from the pandemic.
I am also serving on the House Capital Budget Committee. This committee considers the state capital budget which approves money for the construction and repair of public buildings and for other long-term investments, such as land acquisitions and transfers. It's my hope to secure additional funding for the completion of a domestic violence shelter in the 14th District.
If you know of a project that needs funding, please contact my office and we can provide you the 2021 Capital Budget Project Request form.
Much more ahead
I will be introducing and working on a list of bills for the 2021 session to help our communities and citizens in the 14th District and throughout the state. One of the first bills I have co-sponsored with Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, is House Bill 1109. This measure is the next step in our work to ensure sexual assault kits are quickly processed — not left on shelves for years — and that the DNA from those kits will help to bring perpetrators to justice.
I will highlight more of the bills I introduce in future email updates. So stay tuned!
Please stay in touch!
Our government of the people and for the people works best when the people are active and involved in their government. Your input is important to me, especially this year as we vote remotely on bills in committee and during floor sessions. Please contact my office any time you have questions, comments, or concerns about legislation and state government.
Once again, here are my phone numbers: (360) 761-1194 or (360) 786-7856. Email is: email@example.com
Thank you for the honor and the privilege of allowing me to serve you and the citizens of the 14th Legislative District!
Honored to serve you,