Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It is an honor to be returning to the Legislature to serve you. I continue to work to ensure strong families and a better Washington for us to live and work. I am grateful for you and the citizens of the 14th Legislative District. This is a wonderful time of the year to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. As we approach a new year and a new legislative session, I wanted to use this opportunity to provide a news update and wish you a happy holiday season.
Email communications resume
Due to election-year restrictions that began in May, I have not been allowed to send out legislative email updates until after the November general election results have been certified. Certification was completed on Wednesday, Dec. 7. That means I can resume our regular email updates to constituents throughout the district and inform you about important activities in the state Legislature.
Redistricting changes 14th Legislative District boundaries
Communities and populations in Washington change over time. Every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, Washington redraws the boundaries of its congressional and state legislative districts to ensure that each district represents an equal number of residents. You can learn more about this process in this video.
The new 14th Legislative District boundaries that were approved last year (Nov. 15, 2021) by the Washington State Redistricting Commission are now in effect. Under the new boundaries, all of Klickitat County remains in the 14th District, including White Salmon, Bingen and Goldendale. A larger portion of Yakima County is in the 14th District, including all of the Yakama Reservation, the west side of Yakima, Selah, White Swan, and the southeastern portion of the Yakima Valley, including Wapato, Toppenish, Mabton and Grandview.
Click here to view a map of the new 14th Legislative District.
I will begin representing the new district when I take the oath of office on the first day of session, Jan. 9.
I welcome our new constituents in the Yakima Valley and Selah, who were formerly in the 15th Legislative District. Please don't hesitate to contact my office with any questions, comments, or suggestions about legislation. I am here to serve you!
If you live in Skamania County or the east part of Clark County, which were previously in the “old” 14th District, you are now most likely in the 17th Legislative District under the new boundaries. Beginning Jan. 9, that district will be represented by Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver; Rep.-elect Kevin Waters, R-Stevenson, and Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.
For those of you in Skamania and Clark counties, I would like to say “thank you” for your participation and interest. I encourage your continued involvement with your “new” legislators. I am also still here to assist and answer questions regarding the Legislature and state government.
2023 legislative session begins Jan. 9
For the past two years due to the pandemic, lawmakers in the state House and Senate primarily conducted committee hearings and floor sessions remotely via computer programs such as Teams and Zoom. Many of us were able to be on the House floor at the Capitol during the last few weeks of the 2022 session. However, I personally feel that remote sessions do not serve the public as effectively as in-person sessions, in which we are all working for you on the Capitol campus.
In less than a month, the scheduled 105-day session begins at noon on Monday, Jan. 9. I'm hopeful to report the 2023 legislative session will be conducted in person at the state Capitol this year, including committee hearings and floor sessions. That may change if COVID becomes a severe health issue on the Capitol campus. However, work is under way to ensure precautions so that it does not become an issue.
Committee assignments issued
House committee assignments for the 2023-24 biennium were issued for Republicans on Friday, Dec. 16.
I am honored to be reappointed as ranking Republican on the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee, formerly known as the House Public Safety Committee. The committee considers a broad array of issues relating to the criminal legal system, including policing; crisis response; crime prevention; criminal penalties and sentencing; impaired driving; adult correctional programs, including rehabilitation and reentry; and adult correctional institutions. The committee also considers issues relating to the registration and civil commitment of sex offenders.
I have also been reappointed to the House Capital Budget Committee. The 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.
Finally, I will be the newest member on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. This committee considers a broad range of issues relating to health care needs in our state.
You can learn more about my committee assignments in my news release.
2023 session issues and solutions
During the 2021-22 biennium, more than 2,800 House and Senate bills combined were introduced, with 649 passing the Legislature. You can view the bills I introduced in the last biennium here.
I am working on a list of bills I will be introducing in the 2023 session and will provide information in upcoming email updates when my sponsored legislation is ready.
Meantime, in the coming 2023 session, my House Republican colleagues have identified four primary objectives we plan address as top priorities. They include:
- Reducing your cost of living.
- Making communities safer.
- Fixing our housing crisis.
- Empowering families.
More details on these issues and real solutions to address them will be forthcoming as we begin the 2023 session.
PUD association's 2022 Legislative Champion Award
I am honored and humbled the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) recently named me as recipient of its 2022 Legislative Champion Award. The award honors a member from the Washington State Legislature or United States Congress for their commitment to public utility districts (PUDs).
In a letter I received from WPUDA Executive Director George Caan, he writes: “This award recognizes your strong commitment to advocating in the 2022 legislative session for policies that enhance the ability of public utility districts to serve the needs of their communities. Your leadership as sponsor of House Bill 1623, addressing the risks of rolling blackouts and inadequacy events, demonstrated your expertise in utilizing a collaborative approach between stakeholders and state agencies to address the risk of power disruptions.”
I introduced House Bill 1623 during the 2022 session to ensure the state continually plans to help avoid energy blackouts, brownouts or other inadequacies of the electric grid. Despite its unanimous approval by 147 Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, I was very disappointed Gov. Inslee vetoed the measure in its entirety on March 31. I plan to reintroduce this legislation in the coming session and will work with the governor's office to make sure it clears his desk if the Legislature sends it to him.
I appreciate this recognition from the WPUDA, but would also like to note that the real champions across our state are the men and women who work every day to keep our lights on, warm our homes, and power Washington's economy.
Read more about this in my news release.
Northwest Harvest Food Bank Center is now open
As a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, I helped to secure a $3.2 million appropriation for construction of Northwest Harvest's new food distribution center in Yakima. The new center, which will warehouse meat, produce and other food items for food banks across the state, recently opened. This will help to feed families in all areas of Washington. You can read more about the opening here.
Wanda Brosey returns as my legislative assistant
I am thrilled that Wanda Brosey has come out of retirement to serve as my legislative assistant. She has many years of experience as a legislative assistant for lawmakers in the House, including my office. Wanda will be the welcoming voice you hear when you call my Olympia office during session. We will be working as a team to serve the needs of citizens across the 14th Legislative District.
Speaking of that, I encourage you to call, write or email my office any time you have questions about legislation and state government. If you have difficulties working with a state agency, we may be able to help bridge the gap and get results. Also, some of the best legislation I have sponsored originated with an idea or proposal from local citizens like you. I am here to serve you, so please reach out to my office.
I hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!
Honored to serve you,