The Session Is Underway
We have almost completed the third week of the legislative session, and one thing I know for sure, Zoom and Teams may work, but the impersonal nature of them is a trying experience. Sitting in front of a computer screen talking with legislators, constituents, lobbyists and attending hearings and senate sessions is different. It just increases the desire to actually meet in person. One benefit of the session is learning that virtual testimony in hearings increases public involvement in the legislative process. Last week we had two hearings that had over 1,000 people sign up to testify or express their views for or against bills. And future hearings on controversial bills will have even larger numbers of people signing up. As one person from eastern Washington said, “I can testify at a hearing without having to worry about snow on the pass or finding a place to stay in Olympia.”
Early Action Supplemental Funding
We are working on an early action supplemental funding bill to address issues related to the pandemic. The House and Senate have put this bill on the fast track and plan to have it on the Governor’s desk by the second week in February. The bill will start in the House and then come to the Senate. Most of the funds will be appropriated from federal funds sent to the states to address COVID. The initial Senate proposal calls for $2.8 billion with the bulk of the funds going to COVID testing, tracing, and vaccines; public K-12 schools; and housing assistance.
My Bills Related To the Pandemic
So far, I have introduced two bills related to the pandemic. The first, SB 5021, would ensure that no state employees suffer negative damages to their retirement accrual because of furloughs. It maintains funding for a person’s retirement contributions with no penalty or reduction because of furlough days. It also would keep whole the retirement payments for employees who participate in the Shared Work program.
The second bill relates to K-12 schools. SB 5265 provides a bridge year for high school students participating in athletics and activities. It would grant an additional year of eligibility to students if they are enrolled in school, College in the High School, or Running Start. Students who missed a year of participation in sports, debate, music or other programs would be granted an extra year to participate. It would also enable any student who received a D or F grade during this school year to retake those classes next year and, if they get a higher grade, have the failing grade expunged from their record and replaced by the higher grade. This bill would help all students have a more meaningful school experience and allow for full participation in activities.
And lastly, but certainly not least,
How to participate in this legislative session:
Watch- Committee meetings, debates, and more can all be seen live or in a recording at TVW.org
Research- Look up legislation by lawmaker or by topic here.
Learn- You can learn about the entire legislative process from start to finish here.
Testify- Visit here for an overview of the process. Written testimony is also an option, and you can also email me your story.
Get in touch- As always, please feel free to contact my office with any questions or comments.
Thanks for reading, and please join the 22nd District legislators for our first virtual town hall February 3, at 7:00 PM.