Friends and neighbors,
The 2022 legislative session kicked off on Monday, and I’m already feeling energized and ready to pass policies that will help all of our neighbors over the next 60 days! With one week of the short session already behind us, there is crucial work ahead to improve and expand our transportation infrastructure, combat the climate crisis to ensure our planet remains habitable, and address the epidemic of gun violence for the safety of everyone in our state.
Keep reading to learn more about my priorities this session, and to find ways you can get involved in the legislative process!
As the newest Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I was proud to preside over our first meeting of session on Monday. Throughout the rest of the week, we held work sessions to discuss some of the largest issues facing Washington’s transportation sector.
We discussed the disruptions facing Washington State Ferries including staffing shortages, a lack of funding for new vessels, and cancelled sailings over the last few months that have disrupted the lives of many Washingtonians. It is abundantly clear that we need to make long term investments in WSF to help our aging fleet and ensure folks in my district and around the state can receive reliable service.
The Senate Transportation Committee was also lucky to receive a briefing from Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar about the state of transportation in Washington.
In the face of historic snowfall and flooding, the incredible workers at the Washington State Department of Transportation have worked day and night to keep commuters safe. When many of our highways closed for days on end, WSDOT workers were quick to act. I was especially heartened to hear about Casey O’Connell, a WSDOT signal technician who jumped into action last month when he saw a terrible accident on SR 512 and pulled a woman out of her burning car; saving her life. Casey exemplifies the spirit of state service, and we are lucky to have workers like him serving our state!
Even with a short 60-day session, there is plenty of work to do. I’ve already introduced a few different bills to address some of the most urgent issues facing Washington, including:
SB 5078 and SB 5846 to address the crisis of gun violence and ensure folks are not victims of intimidation at elections sites (read my latest article about SB 5078 with advocate Paul Kramer in the Seattle Times here)!
SB 5508 to ensure Washingtonians who pay into private long-term care insurance are able to receive their benefits when they need them (watch my testimony in front of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee).
SB 5666 and SB 5669 to reduce carbon emissions from buildings by making new constructions more sustainable and expanding programs to help folks to move from fossil fuels to electricity.
SB 5847, SB 5797, and SB 5830 to make college more accessible, better support professors at our universities, and provide relief for some of those struggling with student debt.
Along with negotiations around a transportation package that invests in Washington’s future, I’m eager to pass these bills and many others!
Accessing the Legislature remotely
With COVID-19 infections surging across the state, the Legislature is once again holding a hybrid session. While I wish we could safely gather in person, I’m encouraged by the increased access that remote committee testimony provides to residents all over Washington. Thanks to the implementation of remote testimony last session, public participation in the committee process increased by 300%! My office was also able to better connect and meet with constituents since they could take meetings from their own homes.
If you are interested in testifying before committee, head to the Legislature’s website to learn more! You can always stay in the loop and watch committee hearings, floor debates, and more at TVW.org.
Stay in touch
You can always reach out to my office with feedback and questions. Your input is a crucial part of the legislative process, and I want to hear from you! You can email my office at Marko.Liias@leg.wa.gov.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest happenings in the Legislature!
All my Best,