Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The last few weeks have been unlike any in our nation’s history — filled with deep sadness and bright rays of hope. When the 2021 legislative session started last week, the legislative buildings in Olympia were surrounded by security fencing and hundreds of personnel from the Washington National Guard and State Patrol. Their presence was unprecedented and startling, and stood as a stark reminder of the threat of attack and the unrest gripping our nation. I am sincerely grateful for the presence of law enforcement and our state’s security personnel during this time. I hope we will never have to start another session under these circumstances.
I am proud of the resiliency and strength our democracy has shown through these turbulent days. I am committed to serve my state and my country with renewed determination and compassion. And after the second week of this year’s 105-day legislative session, your state legislature is proving that even in a remote environment it can quickly respond to the needs of our constituents and all Washingtonians. In that spirit, this newsletter will highlight some of the good news about what’s happening in our state government. Please always feel free to reach out to me at Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov.
Hope in a new year
The 2021 session is off and running and we are eager to help our communities recover and lay the groundwork for rebuilding a post-pandemic economy that works for all Washingtonians. This afternoon we released our early action pandemic recovery plan. It includes funding to expand testing and vaccine availability, help for our schools as they reopen, grants for small business, and desperately needed housing and food assistance for those hit hardest over the last year. As the chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, this has been my primary focus for the last few weeks and I look forward to sending the bill to the governor’s desk soon. However, this is just a first step and we will be working to provide more relief as the session advances. You can read more about the legislation here. I discussed the package this week on the TV program Inside Olympia and you can read more about it in the Seattle Times and Crosscut.
This funding will provide support for our partners at the state Department of Health, who are working overtime to expedite the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Use their online tool to check your vaccine eligibility by answering a few questions here: findyourphasewa.com. A list of vaccination locations is available here.
How to participate
At the recommendation of public health experts, we will be holding most hearings and meetings remotely this year. Legislators and staff have been working for months to ensure that the session is still as transparent and accessible as possible. Here are some ways you can get involved:
- Learn—How a bill becomes a law, from start to finish, is explained here.
- Find—You can look up legislation on the issues important to you here.
- Watch—Visit TVW.org for broadcasts and archived videos of your democracy in action.
- Testify—Register to testify remotely before legislative committees here.
- Reach out—You can find and contact your legislators here.
I’m fortunate to have a strong team around me again this year helping deliver results for the people in the 23rd district. While we may be communicating differently this year, we are still getting the people’s work done. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!