Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2022 Washington State Legislature gaveled in the new session this week and as we start a new year I continue to have a lot of hope for the future of our communities here on the Kitsap Peninsula and across the state. Unfortunately, because of the latest surge in Covid cases, most of our work will continue to be remote for at least the first few weeks. This session will last 60 days and is scheduled to wrap up on March 10. All hearings and floor debates will streamed on TVW and you can learn how to participate in remote committee hearings here.

Building a strong and resilient economy

As the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to lead the Senate’s budget-writing team as we work to pass a supplemental budget this session to help fund emerging critical needs in our state. One example is our beleaguered ferry system that so many of us rely on. As I heard at the town hall in November, people want to see improvements and I’m ready to fight for the funding.

Compared with other states, we are fortunate to enter the session on solid economic footing. Our economy has consistently outperformed the national economy over the last year, but I also know that the recovery has been uneven and many in our state are still struggling. This session I will continue to focus on policies to ensure all Washingtonians have access to housing, healthcare, childcare, education and good jobs.

Priority bills

In addition to my work on the budget, I am proud to sponsor a bill on behalf of Gov. Inslee on restoring salmon habitat, and a bill for Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to preserve our state’s forest base.

Senate Bill 5727 would speed up critical action to protect, restore, and maintain habitat for salmon recovery in our state. Salmon have been a critical part of the Northwest ecosystem for thousands of years and we are running out of time to ensure their survival. Read more about the bill here.

Senate Bill 5633 would create a framework and secure funding for conservation of one million acres of working and natural forests, as well as reforestation of one million acres across Washington. It’s an ambitious plan to help keep our forests resilient as they face increasing threats due to the climate crisis.

New year, new staff

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I’m welcomed two new staff members to my office last month. Jennifer Smolen is my new Executive Legislative Assistant and can be reached at Lily O’Doherty is my Legislative Assistant and can be reached at Lily.O’ I’m excited to have them on the 23rd District team.

I’ll continue to be in touch throughout session with periodic updates.

Stay healthy,