Dear friends and neighbors,
I’m excited to start off the 2023 session as your new state senator. Folks keep asking me “so how different is the Senate?” and while there are half as many members – so we all get to do twice as many things – my approach hasn’t changed. I’ll continue to work on pragmatic policies that grow the economic pie, build a fairer, greener, safer, and healthier Whatcom and Washington State.
Unlike in Congress where everything is so partisan and gridlocked, here in the state Legislature we’re able to work together to get things done. Whether you are in the Senate or the House, both chambers and the governor still have to agree on bills and I’ll still work collaboratively to build consensus with Democratic and Republican colleagues. In my time in the House, I passed ten bills, and every single one of those received support from both sides of the aisle. I’m proud of that, and I think that kind of collaborative approach helps us serve you better.
Hearing from you is a key part of the legislative process and strengthens our democracy. If you have thoughts or concerns, you can always reach me at Sharon.Shewmake@leg.wa.gov and I hope you do reach out.
Email, phone calls, meetings all work and I’m excited to say we still have remote testimony for committees! It’s so easy that even a six-year old can do it! There’s information on how you can testify before committee on the bills important to you here. (If you are a teacher and would like to engage your students in democracy by testifying on bills—please do reach out! I’d love to suggest things they might want to look at!)
Before the session starts, we are working on bills and you can see the list of my pre-filed bills. You can also look up bills by sponsor, or by committee subject area. There will be many more bills “dropped” or added going forward and they will continue to make their way through committees, the floor, and then to the other chamber before they hit the governor’s desk. I’ll keep you updated on the process, just like I have in the past but now with the new perspective of being in the Senate.
Advocating for border access
We know that in Whatcom it is critical for Canadian neighbors to be able to cross the border, for families and friends, for businesses and for the economic health of communities like Blaine, Sumas and especially Point Roberts. This past October, Canada removed its remaining COVID restrictions at the border, allowing Americans to enter Canada regardless of their vaccination status. The United States has not yet reciprocated that move.
COVID vaccination is important for keeping people healthy, and Americans and Canadians alike should listen to their doctors and get their vaccines and booster shots, but a requirement for vaccination to cross the border no longer makes sense. Along with my seatmates, Rep. Alicia Rule and Rep. Joe Timmons, I wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to remove the vaccination requirement for Canadians to cross the land border and enter the United States. This would help small businesses who count on Canadian customers, and the residents of Point Roberts who can’t get a plumber to fix their pipes or an HVAC technician to work on their homes or businesses because they need people from Canada to cross the border and do that work.
I’ll continue to stay in touch with you about some of the big issues before the Legislature this year, as well as the bills that I’m introducing and will be leading the charge on myself. There are a lot of challenges for us to take on, but huge opportunities for us to deliver progress for the people of Washington. If you have questions about any of the issues coming before the Legislature this year, feel free to contact me at any time at Sharon.Shewmake@leg.wa.gov.
Sen. Sharon Shewmake