Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome from Olympia! It is such an honor to be your voice in our state Senate. I’m excited to send you my first e-newsletter of the 2019 legislative session. We are in the third week of the 105-day session. Committee meetings are in full swing and my days are packed full of appointments every 15 minutes, legislative proposals to fine tune, floor action, and leadership and press meetings. The absolute best though is when folks back home come to visit!
The highlight of the session so far was being sworn in during our opening day on Jan. 14. It is such a special feeling to stand before everyone in the Senate and take the oath of office (in this case, from state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst — see photo below). Thank you for entrusting me to represent you!
Committee meetings dominate session so far
The first few weeks of our session have been extremely busy. Most of my time so far has been spent attending meetings of the three Senate policy committees I’m assigned to this session – Local Government (I’m the lead Republican); Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources and Parks; and Environment, Energy and Technology. I’m also serving on the Senate Rules Committee, which meets as needed to look at bills approved by the other Senate committees and decide which advance to the floor for debate and voting by the full Senate.
During these meetings we typically hold public hearings on the bills assigned to these committees; a hearing allows us to learn more about a bill and listen to testimony from its prime sponsor, as well as everyday citizens and lobbyists who are for or against the bill.
A new leadership position
In addition to my committees, much of my time is spent working in my new leadership position: I’m the new Senate Republican Floor Leader. In this position, I communicate regularly with the Democratic Majority Leader to keep senators in my caucus informed and am responsible for developing plans for legislative debate on bills and voting. I also meet with other Senate Republican leaders to coordinate strategy and help develop our caucus agenda.
All three members of our 7th Legislative District team are in leadership positions this session. Rep. Joel Kretz is continuing his role as House Republican Deputy Leader, and Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber recently was chosen by her fellow caucus members as House Republican Floor Leader. I cannot remember a time when all three legislators from the same district serve in leadership!
Five of my bills heard in same committee on same day!
It’s a busy and exciting time for any legislator when one of the bills they introduce receives a public hearing before a committee. So you can guess what it was like for me last Thursday when FIVE bills (SB 5193, SB 5194, SB 5242, SB 5243 and SB 5245) that I’m prime-sponsoring this session received hearings, all in the Senate Local Government Committee, all on the same day! Many of us have been working for many months on legislation we believe can help address the housing affordability and housing shortages throughout our district and the state. My effort has been to focus on the land-use side of the equation, by developing flexibility and options for rural communities and urban cities to consider.
These bills are designed to give flexibility to local governments in opening up land that could ultimately become available for housing.
What we need to understand is that jurisdictions have unique needs. The land-use decisions in this state have become very rigid, which is due in part to how the Growth Management Act (GMA) has been interpreted over the years. It is critical that the GMA be brought back to the guidance tool for planning it was originally designed for and allow local jurisdictions and communities to address the growing population and housing challenges that are in front of us in the 21st century. Unfortunately, groups like Futurewise and Olympia bureaucrats have turned the GMA into a regulatory morass, “saving us from ourselves” and forcing our communities to look like they want us to. My bills bring back the most important voices in land-use planning, that of local citizens.
Listen to us on KOMW Radio Monday mornings this session!
Each Monday from 8 to 9 a.m. during the legislative session, Reps. Kretz and Maycumber and I get together to do a live, joint interview with KOMW Radio out of Omak. We provide updates on what each of us is working on and what’s happening in the Legislature, as well as answer listeners’ questions. If you want to listen each Monday morning, just tune in to KOMW at AM 680!
7th District telephone town hall Feb. 13
Reps. Kretz and Maycumber and I also plan to do a 7th Legislative District telephone town hall meeting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13. During this community conversation, which is similar to a call-in radio format, we’ll take listeners’ questions and provide information and our perspectives on the legislative session. It’s a great way to learn what’s happening in Olympia and to let us know your thoughts and questions. More details to come!