Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I'd like to begin this update by wishing you and your family a wonderful and joyous holiday season. This time of the year is always busy for most, but for lawmakers, it's exceptionally busy as we prepare for the upcoming legislative session. I'd like to take a few minutes to provide an update on these activities.
The upcoming 2022 legislative session
The 2022 legislative session begins on Jan. 10 and is scheduled for 60 days. Just a week before Thanksgiving, lawmakers met virtually for Committee Assembly Days. House and Senate committees held more than 40 work sessions to plan and organize for the 2022 session. Those sessions included discussion on issues expected to be debated in the coming session, as well as previews on bills and policy issues.
Prefiling of new legislation begins Dec. 6. While prefiled bills are “officially introduced” on the first day of the session, getting on the calendar in December provides a greater opportunity for them to be scheduled early for public hearings in their respective committees. Plus, it gives lawmakers more time to become familiar with them.
Eviction moratorium ends, but assistance is still available
In my October email update, I discussed the impending end of the governor's residential housing eviction moratorium after extensions in June and September. As of Oct. 31, the eviction moratorium has officially ended, and, hopefully, so has the 19-month nightmare for many rental property owners who were not receiving payment from their tenants.
During Committee Assembly Days, the House Housing, Human Services, and Veterans Committee, of which I serve as ranking member, heard a report from the state Department of Commerce regarding the moratorium and rental assistance.
I remain disappointed at the glacial pace of this distribution. This help should have been provided months ago. It's why I negotiated amendments to Senate Bill 5160 during the 2021 session that provided an off-ramp to ensure rental assistance was available while counties got their assistance programs up and running.
We also heard during the committee report that nearly all counties in Washington state have now enacted the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP), which was also a part of Senate Bill 5160. This program helps to address and mitigate disputes about rent owed by bringing tenants and landlords together with a professionally trained, impartial mediator to help them solve rent issues before an unlawful detainer (eviction) case is filed in court.
- If you are a tenant behind on rent or a rental property owner dealing with nonpayment of rent issues, you can get more information about ERPP at this website: Resolution Washington.
- If you need eviction rent assistance, go to the Department of Commerce's website here: Washington State Department of Commerce Homelessness Assistance.
- For guidance on the new law, go here: Senate Bill 5160 – New Guidance (Washington Attorney General's Office)
House COVID-19 operations plans
I am continuing to work for a more open and transparent process to ensure citizens have a voice in their government. We gained some victories, including a more open process, but the latest announcement of House operations for 2022 is still disappointing, including restricting some members access to certain legislative buildings; limiting access to the House chamber and floor; and conducting committee meetings virtually.
These plans are a slight change from last year when only a select few Democratic and Republican House leaders were allowed to vote from the House floor, and floor sessions were held virtually, and none of the public was allowed inside the Capitol building.
We will be voting on an official plan of operations on the first day of session. I will work from my office inside the state Capitol and vote from the House floor when possible.
Read more about proposed 2022 operations here: Washington Legislature releases COVID protocols for the upcoming legislative session (Seattle P-I).
Redistricting commission narrowly misses its deadline; map decision now goes to state Supreme Court
The Washington State Redistricting Commission narrowly missed its Nov. 15 deadline to redraw legislative and congressional maps. The commission voted on a final plan, but it came after the midnight deadline, which means the responsibility now goes to the state Supreme Court. According to state law, the high court has until April 30 to do the job.
In a recent statement, Commission Chair Sarah Augustine urged the court to consider the maps already developed by the commission:
“These maps reflect the input of the thousands of people who took part in the process with us. It would be a shame to see these maps go unconsidered simply because the clock struck 12.“
- To review the maps the commission submitted to the state Supreme Court, click here: Final approved maps (Washington State Redistricting Commission)
- To see how the 26th District would be changed, click here: Bremerton split into two legislative districts in map forwarded to state Supreme Court (Kitsap Sun)
Become involved in your state Legislature
Some of the best ideas for legislation begin when I receive calls from the citizens I serve. Your involvement is key to the success of good public policy. I highly recommend becoming involved. Here are some links to help you get started:
- Learn about the process online at the Legislative Overview page;
- Read about How a Bill Becomes a Law, and How to Read a Bill;
- Use the member rosters to get legislative contact information to send emails, or write letters;
- Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message on any issue;
- Make your views known by testifying before a committee on an issue or bill;
- Watch and listen to committee hearings live on TVW;
- Need more information on how the Legislature works? Call the Legislative Information Center at (360) 786-7573.
Future email updates
Due to certain restrictions, this will be my last email update to you until after the 2022 legislative session convenes on Jan. 10. However, if you have questions about this update, the upcoming session, legislation, or any state-government matter, please contact my office. I appreciate hearing from you always. It is an honor and a privilege to represent you and the citizens of the 26th District. Happy holidays! And thank you for allowing me to serve you!