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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy New Year!
It's an honor to be back serving you in the coming 2023 legislative session. I'll be providing regular email updates in the weeks ahead to keep you informed about legislation and session activities. Here's a quick look at what's ahead:
1. The 2023 legislative session begins at noon on Monday, Jan. 9
Members will be sworn in. A House speaker will be chosen. We will adopt a schedule for this year's 105-day session. And then we will begin the business of the people of Washington. The session is scheduled to end April 23.
2. We will be back in Olympia meeting in person, but you can still participate remotely
For the past two years due to the pandemic, lawmakers in the state House and Senate primarily conducted committee hearings and floor sessions remotely via computer programs such as Teams and Zoom. This year, lawmakers in the House and Senate will be at the state Capitol conducting business in person. I believe this makes for better communication and better governance. Citizens may still testify remotely during committee hearings. Click here to learn more about remote participation. I also invite you to go to this website to learn more about how you can be involved in the legislative process.
3. The 9th District has changed and expanded geographically
The new 9th District boundaries that were approved last year (Nov. 15, 2021) by the Washington State Redistricting Commission are now in effect. Under the new boundaries, we now pick up Columbia and Lincoln counties. but we lose some small parts of Adams and Franklin counties. We also retain Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties, as well as parts of Spokane County. Bordering both Idaho and Oregon, this now makes the 9th District one of the largest legislative districts geographically in the state. Click here to view a map of the new 9th Legislative District. I will begin representing the new district when I take the oath of office on the first day of session, Jan. 9.
4. This is a “budget year.”
While hundreds of bills will be introduced, our primary objective in the 105-day session is to draft and adopt the state's budgets for the two-year fiscal cycle which begins July 1, 2023. These include the operating budget, transportation budget and the capital budget.
5. Spending in the state operating budget has nearly doubled since 2015
The 2013-15 operating budget spent $33.879 billion to pay for the day-to-day operations of state government. The operating budget enacted by the Legislature for 2021-23 is $64.544 billion. That's nearly double the size of state government spending in only eight short years! In Gov. Inslee's proposed operating budget released Dec. 14, he wants to grow spending by another 8.5% to a whopping $70.041 billion. How many family budgets have doubled in the past eight years? I'm very concerned about this level of spending, that it is not sustainable, and even more concerned about tax increases (long-term care payroll tax, capital gains tax and others) to support this budget at a time when many families are struggling to pay their food, gas and utility bills.
6. I have been reappointed to three top House committees, including a leadership position
I am honored to continue my service as ranking Republican on the House Environment and Energy Committee. I've served as the lead Republican on that committee for the past two years, and before 2021, I was the assistant ranking member. I have also been reappointed to serve on the House Appropriations and Capital Budget committees. Click here to learn more about these committees and my goals as a serving member.
7. Major issues and our solutions in the 2023 session
Besides the budgets, we have some heavy lifting on other major issues we believe need to be addressed this session. This includes:
- Reducing your cost of living
SOLUTION: Offer sales tax relief or property tax relief and repeal the regressive long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
- Making communities safer
SOLUTION: Combat crime, restore vehicular pursuit, address drug addiction, and put more officers on the street.
- Fixing our housing crisis
SOLUTION: Expedite housing permits, expand development boundaries, and create housing opportunity zones.
- Empowering all families
SOLUTION: Help students recover from learning loss, offer school choice, and expand the working families tax credit.
8. My session priorities
I am continuing to work on issues important to our state's environment and climate adaptation. I will be introducing legislation to fix wastewater treatment plants and stop raw sewage from spilling into Puget Sound, which is threatening our salmon population. Other bills along this line to preserve salmon include tree planting programs to cover our streams and cool our waterways. Besides work to address forest health, floods and drought, I will continue seeking investments to improve irrigation infrastructure to ensure our irrigated farms are climate resilient. Additionally, I will be proposing legislation to protect the natural gas industry, give local people more say in the siting of energy projects, and secure funding for wildfire aviation suppression. And I will be fighting against legislation that would harm our agricultural industry. More details will be released as legislation comes forward.
9. I am here to serve you! Please reach out to my office!
It is the greatest honor of my life to serve you, our families and the citizens of the 9th District. Please call, write or email my office any time you have questions, comments or suggestions about state government. If you plan to come to Olympia, do be sure to make an appointment with my office. I enjoy having visitors from the district. You'll find my contact information below.
Thank you for allowing me to serve and represent you!
432 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7942 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000