Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now at Day 43 of the scheduled 105-day session. Friday, Feb. 17 marked the first major milestone of the 2023 legislative session with “Policy Committee Cutoff.” In simple terms, this means that after 5 p.m. Friday, all policy bills must have passed their respective committees in the chamber where they were introduced, or they are considered “dead” for the session. Bills necessary to implement the state budget are exempt from the deadline.
For those keeping track, 852 bills have been introduced in the House since Jan. 9, the first day of this year's session. And 772 bills have been introduced in the Senate, for a total of 1,624 in the 2023 session.
Our self-imposed deadlines help to winnow down the enormous volume of bills and keep us focused on the policy and appropriation bills that survive the cutoffs. The next major deadline is this coming Friday, Feb. 24 when we reach the Fiscal Cutoff. Fiscal bills (those measures that require funding) must pass from their fiscal committees (In the House, these are Appropriations, Capital Budget, Finance, and Transportation) by Feb. 24, or they too are considered “dead” for the session.
Majority party refuses hearing on Boys and Men's Commission bill
One of my greatest disappointments this session is how the majority party has refused to give a hearing to House Bill 1270 that would establish the Washington State Commission on Boys and Men. You can learn more about this groundbreaking legislation from my news release, opinion editorial, video and radio interview.
When the committee chairman did not schedule a public hearing on the bill, it gained attention from KING 5 television news reporter Drew Mikkelsen. He asked House Majority Leader Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, why a hearing was not scheduled. This was Fitzgibbon's response:
“I think we want to be really careful that the solutions that we bring forward to help reduce incidents of, you know, for example, youth suicide or gun violence, are solutions that we don't narrowcast to just the segment of our society that's been historically most advantaged. While we know that in some ways, you know, men and boys are facing some challenges that are more acute relative to girls and women than they have been in the past, and nonbinary folks tend to be the folks who face the greatest challenges whether in terms of employment, discrimination, violence. And I think we generally take the outlook that solutions to, for example, gun violence would benefit boys, girls, nonbinary folks. And that that's the approach that, you know, I think both Chair Ramos and other members of our caucus have taken to solving some of those problems.”
Obviously, we have more education to do to help people like the majority leader understand the importance of this issue. So while the bill did not make it out of committee, its advocates and I will continue pushing hard for this legislation.
I invite you to click on the links below to learn more about the bill:
- Rep. Fitzgibbon: Bill to help men, boys too focused on 'historically most advantaged' – The Center Square
- 'Men are in despair': Advocates in Washington push for commission to help men, boys – KING 5
- Does Washington need a Commission on Boys and Men? Real Change News
- Washington In Focus Podcast
- The case for a Commission on Boys and Men: Will Washington state lead the way?
See the grassroots website: Washingtonboysandmen.org
Rep. Mary Dye's bills – What's still alive
I am making progress on several of my bills after Friday's cutoff and hope to see them come to the floor for a vote soon. Here's an update on my prime-sponsored legislation that survived the cutoff:
- House Bill 1365 – Puget Sound water quality: Would use Climate Commitment Act dollars to upgrade our sewage treatment facilities along Puget Sound. Read more about this bill from my water quality opinion editorial. The measure passed Feb. 16 from the House Environment and Energy Committee. It was referred to the House Capital Budget Committee, where a hearing was held this morning. Hopefully, the committee will vote it out before the end of the week.
- House Bill 1381 – Salmon-safe communities: Would ask cities to innovate to reduce urban heat, including: green roofs where vegetables can grow, vertical gardening, reflective roof technology, changes in reflectivity on buildings to reduce heat absorption, increases in permeable surfaces to allow natural infiltration of stormwater, and creating more parklike settings with shade trees and vegetation. As salmon populations begin to recover, cities would be awarded the designation of a “salmon-safe community.” Watch my video to learn more about this legislation. The measure passed Feb. 16 from the House Environment and Energy Committee. It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. A public hearing will be held tomorrow in the committee at 1:30 p.m. and it is scheduled for a vote on Thursday at 9 a.m.
- House Bill 1498 – Aviation assurance funding: Would create a funding source under the Department of Natural Resources to be used to reimburse local fire departments who use aviation suppression efforts on initial attack to extinguish brush, timber and grass fires. Watch my video for more information on this legislation. This bill passed from the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 15 and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
- House Bill 1543 – Horse program/Coyote Ridge: Would study implementing a wild horse inmate training program at Coyote Ridge Correctional Center in Connell. The program would be fashioned after a successful program at the state prison in Florence, Arizona, which I toured in 2019. The Arizona program involves as many as 30 inmates who train wild horses captured from public range lands to control the mustang population. The inmates learn employable skills and have a very low recidivism rate once they've served their time. The bill would also develop a farrier program at the prison. This legislation passed the Legislature in 2020, but it was among 147 bills Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed to save money in the state budget to address COVID-19 repercussions in the state. This year, the bill had a successful hearing in the House Community Safety and Reentry Committee and was passed out on Feb. 14. It is now in the Rules Committee, awaiting to be pulled to the House floor for a vote.
Come visit me at the Capitol!
I really enjoy having people from back home come to visit me and our state Capitol. If you plan to come to Olympia, please call my office in advance to make an appointment. Some of the people I met with this past week from the 9th District included: Pullman Mayor Mike Urban, Colfax Mayor Jim Retzer, Cheney Mayor Chris Grover, fire commissioners from Spokane and Franklin counties, Washington State University Associated Student Body students from Pullman and Colfax, and Pullman and Odessa representatives with the Washington State Hospital Association.
Legislative updates and redistricting
Some of you may be receiving this legislative update for the first time. Part of that is because of the redistricting that took place last year. Washington state's 9th District has changed and is significantly expanded.
Under the new boundaries, we now have 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.
If you are not sure which legislative district you live in, you can find out by entering your address into the Legislature's District Finder tool here.
Please feel free to share my legislative updates with others who may be interested in following the Legislature and staying informed about our state government. If you do not want to receive these updates, you can use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this page.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!