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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It's official. The 105-day 2021 legislative session, which is scheduled to begin January 11, will be a “remote session.” Click here to see the House plan for the legislative session. The campus, and all the buildings, will remain closed to the public, no staff will be allowed on campus, and committee meetings, floor debates and the voting on legislation will all be done remotely.

This is not something I nor my House Republican colleagues want. The majority party in Olympia is driving this ship and unfortunately, it will be you – the public – that suffers most. I do not believe we can adequately do the peoples' business and include our citizens in the debate, discussions and solutions that we so desperately need, via online meetings, telephone calls and text messages.

That being said, it is now more critical than ever that you stay involved as much as possible to hold your elected leaders accountable and to have a voice in your state government. I urge you to visit this website that describes in detail – with many helpful links – how to remotely access the Legislative process in Olympia. Here is a link that will explain how you can utilize remote testimony to voice your concerns or support for legislation.

I understand the need to keep people safe and healthy, but I believe it can be done. If there was ever a time for us to work together to come up with unique solutions to keep the public engaged and a part of the process, it is now. Unfortunately, the majority party is refusing to consider anything but a complete lockdown of the capitol campus.

The Governor who would be king…
Legislators from both parties have requested a special session since August – and House Republicans first requested this back in April. I believe the governor should have called a special session months ago to get input and support from lawmakers around the state. It could have been a bipartisan discussion with legislators from both parties weighing in on the decisions being made. Instead, our state has been managed by one person. The governor has tried to manage the pandemic by himself since March. However, the Legislature – being the voice of their communities – could have adjusted the operating budget to better position our state financially in the future, had more say in the massive amount of federal dollars given to the state, and had a role in any reopening plan. Instead, the governor has chosen to go it alone.

Reopening Washington…
As you know, a spike in coronavirus cases in early November led to the governor to issue lockdown orders that run through January 11. This week, he announced a new “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan. From what I'm hearing from the many small businesses in my district, there is not much hope that his plan will keep them afloat. Our economy and the lives of so many continue to suffer because so many businesses are not allowed to open. The governor's actions underscore the need to have a serious discussion this legislative session on the governor's emergency powers, including whether they need to be modified and how the people's representatives in the Legislature can play a greater role during emergencies. It is an important debate that I encourage you to follow.

You can learn more about the governor's powers here. You can also find information on the Legislature's limited role in temporarily waiving statutes and regulations at this link. A few bills have already been prefiled relating to this issue.

In closing, I again urge you to stay connected as much as possible. Below are some helpful links to keep you informed about what is happening in Olympia.

  • The Washington State Ledger: This is a legislative news aggregator administered by state House Republicans. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. Check it out!
  • Capitol Buzz: This daily electronic clip service offers headlines and stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
  • The Current: This an online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans that is sent out every week during the legislative session.
  • TVW: The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online. This will be an important tool with the session being “virtual.”

As always, thank you for reading my email update and for staying engaged. And thank you for once again choosing me to be your voice in Olympia. I will continue to work hard on your behalf!

Sincerely,


Joe Schmick

State Representative Joe Schmick, 9th Legislative District
RepresentativeJoeSchmick.com
426B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7844 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000