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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are rapidly closing in on the halfway point (Feb. 6) of the scheduled 60-day legislative session. A lot of things are happening in the Legislature as I bring you this latest weekly update.

Virtual town hall meeting
If you haven’t done so already, please pre-register for the Zoom 9th District town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. with me and Rep. Mary Dye. We will provide a legislative update and take your questions. These open forums are very important to us as we seek your input on legislation we may be voting on in the final weeks of the session. You can go here to sign up for the event: http://tinyurl.com/09-LD-Schmick-Dye.

Deadlines
Wednesday, Jan. 31, was the first major deadline of the 2024 session. That was “house-of-origin policy cutoff.” For folks outside of Olympia, what that means is that policy bills must be passed out of their policy committees in the chamber where they were introduced, or they are considered “dead” for the session.

The next major deadline is Monday, Feb. 5. That’s the cutoff for fiscal committees, such as the Appropriations, Transportation, Capital Budget and Finance committees. Fiscal bills (those that involve money) must have passed from their fiscal committees in the chamber where they were introduced, or they are also likely “dead” for the session. However, bills that are necessary to implement the budget are exempt from these cutoffs.

Bad bills still alive, others dead

The good news about these deadlines is that we were able to stop some very bad bills. Unfortunately, some very bad bills are still advancing.

Bad bills that have died:

  • House Bill 2030 – Would have allowed convicted murderers and rapists to serve as jurors, vote, and run for elected office while still in prison, including Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer.
  • House Bill 2177 – Would have changed the name and membership of the Sex Offender Policy Board, including adding a convicted sex offender to the board.
  • House Bill 2051 – Would have prohibited the use of small gas-powered engines, such as for lawn and garden equipment and pressure washers.

Bad bills still alive:

  • House Bill 1589 – Prohibiting any gas company that serves more than 500,000 customers (Puget Sound Energy) from connecting natural gas lines in new residential and commercial buildings. (AKA natural gas ban.) Passed the House, 52-45. I voted no. Now under consideration in the Senate.
  • House Bill 2001 – Allows judges to reduce sentences of convicted criminals after they serve 10 years if 18 years or older at the time of the crime, or seven years if the criminal was under 17 when they committed the crime. Awaiting a vote in the House Appropriations Committee.

Visitors to the Capitol

I am always happy to see visitors at the Capitol from back home. This week, I met with several of our local health care officials during the Washington State Hospital Association’s Advocacy Day. They include (From left – back row): Jim Pitzer, Pullman Regional Hospital board commissioner and Brett Antczak, CEO of Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center. (From left, front row): Tricia Grantham, board commissioner, vice president of Pullman Regional Hospital, and Sandy O’Keefe, board commissioner and secretary of Pullman Regional Hospital. If you are planning to come to Olympia, please call my office so that we can schedule a visit.

Certificate of Need review bill passes House Health Care and Wellness Committee

Certificate of Need is a regulatory process that started many years ago. It requires certain health care facilities and providers to get state approval before building certain types of facilities, or offering new or expanded services. The original intent was to make sure excessive services and facilities were not being provided in communities and areas of the state that could not support competitive services. But it has also made it difficult to bring in new health services to our communities or modernize existing facilities. Plus, it is very expensive to qualify for the certificate. That’s why I introduced House Bill 2128.

My legislation would create a Certificate of Need Modernization Task Force to review this regulatory process. Do we still need it? Is it helping? Is it hurting our communities? What are other states doing? This task force would provide a report to the Legislature and the governor with recommendations about this regulatory process.

The bill passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Jan. 30. It is now under consideration in the House Appropriations Committee.

You can learn more about this bill from my Capitol Report radio program.

Stay informed, get involved

Getting information about activities in the Legislature is as close as your fingertips:

  • Watch committee hearings and live floor action on TVW.
  • Sign-up for The Week Ahead, a look ahead at the following week’s activities in the Legislature (comes out Fridays).
  • Learn more about our Fix Washington agenda.

Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve and represent you!

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