Allow me to introduce myself. I am Peter Abbarno, your new state representative serving the 20th Legislative District. The district is large and diverse, ranging from Rochester and Tenino in South Thurston County, most of Lewis County, Cowlitz County east of I-5, and the city of Woodland in Clark County.
I am an attorney and business owner, former Centralia City Council member, but more importantly, a husband and a father. My passion for service focuses on making our community a better place for our families to live, enjoy, find success; and one day, see our children and future generations benefit from the greatness of Southwest Washington.
As part of my first newsletter, I would like to also introduce my family. My wife, Holly, is a math teacher at Centralia Middle School, and we live with our children, Sophia (4th grade) and Antonio (2nd grade), in Centralia. Our family enjoys staying active outdoor by hiking, biking and camping in Southwest Washington and throughout our great state. We also love giving back to our community and volunteering with little league, youth soccer, Hub City Mission, Lewis County Seniors, United Way of Lewis County, Dads of Great Students, Forgotten Children's Fund and more.
An honor to serve and represent you
When longtime 20th District Rep. Richard DeBolt decided not to run for re-election last spring, I decided to seek this office. Again, it goes back to family and wanting to make a better Washington for my children and yours. I was honored to be elected in November by nearly 71%.
I was sworn into office on Jan. 6 by Judge James Lawler and began my first term in office on Jan. 11, the first day of the 2021 legislative session.
- Read my news release about my start as your new legislator.
- Watch my video update.
- Listen to my Freshman Profile Podcast
- Listen to my interview on KELA's “Let's Talk About It” program.
A COVID 'Zoom' legislative session
During opening ceremonies at the state Capitol, only legislators and a handful of staff were allowed in the House chambers because of COVID-19. Members were socially distanced apart. Where families would have watched ceremonies from the House gallery in the past, some members, including myself were seated up there above the House floor to vote by voice.
During the first debate in the House chambers, I joined my Republican colleagues in voting against the rules for this year's session. The resolution is unique in that it sets up rules for the 2021 session to be conducted remotely via computer, rather than lawmakers voting in person in the committee rooms and from the House floor during the remainder of the session. I am concerned the new virtual format provides far too many situations where technology, and majority rules, can stifle constructive discussion. We fought for a more open and transparent plan, as I discuss in this news release. Unfortunately, the measure passed 55-39. Nevertheless, I will continue to advocate for open access for you and the other citizens I represent.
I am honored to have been assigned to three House committees. I am the new assistant ranking Republican on the Capital Budget Committee. I have also been assigned to the Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, as well as the Environment and Energy Committee.
These committees allow me to have an instant positive impact for our district. The Capital Budget Committee provides funding for infrastructure, school construction and money for many important projects that create jobs for working families and improve the quality of life in our district and across the state. My background and experience as an attorney, small business owner and family man will be helpful in this and the other committees as we debate and consider important legislation.
In addition to legislation I plan to introduce this year, I am supporting priorities outlined this year by House Republicans, including safely getting Washingtonians back to work and back to school; safely reopening our economy; opposing tax increases including an income tax; and working to make life more affordable for families and employers. You can read more about those priorities here.
Plus, I encourage you to watch the Republican Response to the governor's inaugural address to help you compare and contrast priorities.
Bipartisan collaboration benefits our communities
Although I have an “R” behind my name, I work for you and all citizens in our district and across the state of Washington, regardless of party affiliation. That's why I co-authored my first legislation, House Bill 1055, with Rep. April Berg, D-Mill Creek, which extends the expiration date for reporting requirements on timber purchases from July 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2025.
The law requires every purchaser of more than 200,000 board feet of privately-owned timber to report the purchase to the state Department of Revenue on or before the last day of the month in which the purchase took place. Information gathered by these reports helps to establish stumpage value tables for trees that are commercially harvested in Washington. It also helps to indicate the amount each species of tree would sell for. “Stumpage” is the standing tree before it has been severed from the stump. The tables also determine excise taxes timber harvesters pay.
I testified in favor of the bill Wednesday morning in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “This program and the extension are important to communities like mine, where timber and forestry is woven into the history and tradition. And where the need for real market conditions should be reflected,” I told committee members. You can watch the committee hearing and my testimony here. The measure is expected to come up for a vote next Tuesday in the committee.
How you can get involved
All House floor action and committee meetings will be conducted this session via Zoom. They can also be viewed on TVW. Although the Capitol grounds will be closed to the public, there are several ways for you to be involved and influence the legislative process. Here is a good guide to help you participate: Accessing the Legislature Remotely. Please note that you can sign up in advance to remotely testify on a bill during committee meetings. You may also submit written comments. Here are some other helpful links:
- Washington State Legislature
- How to comment on a bill
- Committee schedules, agendas and documents
- How a bill becomes a law
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
Stay in touch!
I know we all get an enormous amount of email, so it's my goal to keep this newsletter informative and useful for you. I encourage you to share this with your friends, family and neighbors. They can sign up for it from my website: peterabbarno.houserepublicans.wa.gov. I will be providing more updates through the legislative session.
I also welcome your calls, emails and letters as we work together to make our district and our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!