Today begins my second legislative session as your 20th District state representative. The opening gavel of the 2022 session dropped at noon today, with opening comments from both Democratic and Republican leaders. Tomorrow, the governor will give his state-of-the-state address. It is a busy week and is shaping up to be a busy session.
This year's session is the short one – 60 days — but we have much to do within the next two months. Please take a few minutes to read on about session operations and priorities as we begin a new year in the Legislature.
Session operations mostly remote, public banned from House chambers, legislative offices
Much like last year most session activity in the House will be conducted remotely. Only a few designated House members will be allowed to access the House floor to vote and debate.
I am very disappointed the public and many House members will be shut out of the Capitol again this year. The first vote I took during the 2021 session as your new 20th District state representative was to preserve transparency in government and access for you, my constituents, by holding that session safely in person. As we know, the Democratic majority rejected that openness and approved rules that set up session operations remotely, including all committee meetings and all floor voting, with a few exceptions. I believe this did a great disservice to the citizens of Washington, and cleared the way for Democrats to pass onerous, regressive and tax-heavy legislation during the 2021 session.
Now the majority is looking again to shut out the public via remote operations so they can have a clear and unobstructed path toward adopting their heavy-handed, Seattle-based progressive agenda.
Your involvement is crucial!
Although the majority decided the public will still not be allowed inside the House chamber, nor in any of the House offices during the 2022 session, there are still ways you can and should participate.
The Legislature has implemented a system designed to allow the public to comment on a bill. I highly recommend you do this. Go to this page for more information: How to comment on a bill.
You can also sign in to provide written testimony on legislation or testify remotely during a committee public hearing. Go to this page for more information and to sign in: Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony (House/Senate/Joint)
To learn more about citizen participation, we have set up a page with all the information you need. Go here: How you can be involved in the legislative process.
Finally, I will be sending out frequent email updates, videos and radio reports throughout session to highlight good bills and draw your attention to concerning legislation. Follow my website for this information at: representativepeterabbarno.com.
Please contact my office if you have questions or comments on legislation that you would like directed to me. My contact information is at the bottom of this email update.
Abbarno 2022 legislation
Since the 2021 session finished last April, I've been busy meeting with constituents, local governments, and groups all across the 20th District, listening to their concerns and preparing legislation for the 2022 session. Here is a list of bills I'm sponsoring and will be working to advance this session:
- House Bill 1263 – Rural infrastructure: Would create the Rural Infrastructure Assistance Account to provide grants to local governments in rural counties. The measure passed two House committees last year but did not make it to the House floor. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee, awaiting to be pulled to the House floor for a vote. Read more here.
- House Bill 1540 – Wastewater discharges: Would direct cities subject to stormwater permits to establish a program, as part of the permit process, to identify and prevent illicit discharges from vehicles. The bill also provides for stormwater funds to be used to coordinate low-cost and no-cost wastewater disposal services for vehicles used as residences and creates an enforcement mechanism in areas near drinking water sources and critical aquifers. The measure is awaiting a hearing in the House Environment and Energy Committee.
- House Bill 1595 – Bridge jumping signs: Named “Zack's Law” in memory of Zachary Rager who drowned last year in the Chehalis River, this measure would require state government agencies and local governments to erect signs on or near bridges and along waterways to warn people of cold-water shock and drowning hazards. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing this Thursday, 3:30 p.m. in the House Transportation Committee. Read more here.
- House Bill 1600 – 988 hotline signs: Would provide for deployment of signs with the suicide prevention and mental health crisis 988 hotline number as part of new construction and replacement of public facilities in areas that would be seen by people who are likely to use the hotline services.
- House Bill 1677 – Military/employer tax incentives: Would expand tax relief incentives to employers who hire a veteran, spouse of a veteran, or spouse of an active-duty military member and employ them in a full-time position for at least two consecutive full-calendar quarters. Read more here.
In addition to these measures, I've sponsored five bills to address the terrible state-sponsored long-term care program and payroll tax Democrats passed in 2019 — a program Washingtonians overwhelmingly rejected. It's my hope we can fully repeal the program and tax. However, if majority Democrats do not repeal, I have authored other legislation to make the program more equitable for the citizens of Washington.
Long-term care bills:
- House Bill 1594 – Would fully repeal the state long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
- House Bill 1597 – Would establish an exemption from the payment of premiums to the state's long-term care insurance program based on hardship.
- House Bill 1598 – Would require the case value of any unclaimed benefit units of a deceased qualified individual to be transferred as a property interest and distributed to designated beneficiaries of the decedent.
- House Bill 1599 – Would establish an exemption from the payment of premiums to the state's long-term care insurance program for recent high school, college and university graduates who have purchased private long-term care insurance.
Read more about our efforts to repeal this program:
Read more about my 2022 session plans:
Local flooding – Where you can get help
It's been heartbreaking over the past few days to watch floodwaters from China Creek and the Chehalis, Skookumchuck and Newaukum rivers damage and destroy property and displace people and their lives.
As assistant ranking Republican on the House Capital Budget Committee, I helped to secure $70 million in the capital budget last year for flood mitigation and habitat restoration in the Chehalis Basin. This year, as a member of the House Environment and Energy Committee, I am supporting the House Republican ORCA Plan (House Bill 1823), that would pump millions of dollars from the governor's Climate Commitment Act (cap and trade) revenue into flood mitigation and prevention efforts.
I worked Thursday night to help set up emergency shelter at Centralia Middle School. The shelter moved to the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, located at 1909 S. Gold St. in Centralia, on Sunday to allow school to resume normal operations this week.
Other important flood information is below:
- For rescue/evacuation:
If non-life threatening: 360-740-1105; If life threatening: call 911.
- For reporting road issues: 360-740-1123
Current road restrictions can be found here: https://roads.lewiscountywa.gov/
- Lewis County Emergency Management: 360-740-1151
- Sandbag self-service locations:
19 S.W. Cascade Ave., Chehalis
25 S.W. Circle Ave., Chehalis
244 Carlisle Ave., Onalaska
115 East Washington St., Napavine
W. Maple and N. Pearl (near City Hall), Centralia
For more information, call my office at (564) 888-2492.
Stay involved and in touch!
In addition to issues I've discussed above, we will also be working to reform the governor's emergency powers, advance a Safe Washington plan to make our neighborhoods safer from crime and return tools to law enforcement so they can do their jobs, use surplus money to fix our roads, highways and bridges, and provide meaningful property tax relief as proposed by my seatmate, Rep. Ed Orcutt.
Your involvement and input is important to our legislative process. Should you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation, committee hearings, the legislative process or state government, please call, write or email me. I am here to serve and represent you!
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to be your voice in the Legislature as we embark on a new legislative session.