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At the end of the third week of the legislative session, committees have been busy with public hearings, and we've already passed several bills with unanimous support through the House and over to the Senate.
Despite the largely positive, bipartisan start to session, however, we're also seeing a lot of misguided proposals that would weaken public input, erode your rights, and prioritize criminals over victims.
Your voice matters
My job is to represent you in Olympia, and I want to hear from you. Please take my 2023 legislative survey and tell me what you think about some of the issues facing Washington this year.
Click here to take the survey.
Share your Stories
As always, I invite you to contact me at Peter.Abbarno@Leg.Wa.Gov and share your stories with me about how inflation is impacting your family budget, how crime is impacting your neighborhoods, and how recent state policies are making it more difficult to live, work, and enjoy everything Washington has to offer. Just share your first name and city and I will be sure to share your stories with others.
Emergency powers reform
On Thursday, Rep. Chris Corry and I launched a new effort to rein in the governor's emergency powers.
Although the governor's Covid-19 emergency declaration finally ended on Halloween, it's incumbent on the Legislature to act now and close the loopholes in our laws governing emergency powers. We can't let recent history repeat itself.
Washington is one of only four states that hands over unilateral authority to the governor to declare and maintain a state of emergency.
House Bill 1535 is identical to the bill we introduced last year, House Bill 1772, and would enact several key changes to the law. You can find the details about the bill here.
I believe it's critical that we come together as Washingtonians this session, regardless of party, and ensure that future generations have the right balance between the executive's ability to deal with emergencies and proper oversight from the branch of government closest to the people.
House Bill 1004, also known as “Zack's Law,” is my bill to prevent cold-water drownings and save lives.
The bill is named in honor of 18-year-old Zachary Lee Rager, a Centralia Student who fell victim to cold-water shock and drowned in the Chehalis River on March 23, 2021.
Zack's Law would require state government agencies and local governments to erect signs warning of drowning hazards when replacing signs or erecting signs near dangerous water hazards with minimal cost to the state.
On Wednesday, Zack's Law had a public hearing in the House Transportation Committee, where we heard heart-wrenching testimony from Zack's mother, Kimberly Hines.
You can watch her testimony on TVW here.
Helping Veterans, military members and their families get jobs
The House Finance Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, Feb. 2 at 1:30 p.m. on legislation I am sponsoring to create work opportunities for military members, veterans and their families.
House Bill 1005 would double the existing business and occupation tax credit for 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.
This legislation is about creating work opportunities and providing financial stability for our those who've already given so much to our community and sacrificed for our freedoms.
- View and provide public testimony at committee meetings here.
- Watch TVW's livestream of the committee here.
- Comment directly on House Bill 1005 here.
Other bills I am sponsoring
- House Bill 1011 would repeal the state's new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax set to take effect July 1, 2023.
- House Bill 1014 would provide a new grant funding source for rural fire departments whose buildings and equipment are inadequate to meet the fire safety needs of their communities.
- House Bill 1259 would update the executive team of the office of the secretary of state by adding signing authority to the chief of staff position.
- House Bill 1361 would modernize laws related to state employee documents and procedures.
- House Bill 1409 would expand the residential building code in an effort to reduce costs associated with building residential treatment facilities.
For the most up-to-date information on bills I am sponsoring, click here.
As the ranking member on the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee, I've been leading the effort to stop the following bad bills on our committee:
- House Bill 1158 would abolish advisory votes which were approved by voters through I-960 in 2007.
- House Bill 1174 would require each city, county, and tribal jail to establish a “Jail Voting Plan” to provide resources to help incarcerated individuals vote.
- House Bill 1333 would establish government commission to investigate citizens' political speech.
- House Bill 1220 would require anyone who is legally eligible to register to vote in Washington state to do so and submit a ballot.
Other bad bills around the Capitol
- House Bill 1024 would require an incarcerated person participating in a Correctional Industries work program be paid no less than the state minimum wage.
- House Bill 1045 would establish a basic income pilot program.
- House Bill 1143, requested by the governor, would establish significant new requirements to legally purchase or transfer a firearm, including a new permit requirement with fingerprinting, in addition to a background check.
- House Bill 1181 would add a climate change element to the Growth Management Act and require policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled.
- House Bill 1240, requested by the governor and attorney general, would prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any so-called assault weapon, as well as any magazine accommodating more than seven rounds, with few exceptions.
- House Bill 1244 would increase the cap on local school enrichment levies to $3,000 per pupil (same as Seattle).
- House Bill 1282 would require contractors on covered projects to provide certain environmental, health, labor, and HR data about construction materials used.
- House Bill 1388 would establish annual rent increase maximum and authorize the attorney general to enforce the bill.
- House Bill 1391 would eliminate consumer choice in energy.
In the news
- Capitol Report with Rep. Abbarno: New bills introduced and other concerning issues – HRC, Jan. 27
- Washington Republicans take another crack at emergency powers reform – The Center Square, Jan. 25
- State Representatives Sponsor Bill Again Attempting to Reform Governor's Emergency Powers – The Chronicle, Jan. 25
- Yakima and Centralia lawmakers look to curb emergency powers – KIT Radio, Jan. 25
- Rep. Chris Corry, Rep. Peter Abbarno revive emergency powers reform battle with new bill – HRC, Jan. 24
- Lewis County Has Highest Enrollment Percentage in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Statewide – The Chronicle, Jan. 23
- Capitol Report with Rep. Abbarno: Committee assignments and other opportunities – HRC, Jan. 24
- State House Transportation Committee to Hold Hearing on 'Zack's Law' Bill Sponsored by Abbarno – The Chronicle, Jan. 20
- In the First Floor Speech of His Career, Abbarno Speaks in Favor of Resolution Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. – The Chronicle, Jan. 16
- House Capital Budget Committee schedules public hearing of Abbarno's rural fire station grant bill for this Thursday – Rep. Abbarno, Jan. 16
- Rep. Peter Abbarno remarks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – HRC, Jan. 16
Your involvement is crucial!
The Legislature has 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 necessary information. 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.
Stay involved and in touch!
Your involvement and input are important to our legislative process. Please call, write, or email me if you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation, committee hearings, the legislative process or state government. 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.
411 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7896 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000