People naturally want to be involved in the political process, but often, we have no idea an issue is being addressed until after the bill is passed and we read about it in the papers. How do we take action when it counts – when the bill is still going through the process?
To help people get the necessary information, I started writing my legislative update emails last year when I heard a group of my friends asking a legislator how they can find out what is happening before a bill has gone through the process – they wanted to participate at the very beginning. That’s a difficult task. There are over a thousand bills dropped every session. Many are non-controversial and will fix problems that currently exist. Some are very controversial and will have an adverse effect on our lives. I work in Olympia 40 hours a week – many more hours during session, and I still have trouble keeping up. Listed below are a few places I keep my eyes and ears tuned to figure out what’s important to me and where I want to place my focus.
Once you have the information you need, you will have to figure out how to effectively lobby Olympia. There are several steps involved, so I’m splitting it into a few topics to keep it in manageable chunks. I will send out a few emails over the next couple weeks as we head into the new Legislative Session, so you will have more resources at your fingertips to stop the expected terrible legislation as they start to move through the process. But bear in mind that you can use the same information to encourage the good ones, as well. This email will cover the subject of becoming informed. You need to know what bills are being considered, and you need to know where each bill is in the legislative process.
Stay tuned for Part II & III – How to understand the bill information on the WashingtonVotes and the Legislature’s website. If you are informed, you can take action before the bill is passed instead of being frustrated when it’s a done deal. Please send this on to anyone you think might be interested, and if you aren’t signed up to receive my emails directly, please drop me a line at BoistfortPCO@gmail.com. Also, if you have specific questions you’d like me to cover, send me those, as well.
Think Tanks – Think tanks are watchdogs when it comes to the legislature. Sign up for their newsletters. It may be that you have to sort through more mail, but these guys usually zero in on the most critical legislation. I’m only listing a few here – there are others. If you have a favorite, send me a note with a link, and I’ll update this list on the Lewis County Republican Website for your future reference.
- Washington Policy Center (WPC) – https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/
- Freedom Foundation (FF) – https://www.freedomfoundation.com/
- The Lens – https://thelens.news/
Activist Organizations – Sign up for a few newsletters from organizations that specifically address your most important issues. Some organizations are not necessarily conservative and others are, but they will usually talk about current bills being considered during the legislative session, so they are a good place to start. Here are just a few examples – you can google other organizations’ websites and sign up for their legislative updates. Some even provide text alerts that will keep you informed literally up to the minute. There are dozens of organizations out there – almost every group has some sort of association. You don’t have to agree with all their views to stay informed. In fact, it might be good to sign up for some you completely disagree with – you can just oppose the bills they want to pass.
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – https://www.nfib.com/washington/
- Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) – https://www.fpiw.org/
- National Rifle Association (NRA-ILA) – https://www.nra.org/newslettersignup/Default.aspx
Talk Shows – There are a few talk shows that will provide information about legislation being considered. John Carlson, Kirby Wilbur, Dori Monson, Jason Rantz, and Lars Larson to name just a few. If you live in the Lewis County area, listen to Lets Talk About It on KELA from 8:30 – 9:00 am. Many talk shows have a podcast you can download to listen to later.
Twitter and Facebook – If talk radio isn’t your thing, follow them on Twitter or Facebook. You need to also follow the Republican Caucuses (both the House and the Senate). They will be pointing out important legislation in a timely manner. I also follow people who work at some of the think tanks as well as several of the local media organization and reporters. (Note: I will devote an entire email to the dangers of letting the media inform you with their narrative, but if you recognize what they are doing, you can ignore the message and get the factual information you need from them.)These are just a few examples.
- Think Tanks – @OlympiaWatch, @WAPolicyCenter, @WAPolicyGreen, @MariyaFrost, @MaxfordNelsen,
- @WashingtonSRC, @WaHouseGOP
- Talk shows – @KVIJohnCarlson, @DoriMonsonShow, LarsLarsonShow
- Also follow Republican Senators and Representatives. Even if they are not your own, they provide information that will help you stay informed. Bear in mind that some are active on social media and some stay far away. But you can sign up for their individual newsletters on the legislative website. Here are just three of many – @jtwilcox111, @steveoban, @stokesbary
- You can also search for the hashtag #waleg.
- My posts go to @RuthAPeterson and @360GOP
- TVW, the station that follows the legislature has a reporter that covers #waleg. Follow @AustinJenkinsN3
- Follow/Like the Facebook pages or Twitter feeds of different counties – some are more active legislatively than others. The one I update is the Lewis County Republicans, but there are many others that provide updates, along with the Washington State Republican Party.
There are two other websites you need to know about. When you hear about a bill, you will need to find out more about it, so you can speak to it more clearly. I will cover both of these websites more thoroughly and show you how to use them in Part II & III. But here are the links to the Washington Legislature bill search engine and a site called Washington Votes which is one I make use of constantly.
And of course, last but not least, make sure you are signed up for my emails and forward them to anyone you know who might be interested. I also post these emails as notes on Facebook and on the Lewis County Republican website, so you can always go back to them or reference them whenever you need to. Feel free to use this information in your communications with others.