|Legislative Session 2021 – This is going to be a strange year. Many of us who work at the legislature are being asked to work from home. The buildings have been closed to the public. There will be little face to face access to your elected Representatives. These are all things that should concern every single Washington State citizen. It is wrong to not allow the public to access the place where laws are passed that affect them every single day. It’s especially dangerous this year, because the Democrats have a majority, and they are likely feeling pretty fearless, since they were able to be elected so easily.|
Because of the unusual year, we have started off a little slowly in regard to bills being introduced, so I want to focus this newsletter on how you can be involved this year. First, I want to assure you that every single Republican in Olympia has objected and voted against these rules. But we have a Constitution that creates the foundation of our government, and that includes the fact that majority vote rules the day, and we are in the minority. I was hopeful that perhaps this could go through the courts, because I, along with most others, believe that restricting access to the legislative process is unconstitutional. But it would be unlikely to make a difference – the Governor and Democrat Majority are claiming the same emergency that was upheld by the courts during the year. Hopefully, we can change the laws to take back the rightful legislative power – we were never meant for one person to rule this state. But I digress…
How to be involved in a process that has restricted your lawful access to the Legislature!
To give you an example, I want to point out one bill that will be heard this week. I will go through the process for you to “attend” the hearing. The Governor’s Income Tax bill, SB 5096, masquerades as a Capital Gains Tax that will “only affect the rich.” So it’s ok. Right? Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center has written extensively about this issue and recently wrote a post that discusses it better than I could. I’m just going to provide links here for you to learn more.
Jason Mercier’s WPC blogpost – https://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/detail/governors-income-tax-on-capital-gains-bill-scheduled-for-public-hearing
The bill itself – https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5096&Year=2021&Initiative=false
Look under bill history, and you will see that it is scheduled to be heard in Ways & Means (the budget committee) at 4:00 PM on January 14th. What do you do, if you want to provide input into this bill?
First, if you look at the top of the Bill Summary page (the link above), you can click on the top link and write a comment on this bill. You fill in your name and address so your comments can be directed to your Senator and Representatives. That means you’ve now officially provided your input to those who personally represent you. You can also click on the link below to have an email sent to you every time the status changes on this bill. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up with where a bill is in the process. If the Majority wants to move the bill quickly, it could be done in as little as 24 hours, before anyone has a chance to object. Getting an email notification at least gives you a fighting chance to weigh in.
Now for the hard part. When there have been damaging bills in the past, people have come by the hundreds to the hearing to voice their objection. Very often, the sheer numbers will cause the bill to die. See the example I cited in the previous email about the hairdressers. I’ve personally been involved in keeping bills that damage homeschoolers from being enacted. Showing up works. You could possibly get groups to peacefully protest outside of the Capital (but please – violence does nothing but defeat your purpose). But another way is to participate in the committee hearing.
Here are the new rules. I hope and pray that before the session is over, we are again allowed to be there in person. I know our Republican Legislators will be pressuring for that outcome. But in the meantime, here is a link that gives the details. It’s heavy with technology, I know, but we must figure out how to get involved, even if it’s hard. Even if you could be at the Capitol personally, the committees are not being held there, so the only way to participate at this time is via the internet. Here are the details about how to attend and testify.
I got to that link by way of this link which provides a lot of other good information (although much of it was in my last 4 newsletters, the link is a good resource).
You can also find out about any committee agenda which is handy to find out what bills are scheduled for hearings by having changes emailed to you. https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/WALEG/subscriber/new?preferences=true
Fill out the information (email subscription and your email address). Click Submit. Click on “add subscriptions”. You will see a list of all the committees. You can sign up to see their agendas whenever they change. I like the “Combined Meeting Schedule” which you will find near the bottom. Click all the notices you want and hit Submit. You will then get an email with meeting agendas. For instance, this week’s schedule is as follows:
I hope this gets you started. As you use these different links, you will become more and more comfortable with watching what is going on in Olympia. As far as I’m concerned, you should hold on to your wallet and hold on to your rights, because the Legislature is about to be in session! If you want legislative updates, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.