A tale of four bills
April 26, 2023
The 2023 legislative session ended on April 23. Over the last four months, we developed operating, transportation and capital budgets that will help our community and our state. I'll have more to say about these budgets and what they mean for our families here in the 10th District in my next column.
This week, I want to give you a snapshot of how our democracy here in Olympia works – and how local community members affect that process.
Passing a single bill is like running two separate marathons: one in the House and another in the Senate, with legislation often needing to pass multiple committees before hopefully receiving a vote on the floor of the House.
Even if a bill passes the House, it then starts over in the Senate and it is not guaranteed to even get a hearing in committee, because time is limited in both chambers.
Two of my priority bills were brought to me by constituents and took years to develop and pass. That is the nature of the process for most legislation.
House Bill 1007 fixes a problem where service members who were called up to duty from civilian life to serve in dangerous missions did not get service credit for that time. This year, it passed both chambers and was signed by the governor.
House Bill 1316 reduces costs for students and their families and makes permanent the Running Start Summer Program. This bill passed both chambers on bipartisan votes and is on the governor's desk to get signed into law.
Two of my other bills had entirely different paths through the legislative process.
House Bill 1058 was written to fill the workforce shortage of commercial truck drivers. Fellow lawmakers from both parties saw it as a pressing need – as we desperately need more drivers to get goods to market. This bill quickly moved through the process this session to pass both chambers.
House Bill 1833 was aimed at making sure ferry riders did not get charged a fuel surcharge. It passed the House unanimously and died in the Senate – but that was not the end of this idea. I fought to have this policy placed in our state transportation budget, accomplishing the same goal.
These four bills are a good representation of what happens with legislation that is considered successful.
Each year, four out of five bills introduced do not pass to get signed by the governor – they hit a roadblock somewhere in the House or Senate. Yet that is not always the end of a bill. A major reform often takes years to perfect and gather support. It's a deliberate process and can be slow.
Now that the legislative session is over, I'm looking forward to being back in our district and spending the rest of the year listening to constituents – and developing the next set of policies that will help our community.