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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Legislature officially convened the 2023 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 9. It was the first time in more than two years all 98 members were in the House chambers together. It was great to see the public galleries filled with people and the House floor full of legislators. It provided a sense of normalcy at the state Capitol once again.

Rep. Dent and other legislators take the oath of office on opening day of the legislative session.

Legislative updates and redistricting

Some of you may be receiving this legislative update for the first time. Part of that is because of the redistricting that took place last year. Washington state’s 13th District has changed quite a bit. Formerly the district included Lincoln, Kittitas and parts of Grant and Yakima counties. Now the district includes Kittitas County, and parts of Grant and Yakima counties, but no Lincoln County.

Click here to view a map of the updated 13th Legislative District boundaries.

If you are not sure which legislative district you live in, you can find out by entering your address into the Legislature’s District Finder tool here.

I will be sending updates throughout the session and interim. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested in following the Legislature and staying informed about our state government. If you do not want to receive legislative updates, you can use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this page.

Virtual Town Hall

My seatmates, Sen. Judy Warnick, Rep. Alex Ybarra, and I are ready to give you an update on the first month of the legislative session. We are holding a Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. Click here to register.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar. Space is limited, so register early.

Committee assignments

My committee assignments have not changed, but my leadership roles have. I am now ranking Republican member on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee (AGNR). I have been very involved in many of the issues before this committee. I have a good relationship with the chair, so this is a good opportunity for me to step in and officially be the lead voice of the caucus on the committee.

I will continue to serve on the House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee, but will no longer be the ranking Republican, since I am now the lead Republican on AGNR. I will continue to work very closely with the new ranking member on the committee. I am still very focused on many of the issues before this committee such as child care, mental health and foster care.

I continue to serve on the House Transportation Committee. My aviation background provides a unique perspective to this committee. I have a number of transportation and aviation-related issues I am working on, including staying involved in finding a new location for an airport in Washington.

Prime-sponsored legislation

We are less than a month into the session and a number of my bills have already had a public hearing. Some have already been voted on by their respective committees. A big part of that is being back in person. We have been able to work across the aisle, have conversations with our colleagues and address questions on the legislation we are working on. Below is a breakdown of the legislation I am working on.

  • House Bill 1019 would create the Pesticide Advisory Board to advise the Washington State Department of Agriculture on pesticide-related actions. The board was eliminated in 2010. The AGNR committee has already passed this bill and it is in the Rules Committee awaiting a vote by the full House of Representatives.
  • House Bill 1032 would mitigate the risk of wildfires through electric utility planning and identification of best management practices of each electric utility’s circumstances. The bill has had a public hearing and is scheduled to be voted on by the AGNR Committee later this week.
  • House Bill 1243 would offer another tool for communities to manage municipal airports. The bill has been passed by the Local Government Committee and is in the Rules Committee.
  • House Bill 1242 would create a behavioral health work group to study the root causes of rising behavioral health issues. The bill has had a public hearing in the Health Care and Wellness Committee. The committee is scheduled to vote on this legislation next week.
  • House Bill 1531 would promote economic development in the aerospace and aviation industry. It does not have anything to do with the siting of commercial airports. It had a public hearing yesterday. It is scheduled to be voted out of committee on Friday.
  • House Bill 1590 would change the membership and subcommittees of the oversight board for children, youth and families. It streamlines the process and ensures qualified individuals are serving in these positions.
  • House Bill 1739 would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to create a handbook on the fundamentals of instruction for early learning and child care employees, in place of higher education requirements.
  • House Bill 1754 would require the State Auditor’s Office to do an audit of the DCYF and their services.

Riparian grant program

You may recall, last year the governor introduced legislation that would create riparian management zones, effectively killing much of the state’s farmland and devastating the agriculture community. The zones created could be up to 200 feet in some places with landowners covering the bulk of these costs. The was strong opposition and the bill did not even make it out of committee.

Since then, legislators, including myself, and other stakeholders have been meeting to come up with bipartisan legislation that folks could agree upon. House Bill 1720 would establish a riparian grant program. Rep. Joel Kretz and I have co-sponsored the legislation along with Democratic Reps. Mike Chapman and Rep. Debra Lekanoff.

I will keep you updated on its progress.

Airport siting legislation

If you have been following the news in the last few months, there has been a great deal of interest in the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) and the possibility of a new site for a major airport. In September, the CACC listed just three site options (two in rural Pierce County and one in Thurston County) for a potential two-runway airport. After the commission’s announcement there has been significant opposition from local governments, residents in the regions, tribal groups and many others.

Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, and I are introducing new legislation that would take a more comprehensive look at possible options across the state. The three previous sites will not work. The CACC’s work was cut short because of COVID. This bill will give us some additional time and parameters to help us find a site that folks can agree on.

Rep. Dent and Minority Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox on opening day of the 2023 legislative session.

2023 priority issues

While I am working on my prime-sponsored legislation, my colleagues and I are also focused on some of high priority issues we need to address this session. Below is a breakdown as well as a link to more detailed legislation that includes legislation we have introduced to address these priorities.

Public Safety

Crime continues to increase. We must restore vehicle pursuit for law enforcement (House Bill 1363), increase the number of officers on the street, and fix the Blake decision that decriminalized drug possession so we can address the homeless and fentanyl overdose issues.

Affordability

We would like to see some type of tax relief, such as sales tax or property tax. It is long overdue. We also have legislation to repeal the regressive long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. Our goal is to reduce your cost of living and alleviate financial burdens.

Housing

Our state is dealing with a housing crisis – we are dead last in the nation for housing supply. We need solutions, such as expediting housing permitsstreamlining development regulations and expanding housing opportunity zones. We want families to be able to own a home.

Empowering working families

We need to address learning loss, give parents more flexibility in help their children succeed in school and life, and expand the working families tax credit.

For more on the House Republican Caucus priority issues click here.

Rep. Dent with members of the Save the Children Action Network.

Following the Legislature

I encourage you stay engaged and follow the legislative session. Your input and feedback are helpful to me and other legislators as we represent you in Olympia. Below are some websites that can help you follow the action.

  • My legislative website: You will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
  • How you can be involved in the legislative process: This includes a citizen’s guide to effective legislative participation.
  • How to comment on a bill: You can send legislators comments on legislation.
  • Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony: Testify on legislation during public hearings.
  • TVW: The state’s own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
  • The Ledger: A legislative news aggregator that is updated frequently.
  • Capitol Buzz: Sent out each weekday, featuring stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
  • The Current: This an online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans that is sent out every week during the legislative session and every month during the interim.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns about this email update or the legislative session.

Sincerely,


Tom Dent

State Representative Tom Dent, 13th Legislative District
RepresentativeTomDent.com
437 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
tom.dent@leg.wa.gov
(509) 941-2346 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000