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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The first significant deadline for the 2023 session is almost here!

Policy cutoff is this Friday, Feb. 17. Policy cutoff is the last day bills can be considered and passed out of their respective committees in the chamber in which they originated.

Fiscal bills get a bit more time: fiscal committee cutoff is a week later, on Friday, Feb. 24.

Why it matters: Failure to act on, hear, or approve a legislative proposal in committee effectively kills the bill. That means policy bills not approved in their respective committees will be considered “dead” for the rest of the session.

This update contains information and links you can use to help get some critical bills through to the next step of the legislative process.

Emergency Powers Reform: If you care about this critical reform, now is the time to act. House Bill 1335 was introduced at the start of session and the majority party continues to refuse to give this much-needed reform a public hearing.

The big picture: The governor finally ended Washington’s state of emergency (SOE) after more than two and a half years. During that time, we saw dozens of proclamations with little to no input from the public.

That needs to change. No office or governmental branch should be able to wield such vast powers without checks and balances, especially during a prolonged state of emergency.

HB 1535 focuses on emergencies that last longer than 60 days to ensure the public – and the lawmakers that represent them – have a voice.

  • Under this proposal, when needed, multiple extensions of an SOE could be issued by the Legislature or, when the Legislature is not in session, by unanimous agreement of all four leaders of the House and Senate.

There must be limits: The executive branch’s prolonged unilateral, autocratic authority during the pandemic proved this reform is imperative. When an SOE lasts for months or even years, the public deserves a voice in how to move forward. That’s the job of the Legislature.

Details on how you can help:

  • Comment directly on HB 1535 with your support.
  • Send an email to the chair urging a public hearing for the bill.
  • Contact your legislator.

Helping our farmers: A bipartisan riparian buffer bill supported by farmers and tribal leaders is making its way through the legislative process.

House Bill 1720 relies on a fully voluntary program run by the state Conservation Commission. Farmers could get grants for seeds, trees, fences, manual weed control, and for other expenses related to planting and maintaining strips of vegetation along waterways.

Background: This measure is drastically different from the bill the governor’s office introduced last year that called for wide and mandatory buffers on farmland. HB 1720 doesn’t call for buffers as wide as the tallest trees growing on riverbanks. Instead, conservation districts and farmers would work together to tailor buffers for specific sites.

Current status: This bill recently had a public hearing and has been scheduled for a vote by the Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee this Friday, Feb. 17.

How you can help:

  • Comment directly on HB 1720 with your support.
  • Send an email to the chair urging a “do pass” out of the committee.
  • Contact your legislator.

More help for farmers: House Bill 1780 would provide monthly refunds to farmers who can document they paid surcharges attributed to cap-and-trade.

Background: When the governor’s cap-and-trade proposal passed the Legislature in 2021, he and many of the Democrat lawmakers who endorsed his plan assured the agriculture community that fuels used in the production and transport of agriculture products would be exempt.

That isn’t happening: Some fuel suppliers have applied the climate commitment act surcharge onto fuels that should be exempt. This adds another unnecessary financial burden to our farmers and agriculture community, many of whom are struggling to stay in business.

Current status: This bill has not been given a public hearing date.

How you can help:

  • Comment directly on HB 1780 with your support.
  • Send an email to the chair urging a public hearing and committee vote.
  • Contact your legislator.

Need more info?

  • Visit my website.
  • Review the bills I’m sponsoring or co-sponsoring.
  • Learn about the legislative process.

Watch my latest video update:

Thank you!

Contact my Olympia office whenever you have questions, comments, or ideas about state government. I’m always happy to hear from you!

Sincerely,


Alex Ybarra

State Representative Alex Ybarra, 13th Legislative District
RepresentativeAlexYbarra.com
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
alex.ybarra@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7808 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000