Hello Democrats! I hope 2022 has been a good new year for you so far and that you and your loved ones have been safe and healthy! We have a lot to catch up on already, and with the legislative session starting next Monday, we’ll have 60 days of important state-level politics, policy, and action coming at you. Let’s start with this week’s news!
Anniversary of the January 6th Insurrection - There has been so much press around the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection attempt by Donald Trump and his radical GOP allies, so I won’t overly belabor the discussion here. However, this isn’t something to brush off. We absolutely must remember that January 6th, 2021, was one of the darkest days in our democracy’s history, as we witnessed our nation’s own Republican leaders incite a violent siege on our Capitol. We can never forget that violent attack against American democracy, the fear we felt for every member of our Congressional delegation, Capitol staff, and Capitol police, and – importantly – how we got to that point, starting with Trump's electoral loss in 2020.
And since January 6th, 2021, Republicans across Washington and the country have continued to promote disinformation and undermine faith in our elections. They’ve sown distrust, then used that distrust as an excuse to roll back voting rights in states, cover up responsibility for their role in promoting right-wing political violence, keep their supporters engaged and enraged, and expose Americans – from election administrators to school superintendents – to death threats and violence.
We are not immune in Washington State at all - GOP legislators Robert Sutherland, Vicki Kraft and Brad Klippert continue to promote their party’s lies, and try to pass legislation that undermines the vote here in the Evergreen State: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/three-wa-republican-legislators-used-taxpayer-money-to-attend-mike-lindells-election-conspiracy-conference/
GOP leaders like J.T. Wilcox and John Braun just shrug at such blatant lies and anti-government actions coming from within their party, and turn away. We can’t tolerate the insidious attacks on democracy taking place across the aisle.
The claims about the 2020 election are far from the first example of conservative misinformation and surely won’t be the last. We cannot let our guard down against these attempts to sow division, confusion, and hate. It’s critical that we all call out those responsible for the lies and manipulations that led to this extremism and its manifestation in an attack on the Capitol, so that nothing like the January 6th insurrection attempt can ever happen again in this country.
Two links I want to share with you - first, I thought that President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke very well about the importance of this anniversary and their perspectives on it. You can watch President Biden and Vice President Harris’ remarks here:
And secondly, a story from last February, where our own Sen. Patty Murray told the story of her own narrow escape from a violent mob inside the Capitol:
We have to remember this. We have to take it seriously, and we have to recognize that Republicans are still at work to undermine our elections and spread disinformation. Our very democracy remains at stake in 2022.
That’s why we’ve kicked off our 2022 Coordinated Campaign and we need all of you as a part of the team NOW to build towards winning this November. We’ve got organizers on the ground, with more to come. We need to connect our organizers with activists like you, who are ready to step up and build our party, get Democrats motivated, and lay the groundwork we need to get out the vote and win in these midterms and beyond. Click here to get connected with our organizers and our local Neighborhood Teams all across Washington state. We need your help early for this massively important year.
Legislative Session & What You Need To Know - Next Monday, January 10th, the 60-day “short” state legislative session begins for 2022. We’ll go on to talk more about some of the important issues the legislature will be considering this year, but wanted to start with some of the groundwork information we all need to know about the session, the schedule, and how to get involved.
First, the key dates and the deadlines that bills have to move forward by to stay alive:
Start of session - January 10, 2022
Last day for bills to pass policy committee in their house of origin - February 3, 2022
Last day for bills to pass fiscal committee in their house of origin - February 7, 2022
Last day for bills to pass the floor in their house of origin - February 15, 2022
Last day for bills to pass policy committee in the opposite house - February 24, 2022
Last day for bills to pass fiscal committee in the opposite house - February 28, 2022
Last day for bills to pass the floor in the opposite house - March 4, 2022
Last day of session - March 10, 2022
All these deadlines will be important for determining what legislation will pass or fail, and the days leading up to those deadlines will be crucial times for advocates to push for action on their bills.
As with last year, every legislative committee will be offering remote testimony options. You have the option of testifying live via video conference or phone, submitting written comments, and/or just noting for the record whether you are for or against a bill. Here are some of the “rules of the road” you should be aware of, if testifying live remotely:
Registering to testify does not guarantee you a chance to speak or speak at specific times.
The committee chair may limit public testimony (for example, one minute per testifier) due to time constraints. Be prepared to testify at any point during the hearing.
Maintain proper committee protocol, which includes waiting to be acknowledged by the committee chair before speaking, ensuring testimony and any objects appearing in the background of video feeds are respectful and professional, and following rules for testimony established by the chair.
For those reasons, it’s a good idea to always combine your live testimony plan with written remarks that you can email to committee members and to the legislators from your own district, in case you aren’t able to deliver your full, planned testimony.
Here are some key links to help with remote testimony participation during the 2022 Legislative Session:
Bills to Watch - The legislature considers hundreds of bills every year, and we won’t attempt to summarize them all or cover every issue here. Members of our state party advocacy committee are the point people for identifying key bills that relate to our party’s platform and tracking their progress - you can reach them by emailing here. But each week throughout the session, I want to touch on a few bills that I’m particularly interested in, and update you on what’s going on with them.
One bill I have my eye on is SB 5182, Sen. Patty Kuderer’s bill to repeal Tim Eyman’s silly “advisory votes” - more like push polls on the ballot each year that mean nothing, waste taxpayer money, take up valuable space on the ballot, and give propaganda opportunities to anti-government conservatives. These anti-tax political messages with incredibly biased language have no place on our ballot, and many of them are on bills only tangentially even related to tax issues. In 2019, an earlier version of this bill actually passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis, with three Republicans in favor, because even they recognized it was silly to waste money on these meaningless votes. I’d love to see this bill come back and for us to get these push polls off our ballots. It needs action in the House - please contact your state representatives and urge them to vote for this bill.
And with redistricting in recent political history, I’m closely tracking Sen. Rebecca Saldaña’s SB 5597, a bill to strengthen the Washington Voting Rights Act when it comes to “cracking” and “packing” communities of color in districts. It sets up better tests for identifying violations of the VRA, helps collect more data and reporting from state and local governments, and establishes a preclearance process for evaluation of proposed political boundaries. These are key steps for helping ensure we have districts that were drawn in a non-discriminatory way.
We’ll continue this series next week with some additional bills I’ve got my eye on, and updates on any of the major actions happening in the first week of session!
COVID Update - I think you’ve all seen how COVID cases are skyrocketing over the past few weeks, and how hospitalizations are rising quickly as well. The Washington State Medical Association, the group representing Washington’s doctors, sent a letter to Gov. Inslee yesterday about how our medical system is now in a state of crisis.
I’m glad that our leaders are doing what they can to help keep us safe. Gov. Inslee announced this week that Washington state will begin distributing millions of at-home coronavirus tests and masks and will expand vaccination clinics to help more folks get convenient access to vaccines and booster shots.
I also want to thank our new Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs for taking a big step for the safety of his office’s employees. His predecessor, Republican Kim Wyman, was the only statewide office that did not impose a vaccine requirement for their workers. Thankfully, reversing that step was one of the first things Secretary Hobbs did in office, and SOS employees are already speaking out to say thanks. Having Democrats in office makes a difference!
Democrats Deliver - Federal Ban on Surprise Medical Bills - We need to make sure that Washington voters hear about the great things that our leaders are delivering on. One such policy went into effect just this week: a federal ban on surprise medical bills for out-of-network care, with our own Senator Patty Murray leading the charge here.
For too long, countless patients have been surprised by exorbitant bills for care they thought was covered by their insurance. Now that the No Surprises Act is in full effect, that all ends. If you get health coverage through your employer or have an individual health insurance plan, these new rules will:
Ban surprise bills for emergency services, even if you get them out-of-network and without approval beforehand.
Ban out-of-network cost-sharing (like out-of-network coinsurance or copayments) for all emergency and some non-emergency services. You can’t be charged more than in-network cost-sharing for these services.
Ban out-of-network charges and balance bills for supplemental care (like anesthesiology or radiology) by out-of-network providers who work at an in-network facility.
This can all sound complex, but the bottom line is that folks will be protected from big out-of-pocket medical costs that can come as a surprise for people who didn’t do anything wrong. These are the sort of things that we need our leaders to continue doing - and for us to be telling our friends and networks about.
People need to know that our Democratic leaders are making good things happen, and we need to support our leaders like Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier in the 2022 midterm elections to keep it up!
Did I mention that we’ve got our Coordinated Campaign officially up and running and we need you getting involved early? We know that year-round organizing and voter contact is better than just waiting until October when voters are being swarmed with TV ads and mailers. Click here to connect with our organizers and Neighborhood Teams across Washington!
Thanks for reading as always!