Opinion: Get ready for the 2023 legislative session

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill reminds citizens you can influence Olympia effectively when you pay attention and communicate about the issues you care about.

In her weekly column, Nancy Churchill reminds citizens you can influence Olympia effectively when you pay attention and communicate about the issues you care about

Nancy Churchill
Dangerous Rhetoric

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time to look ahead to the 2023 Legislative Session! The session begins on the 2nd Monday of January every year. The 2023 session will begin on January 9. Committee hearings will begin that week and the legislators will start to consider the bills that will become law. Republicans remain the minority party in both the state Senate and state House, so it is especially important for conservatives, independents, and Republicans to understand the process of making law. There are actions that we can do as citizens to impact the lawmaking process and stop bills that we oppose and support bills we agree with.

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

The month before the session starts is very important because Legislators are allowed to file their bills during that time. Now is the time to start reviewing the new bills so you can let your legislators know what you think about them. The list is here.

The bills are listed in numerical order down the page. All bills that are in the 1000s are House bills and those in the 5000s are Senate bills. If you click on the bill number, you will go to a page where you can learn more about the bill. When you click on representatives’ names, you’ll find out what districts they represent, the committees they are on and how to contact them.

Take a look at the list, and find HB 1013 on “Establishing regional apprenticeship programs.” The primary sponsor is listed as the 7th District’s Jacqueline Maycumber, but when you visit the bill page, you can see a long list of representatives sponsoring this bill, both Republicans AND Democrats.

This broad bipartisan support for a Republican-sponsored bill is a very good sign—that means the bill is more likely to make it into a committee hearing, and more likely to become law. I’m pretty sure this bill has been introduced in a previous session, and that Rep. Maycumber has been working hard to build support for the bill with her colleagues.

The actual bill language can be read by locating the link to the original bill, about halfway down the bill information page. For HB 1013, this bill establishes a regional apprenticeship pilot program. Two pilot sites will be chosen — one east of the Cascade Crest and one west. The bill gives the Superintendent of Public Instruction some basic program criteria and funding allowances, and sets two reporting deadlines.

If you think this bill seems like a good idea, or if you would like to suggest some changes to the proposed law, you can return to the bill information page and click on the “comment on this bill” page. Enter your address, and click “verify district”. Then you can choose to send your comments on the bill to one or more of your representatives. Early in the session, I usually send comments on House bills to my representatives, and comments on Senate bills to my senator.

Let’s take a look at one of the pre-filed Senate Bills: SB 5020. This bill would lower the age of compulsory attendance for school from eight years to six. An almost identical bill died in committee last year. Many parents prefer to have the freedom to determine at what age their child is ready to start school. Children mature at different speeds, and some benefit from waiting an extra year or two. If you think that parents know best when their child should start school, you’ll want to submit a comment opposing this bill and watch for it to be assigned a committee hearing date.

Not every bill will make it to hearing because there will be too many bills filed to consider them all. If a bill is scheduled for a hearing there will be two—a public hearing and an executive hearing. The public hearing is when concerned citizens get to comment about a bill, either for or against. The public hearing is when conservatives have the best opportunity to stop a bill. Early opposition in committee is much more effective than a last-minute push when a bill is being debated and is up for a final vote.

If you want to have any influence on the laws are being imposed on you this year, please start watching the pre-filed bill list, and get ready for session. To learn more about how to influence the lawmaking process, you can take a free online course called Influencing Olympia Effectively (www.influencingolympia.com/). Now is the time to learn the process of lawmaking. You can have more influence than you might realize when you understand the lawmaking process and communicate with the legislators.

You don’t have to be an elected official to make a difference in the laws that will impact your community. You can influence Olympia effectively when you pay attention and communicate about the issues you care about. You have a voice — learn how to use it!

Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.

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