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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The opening gavel of the 2023 session fell at noon on Monday, Jan. 9. It's an honor to be back in Olympia representing the values and interests of the 12th Legislative District.

This is the first time in more than two years all 98 members have been in the House chambers together. It was wonderful, once again, to see families, friends, and supporters in the public galleries during the opening day ceremonies. This return to normalcy is good to see at the state Capitol.

Opening Day Ceremonies on Monday, Jan. 9.

Legislative Updates

Due to election-year restrictions, which began last May, I was unable to send email updates until the election results were certified. But with the start of the 2023 session, I will be sending updates every couple of weeks to keep you informed on the activities, events, and debates happening at the state Capitol.

Be sure to take a look at my legislative webpage. I'll be posting news releases and other statements regarding the legislative session.

Budgets and policy work

For the next several weeks, the bulk of the work at the state Capitol will be to finalize the state's new two-year operating, transportation, and capital budgets.

For the operating budget, we've got a bit of good news. That's because, despite the pandemic, our state tax collections have remained strong. Budget writers will have an extra $3.37 billion to work with for the 2023-25 operating budget.

Although some of this “extra” money will be eaten up by rising maintenance level costs, including inflation, and the expensive, governor-negotiated collective bargaining agreements, it's my hope the bulk of the revenue will be added to the state's budget stabilization account and/or returned to taxpayers in the form of tax relief.

In addition to building these budgets, several public policy issues will be debated this session. Our state is facing many challenges, including rising crime rates; an escalating housing crisis caused by the high cost of new home construction; K-12 educational failures, and an inflation rate that has reached its highest level since 1981.

As the 2023 session progresses, I'll be sharing more on these public policy issues, as well as solutions being offered in both the House and Senate.

Committee Assignments

I'm happy to announce my reappointment as the ranking member of the House Capital Budget Committee. I've been the lead Republican negotiator on the state's two-year construction budget since 2021, serving as the assistant ranking member prior to that.

This committee is unique in that it is by far the most bipartisan in Olympia. Both sides of the aisle work together to prioritize and advance projects that not only improve long-term economic goals, but also enhance renewal, health, and growth for rural and urban communities alike.

During the previous 2022 session, the Legislature approved what I believe to be a “historic” capital budget because of its size. More than $6 billion was allocated for projects across the state, which mostly came from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

This session, we are working with a smaller budget of around $4.3 billion. Along with considering the infrastructure needs of the newly redistricted portions of the 12th District (see info about redistricting below) and other districts across the state, mental and behavioral health continues to be a priority. Although these programs are funded by the operating budget, the physical structures are on the capital fund side. We'll need to ensure those two budgets work in tandem.

I'd also like to see more of a focus on workforce housing. Workforce housing is housing built for individuals and families sitting somewhere in the middle between affordable and higher-end home options. Unfortunately, incomes for a growing number of individuals and families are insufficient to purchase a home but too high to qualify for affordable housing. The widening gap between the two needs to be fixed. I plan to help with those efforts.

In addition to my role on the House Capitol Budget Committee, I've also been asked to continue to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. This committee considers the operating budget and related legislation, budget processes, and fiscal issues such as pension policy and compensation.

Serving on two budget committees, like the Capital Budget and Appropriations committees, is unusual. The reason is the workload. Both committees are incredibly work-intensive. Despite the long hours, I enjoy being a part of determining where our hard-earned tax dollars end up. It gives me the opportunity to advocate for fiscally prudent spending ― something we need more of in Olympia.

My final committee assignment is the House Education Committee. This committee considers issues relating to kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) education. I'm deeply grateful to have been selected to continue serving on this committee.

These committee assignments work well for our communities. I look forward to representing our region's values and interests during the next few months of bill hearings, debates, and decisions.

Redistricting changes for the 12th District

Because communities and populations change over time, every 10 years, after the federal government publishes updated census information, Washington state redraws the boundaries of its congressional and legislative districts to ensure that each district represents an equal number of residents.

The new 12th Legislative District boundaries were approved in 2022 by the Washington State Redistricting Commission. The district now includes only a portion of Douglas County and added parts of Snohomish and King counties.

  • Click here to view a map of the 12th Legislative District.
  • You can learn more about the redistricting process in this video.

12th District Virtual Town Hall

As we begin the session, it's important that we hear from you about the priorities and issues facing our communities.

My seatmate, Rep. Keith Goehner, R-Dryden, and I are hosting a 12th District Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 1 starting at 6 p.m. This event is a great opportunity to join us from the comfort of your home or office by simply logging onto your computer for an hour of conversation about the 105-day session. We'll discuss our bills and listen to your comments and ideas about state government.

The one-hour event will take place via the Zoom platform. Space is limited, so register early. If you are unable to attend, don't hesitate to reach out to my office and schedule an appointment. My contact information is listed below.

Getting involved in the legislative process

Our government depends on the active participation of its citizens. Here are some links and resources to help you get started:

Staying connected

  • My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
  • The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.
  • The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
  • TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
  • The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
  • Legislature's website | View bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
  • State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.

Tracking a bill?

Click here to find information on specific bills. In addition, when you visit my website, you can easily view the legislation I'm sponsoring or co-sponsoring by clicking “Sponsored Bills.”

Here is a quick set of “bill tracking” instructions

Go to leg.wa.gov

  • On the left-hand panel, click “Bill Information.”
  • If you know the bill number, enter it in the search field and hit enter.
  • Don't have a bill number? Under the section “Standard Reports,” you'll find alternative tracking tools. You can search based on topic, legislative digests, cross-references, and within a specific biennium.
  • If you click on the House Floor Calendar, this helpful tool gives you a detailed list of all bills scheduled to be heard on the House floor each day.

Additional resources:

Remote testimony is still available

You can sign up to testify remotely if you are unable to attend a committee hearing on a bill in Olympia. You may also submit written testimony to a committee and get your position on a bill noted for the legislative record. Click here to learn more about participating in the process.

Testify in Committee

Thank you!

I am committed to staying connected with you as the session progresses. Please contact me if you have questions about bills being introduced, bills scheduled for a hearing, or other state government-related issues.

Throughout the legislative session, my office receives hundreds of emails per week. I will do my best to answer the ones I receive from constituents first, so please be sure to include your home address and phone number in your correspondence.

It's an honor to serve you!

Sincerely,


Mike Steele

State Representative Mike Steele, 12th Legislative District
RepresentativeMikeSteele.com
122A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
mike.steele@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7832 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000