2021 Legislative Session, Transportation Package, and Virtual Town Hall

The 2021 legislative session has begun! This year’s session will look much different than in previous years. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is still rampant. While I have great hopes for the vaccine, the virus is still spreading rapidly in our community and across our state. In order to keep the public, staff and lawmakers safe, the Washington House of Representatives will be meeting almost entirely remotely this year. I hope this is the only time that we have to operate in this manner, but we cannot risk having the Legislature shut down for several weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The continuity of our government and the democratic process of self-governance must continue. We need to help small businesses, increase funding for public health and access to healthcare, aid in childcare, and make infrastructure investments that put people back to work. We need to address food security, affordable housing and racial inequality and economic justice.  We must ensure that the vital work of the Legislature gets done.

Rep. Riccelli speaks on the House floor
Opening day in the Washington State House of Representatives. January 11th, 2021.

I traveled to Olympia last Monday to vote on the rules package that will allow us to operate remotely. In order to limit the risk of virus transmission, we met in a socially distant manner, rotating members to the floor for staggered votes. We also limited the opening day ceremony to limit the amount of time that we spent in the chamber.

That was not the only difference. We also passed through a fence and cordon of National Guard soldiers who were called into ensure that we were able to conduct the people’s business free of violence or disruption. I would like to give my sincerest thanks to the members of the National Guard who have had to put their lives on hold to protect the Capitol. Sadly, these precautions were made necessary after the violence at the US Capitol and at our own Governor’s mansion. Violence should never be a means to a political end, and I hope that my colleagues from across the aisle will join me in condemning this violence and the election fraud lie that inspired it.

National Guard solider in front of the Washington State Capitol

One benefit of a remote session is that participating in the legislative process has never been easier. For the first time ever, every committee will be accepting virtual and written testimony. Instead of traveling to Olympia, you can now testify from the comfort of your living room. Having seen busloads of Eastern Washingtonians get delayed on their trip across the mountains and narrowly miss committee hearings, I am hopeful that virtual testimony will be a practice that continues even after we return to Olympia. Now everyone, not just those who can take a day off of work to travel to Olympia, can make their voice heard.

Here are several ways that you can stay engaged with what is happening in the Legislature and participate in our democracy.

WatchTVW.org broadcasts all of the debates and votes that happen in the House or Senate, along with committee meetings and other events in the public interest.

Research—Visit app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ to look up legislation by lawmaker or topic.

Learn—The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained at leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Overview.aspx.

Testify—Visit leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Testify.aspx for an overview of the process. Written testimony is also an option, and you can also email me your story.

Stay informed—Sign up for my legislative e-memo here.

Get in touch—You can reach my office by email Marcus.Riccelli@leg.wa.gov.

Transportation Package Press Conference

Roadwork on a mountain pass

As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I have spent the interim working with stakeholders across the state to gather feedback and craft a comprehensive transportation proposal that maintains and preserves existing infrastructure, invests in frontline communities, supports economic recovery, and works to reduce carbon. We conducted over 90 listening session across Washington. Importantly, I led efforts to make sure we are protecting what we have investing in preservation and maintenance, and that we live up to our commitments by finishing what we started when it comes to existing projects on the books. I am confident that this new package will benefit all Washingtonians and create an environmentally just transportation system that works for everyone, and puts people to work.

I will be joining the Chair of the House Transportation Committee along with other members of the committee at a press conference to introduce the package today at 12:00 PM.

You can watch it here at www.TVW.org.

Virtual Town Hall

Join us next Wednesday, January 27 for a Virtual Town hall. I will be joining Sen. Andy Billig and Rep. Timm Ormsby for a 3rd District Virtual Town Hall. The town hall will be streamed live on my legislative Facebook page at 6:00 PM.

What: 3rd Legislative District Virtual Town Hall

When: Wednesday, January 27 at 6:00 PM

Where: Streaming live on my legislative Facebook page.

If you have questions or comments about legislative issues or need help connecting to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact me.

It’s an honor to serve you.

Representative Marcus Riccelli

3rd Legislative District – Spokane