Virtual Session, Supporting Healthcare Workers, School Lunches, and Virtual Town Hall

Dear friends and neighbors,

The 2022 short legislative session has begun! With the rise in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, the Washington House of Representatives will once again convene mostly virtually. This will be evaluated every two weeks. While I am disappointed not to return to Olympia to start the session in person, last year showed that a virtual legislative session can be easier for the public to navigate and participate in, especially for us east of the mountains.

Virtual testimony allows Spokanites to testify on important legislation without having to take a day off of work and drive across the mountains, or worse, drive to the pass only to have to turn around. Since implementing virtual testimony we have seen participation in hearings double!

Virtual Work Set Up

Here are several ways you can continue to stay engaged remotely in the legislative process and provide input. 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. There is even a mobile app you can download on Google Play or the App Store!

Research—Visit to look up legislation by lawmaker or topic.

Learn—The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained at

Testify—Visit 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 also send my office an email.

Follow me on Facebook—Like my official page by clicking here.

Supporting Our Healthcare Heroes with Safe Staffing Standards

tired nurse after a long day

Our nurses and healthcare workers have moved mountains over the last two years, but they are burning out. A December poll found that 84 percent of healthcare workers said they were burned out and 49 percent said they likely to quit healthcare. When asked the reasons for considering leaving the profession, 71% cited short staffing as a major issue.

With all of the pressures of the pandemic, hospitals should not be adding stress to nurses and healthcare workers by not adequately staffing our hospitals. Hospital executives have been able to find millions of dollars to pay themselves bonuses during this pandemic, now it is time to ensure that healthcare workers and patients are protected from unmanageable patient loads.

That is why I am introducing legislation to create new safe staffing standards for hospitals in Washington. HB 1868 will make Washington the second state in the nation to mandate safe staffing ratios at hospitals. By mandating manageable patient loads we can protect healthcare workers and ensure that patients get the care they need. The bill will also end mandatory overtime policies and put protections in place to ensure that rest and meal breaks are respected.

Safe staffing standards will protect our healthcare workers and ensure that hospitals are prepared for emergencies like the one we are having right now. Washington should be a place where healthcare workers can have long and successful careers. Ultimately, by protecting them we are also protecting ourselves by ensuring that patients can get the care they deserve. You can read more in a recent Spokesman article by clicking here.

Feeding Kids Can’t Wait

Rep. Riccelli visiting Stevens Elementary

Food is health. Consistent access to nutritious foods is part of how we protect kids from getting sick while ensuring they have the fuel they need to learn, grow, and play. Free school breakfast and lunch is the most effective way to ensure that all of our kids are getting the food they need to thrive.

Fortunately, the USDA has a program that can help us expand the availability of free lunch and breakfast for students. The Community Eligibility Program (CEP) allows schools with a certain percent of students whose households receive assistance from programs like SNAP or Medicaid, are in foster care placements, or who struggle with housing stability, to apply for community eligibility which provides funding to serve free meals to all students. By removing lunch co-pays and the stigma of free and reduced lunch we can more effectively provide students with the nutrition they need to succeed.

In 2020 I passed legislation requiring all schools that are eligible for CEP to participate in the program if it cost the same amount to provide free meals for the entire school as it did for to just serve the those who qualified for free and reduced lunch. Currently, 491 schools in Washington operate CEP and serve free meals to around 204,000 students with 9 more schools serving 3,300 students coming online soon. Changes in the Build Back Better Act would allow Washington to apply for CEP as a state and serve free meals to every student in Washington.

But feeding kids can’t wait on the other Washington. We can expand access to the CEP all on our own. That is why I have introduced HB 1878 which would require all schools to participate in CEP if they are eligible under USDA rules. The bill requires the state to cover the excess costs of implementing the program. Without increasing costs on schools, we can expand free school meals to an additional 626 schools and 92,000 students (possibly more). In Spokane County alone, this would provide free meals to over 12,000 students and bring qualifying high schools like Rogers High School into the program.

It is my great hope that Congress passes the Build Back Better Act and Washington has the chance to apply for statewide community eligibility and provide free meals for 548,139 students. You can read more about that in the op-ed I wrote for the Spokesman. Here in this Washington, we don’t need to and we won’t wait to take serious action toward ending childhood hunger.

Save the Date: Virtual Town Hall

3rd LD Virtual Town Hall_Feb 2_cover photo

Join us on Wednesday, February 2nd 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, February 2nd at 6:00 PM

Where: Streaming live on my legislative Facebook page.

As always, it’s an honor to serve our community.

Best Regards,

Representative Marcus Riccelli