2023 Legislative Preview

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2023 Legislative Session starts Monday, and I am excited to jump back in and do good work for the people of Spokane. Below is an announcement about important changes to my work towards a healthier Washington, a preview of the areas I’m focusing on this session, and an update to past work I championed on improving the county commission.

A New Role for a New Year!

It is my great honor to share with you I have been selected by my colleagues to serve as the new chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. I have served on this committee for 10 years and previously served as Vice Chair. Taking over for retiring Rep. Eileen Cody is a big task, as she’s held the job for over 20 years, but I am committed to advancing policies through the committee that give everyone access to quality, affordable healthcare. I will also serve on the Appropriations Committee, where funding for new policy is decided, and I look forward to carrying my commitment to access to care in that committee as well.

What to Expect in the Upcoming Session

I have heard from many Spokane residents about the issues they are facing and how the Legislature can help them by enacting new policies. Some of the biggest concerns are healthcare access and affordability, public safety and behavioral health treatment, and housing costs.

As the new chair of the Health Care & Wellness Committee, ensuring that affordable, quality care is available regardless of zip code any Washingtonian lives in is my top priority. That’s why I’m looking at ways we can get more federal funds to our hospitals, particularly critical care and rural hospitals that serve our neighboring communities. We also need to evaluate how we incentivize our nursing staff and how we can improve working conditions to end the revolving door that is causing us to lose nurses, putting patients at risk. All healthcare workplaces need to be sustainable, and we can do more to ensure hospitals are fully staffed.

Public safety is a top concern of a lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, which is why we need a multi-prong approach to addressing the issues leading to people feeling unsafe in their communities. That discussion will also include how to connect people from the criminal justice system with substance use disorder with the appropriate behavioral health and substance use facilities. Expanding and building out those facilities, strengthening the workers in those fields, and keeping those workers in their jobs is something we’ll be looking at this year.

The cost of housing in our state has increased faster than people can keep up. Some of the ways we can address that is by creating more supply, which is why the bipartisan Homes for WA Middle Housing legislation I am co-sponsoring is so important to pass this year. It will expand the number of fourplexes and sixplexes in the state, offer incentives to make those housing options affordable, and expand housing options near transit. We can also work together to find ways to reform and offer property tax relief to our low income and senior citizens.

In addition to my work on the Health Care Committee, I’m excited to continue to promote and find ways to expand our school meal program. My bill, the Washington healthy hunger free kids act” would require schools to provide breakfast and lunch to any student who requests it free of charge. Ending the stigma around free or reduced school lunch and providing breakfast and lunch to hungry students is the absolute right decision and I will work hard to get this passed into law this year.

You can also watch my interview with KXLY or listen to my Spokane Public Radio interview to hear about more priorities and expected issues I’ll be working on this session.

Rep. Riccelli visiting Stevens Elementary

An Update on the Responsible Representation Act: Two New Commissioners for Spokane County
When our two new county commissioners started their terms on January 1, it was the culmination of a lot of community stakeholder and bi-partisan work and discussions I helped spearhead that went into a state law passed in 2018. The Responsible Representation Act (HB 2887) was a change to how large counties elect their commissioners. For larger counties, like Spokane, adding more commissioners to get a better commissioner-to-citizen ratio and electing them by district meant a more responsive government that can meet the needs of their growing communities.

My hope is that with more commissioners, more people will feel empowered to speak up and reach out to their county government. I look forward to working with new commissioners Amber Waldref and Chris Jordan, as well as the three incumbent commissioners, on issues that matter to Spokane County and advocating for those issues in Olympia.

It is my honor to serve you!





Rep. Marcus Riccelli