All in all, the 2021 remote legislative session seems to be running pretty smoothly! Individual meetings, hearings, testimony, and even floor action all are happening, with minimal glitches. Everyone seems to be settling into the M.O. of the 2021 session: Zoom to Zoom to TVW to Teams to the phone and back again. And, we also have a shared sense of loss over not being able to see colleagues in person, meet in person, and have those brief, but critical, in person, hallway conversations.
On the bright side, however, it is remarkable how many people from around the state have been able to testify on bills! The geographic playing field has been leveled, and it is great having the involvement of individuals who, pre-COVID, never could have participated in an 8:00 a.m. hearing.
Unfortunately, the digital field has not yet been leveled. Many folks around the state are dealing with poor connectivity, lack of devices, limited tech abilities, and uncertainty about where to go for help. Fortunately, however, a number of incredible legislators and other leaders are working on digital equity. We hope this will be the session where these critical issues are addressed: www.eec-wa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Connect-Washington-Coalition-Proposal-2.pdf. Note that the Governor included $6m in his budget to address digital equity issues… we’ll see!!
Now for a few words about the Partners for Our Children bill tracker: Many bills are being amended and brought up for executive action (a vote) in their committee of origin. Some have even made it to the floor and are coming up for full votes by the house of origin. While the amended versions of the bills are available to the public, there are not always posted in time to incorporate in the tracker. Also, we will not be summarizing the amendments to all of the bills we are tracking; we prioritize and choose, and, at minimum, do our best to indicate in the status update if there are amendments to the bill.
And speaking of bills being amended and passed out of committee, a number of bills have moved out of the Children, Youth, and Families committee and are making their way to either Appropriations or Rules. One step at a time process!
With February nearly upon us, it is incredibly hard to believe that it has been almost a year since the end of the 2020 session (March 12th) and that the first Stay Home policy was issued shortly thereafter. What a year! It’s now hard to imagine a time when we weren’t talking about PPE, N95s, phases, social distancing, and singing the ABCs while handwashing! Quite a testament to the resilience and adaptability of human beings!
Have a good week. Stay healthy. And if you have questions, please contact Nicole or me (contact information below).