2021 legislative session: what to expect

Sen. Short Banner

January 18, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we begin a new year, I want to thank you so much for the honor and privilege of serving you in the legislature.  While the 2021 legislative session is unlike any other, your participation in it is more important than ever to ensure that the legislature keeps “of the people” front and center in its decision-making.  If there is anything I can do to help you participate, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached by phone at (360) 786-7612 and by email at Shelly.Short@leg.wa.gov.

Reflections on 2020

2020 was a year that immensely challenged us all – it is incredibly difficult to put into words. But I continue to have faith that individuals, not government, know what is best for themselves and their families. 

We have all been witness to the devastating impacts of COVID-19, from illness to death, loss of jobs, loss of family-owned businesses, months of isolation from family members and our children from their school and friends. We are seeing first-hand, the mental health and other challenges that affect us all.  And we witnessed the unprecedented consolidation of power into one person’s hand and the myriad of heavy-handed edicts that put a halt to everyday life and the loss of personal freedom. We cannot continue to live in a glass bubble, keeping businesses, jobs, and schools shut down anymore.  We have to allow people to live, to work and to be with loved ones. 

I care very deeply about the health, safety and wellbeing of you and your families and do not want our healthcare system overwhelmed, but we have to chart a different path forward in dealing with the COVID-19 virus. Our work needs to be focused on the  most vulnerable to this disease. For those who wish to get the COVID vaccines, we should do so as quickly and expeditiously as possible through the support of our local healthcare system.

As bleak and challenging as all of this has been, I have faith that we will get through this together with greater grace, patience, compassion and a renewed focus on helping one another and the importance of family, friends and our communities. 

Action Item: Opportunity to Testify in Support of Restaurants – January 20 at 8:00 a.m.

SB 5114 was recently introduced in the state legislature to begin safely reopening Washington. It would allow for all business affected by the Governor’s current shutdowns to reopen safely and immediately under the standards of Phase 2. After action taken by my Senate Republican colleagues and I, the Chair of the relevant committee has agreed to hold a hearing on the bill on this Wednesday, January 20 at 8am.

Here’s where I need your help. We need people like you to sign up to speak in favor of the bill. This bill would be a great step forward, but legislators need to hear from you for it to get traction. Please consider signing up to testify so that you can tell your story directly to state legislators. There’s no need to come to Olympia – this year, hearings are being held through ZOOM. You can testify remotely from your computer. This link will take you to the testimony sign up page for SB 5114. You can sign up right now – the window closes one hour before the start of the hearing.

And please tell your family, friends, colleagues, and coworkers. Let’s get the word out, so that we can get Washington going again safely!

2021 legislative session: what to expect

On the opening day of the legislative session, the majority party passed new Senate rules requiring the 2021 legislative session be almost entirely virtual. I offered an amendment that would have given you the choice of participating in this session either virtually or in-person, safely. Under current restrictions and guidelines, we can go to the grocery store, barber shop and doctor’s office while staying safe; why should participating in the legislative process be any different? I am disappointed that my amendment did not pass and believe it sends the wrong message to you, our constituents. We should be as open and transparent as possible. I believe that a virtual session makes it easier for backroom deals to take place and for legislators to be held less accountable. As lawmakers work virtually this year, I will continue to fight tirelessly for transparency in state government. To watch my floor speech on this amendment, click here.

Also on day one, some of my Republican colleagues brought forward a few additional common-sense measures that the Senate should have passed. Unfortunately, the majority party disagreed and like my amendment, these proposals failed. One such amendment that I wanted to highlight, included:

  • Ericksen from Ferndale -- proposed a Senate Resolution to convene a 30-day special session now, waiting to hold a full 105-day session until the public health situation will allow full public access. Passing important legislation – such as a budget – should be done with complete transparency and participation.


floor mask


Participating in YOUR state government

Since most of this session will be conducted online, here is some information on how you can get involved:

Watch a legislative hearing - https://www.tvw.org/

Testify in a committee - https://app.leg.wa.gov/csiremote

Comment on a bill - https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/

Restoring balance

Many of the proposals you will hear coming from Olympia this session will be COVID related as we work to address the long-term repercussions created by the extended   state of emergency and shutdown orders. I have co-sponsored the following bill:

  • Senate Bill 5039 would require all gubernatorial emergency orders to be approved by the legislature after thirty days. This bill would not prevent the governor from issuing proclamations, but it would involve lawmakers in the process. No one person should ever have unilateral authority for any extended period of time.  Including legislators ensures voices across our state are heard.

I look forward to communicating with you during session.  It is an incredible privilege to serve as your state senator and be your voice. If you need anything at all, my office is here for you.