Bringing better broadband to rural communities

Sen. Short Banner

February 15, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The past two weeks have seen a flurry of activity in legislative committees as the policy committee deadline has passed. Bills that have not been voted out of committee by now, and are not needed to implement the budget, will not be further considered this legislation session. Beginning this week, the Senate will be on the floor full-time until March 9th.

Reflecting upon the past month in this virtual session, we have been able to work out many remote testimony kinks from those testifying to those simply wanting to watch committee hearings. However, chairs do continue to be challenged with maximizing public participation together with the deliberative process that occurs in committee. At times, I wished that some bill hearings would have been continued to another day to fully accommodate public testimony. 

With the advent of remote testimony in all committees, it has been amazing to see people from every corner of the state get an opportunity to make their voices heard. If you would like more information on how to watch a hearing or testify, click on the links below.

Watch a legislative hearing -

Testify in a committee -

Comment on a bill -


Broadband in rural areas

I wanted to highlight two bills that will specifically provide an opportunity to bring better broadband service to regions like ours to enhance educational, access to healthcare and economic opportunities for rural residents. This past year has shown us how critical access to this technology is. I am pleased that these bills offer critical state funding and help foster the creation of private public partnerships. These efforts should also allow our communities to better compete for federal funds, and they are foundational and complimentary to the work of local broadband groups and the State Broadband Office. Here is what these bills would do:

  • Senate Bill 5357 would invest $200 million from the capital budget to create the capital broadband investment acceleration program to serve rural and unserved areas. This is a great way for us to match funds with the federal broadband infrastructure programs.


  • Senate Bill 5383, which I am cosponsoring, would allow PUDs to provide retail telecommunications services in unserved areas where there isn’t an existing service provider.


Continuing the fight: protecting your Second Amendment rights

In what seems to be a reoccurring theme, many pieces of legislation have been introduced once again this year that would infringe upon your Second Amendment rights. I will continue to work hard to protect the rights and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Time and time again, I have exclaimed that law-abiding citizens are not the problem. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues across the aisle do not feel the same way. I wanted to highlight the following bill:

  • Senate Bill 5038 would prohibit open carry in public spaces during any demonstration. Washington state is an open carry state; again, this infringes on your right to carry a firearm. Furthermore, a demonstration in this bill is loosely defined as one or more individuals and public spaces is also loosely defined. Think of how many public spaces (sidewalks, parking lots, etc.) may be in proximity to where you live...The bill goes much further than what it is purportedly intended for.




Literal barrier to the people’s access to the Capitol Campus

As you may know, there was a security breach in early January that caused our governor to put up a fence around many buildings on the Capitol Campus, including the Legislative Building. Initially, the fence was to be kept up until the Presidential Inauguration.  Well, that day has come and gone and the fence still stands. This continued action limits your right to free speech at the Capitol in Olympia – the “people’s house.”

This week, Senator John Braun sent the governor a letter respectfully asking him to take down the barrier that keeps you away from your elected officials, stating:

“If there are specific and credible security threats which would counsel against taking the barriers down, we would appreciate being briefed by specific law-enforcement authorities. Otherwise, we serve the people and are accountable to them. During this session, we are making decisions impacting the lives of every Washingtonian. To the extent possible, we are still doing so on the inside of the Legislative Building. If you won’t let the people inside the building to serve as witnesses to our actions, we at least should be able to hear their voices from their traditional public forum on the steps of the building. Restricting them to rain-soaked lawns far from the ears of legislators is not an acceptable alternative.”

You can read his entire letter here.

It is passed time for our governor to allow individuals to gather at the state capitol to voice their opinions and concerns. He needs to take this fence down, now. 


Bill of Concern: Graduated reentry program

In 2018, the Washington state Department of Corrections (DOC) began offering a graduated reentry program aimed at helping incarcerated individuals reenter society and increasing public safety. Without giving the program enough time to evaluate the effectiveness, Senate Bill 5121 was introduced this year to immediately loosen these guidelines and restrictions. My Senate Republican colleagues and I offered many amendments to highlight the need to protect victims and the public by restricting access to the program for incarcerated individuals who:

  • have been convicted of a violent offense, sex offense, or crime against a person which requires DOC send notice and confirm receipt by any identified victims
  • committed crime with deadly weapon or firearm
  • committed crimes involving children
  • committed crimes involving a street gang

There were additional amendments that would have required the offender’s housing plan under the graduated reentry be in their home county unless release to that county would result of them being within 50 miles of the victim's residence and an amendment to add a Referendum clause to send this issue to the voters. Unfortunately, none of these common sense, public safety amendments were accepted in the final bill. I support helping offenders reenter society after they have completed their sentence and the current reentry program aids them in that transition. Access to these programs for successful reentry are not predicated on early release. And this legislation does little to address the needs of victims. For these reasons, I could not support this bill.

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I’m here for you!

As we continue working remotely this year, please remember that your participation in the legislative process 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

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.



Shelly Short