Deadlines and debate


Feb. 20, 2023  |  Volume I, Issue 2

Deadlines and debate

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

On Friday, the 2023 legislative session hit the first of several deadlines intended to keep the Legislature on track and whittle down the total number of bills to only those measures with broad enough support among members.

The first of these deadlines is known as "policy cutoff." It's the last day for bills to be passed out of their respective policy committees. Bills that are before a fiscal committee, such as Ways and Means or Transportation, have slightly more time. The fiscal cut off deadline is this Friday, Feb. 24.  

Several of my bills survived the first cutoff. You can read more about those below. 

As we continue our work this session, please remember that I am here to be your voice in Olympia. The best way for me to do that job is to hear directly from you. If you have a question, concern or idea for smarter government, please don’t hesitate to call, write, e-mail, or if you happen to be in Olympia, stop by. We’d love to hear directly from you!

Thank you for the honor of serving as your state senator!



Sen. Nikki Torres
R-15th District



Yakima Valley needs access to health care services


Click here to watch video of my comments on SB 5241.

Proponents of Senate Bill 5241 want to ban certain hospital mergers, claiming that such mergers have the potential to reduce certain types of services and raise costs for patients.  But we know that there is a flipside to that argument. In certain cases, these types of mergers are the only things that save local hospitals from shutting down, leaving some Washingtonians, especially those in rural communities, with no nearby hospital services at all.  We know this is true in the 15th District because we have seen these types of mergers save regional hospitals first-hand. 

SB 5241 would create a "healthcare desert" in the Yakima Valley and is detrimental to the 14th and 15th Legislative Districts, especially to tribal communities. 

As we heard during the hearing on this bill, the healthcare system does indeed need to be more accessible, higher quality, more affordable, and more equitable, but SB 5241 wouldn't accomplish any of that.

Partnerships keep hospitals independent and allow them to serve locally, but this bill would make it difficult to establish those much-needed partnerships. In rural communities this bill would reduce or eliminate access to services.

When providers are not financially viable, they must partner or close. In many cases, this bill would leave closing as the only option.

Click here or on the image above to watch my comments on the bill. 


POLICY WATCH: House bill on police pursuit sees movement, but still fails to address auto theft crisis

Car thefts

Senate Republican leaders are encouraged by a House committee’s approval of legislation to loosen restrictions on police pursuits but concerned that the bill still would not restore the ability of officers to pursue suspected car thieves.

Late last week, the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee passed House Bill 1363, which would allow police more latitude on engaging in pursuits. It would exempt three more crimes from the current restrictions, adopted in 2021, but not vehicle theft. Also, the measure would expire in July 2025.

The Senate Law and Justice Committee has approved only Senate Bill 5533, which would keep the current pursuit restrictions in place and give the state Criminal Justice Training Commission until November 2024 to study the issue.

Click here to read more.



Sen. Nikki Torres on KTTH's Jason Rantz Show

Sen. Torres discusses her bills to address organized retail theft and missing and murdered Indigenous women

Jason Rantz

Senator Nikki Torres talks to Seattle radio's Jason Rantz about cracking down on organized retail theft, the latest on bills that make it easier for police to pursue suspects, and missing and murdered indigenous women and people.

Click here or on the image above to listen now. 


Legislative Update:

Legislation advances amid session deadlines

Press Conference

Given the dominant Democratic majority, I came into the legislative session aware that there would be some limits to what I could realistically accomplish, but still very optimistic about getting a lot done for the people of the 15th Legislative District, and all Washingtonians. That optimism is really paying off.

In addition to our bill to expand the state’s farm internship program (SSB 5156), which passed the Senate unanimously on Jan. 25, we have several measures that have survived the Feb. 17 policy cutoff deadline:

  • Senate Bill 5647, my bill to provide substitute teachers and other temporary school employees vital, life-saving information about school safety policies and procedures, was approved by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. The bill is now headed to the Rules Committee, the final stop before being considered by the full Senate.

  • The education committee also approved Senate Bill 5710, which would create a grant program within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide funding to educational service districts in order to offer students attending schools in rural areas access to a mental-health professional using telemedicine. The bill would also direct the state Health Care Authority to investigate why such a disproportionally low number of eastern Washington families are participating in existing mental health referral services for children and teens. This crucial legislation is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

  • Senate Bill 5477, implementing the recommendations of the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People task force, has already cleared the Senate Law and Justice Committee with unanimous support and is now awaiting consideration in the Ways and Means Committee.

  • Senate Bill 5160 would better define the crime of “organized retail theft” to help protect small-business owners and the communities they serve. The bill is currently awaiting floor action by the full Senate and could be voted on at any time.

  • The Local Government, Land Use and Tribal Affairs Committee, on which I serve as the lead Republican member, voted last Monday to approve Senate Bill 5602, which under certain circumstances would authorize a county board of equalization to employ a hearing examiner who resides outside that county. It is often difficult to appoint a qualified hearing examiner to the local Board of Equalization because of the lack of qualified applicants within a county. Our bill would help meet that need.

  • I have sponsored two bills related to crop-protection products, both of which are on the full Senate’s voting calendar. Senate Bill 5143 would change the name and membership of the Commission on Pesticide Registration, while Senate Bill 5330 would make changes to the Washington Pesticide Application Act.

  • Senate Bill 5159 is our bill to help streamline costs for local governments by adjusting the Shoreline Management Act schedule to better line up with the Growth Management Act schedule. The measure is before the Rules Committee.

  • On Friday, the Senate State Government and Elections Committee approved Senate Bill 5631, our measure to help Washington’s “Dreamers” by requiring state agencies to clearly identify on their website all programs or services that accept applicants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status.

  • Senate Bill 5709, concerning irrigation-district elections, was approved by the local government committee on Thursday. 

You can see the updated status of all of my bills by clicking here.


In the News:

Legislators work on issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women 

By Jadenne Radoc Cabahug, Seattle Times | Jan. 24, 2023


Charlene Tillequots attended a funeral for her close childhood friend for the second time.

The first service was decades ago. At the time, the friend had been missing for seven years and there was no body to bury.

Her remains were recovered over 30 years after she went missing.

Tillequots is secretary of the Yakama Nation Tribal Council and chair of its missing and murdered Indigenous people committee. She said she supports new bills that address the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people, her friend among them. Building on previous efforts to tackle the issue, state lawmakers this year propose to create a new cold case unit and to extend a task force that makes recommendations on the issue.

As of January, 136 Native American people are missing in Washington, the majority from the Yakamas, according to the Washington State Patrol. Nationwide, more than 80% of American Indian and Alaskan Native women reported experiencing violence in their lifetimes, and those populations made up a disproportionate percentage of missing people in the U.S., according to a 2022 report prepared for Congress.

...Sen. Nikki Torres, R-Pasco, is sponsoring Senate Bill 5477, which looks to extend the attorney general’s task force through June 2025. The bill would implement recommendations identified by the task force, including improving communication among law enforcement agencies, tribal police and family members.

“It may not affect you, it may not affect me, but it is in our community … and it affects our district, our neighbors. So, if we care about our community in our district, I think it is important to bring it to the forefront and continue shedding some light on it,” Torres said.

Click here to read the full article.