“The power under the constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

~ George Washington (1787)

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Washington State Legislature website

The Washington State legislature has an excellent web site, well organized, and plenty of search features.  Bookmarking this page for your use is strongly recommended.  Here are some useful functions on the main page that you might use (they are tabs across the top):
  • Committee meetings:  Schedules and agendas of the various committees in the Legislature, selectable by date.
  • Legislator Information: Rosters, e-mail services, legislator home pages, and caucus home pages.
  • Find Your District: A quick reference to find your Legislative District by street address.
  • Bill Search: Find bill information by bill number (a 4 digit number).
  • Find Laws & Rules: A means to research the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Washington Administrative Code (WAC), and Register.
There are other features as well.  For example, each bill has sponsors, and must pass through committees.  The web site allows you to find out how to identify the sponsors, the membership of the assigned committee, and even to see which bills each member of the State legislature are sponsoring.

Below the fold are two examples for the 16th Legislative District, using two bills recently introduced to the 2013 legislature.

The "Bill Digest" for HB 1371 is not informative, but the original bill is linked on the bill page for ready access.  None of the sponsors are from  the 16th District.

Judiciary Committee:   There is no direct link; click on "House of Representatives" at top, then "Committees" on left side bar, and then "Judiciary" on the left, or in the center.  This brings up the home page.  

To see who is on the committee, select "Members & Staff", which lists names, district, offices, and phone numbers of each member.  Representative Terry Nealey, of the 16th District, is on the committee.  Contacting Mr. Nealey regarding HB 1371 is simple at that point:  call him during business hours, or follow the link on his name to his home page, and e-mail him.

If you want to see what else Mr. Nealey is working on, click on the "Bill Sponsorship" link, and review his prime sponsored bills, and secondary sponsored bills.

Again, the original bill is linked on the page for ready access.

And, again, this bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee, of which Mr. Nealey is a member.  In this case, though, Representative Maureen Walsh, also from the 16th District, is a sponsor of HB 1588.  If you wish to express your opinion to Mrs. Walsh, as with Mr. Nealey, you can go to her home page, select "E-mail", and drop her a line directly.  And you can browse her Bill Sponsorship, of course.

What to do next

The value of this process is being able to craft your messages to your legislators, especially on related billsIn this example, HB 1371 and HB 1588 are both Second Amendment related bills, so creating a single message is simple.   Mr. Nealey, being on the Judiciary committee, has a say in passing bills to the legislature for debate and votes.  Mrs. Walsh, as a sponsor, lends (or denies) support and leverage for a given bill going through the legislative process.  Be clear, courteous, and concise in any message that you send.

Note:  The Walla Walla Tea Party Patriots, as part of our core values, seeks fiscal responsibility, limited government, and a free market economy.  HB 1371 follows those core values, and supports the Second AmendmentHB 1588 not only goes against the Second Amendment, it goes against our core values by adding more bureaucracy when we need less.