In this month’s column, I will be covering the upcoming legislative session in Olympia, priorities for Snohomish County, and how it may affect North County residents.  

The State Legislature operates on a biennial basis which means they meet for a long 105-day session in odd numbered years and a short 60-day session in even numbered years. In the long sessions, the legislature adopts a 2-year budget for the State of Washington. In the short session, they pass a supplemental budget to account for revenue or expenditure changes part way through the biennium.  

The upcoming session is a short session which means the legislature is not likely to make major changes to the state budget. One major issue they may take up is the recent police reform legislation adopted last year. The reforms passed earlier in 2021 created stricter requirements for use of force, restricted certain police tactics, and made changes to how law enforcement personnel are held accountable for wrongful action in the line of duty.  

Many law enforcement agencies and elected officials, myself included, have shared concerns with the new legislation and how it impacts law enforcement’s ability to address public safety issues in our communities. I have joined with other elected officials in asking the state legislature to reconsider some of these reforms to ensure that officers have the tools they need to hold criminals accountable and keep our communities safe. The sponsors of the legislation have indicated that they are willing to make some changes but only time will tell if major changes to the reforms will be approved. 

The state legislature will also potentially consider changes to emergency powers in the state. Specifically, there have been calls for the legislature to reclaim their oversight authority for the governor’s emergency powers. We have now been in a declared state of emergency for COVID for over a year and a half. The legislature has passed bills which give the governor sweeping emergency authority to suspend certain regulations and impose others without a vote of the legislature. I encourage the legislature to make changes to the governor’s emergency powers and resume their role in the checks and balances system enshrined in our State constitution. 

Additionally, we are continuing our work to secure ongoing funding for the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program  in North County. The RAP Program has been very successful since its launch in fall of 2019. The Program provides an opportunity for high school students to get valuable training in the building and construction trades and prepare them for successful careers following high school. We are working with legislators to ensure this program continues and potentially expand it to other areas of the state.  

I will continue to provide updates on the legislative session in my monthly newsletters and will recap the legislative session in a future column. If you would like to receive to my monthly newsletter, please email nate.nehring@snoco.org to join our distribution list. 

Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at 425-512-4810.

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