A Political Outsider’s Takeaway from the 2022 Legislative Session

I’ve never been involved in politics or government and to be honest, most of my life I felt like these issues were really boring and was content to leave them to others to deal with. Well that turned out to be a completely irresponsible and costly idea. Maybe you feel the same: as you’ve been living your life, raising your family, running your business, leaving the lawmaking stuff to “others” now you see how disastrous that has turned out for Washington and America.

Once we see it, we must commit to doing our part to influence change. This year, I engaged for the first time ever in Washington’s legislative session. I didn’t have it well thought-out, but after a conversation with Representative Jim Walsh about a civics education bill he was sponsoring that had been given a hearing in the House Education Committee, I decided to sign up to testify in support of this bill at the hearing. This would be the beginning of a very busy legislative session for me.

I woke up the morning of the hearing, rushing our 4 teenagers out the door, then had my coffee in hand and laptop as I reclined on the couch in my pj’s and messy bun and waited my turn to speak. The Washington legislature was still operating remotely in 2022, so all testimony would be done by Zoom. As it turns out, they wanted cameras on – so I rushed to make my top half look halfway presentable.

I realized there was strong opposition to Rep Walsh’s bill at this hearing. There were several people testifying in opposition from the teachers’ unions to PTA groups and other special interest education groups and there was little ole me, the only person testifying in support of this bill that would have mandated civics to be taught in K-8 grade (it’s already part of 9-12 curriculum) and would have also put limits on CRT. This was another eye-opening, “wake-up” moment for me. The other side was very well organized and “our side” didn’t even show up. Had I not had this crazy idea of testifying on this bill there would have been zero support for Walsh’s bill, making it an easy slam-dunk to kill his bill.

Obviously, it takes more than one concerned mom to testify in support of a bill to keep it moving and thus began my crusade to get other citizens involved in this legislative process.

CLW Founder, Julie Barrett, testifying in opposition to SB-5883

This year’s session was a “short session,” lasting only two months. We saw hundreds of bad bills get jammed through the legislature by the Democrat majority. According to Senator Mike Padden of Spokane, this was the most partisan session ever, passing more bills with zero Republican support. Conservative Ladies of Washington became very active in testifying on bills, from gun rights to governor’s emergency powers to education, healthcare and more. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of bills in a session, so we chose to be strategic in our approach and choose bills that closely align with our organization’s mission.

For me, as a “political newbie”, this was a very eye-opening experience and shaped my views as to how we, as citizens, can influence change in our state and beyond. We have many things we can do as citizens to make our voices heard: we can peacefully protest, we can petition, we can have rallies and fundraisers, we can run for office and attend council meetings and board meetings, to name a few. However, if we don’t change who is making our laws and what laws are being passed, we will continue to go farther off the left cliff.

All the protests and rallies and petitions won’t move the needle if the people who are making are laws are dead set on passing the laws they want, with no regard for bipartisanship. If you look at the makeup of our Washington state legislature, you will see that the democratic side of the aisle (the majority party) is not “moderate” and in fact, they are what we would call the “radical left”.

This session saw the radical left of Washington passing laws like SB-5883, allowing minors of any age to have consent from any adult for health or medical care. This is one CLW fought very hard. We saw the passage HB-1851 to give even greater accessibility to abortions and changing language to be more inclusive, changing the word “woman” to “pregnant person.” The legislature also passed a bill to fund empty student seats in government education. And in a year when our state has a $15 billion surplus, the democrats passed bills to collect even more taxes from Washington citizens.

In short: it was a dumpster fire.

The state legislature is the foundation for everything else that is happening in our state – whether it is mask or Covid-19 injection mandates or “police reform.” If we do not change who is making our laws, we aren’t going to see anything change in our state. Same goes for our country on a national level. We must be electing conservative lawmakers if we want to right this ship.

So what can you do?

  • Support conservative lawmakers in the re-election campaigns. Donate directly to their campaign. Volunteer to door knock, share content on social media, hold signs, etc.
  • Learn about candidates running for office – vet them well!! Get behind conservative candidates and help raise money, donate directly and volunteer.
  • Get involved in the next legislative session: sign up to testify either in person/remote or in writing. Forward our calls to actions to all your friends. Email and call your representatives.
  • Hold ALL elected officials accountable. This means even the Republicans who are voting along with the democrats. Write or call them and ask why they are voting the way they are. They serve the people and have a duty to give us an explanation.

Lastly, I want to encourage you if you are new to politics and government as I am: don’t feel guilty for being late in the game. Don’t let that and being a newcomer hold you back. Your voice matters and we need you to step up and be heard. You don’t have to have any special skills to get involved in the legislative process. I believe the most important voices are concerned citizens like you and me.

*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington


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