Rep. Larry Haler says he will not seek re-election
'It truly was the honor of a lifetime,' says Haler
Calling his time in the state Legislature the “privilege of a lifetime,” Rep. Larry Haler today announced he will not seek re-election to the Washington State House of Representatives.
Haler, R-Richland, has served in Olympia for 14 years after nearly 15 years on the Richland City Council where he was mayor from 1996 to 2000.
“It's been an honor to serve the Tri-Cities region and the citizens of the Eighth Legislative District,” said Haler. “There are many ways to give back and serve the communities we value. I consider myself extremely blessed to have served for so long in this capacity. However, it is time for someone else to step forward and bring fresh ideas, new energy and a unique perspective to the state House of Representatives.”
Haler spent much of his legislative career focusing on education, higher education, economic development, and health care for underserved areas.
“My philosophy has always been that this is a citizen Legislature,” said Haler. “I've tried to make myself available to those I represent and have, over the years, sponsored legislation that has come directly from constituents or the community around me.
“The legislative process is designed to weed out the bad ideas and perfect the ok ideas to result, hopefully, in great solutions,” he continued. “There is no such thing as perfect legislation on the first day of session. A bill is perfected through the process: people testify, stakeholders weigh in, bills are amended. That's part of the beauty of the legislative process and something I will truly miss: watching good ideas become good policy.”
In 2009, Haler sponsored legislation to make it illegal for school employees to have sex with students up to 21 years of age. He launched this effort after a Richland High School music teacher was found not guilty because the student was 18 years old at the time, even though multiple incidents occurred on school property.
Haler made the point that the age of the student wasn't the issue, but that it was the trust relationship established between teacher and student that should be the focus of the law.
His proposal, House Bill 1385, was signed into law by then-Governor Christine Gregoire.
In 2015, Haler proposed legislation to help increase the number of family doctors for underserved and rural areas. This came at a time when projected shortages for rural family physicians were starting to cause great concern in the medical and legislative communities.
With 40 years' of experience in the nuclear industry and serving as the Legislature's de facto “go-to-guy” on all things Hanford, Haler had perhaps his most significant legislative victory this year with his proposal to help sick and injured workers at the Hanford Site. House Bill 1723 passed the Legislature but has not yet been signed by the governor.
“I always tried to favor the average citizen over the media's perception, the desires of other elected officials, or the wants of special interests,” Haler said. “I've taken some shots over the years for this. And that's ok, it's part of the job. But I want the citizens in the Eighth District to know that it was their voices that I listened to. They are the reason I wanted to serve in the state Legislature in the first place. Working on their behalf these past 14 years has been the privilege of a lifetime.”
Haler was careful to clarify that he will not be resigning his seat before his term expires at the end of the year.
“I'm still going to be a state representative. I'm still going to work hard for my constituents and serve them until the last day I'm in office,” said Haler. “The institution, our system of government and the people I represent deserve no less. I just feel now is a good time to make this announcement official to give folks who might be interested in my seat an opportunity to begin that process of determining if this is the right time for them and their families.”
When asked to provide any insight for individuals who might be interested in serving in the Legislature, Haler offered cautionary, yet sage advice.
“It's not as glamorous as you might think; it's a lot more work than you think; you're not as powerful as you might think; but you can have more influence than you might think. And all of the frustrations, hard work, time away from family, successes and failures are worth every second. It truly was the honor of a lifetime.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications