Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this letter finds you safe and healthy. I know the pandemic continues to be a struggle for many, and much has happened since session concluded in late April. This interim has included several new COVID-19 mandates and proclamations from the governor, fallout from the new police reform bills, and several important issues impacting the 25th District. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on a few things going on in our state and some of the things I've been working on as your state representative.
Dawson Playfield Park Opens
I recently met with many old and new friends at the opening of the Dawson Playfield Park. This park is a special place for families, friends, and kiddos to get together and make memories. I know it will be loved for many years to come. I'm especially happy about the new track, which will be a great addition to an area with very few sidewalks. The opening was packed with people from all over the community. There were pickup games, family reunions, and even some trees to plant. The entire event was a huge success!
Fallout and Negative Effects of Police Reform Bills
2021 marked the passage of unprecedented police reforms that will hinder our law enforcement officers as they strive to keep us safe. While I support excellent training and best practices for law enforcement, many of these bills are very concerning and nearly all were passed by majority Democrats in Olympia.
Because of my work on the Puyallup City Council, which finishes in December, I've had many discussions with Puyallup Police about the new laws. Cities across the state like Puyallup are reeling as they strive to comply with the consequences of the poorly conceived reforms.
These ambiguous laws have already gone into effect before guidance on them could even be established or published. For example, Senate Bill (SB) 5066, effective July of 2021, creates a duty to intervene if officers are not correctly following policy. However, the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) will not develop a new model policy until December. Additionally, departments don't have to adopt policies until June 2022, and training doesn't have to be provided until December 2023.
Similarly, House Bill 1310, concerning the permissible uses of force, was also placed into effect in July of this year. However, the attorney general is not required to develop a model policy on the use of force until July of 2022. Should our law enforcement professionals be subject to guessing how to follow the law while doing their job? I do not think so.
Washington is now the first state in the union to require probable cause instead of reasonable suspicion before our officers may pursue or detain a suspect. This policy eliminates many known de-escalation methods and will make it much more complicated – and in some cases, impossible – for law enforcement to respond to reports of criminal behavior. Since these laws went into effect, there have been numerous instances in which law enforcement officers have been prohibited from acting to stop a suspected criminal.
Additionally, unfunded mandates and de facto requirements for body cameras (House Bill 1223) could be financially problematic. Officers in jurisdictions that cannot afford body cameras should not be expected to record their interactions with suspects on their phones, as some have suggested. Another concern is that many jurisdictions cannot afford the new record keeping staff and technology that Senate Bill 5259 requires. Puyallup alone will have to spend 1.2 million on body cameras and the new legislation did not include funding for that. Our officers deserve better and so do our citizens.
Ultimately, many of these new laws allow criminals to go free while making it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs. In the meantime, our communities, families, and children are at higher risk of being victimized due to the improper structure of these bills. This is one of the reasons why legislative Republicans have called for a special session. We need to fix these new laws and hold criminals accountable. I highly recommend you stay informed and read more about these policies by going to this page: Why Democrats' police reform bills have made communities less safe.
Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates
Over the past several months, the governor has issued new emergency proclamations that order public school teachers, K-12 staff and administrators, employees working in higher education, health care workers, most childcare and early learning, and most state employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. My office alone has received 2000+ emails regarding these mandates, mostly against making shots mandatory as a condition of employment. Those covered under this order that are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could lose their jobs and potentially their benefits as well.
The governor's emergency powers have been in place for 15 months. While he does have the authority to waive or suspend laws during an emergency, it's the Legislature's job to make law. If a vaccine mandate were appropriate, it should be enacted by the Legislature. My colleagues and I have called several times for a special session to review several issues, one being the emergency powers the governor is using to enforce vaccine mandates. Unfortunately, our calls for a special session have been ignored. Our health care workers, firefighters, and other essential workers have carried us through this pandemic and we should allow them the grace to make their own decisions.
You can find more information on efforts to curb the governor's emergency powers at our new website: What are House Republicans doing to reform the governor's emergency powers?
Other Legislative Activities
Although our next session isn't scheduled until January, I'm still participating in many legislative duties and activities in the 25th District. Here are a few of the projects I've been involved with this interim:
- July 28: Toured the Port of Tacoma and the Puyallup Food Bank.
- August 1: I visited my Olympia office for the first time.
- August 7: Attended the Columbia River legislative fishing trip and listened talks regarding the importance of salmon habitats and proper fishing practices.
- August 11: Met with Boeing to discuss potential legislation impacts of the 2021 session.
- August 13-15: Celebrated Meeker Days and met many wonderful people.
- August 27: Met with Erica Myron who just won Ms. Wheelchair USA and lives here in Puyallup.
- August 28: Attended the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Dawson Playfield.
- August 29: Met with Police Chief Engle to discuss the impacts of recent police legislation.
- August 29: Met with the Superintendent of Puyallup schools to learn about what the school year is going to look like and to discuss future legislation regarding schools.
- September 7: Toured the Tehaleh area to look over future road construction projects.
Please Stay in Touch
I would like to sincerely thank you for your continued input and support. I appreciate hearing from you, and I value your feedback, insight, and opinions. Please continue to reach out to me via phone or email to share your ideas and concerns. My contact info is listed below.
It's an honor to serve you,