Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we draw closer to the 2022 legislative session, my work as your state representative continues. Since my last legislative update, I have had so many great opportunities to learn how to best serve our diverse communities in the 25th District. Thank you for being a part of this vital work and for sharing your ideas and concerns with me. There are many emergent issues to tackle during this upcoming session.
Limiting Emergency Powers
One issue that continues to be a serious concern for me and many of you, is the governor's ongoing use of his emergency powers. Together with my fellow seatmates, Sen. Gildon and Rep. Chambers, we have been calling for a special session to curb the emergency powers being used not only by the governor but others in our state.
We are facing an unprecedented situation, but emergency powers should be for a short, set time. After that, the Legislature should begin again to exercise its law-making authority. Our state government was not intended to be run by a single person without any input from the people. We will continue to call for reform of the governor's emergency powers.
Rising Insurance Costs
Another abuse of emergency powers that took place this interim came from the state Insurance Commissioner's Office. During the remote 2021 session, Senate Bill 5010, which would have outlawed the use of credit scores in insurance rating, was vetted in committee and did not make it to the floor.
However, Insurance Commissioner Kreidler decided to go around the Legislature and issued an order that credit scores could no longer be used. So far, the courts have ruled against Kreidler. The truth is credit scores are predictive of claim frequency, which is why underwriters use them. Unfortunately, I have heard from many of you about insurance rate increases. I feel your pain and I will continue to work with my colleagues to fix this, this session.
Rising Payroll Taxes for Long Term Care and Family Medical Leave
As many of you know, the new Washington Cares Fund is set to begin Jan. 1, 2022. This poorly crafted law is another new payroll tax to help fund a long-term-care program in the state. However, it will offer very little help to the people who pay for the program and need care. Additionally, many will pay into the program who will never be eligible for benefits. This is unfair and is just another example of nickel and diming those who can least afford to pay.
House Republicans have called for a repeal of this payroll tax, and recently several opponents of the tax filed a class action lawsuit seeking to stop the January start of this poorly thought-out program.
Furthermore, W2 earners will see another increase in taxes from the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. This tax is required to be adjusted yearly and this January, it goes up dramatically. Enough is enough.
Capital Gains Income Tax
You might recall during the last legislative session, the majority Democratic party introduced an unnecessary income tax on capital gains. Unfortunately, despite public opposition and Republicans' efforts to stop it, the tax still passed. Due to a pending lawsuit, the tax is currently on hold. However, the people of Washington and the state Supreme Court have made it clear how they feel about this tax many times before.
They made it clear again in the most recent election. Washington Advisory Vote 37 was a question to voters on whether to maintain the capital gains income tax passed by the Legislature during the 2021 session. Although advisory votes are non-binding, they are a good measure of what voters want. Their answer was a clear “no,” with a vote of 61% to 39%.
It's time for the majority party to listen to the people of Washington and stop raising taxes. We have enough revenue to fund our priorities without further burdening taxpayers.
Cleaning Up the New Police Reform Laws
I continue to have grave concerns regarding several new police reform bills that became law earlier this year. These new laws are problematic and make it difficult for law enforcement officers to do their jobs.
Possibly, the two most problematic bills are House Bill 1054 and House Bill 1310. HB 1054 only allows pursuit in a few, narrow instances such as for a violent crime. This has led to confusion and unintended consequences because officers have had to stand down as suspects were leaving the scene of commercial burglaries, for example. Criminals are figuring out how to use these new rules to their advantage. Unless we correct these laws, we will reap the whirlwind.
Furthermore, HB 1310 limits the circumstances under which police can detain suspects. This has led to negative consequences and hindered law enforcement's ability to help people who are mentally ill and direct them to possible care and treatment.
These laws are also making our communities less safe and putting our friends, neighbors, and officers, at greater risk. We all want training and accountability for law enforcement, but these changes have created dangerous consequences in our communities. We need more balanced reform.
I'm passionate about this issue because I have great respect for our law enforcement community. Our officers put their lives on the line every day as they live up to the high standards of the profession. Not everyone is willing or able to do that. House Republicans will continue to work on reforms this session to help correct these confusing new policing laws.
Other Legislative Activities
- Throughout the month of September, I met many wonderful people at the fair from across the district and state. Many of them offered valuable input and feedback, which will help me as I enter the upcoming session.
- Sept. 27: Toured the Foothills Trail Project and learned about the importance of this trail's expansion.
- Sept. 29: Met with a representative of a business stakeholder to discuss their legislative priorities and concerns.
- Oct. 1: Attended the Korean Women's Association lunch, learned about their culture, and had some amazing food.
- Oct. 1: Met with MultiCare to discuss their concerns regarding the upcoming legislative session.
- Oct. 12: Toured the Silver Dollar Casino with Maverick Gaming.
- Nov. 9: Toured the Hidden Valley Landfill with Rep. Chambers and Sen. Gildon.
- Nov. 10: Toured the Miles Sand and Gravel facility and learned about their legislative concerns.
- Nov. 15 and 16: Attended my first in-person House Caucus and met with my colleagues regarding the upcoming session.
- Nov. 17-19: Attended Committee Assembly Days and discussed some of the important issues we will be tackling during the upcoming session in each of the committees I serve on.
Staying Connected with the Legislature
With the 2022 legislative session just around the corner I wanted to share some important links with you, since much of this session will take place remotely. Here are several ways to keep up with the work of the Legislature:
My legislative website | Here you will find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories. Click on the link to subscribe.
The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans. Click on the link to subscribe.
TVW | The state's own version of C-SPAN, TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
Legislature's website | Here you can see bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature.
State agencies | You can find a list of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
Tracking a bill? | Click the link to find information on specific bills. In addition, when you visit my website you can easily view the legislation I'm sponsoring or co-sponsoring by clicking “Sponsored Bills.”
Please Continue to Reach Out
I'm so grateful to everyone who reaches out to me to share their input. I value your feedback and ideas and I want to hear from you. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please continue to reach out to me via the contact information below. I'm here to represent you, listen, and be your voice in Olympia. So please contact me whenever you need to.
It's a privilege to serve you!