Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Washington State Legislature has convened for the 2022 legislative session, which is scheduled to be a short, but busy, 60-day sprint. This session will be much like last year for the House of Representatives, which means another fully virtual format, at least for now. However, that doesn't mean we won't be working hard fighting for the issues and causes you care about.
Like any year, there are numerous major policies we are working on this year. House Republicans are focused on several issues, but there are three main problems getting the bulk of our attention:
- Emergency Powers Reform
- Public Safety and Unbalanced Police Reform Laws
- Overall General Affordability Issues in Washington
The Executive Branch's Emergency Powers Need Reform
My number one goal is to see the Legislature regain its voice when it comes to the governor's powers during a state of emergency. This is not a partisan issue. The governor has been running our state by himself for nearly two years, with no input from the Legislature. Currently, during a prolonged state of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative branch in Washington, which represents the voice of the people, has an extremely limited role in determining the policies set forth by the governor's office.
That's why one of the biggest debates this session will be reforming the governor's emergency powers and giving the Legislature – and the people – a voice again. House and Senate Republicans will continue to fight for change to the state's emergency powers laws, including introducing the following bills this session:
House Bill 1772 would increase legislative involvement in gubernatorial proclamations relating to a state of emergency; and
Senate Bill 5039 would subject all gubernatorial emergency orders to legislative approval after thirty days.
It's true that some emergencies require immediate decisions from the executive branch, but long-lasting emergencies — like the pandemic — should include input from the Legislature. Two-years of unchecked, unilateral authority by one person is not how our state government was designed to work. Emergency powers reform is one of our top priorities and it's long overdue.
Public Safety and Police Reform
The fallout from last session's police reform bills and the Washington Supreme Court's decision to legalize drug possession in State v. Blake last February, have continued to erode our public safety, putting communities everywhere at risk. That's why we need to work on reforming the anti-law enforcement bills the majority party passed last year.
Since those bills became law, they have created much confusion and uncertainty for our peace officers, making it harder for them to get bad actors off the streets and protect our communities. Additionally, violent gang and drug-related crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault are all on the rise. That means our homes and communities are at greater risk, as are our law enforcement partners.
Among other problems, the bills approved in 2021, specifically House Bill 1310 and House Bill 1054, prevent law enforcement officers from pursuing suspects and assisting with mental health calls. That needs to change. Learn more here. We will be working on these issues over the coming days and weeks.
Time to Make Washington Affordable Again
Despite the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, the truth is Washington's economy is in better shape than ever. State revenue growth is the second strongest in the country and tax collections have doubled since their peak before the Great Recession. We currently have a budget surplus of $8.8 billion, plus $2.2 billion in reserves, and another $1.2 billion in unspent federal stimulus. There is no reason state government can't give individuals and families some much needed tax relief. Now is the time to make life more affordable for all Washingtonians. The following bills would help do that.
This bill would return $2 billion back to taxpayers through a reduction and rebasing of the state levy from overcollections from 2018-2022, due to property values rising much faster than anticipated when legislation was passed in 2017. Without this bill in place, the state will over-collect an additional $3 billion between 2023-2027.
This legislation would repeal the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Act and associated payroll tax and replace it with a privately managed program that leverages the state's existing revenue to make long-term care coverage both affordable and optional. However, majority party Democrats chose not to hear it in committee. Instead, they chose to pass House Bill 1732, which will only delay the implementation of the bill for 18 months.
This bill would repeal the payroll tax and insolvent benefit from the LTSS Trust Act. Learn more about the program and payroll tax here. However, like HB 1913, the majority party chose not to give it a hearing in committee.
This legislation would expand and enhance the Working Families Tax Credit by increasing income eligibility, doubling the base payment, and increasing the minimum benefit for working families with children.
This bill would lower Washington's main business tax rate for manufacturing and trucking by 40% and extend and expand an existing tax preference for food processing.
These are just a few of the policies Republicans have introduced this session to help ease affordability in Washington, and we will continue to push for these and other real solutions.
I'm working on several pieces of legislation this session that address a variety of issues.
House Bill 1930 would address our statewide shortage of cosmetologists by relaxing license renewal requirements for those who have allowed their licenses to lapse. This would help get workers back in the game after getting sidetracked.
House Bill 1984 came from a constituent who was a victim of a crime. This legislation would disallow personal address information from being listed on vehicle registrations. Law enforcement professionals could still have access to the addresses, but bad actors would not. It would help reduce theft and protect privacy for people who are vulnerable.
House Bill 2054 would require cameras to be installed on special education school buses with the appropriate level of privacy safeguards in place. This is a troubling issue and advocacy groups for the disabled have asked for this because of assaults and other bad things that happen on school buses while the driver's eyes are on the road.
House Bill 1628 would eliminate conflicts of interest in the appointment of “for” and “against” statements in local voter's pamphlets.
Additionally, I'm also co-sponsoring several other key pieces of legislation to address sensible police reform and support, and emergency powers reform from the Legislature. Other bills I'm supporting address affordability issues in Washington, including creating catalytic convertor theft safeguards, giving individuals and families tax cuts instead of increases, and reducing housing costs by reducing regulations.
Staying Involved in the Legislative Process
Meeting remotely is challenging, but that doesn't mean you can't be part of the process. Every legislative committee will be offering remote testimony options. From the comfort of your home, or anywhere you have Internet access, you can testify online via Zoom, by phone, or submit written comments.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
Staying Connected with the Legislature
With the 2022 legislative session now in full swing, I want to share some important links with you. 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 can't express enough how much I appreciate your ideas, questions, feedback, and input. I truly want to hear from you. So please continue reaching out to me via the contact information below. I'm here to listen and be your voice in the legislative process, whether in Olympia or from my kitchen table.
It's my privilege to serve you!