Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With only five weeks of the 2023 session remaining, we still have a lot to accomplish, including finalizing and passing the state's three budgets: operating, capital, and transportation. I will have more on the budgets in a future update. So, please continue to stay in touch with me.
House of Origin Cutoff and Explanation, update on the bill process
We reached an important milestone on March 8. That was our house of origin cutoff date, which means any bills not passed out of their respective chamber by that day are essentially dead for this session – except those bills considered necessary to implement the budget.
More than 2200 hundred bills were introduced between the two chambers and just over 600 are still alive. Over the next few weeks, we will be considering close to 300 bills passed out of the Senate. They will be considering 330 we passed out of the House.
Any bill that passes both chambers will head to the governor's desk. However, if a bill is amended in the opposite chamber, those changes must be approved again in the bill's house of origin before it can be sent to the governor. All bills must be passed by the opposite House by April 12. Session is scheduled to end on April 23, so both the House and Senate must agree on any changes to bills by that day to become law.
Vehicular Pursuit Legislation
As I've mentioned previously, one of the state's top priorities this session has been to fix the police pursuit law. This is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers, police officers, and citizens from all walks of life recognize the need for change.
This year, a group of 40 legislators, 20 from each side of the aisle, offered a real solution. House Bill 1363 would've restored the initial pursuit threshold back to reasonable suspicion, instead of the more stringent probable cause. But it never made it to the floor for a vote.
House Republicans attempted a procedural motion to bring up the bill for debate and a vote, but House Democrats blocked the motion, killing the bill. This is truly heartbreaking for our law enforcement partners and even more importantly, for neighborhoods and communities throughout Washington.
The law, which was changed in 2021 by the majority Democrat party, has put our communities at greater risk and in some cases had tragic consequences.
Recently, two children in Sunnyside were killed because police could not pursue a fleeing suspect, who ended up being a wrong-way drunk driver. State troopers wanted to go after the man about an hour before the accident occurred but could not chase him because current law does not allow it. This horrible tragedy could've been prevented.
Fortunately, there is some hope. The Senate passed Senate Bill 5352, a companion to House Bill 1363. Unfortunately, like the House Bill, this legislation has also been watered down from its original version. However, something is better than nothing. Hopefully House Democrats choose to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. We must restore this important tool for our law enforcement partners and make our communities safer.
Assault Weapons Ban Legislation
Another a hot-button issue in Olympia is gun rights. The last policy we debated and voted on before the House of origin cutoff date was House Bill 1240, which passed despite bipartisan opposition.
This bill would prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any assault weapon, subject to various exceptions for licensed firearm manufacturers and dealers, and for individuals who inherit an assault weapon.
Everyone wants to reduce gun violence, including responsible law-abiding gun owners. We also want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people suffering from mental health disorders. However, with more crime and fewer police officers in our communities, people, and particularly women, are turning to firearms to protect themselves and their families.
Furthermore, HB 1240 would restrict foundational constitutional rights, and subject the state to legal battles. We need to focus on addressing the root causes of violence, including mental illness, substance abuse, economic despair, and parental neglect.
Click here to watch my speech regarding an amendment I offered to improve the bill, which as not accepted, and click on the image below to watch my speech on final passage.
Update on Public Utility Tax Legislation
I introduced House Bill 1561 this session, which would increase the public utility tax (PUT) exemption threshold and annually adjust the threshold for inflation. Under the current law, a business would have to pay public utility taxes on gross income above $24,000 per year (or $2,000 per month).
This legislation would double the threshold – and increase the threshold yearly with inflation – so businesses who engage in activities that are taxable under PUT would have to collect over $48,000 per year (or $4,000 per month) or more to have to pay taxes on their business income.
This legislation would benefit several types of businesses but would be especially helpful to Uber and Lyft drivers, who pay public utility taxes. This bill would give them a much-needed break.
The House has yet to vote on HB 1561, but it is still alive because it might be considered necessary to implement the budget, due to its fiscal impact. I will keep you posted.
Still No Tax Relief
As you know, I strongly believe in fiscal responsibility and living within our means. I believe state government should also live within its means and give back to Washingtonians. Unfortunately, despite record revenue collections in recent years, the majority party has prioritized growing the size and scope of government and passing punitive policies that make life more expensive, instead of providing tax relief.
House Republicans are fighting for tax relief and meaningful legislation to help alleviate financial burdens for struggling families, students, small business owners, and the most vulnerable. But there has been no significant tax relief this session. It's time to step up and help our struggling families.
Please Stay in Touch
Thank you for all your input and feedback. Please continue reaching out to me. I'm honored to represent you in the 25th District and I'm sincerely grateful for your support. My door is always open.