Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I have heard from thousands of you over the last couple weeks regarding the governor's recent decisions to mandate vaccinations for most state employees, health and long-term care workers and more recently, vaccination requirements for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education.
Under the governor's mandates, these workers must be fully vaccinated and be able to show proof of their vaccination status by Oct. 18 or be fired from their jobs.
I am opposed to the governor's mandates and threats to terminate the employment of some of our most essential workers during the pandemic – health care workers and educators. It is your right to make a personal decision regarding your health care and getting the vaccine. People should talk with their doctor and make an informed decision that is best for them and/or their family.
The governor's order also expanded the statewide mask mandate to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Regarding our K-12 system and the mask mandate, I did sign onto a letter sent to the governor requesting he reconsider his mandate and urged him to give more weight to local control and parental input. The one-size-fits-all mandates coming out of Olympia may not work well for the entire state. School districts in the 15th District are very different than those in the Puget Sound region. You can read the letter here.
The governor's latest decisions continue to come under the “emergency” declaration, which has now exceeded more than 500 days. His vaccine mandates are also the strictest in the nation.
State lawmakers should have a role in these decisions. The Legislature should not be relegated to the sidelines while the decisions being made are affecting each and every citizen of Washington. We have tried repeatedly to address this issue. We introduced many bills to reform the state's emergency powers law, including House Bill 1557. There was also a Senate bill introduced at the beginning of session to protect an individual's right to refuse the vaccine without consequences.
You can find more information on our emergency powers reform legislation and what House Republicans are doing to curb the governor's power here at our new website: What are House Republicans doing to reform the governor's emergency powers?
You can find the new proclamations, questions, stories and much more related to the COVID-19 pandemic on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources page.
Police reform laws making our communities less safe
A report released earlier this summer from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs shows that crime in Washington state increased overall in 2020. Murders were up almost 47% and have increased overall 67% since 2016. A couple of other eye-catching statistics include:
- Washington is ranked 51st out of the 50 states and District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand people.
- Reported cases of officers assaulted was up 6% in 2020 and has increased 67% since 2016.
This comes at a time when legislation passed last session has taken tools and response protocols away from our law enforcement officers. I have heard from many of our local law enforcement officials, as well as community members, genuinely concerned about the public safety of our officers and communities.
Republicans are more than willing to work with the governor and the Democratic majority to fix the problems created by these new policies. The sooner we can do this, the less harm done to the communities and citizens we represent in Washington state. For more information check out our webpage: Why police reform bills have made communities less safe.
New long-term care payroll tax coming soon
It is flawed public policy, as many who will be required to pay into the fund will never see the benefit. There was a provision in the bill that would allow people to opt out by purchasing a qualified long-term care insurance plan before Nov. 1, 2021. To learn more about the opt out, click here.
Unfortunately, opting out may be difficult at this point. Check out the article below.
You may find additional information on why folks are opting out by reading: Why some plan to opt out of new WA long-term care insurance (Crosscut)
My colleagues and I have received many inquiries on this issue, so our staff has created this web page, which includes frequently asked questions.
While it may be difficult to opt out at this point, if you are interested I would still urge you to look into it as soon as possible. I know there are requests and efforts being made to delay this poor policy or change it.
While the legislative session is over, I have received thousands of emails, phone calls and messages regarding some of the controversial legislation taking effect. Folks are also concerned that our state is still operating under an emergency declaration. I urge you to stay engaged and keep informed on what is happening.
You can follow state government news throughout the interim with the following websites/news services.
- Capitol Buzz: This daily electronic clip service offers headlines and stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
- The Washington State Ledger: This is a legislative news aggregator administered by state House Republicans. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. It is updated frequently.
It is an honor and privilege to represent the 15th District!