Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have just completed the third week of the short, 60-day 2022 legislative session. While the session is only two months long, we are working to address a number of important issues and House Republicans are offering solutions. I break down some of the top issues in this email update.
As you are probably aware, the Legislature is operating “virtually” again, with most of the operations taking place online via Zoom and Teams. Only a few designated House members are allowed to access the House floor for debating and voting.
I am disappointed legislators are not working in Olympia. There is a lack of transparency and accountability with session operating online and no public access. Our kids are going to school, and most people are going to work every day. The Legislature should be able to figure out a way to meet following appropriate safety protocols to conduct the people's business.
Emergency powers reform
Washington state has been under a “state of emergency” and one-person rule for almost two years. Our state government did not intend for this governor, or any other governor, to have that much power. Addressing emergency powers reform has been a priority for Republicans since the pandemic began.
Rep. Chris Corry's House Bill 1772, has a public hearing scheduled today (Monday) in the House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee at 1:30 p.m. Under the bill an emergency proclamation would automatically expire unless the Legislature voted to continue it after 60 days. If you receive this email update in time, you can testify remotely or feel free to comment on the bill.
In the Senate on Friday, Senate Bill 5909 had a public hearing. The bill would authorize the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives to terminate a state of emergency if the Legislature is not in session and it has been more than 90 days since the governor declared the state of emergency. It would also allow legislative leaders of the House and Senate to terminate a gubernatorial order prohibiting activities if the Legislature is not in session.
Click here for more on House Republican efforts to address emergency powers.
Repealing the long-term care insurance act and payroll tax
When this mandatory long-term care insurance program was passed in 2019, we said it was expensive, unfair, and the public did not want it. Nearly 63% of voters agreed. There are also legitimate concerns with its solvency. You can read what our State Actuary had to say here.
Two bills have passed the Legislature. House Bill 1732 delays the tax and program until July 1, 2023. House Bill 1733 offers some exemptions. The governor signed the bills on Thursday and claimed in his press conference the program is fixed.
The tax, which was supposed to start being collected by employers this month, is now delayed until July of 2023. Benefits are delayed 18 months under the bill until July 2026.
While I'm pleased the program has been delayed, it is not fixed as the governor has stated. The so-called “fix” ignores the insolvency of the program and disregards all those folks who purchased and continue paying for private plans to escape the unpopular program and tax.
Republicans made motions to bring House Bill 1594 to the floor which would fully repeal the program and House Bill 1913, which would repeal the long-term care mandate and replace it with an affordable and optional alternative. The majority party rejected both motions.
For more on the long-term care insurance program and regressive payroll tax, click here.
In the 2021 session, the majority party passed a package of law enforcement bills that have made our communities less safe. I heard from law enforcement officials in our region, and across the state, that the new laws had placed unrealistic standards on law enforcement officials for arrests and pursuits, taken away too many tools related to de-escalation tactics and assisting with mental health calls. I would add, violent crime is at a 25-year high and property crimes continue to increase. Our caucus has introduced legislation that would:
- House Bill 1737: Improve public safety;
- House Bill 1788: Address vehicular pursuits;
- House Bill 1787: Provide funding for the recruitment, retention, and support of law enforcement officers; and
- House Bill 1656: Change the definition of theft.
Some of the bills have received public hearings. We will see what happens next week. Check out our Safe Washington Plan.
Our caucus is also focused on other issues and is proposing real solutions to benefit all Washingtonians.
Governor's salmon recovery plan
The second week of the legislative session the governor's salmon recovery legislation, House Bill 1838 had a public hearing held over two days in the House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee. As the lead Republican on the committee, I have heard from many farmers, agricultural industry representatives and organizations. There were many concerns brought up at the public hearing. Farmers and the ag industry were not invited to the table to discuss the potential impacts or offer input or solutions when the governor's office was drafting the legislation.
Under the legislation, buffers could be as wide as 250 feet in some areas. Landowners would have to pay up to 30% of the costs to plant trees to be in compliance with the riparian buffer zones. Property owners could be fined $10,000 a day if they don't comply with the planting of trees.
At this time, it does not appear the legislation will be moved out of committee. I can assure you I will be watching this legislation closely.
Tax relief: Despite the pandemic, Washington is looking at a four-year budget surplus of about $8.8 billion, with another $2.2 billion in various reserves, and about $1.2 billion in unspent emergency stimulus funds. This is the perfect opportunity to give some back to the taxpayers in the form of meaningful property tax relief. To check out some of our tax relief proposals, click here.
Follow the Legislature
Since we are in another virtual session, I encourage you to stay engaged and follow the Legislature as best you can. It is important you provide input on issues that matter to you and our state.
Please continue to contact me with any questions, concerns or comments you have. I appreciate the feedback, as it helps me represent the 15th District in the Legislature.
Here are some websites and links that may help you stay engaged, testify or comment on legislation this session.
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips
- How you can be involved in the legislative process
- How to comment on a bill
- Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony
It is an honor and privilege to represent the 15th District!