Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the 2022 legislative session behind us, you should have received an extensive legislative session review in your mailboxes from Sen Jim Honeyford, Rep. Jeremie Dufault and I.
If you did not receive the session review in the mail, click the image below to review the mailer and get more details on what happened in Olympia this year.
I have included a few more issues and details in this email update that did not fit in the mailer. Let me know if you have any questions on any of the issues or content in the hardcopy mailer or in my email update.
Supplemental operating budget
I did not support the supplemental operating budget. It increases spending to approximately $65 billion in 2021-23, a $6.1 billion increase to current spending levels. State spending is now $12.5 billion or 24% higher than the 2019-21 levels.
When I came into office in 1999 our state budget was about $20.5 billion. We have more than tripled our spending in about 24 years. It has more than doubled since Gov. Inslee took office.
Noticeably missing this session was meaningful tax relief, despite a historic $15 billion budget surplus and and an inflation rate we have not seen in more than 40 years. With the more than two years of lockdowns and mandates causing financial stress, we missed on a perfect opportunity to provide tax relief for working families.
Our ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Drew Stokesbary, put together the “SAFE Washington” budget framework to show the state could have provided meaningful tax relief for working families while still addressing critical needs. It would have:
- Cut the state sales tax by a full percentage point.
- Delivered billions of dollars in ongoing funding for transportation projects.
- Reduced B&O taxes on the sectors seeing the highest inflation, including manufacturing, timber, and food processors.
- Repealed the mandatory long-term care tax and replace it with an optional program.
- Rescued the beleaguered Paid Family and Medical Program to avoid another payroll tax increase on employees next year.
- Offered one-time grants to businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, including hotels and restaurants.
- Provided police departments with funding for officer retention and recruitment bonuses.
Majority's party's transportation plan – Move Ahead Washington
I opposed the majority party's Move Ahead Washington transportation plan. The partisan plan left our side completely out of the negotiating process.
This partisan package spends $16.8 billion over 16 years. It raises fees and taxes by about $2.3 billion on Washington citizens, at a time when there is no need to raise taxes. It does not adequately address maintenance and preservation needs, while pumping millions of dollars into public transit, bicycle and pedestrian paths, electrification of ferries, and expansion of electric charging stations across Washington. With most of the plan fixated on Puget Sound centric, I am very concerned there is little benefit for Central and Eastern Washington.
Finally, it transfers $57 million a year from the state's Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA). Our local governments around Washington rely on this fund for public health needs, such as critical water and sewer infrastructure projects.
Republicans introduced a transportation plan before session started. To review our plan, click here.
No emergency powers reform
For more than two years Washington state has been under a “state of emergency.” We have made
House Republicans have made many efforts to address emergency powers since the beginning of the pandemic. Check out this web page that highlights our efforts.
We tried to address it again this session. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said she was “seeking balance” earlier in the year, which gave us hope something would be done. Unfortunately, we adjourned with nothing done and the imbalance in Washington state government remains.
One of the priority issues in the 2020 session was to fix the flawed, partisan police reforms passed last year. Republicans and Democrats worked together to address some of the troubling aspects of these policies, including:
- House Bill 2037 – clarifying the definitions of when an officer can use physical force.
- House Bill 1719 – reversing ban on less lethal and certain calibers of ammunition.
- House Bill 1735 – allows an officer to intervene and use force if needed for the safety of the person and those around them when the person is experiencing a mental health crisis.
However, the Legislature failed to restore the authority for police officers to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion. Neglecting to change this policy will continue to have major consequences for public safety in our communities.
Due to election-year restrictions starting on Monday, May 16, this is the last email update I will be able to send until after the election is certified in November, the one exception being if we are in a special session.
Please keep in mind I am still able to answer questions, concerns, or assist you if you need help navigating state government so do not hesitate to contact me. I hope to see you around the district this summer and fall.
Also, you can stay up to date on news on state government issues throughout the interim with the following websites/news services:
- The Washington State Ledger: This is a legislative news aggregator. It is a great source for information related to state government, public policy and the legislative process. It is updated frequently.
- Capitol Buzz: This daily electronic clip service offers headlines and stories from media outlets throughout the state, including newspaper, radio, and television.
- The Current: This an online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans that is sent out every week during the legislative session and every month during the interim.
I want thank all of you who contacted me during the session – emails, letters, phone calls or even testified remotely in committee hearings. Your engagement is greatly appreciated.
It is an honor and privilege to represent the 15th District!