Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends. It's hard to believe, but Christmas is around the corner, and soon the 2022 legislative session will convene. I wanted to take a few minutes to provide a quick update, since due to election-year restrictions, this will be my last e-newsletter until the session begins on Jan. 10.
I will continue to fight for the people to end mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and the governor's emergency powers!
For more than 19 months, Gov. Jay Inslee has singlehandedly ruled as a dictator over Washington state through emergency proclamations. It's been nothing short of a disaster.
Hundreds of thousands have lost lifelong careers, businesses, and jobs. Young and old alike have suffered spiritual, emotional and mental impacts, including in some cases, losing family or friends to suicide or permanent injury as a direct result of the oppression and mandates our state has been under. The majority of states do not have these harsh restrictions in place and are not experiencing anywhere near this level of abuse. It needs to stop NOW!
The governor's eviction moratorium that finally ended on Oct. 30, left hundreds of thousands of rental property owners having to house tenants without collecting rent. His closure of businesses and fines against those that didn't comply left many business owners in ruins, some of whom will never recover. He stubbornly stuck to his Oct. 18 deadline on the vaccine mandate on state workers. Nearly 1,900 state workers were terminated or left their positions as the deadline passed. At least 127 Washington State Patrol troopers were fired for noncompliance. While we don't yet know the full impacts of the governor's actions, it could impact road maintenance this winter, including the ability to keep our highways clear of snow and our passes open. More than 400 Washington State Department of Transportation workers, about 6 percent of its total workforce, were fired, including many snowplow drivers. These terminations will no doubt have long-standing impacts on our state.
Fortunately, common sense is finally prevailing in some courts. You've likely heard Joe Biden wanted to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private businesses with more than 100 employees, which was set to start on Jan. 4, 2022. Thankfully, a recent federal court decision put a hold on that order.
This government intrusiveness into our lives needs to come to an end! I am adamantly opposed to mandatory vaccines at any level. Our state and federal governments should not be dictating to the citizens of Washington what they should be putting into their bodies.
Both Inslee and Biden refuse to acknowledge other alternative medications and remedies discussed between patients and doctors that are working for them to address COVID-19. They also refuse to recognize those who have had COVID-19 are already naturally immune. No one — absolutely NO ONE – should be forced to lose their jobs because they do not wish to have the vaccine.
Two of my top priorities during the 2022 legislative session are to put an end to the governor's ongoing emergency powers and to ensure every Washington citizen has the right to work, regardless of vaccination status, without further threats of job loss or other punitive actions.
This is legislation I introduced during the 2021 session:
- House Bill 1381 would limit the governor's emergency powers to 14 days after a state of emergency proclamation, unless extended by the Legislature from a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate. If the Legislature is not in session, a special session could be called to extend the state of emergency proclamation.
- House Bill 1305 would allow individuals the right to refuse any vaccination or related health measure, so you maintain control of what goes into your own body.
These bills can still be advanced during the 2022 session. It's time to end this insanity and return power to the citizens of the state of Washington!
Give parents a choice in education!
New state data shows school systems in Washington still have not recovered their enrollment losses from the pandemic.
The Seattle Times reports that between October 2019 and October 2020, 39,000 fewer students enrolled in public school, about a 3.5% drop. The numbers weren't distributed evenly across grades — the most pronounced losses were among younger students; the number of kindergarten students plummeted by 14%. By this fall, the state's enrollment had only grown by a thousand students.
At the same time, the state's home-schooled population has ballooned, nearly doubling in size during the first full school year of the pandemic, 2020-21.
I have long been an advocate for school choice and parents' rights. In 2019, I authored and introduced the Education Choice Scholarship Program, House Bill 2933. This past January, I introduced a similar school choice measure, House Bill 1215. The bill would establish the K-12 Education Scholarship Program in Washington state, which would award up to $7,000 per student each school year to be used for costs related to private school or homeschool instruction.
According to the Washington Policy Center, 18 states have expanded school choice programs to benefit children and families. Why isn't Washington among those states?
Many parents are frustrated with the teachings of public schools and curricula, such as the comprehensive sex education mandate, critical race theory, and new vaccination requirements, that do not reflect their values. House Bill 1215 would allow parents to be able to provide the best learning environment for their child, no matter what the circumstance or need.
In the coming session, I will continue fighting for parents and children to provide better alternatives for learning and a brighter future for them.
- Rep. Vicki Kraft reintroduces school choice bill; says parents know best where their children should be schooled
Kraft legislation for 2022
Additional legislation I'll be introducing in the 2022 session includes:
- Election process integrity and reform;
- Promoting new business growth and success by eliminating business and occupation (B&O) taxes during the first two years;
- Reduce sex trafficking by reducing demand through increased penalties and supporting survivors; and
- Protecting water rights for farmers.
Repeal the long-term care payroll tax
I share your concerns about the Democrats' new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax. As of Monday, Nov. 29, the Employment Security Department has received more than 394,556 applications for an exemption.
Unfortunately, many people were unable to obtain private long-term care insurance by the Nov. 1 deadline, because most insurance companies stopped selling it in Washington by September. Those who did not have private insurance plans in place by Nov. 1 were unable to opt-out. That means that beginning Jan. 1, you'll be paying this payroll tax of $0.58 per $100 to fund the program. Those who qualify can access the benefit – up to $36,500 – beginning in 2025.
There are several flaws in this program that are concerning:
- If you live outside of Washington (such as Oregon or Idaho), but work in Washington state, you will pay into this program but receive no benefit.
- If you plan to retire outside of Washington state, you will lose your entire contribution to the system.
- If you plan to retire within the next 10 years, you will not receive a benefit for your contribution because you must work 500 hours per year for 10 years to be vested. Therefore, if you retire in nine-and-a-half years, you will lose your entire contribution to the system.
- Most agree the tax will have to be increased at some point soon to ensure the program's funding sustainability.
This is truly taxation without representation!
Fortunately, legislation is being introduced that I fully support and would repeal this flawed long-term care tax program. Rep. Joe Schmick, our ranking member on the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, and Rep. Peter Abbarno, have taken the lead for House Republicans on this issue.
For more information on this issue, go here: FAQ: New long-term care insurance program and payroll tax.
Redistricting is now in the hands of the Washington State Supreme Court
The Washington State Redistricting Commission missed its Monday, Nov. 15 deadline by just minutes after midnight to redraw legislative and congressional maps. That responsibility now goes to the state Supreme Court. By law, the court has until April 30 to draw new boundaries, which is just days before the filing period for elective offices.
The court does not have to follow the commission's maps. However, the commission seemed close to having their maps finalized, so the court may just pick up where they left off.
Under the commission's plan, the 17th Legislative District, which currently covers an area east of Interstate 205 and Interstate 5, south of Highway 502 into Battle Ground and south of Eaton Boulevard down to the Columbia River and west of 162nd/172nd/182nd Avenue, would change. The proposed 17th Legislative District would still include part of east Vancouver, but then extend east to encompass all of Skamania County.
To review the maps submitted by the commission to the state Supreme Court, click here.
Your involvement is important to the legislative process!
This past session, we saw how the majority party took advantage of the virtual session and the inability of in-person citizen access to pass harmful legislation. They limited the ability of some citizens to testify. For those who were selectively chosen to testify, they were often cut off in mid-sentence if they opposed the legislation. Citizens were blocked from entering the state Capitol with a six-foot chain-link fence and armed National Guard officers. The result from lack of citizen access was that it cleared the way for Democrats to pass legislation such as a new capital gains income tax (a foot in the door to a statewide income tax), expensive new fuel standards resulting in higher gasoline prices in our state which are hitting $4 a gallon, and new carbon “cap-and-trade” laws that will boost the cost of living for everyone in Washington state.
Your involvement and input are vital to the legislative process! In the coming session, the fences have been removed and there will be limited access to the state Capitol and House and Senate galleries, based on COVID-19 vaccination mandates and protocol. We are still fighting for more access for the public and lawmakers. Preliminary House operation plans suggest lawmakers who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to enter their own offices or the Capitol building. This is wrong!
I am also concerned that all committee meetings are going to be held virtually again, giving majority Democrats another opportunity to shut out the public. This should not be happening in our constitutional government, which is ultimately to be directed and governed by “We the People!”
That's why I highly suggest you stay alert, become active and involved, and speak out! Here are some links to help you get started:
- Read about How a Bill Becomes a Law, and How to Read a Bill;
- Use the member rosters to get the legislative contact information to send emails, or write letters;
- Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to leave a message on any issue;
- Make your views known by testifying before a committee on an issue or bill;
- Watch and listen to committee hearings live on TVW;
- Need more information on how the Legislature works? Call the Legislative Information Center at (360) 786-7573.
Contact me anytime you need help with state government
As I noted above, because of certain restrictions, I cannot send any more email updates until the legislative session convenes on Jan. 10. However, if you have any questions about this update, the upcoming session, or state government matters, please contact my office. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you and the 17th Legislative District! Have a blessed holiday season and a Merry Christmas!