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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The scheduled 60-day legislative session began today at noon. Unfortunately, majority Democrats have decided once again to hold this session remotely, similar to last year, and have closed the House chambers and offices to the public. I am continuing to fight for an accountable, transparent, and open government — and for your individual rights as we move forward into this session. Please take a few minutes to continue reading this update to learn more about session operations and priorities as we begin this new year in the Legislature.

Session operations mostly remote, public banned from House chambers, legislative offices

I am very disappointed that just like last year, most session activity in the House will be conducted remotely. Only a few designated House members will be allowed to access the House floor to vote and debate. The rest will be participating “Brady Bunch” style virtually online (see photo above).

Members participating on the floor are required to verify their vaccination status and have a booster shot at least two weeks prior to being allowed on the floor. Beyond that, only security, rostrum and IT staff who have verified their vaccination status will be permitted on the House floor. All members and staff who work on the Capitol campus will be required to undergo testing for COVID on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Credentialed press will have limited access to cover proceedings from the House gallery only after they have provided verification of vaccination.

Given the current House rules, I will not be able to participate in-person as a duly-elected representative on the House floor or even work from my legislative office. This is disappointing at best and un-American at worst. I will be traveling to Olympia for meetings as well as working from the district throughout the session.

Although the chain-link fences and National Guard that surrounded the Capitol at this time last year are gone, the House Democratic majority has decided the public will still not be allowed inside the House chamber, nor in any of the House offices during the 2022 session.

Shutting the public and lawmakers out of the Capitol is wrong! The very first vote I took last year when the 2021 session opened was to preserve transparency in government and access for you, my constituents, by holding that session safely in person. As we know, the Democratic majority rejected that openness and approved rules that set up session operations remotely, including all committee meetings and all floor voting, with a few exceptions. This cleared the way for Democrats to pass onerous and tax-heavy legislation during the 2021 session. Now majority Democrats are looking to again shut out the public via remote operations so they can have a clear and unobstructed path toward adopting their heavy-handed, Seattle-based progressive agenda. I am continuing to fight against this and to insist on open, transparent and accountable government.

Your involvement is critical!

Although the House Democratic majority has decided the public will not be allowed inside the House chamber, nor in any of the House offices during the 2022 session, there are still ways you can and should participate.

The Legislature has implemented a system designed to allow the public to comment on a bill. Go to this page for more information: How to comment on a bill. You can also sign in to testify remotely during a committee public hearing. Go to this page for more information and to sign in: Committee Sign-In – Remote Testimony (House/Senate/Joint)

To learn more about citizen participation, go here: How you can be involved in the legislative process.

Please contact my office if you have questions or comments on legislation that you would like directed to me. My contact information is at the bottom of this email update.

There should be no vaccine-related mandates! Your constitutional rights are non-negotiable!

I have been very adamant that the governor, no elected official and no agency bureaucrats has any business forcing you to inject a vaccination into your body.

We are now seeing real-life consequences because of Gov. Inslee firing state workers for their refusal to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Nearly 21 percent of those who were fired were Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) workers, including snowplow drivers. Is it any surprise that all Washington mountain passes were closed for several days this past week after a heavy snowfall? Have you checked store shelves lately?

A KEY CONCERN YOU NEED TO BE IMMEDIATELY AWARE OF:

The latest is the Washington State Board of Health is considering vaccination mandates for K-12 students during its meeting this Wednesday, Jan. 12. On Friday, I sent a letter to the board asking them not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 students. The letter was co-signed by several other House and Senate members.

You can read that letter here.

As your elected representative, I will never cower to the governor, any bureaucrat or any government official who says you must be vaccinated, or you will be severely punished. I will keep fighting to protect the people and their constitutional rights!

Kraft legislation for the 2022 session

New legislation I am introducing for the 2022 session addresses several important issues, including:

  • Improving election integrity and security: Would address several vital gaps in our election process, including mandating a full forensic audit process on a regular basis to ensure valid election systems that accurately represent the voters' voice and vote.
  • School choice education scholarships (New and improved!): Similar to House Bill 1215 which I introduced last session, but would include additional language to protect faith-based educators and their choice of curriculum if they receive these scholarship funds. It would also provide additional checks and balances for the process of selecting scholarship awardees and awarding the funds.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and business start-ups: The past two years of COVID-19 shutdowns were devastating on small businesses. To encourage new business and economic development for our state, this legislation would provide business and occupation (B&O) tax relief for a start-up business during its first two years. This would help them keep more of their money to be able to reinvest and grow their business.
  • Authorizing health care providers to use their professional judgement and known remedies in treating and preventing COVID-19: Would allow medical professionals to prescribe hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin for patients with COVID-19.
  • Protecting the water rights of farmers and private property owners: This legislation would address the difficulty and reality caused by our state's current water rights permitting process.

I am continuing to work on legislation for introduction in the 2022 session. Bills I introduced last year remain on the calendar for the biennium and hopefully could be brought up for a vote during this 60-day session. They include:

  • House Bill 1180 – Public testimony: Would authorize governing bodies to provide time for public comment during meetings and require that comment be allowed in-person, over the phone or through the submission of written comment in advance of the meeting when the meeting is held virtually. 
  • House Bill 1215 – School choice education scholarships: Would give parents the ability to choose the learning environment that best meets their children's needs. The K-12 Education Scholarship Program would provide $7,000 per student to be used for costs related to private school or homeschool instruction. I believe parents should be able to decide how and where their children are educated — not government. 
  • House Bill 1305 – Right to refuse vaccines: No one should be required to be vaccinated, and no one should be denied services, employment, or access to public places if they choose not to be vaccinated. This measure would allow individuals the right to refuse any vaccination or related health measure, so they maintain control of what goes into their own bodies. 
  • House Bill 1381 – Emergency powers: 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. This would address the imbalance that has occurred for nearly two years between the executive and legislative branches as Gov. Inslee has essentially singlehandedly ruled the state through emergency proclamations. 

Stay involved!

In addition to issues I've discussed above, we will also be working to repeal the state's new long-term care insurance program and payroll tax, advance a Safe Washington plan to make our neighborhoods safer from crime and return tools to law enforcement so they can do their jobs, and provide meaningful property tax relief from the nearly $10 billion of surplus money in the state budget.

Your involvement and input is very important to our legislative process. Should you have questions, comments or suggestions about legislation, committee hearings, the legislative process or state government, please call, write, or email me. I am here to serve and represent you!

Sincerely,


Vicki Kraft

State Representative Vicki Kraft, 17th Legislative District
RepresentativeVickiKraft.com
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
vicki.kraft@leg.wa.gov
(360) 450-4568 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000