Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's hard to believe we are already beginning the fifth week of the 60-day legislative session, which began Jan. 10. Here are the latest updates to keep you informed.
Thursday, Feb. 24 — Save the date – Join me for a virtual town hall meeting!
Join me for a virtual “Zoom” town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to discuss issues and answer questions about the 2022 legislative session.
I want to hear from you as we get into the final weeks of the 60-day session, which ends March 10. Your input is very important as we take final votes on issues that affect the 17th District and the entire state of Washington.
I'm also looking forward to discussing efforts to reform the governor's emergency powers, school choice, election integrity, freedom from vaccination mandates, tax relief, increasing public safety, and other issues you'll read about in this e-newsletter.
Preregistration is required by going to: https://tinyurl.com/17thDistrictTownHall. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up now!
The governor's attack against freedom of speech – I will not be intimidated into silence!
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “Freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Article 1, Section 5 of the Washington State Constitution also guarantees: “Freedom of speech. Every person may freely speak, write and publish on all subjects…”
It's important to read and understand that both our federal and state constitutions protect the freedom of speech. And yet, Gov. Inslee is hoping to silence opposition of his viewpoints through Senate Bill 5843. The bill would make it a gross misdemeanor — punishable by up to 364 days in jail — for public officials and candidates to knowingly make false statements regarding the election process or election results.
Essentially, this means any public official or candidate who speaks out about the election process or election results could be accused of making false statements and charged with a crime. Even the media recognizes the danger of this type of liberal attack and legislation. As The Columbian wrote, “Allowing the state to determine what is false and what is likely to incite or cause lawlessness creates a slippery slope for democracy and the marketplace of ideas.” The Seattle Times added, “His proposal. . .is a clear threat to free speech and must not move forward.”
The governor's bill is an attack on legislators like me who are standing up and working to bring integrity to our election process in Washington state. The governor's action is a threat to our freedoms. He should be held accountable for not upholding the constitutional oath he took as an elected official, given the fact that for nearly two years, he has ruled as a one-man dictator by abusing emergency powers in our state. He recently told reporters he's “not interested' in giving up that power through emergency powers reform legislation. He has no regard for the proper separation of powers, or checks and balances, so why should we expect he would have any regard for the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? He's the one who needs to answer to the people and should be held accountable!
It is my sworn constitutional duty to ensure that every vote cast in our state is actually legal, legitimate and properly counted. What is not legitimate is to intimidate legislators into silence, or threaten our constitutionally-protected right of free speech and representing the people with criminal prosecution. I will not be intimidated by the governor, nor silenced by his threats. I will always fight to protect your constitutional rights and freedoms, and to protect you from government abuse and overreach!
- Watch my video: Statement on election integrity statements in the governor's State of the State Address
- Listen to my radio interview: Rep. Kraft addresses election integrity with KEDO's Bruce Pollock
State's controversial new long-term care program and payroll tax delayed 18 months; Democrats reject repeal
In my November email update, I discussed my concerns over the state's new long-term care program and payroll tax that went into effect Jan. 1. Majority Democrats voted for this legislation in 2019 without a single Republican voting yes. We knew we were on the right side of this issue when 63% of voters said the legislation should be repealed through Advisory Vote No. 20 in 2019. It is also revealing that more than 450,000 workers made the decision to purchase a qualified private plan and seek an exemption. Many other people wanted to opt out but could not find a private plan in time.
Democrats started realizing this past summer the program is deeply unpopular. In December, they and Gov. Inslee asked for a delay of collection of the payroll taxes, which began Jan. 1. This also caused more confusion.
I supported legislation to repeal the program and tax. Unfortunately, majority Democrats refused to bring that measure to the House floor for a vote. Instead, the House debated and voted out two bills relating to this issue. The first, House Bill 1732, delays implementation of the program by 18 months and moves premium collections out to July 1, 2023. The second, House Bill 1733, creates four new voluntary exemptions from the program. I voted for these bills only because we were given no option to repeal the program and because it will give our side time to hopefully stop this horrible policy.
Gov. Inslee signed those measures into place on Jan. 27 and declared the issue “fixed.” However, it is far from fixed, because it just punts the long-term care insurance issue down the road for 18 months and neither of those bills address the insolvency issue.
Kraft bills – Majority Democrats deny public hearings on important legislation
I've introduced several bills this session important to our district and our local constituents. Once again, partisan politics seems to be getting in the way of good legislation to do what's right for the people. The remote session continues to allow Democrat leaders to mute Republican input in the committee process, and in some cases, on legislation itself. For an example of this, watch as I am muted in committee.
Unfortunately, the Democrat chairs have refused to allow public hearings on these bills. Although extremely frustrating, I am not deterred from my work to bring your concerns to the Legislature. Here's a look at those bills:
- House Bill 2042 – Establishing the K-12 education scholarship program: 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. Surveys show as many as 69% of parents say they support school choice. Referred to the House Education Committee.
- House Bill 2115 – Improving election integrity, security and accountability: Under this bill, a forensic audit is required for general elections. Forensic images must be captured before and after each election, all election data must be retained for 22 months and available for public inspection, and strong checks and balances are incorporated into the state's election process using a state audit board made up of people from across the state, including the state auditor. This bill would restore truth, accuracy and integrity to our elections. It was referred to the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.
- House Bill 2065 – Authorizing health care providers to use their professional judgment and known remedies in treating and preventing COVID-19. Would allow medical professionals to prescribe hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin for patients with COVID-19. Referred to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.
- House Bill 2114 – Supporting entrepreneurship and start-up businesses. 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. Referred to the House Finance Committee.
- House Bill 2067 – Concerning the allocation of water that has been relinquished. This legislation would address the difficulty local family farmers are experiencing as a result of our state's current water rights permitting process. Referred to the Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
- House Bill 2043 – Concerning fees charged to persons who commit offenses involving the sexual exploitation of children. Would add a mandatory fee of at least $3,500 up to $7,500 to the end user who is convicted of sexual exploitation of children. Referred to the House Public Safety Committee.
Two other significant bills I introduced last year also remain in committee:
- House Bill 1305 – Right to refuse vaccines: No one should be required to be vaccinated, and no one should be denied 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.
Watch my video update – The top issues of the 2022 legislative session
In my video update, I discuss the top issues of the 2022 legislative session, including what to do with a record budget surplus, repealing the state's new and controversial long-term care payroll tax, reforming the governor's emergency powers, ensuring election integrity, empowering parents to decide which school is best for their children, and increasing fines for sex trafficking. Click here or on the photo below to watch.
Get more information, get involved!
Your awareness and involvement in the legislative process is very important, especially during this COVID-19 remote session. There are several ways you can stay informed and involved:
- Visit my website: RepresentativeVickiKraft.com
Sign up for my legislative email updates | Get information about my bills, public hearings and where they are in the process | Read my news releases and watch my Legislative Video Updates.
- Sign-up for The Capitol Buzz: A weekday summary of online news stories from across the state.
- Bookmark the Washington State Ledger: A legislative news aggregator.
- Visit the Washington State House Republicans website: Learn more about issues, top priorities and how we are providing real solutions.
- Sign up for text messages from House Republicans
How to get involved
- Learn more about the Legislature
- Find your legislative district
- Call the legislative hotline |1-800-562-6000
- A Citizens Guide to Effective Legislative Participation
- How a bill becomes a law
- Share your opinion on a bill
- Find ADA accommodation and information
- Watch TVW coverage of House sessions | The House Channel
- Watch TVW coverage of Senate sessions| The Senate Channel
Want to track a specific bill? Here are some resources to get you started:
- Go to leg.wa.gov.
- On the left-hand panel, click “Bill Information.”
- If you know the bill number, enter it in the search field and hit enter.
- Don't have a bill number? Under the section “Standard Reports,” you'll find alternative tracking tools. You can search based on topic, legislative digests, cross-references, and within a specific biennium.
Contact my office
Please contact my office any time you have questions, comments, or suggestions about legislation and/or state government. My contact information is below.
Thank you for allowing me the amazing honor of serving you and the families of the 17th Legislative District.