Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With only 15 days remaining of the scheduled 60-day session, now is a critical time to hear from you and discuss the latest happenings in the state Legislature. I invite you to read this update and register for my virtual town hall meeting tomorrow evening.
Join me for a 17th District virtual town hall meeting
I will be holding a one-hour virtual “Zoom” town hall meeting tomorrow, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m.to discuss issues and answer questions about the 2022 legislative session. I will provide an update of the session, including issues of school choice, election integrity, freedom from vaccination mandates, tax relief, increasing public safety, and efforts to reform the governor's emergency powers. Your input is very important as we take final votes on issues that affect the 17th District and the entire state of Washington,
Please take a moment to register for the event. It's very easy — go here: https://tinyurl.com/17thDistrictTownHall. I look forward to speaking with you tomorrow!
Watch my Legislative Update video
I frequently provide a video update on the latest news from the state Legislature. I invite you to watch. In this video, I discuss my concerns about an ergonomics bill that would be bad for workers and employers, a record budget surplus and the need to provide tax relief, and the attack on Second Amendment gun rights. Click here or on the photo above.
Budget week – Record surplus, but Democrats provide no tax relief
Earlier this week, House Democrats unveiled their proposed 21-23 supplemental operating budget. The two-year state operating budget pays for most day-to-day operations of state government. It is usually written and adopted during the long 105-day sessions in odd-numbered years, such as in the 2021 legislative session. In even numbered years when the legislative session is only 60 days, a supplemental operating budget is typically written to address unanticipated, unmanageable changes in an entitlement program, workload or caseload, or correct technical errors in the original budget. However, the Democrat proposal released this week is no typical supplemental budget.
Here are some key things to know about the House Democrat supplemental budget proposal:
- It proposes to spend $65 billion in state funds, an increase of $6.2 billion (10.5%) over current 21-23 spending.
- Families are now facing the highest inflation rate in more than 40 years, which is costing the average household an extra $250 per month.
- While families are grappling with rising costs, the state is enjoying a record $15 billion revenue surplus.
- Despite a historic surplus for the state, the House Democrat supplemental budget proposal provides NO meaningful tax relief to taxpayers of Washington state.
- It would leave a small four-year ending fund balance of $297 million, plus $1.2 billion in the state's rainy-day fund, enough for the state to operate for about 10 days.
Budgets are about priorities. It hardly seems fair that when working Washington families are struggling to pay the bills and make ends meet, the state continues to take more of your money, has a record surplus, and majority Democrats refuse to consider any tax relief. Since 2019, legislative Democrats have INCREASED your taxes by more than $11 billion. Click here for more details about these tax increases.
I have long advocated for tax relief. In fact, this year I introduced House Bill 2114 to provide business and occupation 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. Unfortunately, Democrats refused to schedule a public hearing on this important tax relief legislation.
I also support other tax cuts, such as property tax relief, and even reducing the state sales tax. Families, businesses and employers are continuing to struggle financially. It's time to help those who first earned these surplus tax dollars the state of Washington is enjoying. Let's give some back in the form of tax relief!
Partisan Democrat transportation budget proposal stirs up multi-state anger, threats
On Feb. 8, House and Senate Democrats unveiled their 16-year, $16.8 billion “Move Ahead” supplemental transportation budget proposal. Traditionally, transportation budgets are written with bipartisan input from Republican and Democrat leaders in both chambers. However, this year, Democrats left entirely us out of the budget-writing process and created a supplemental transportation budget that is largely Puget Sound centric, while leaving the rest of the state behind.
Their plan would increase spending on transit, bicycle paths and ferries using cap-and-trade revenue and fee hikes. Although the state's transportation system has a $10 billion maintenance and preservation backlog, Move Ahead would allocate only $3 billion to address crumbling roadways and failing bridges.
Another extremely controversial proposal in this plan is to charge a six-cent per gallon export fuel tax to other states that use fuel refined in Washington state. This has created a firestorm of anger from the governors in our neighboring states of Oregon, Idaho and even, Alaska. Oregon has expressed potential retaliatory action against Washington if this is enacted. An Alaska state representative says he will propose a six-cent-per-foot tax on Washington fishing boats that moor in Alaska harbors, and a six-cent tax on each fish brought into each of those boats. Simply put, this export tax is a foolish idea that could have major consequences and may even be against the federal Interstate Commerce Act.
It also results in further distrust in talks with Oregon about replacement of the I-5 Columbia River bridge. At this point, it is estimated that Washington's portion of the shared cost with Oregon would be about $2.5 billion. However, Oregon hasn't committed any funds to the project, while $1 billion is in the Move Ahead proposal.
What is also disheartening is that no money is allocated to study a third bridge option, which I have advocated for years needs to happen. I co-sponsored House Bill 2034 that would provide $300,000 to the Joint Transportation Committee to study “options and strategies” for construction of a third bridge across the Columbia River. Unfortunately, that bill died in the House Transportation Committee.
Democrat legislation attacks constitutional rights
A quick update on the Gov. Jay Inslee's bill to silence free speech of those who oppose him — Senate Bill 5843 — is dead! And for good reason! The measure would have allowed any public official or candidate who speaks out about the election process or election results to 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.” Fortunately, the bill died in the Senate.
Balance of power:
Unfortunately, there is no progress on meaningful emergency powers reform. My legislation, House Bill 1381, that would have limited 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, never received a hearing.
A very weak Democrat-sponsored Senate measure is moving through the House. Senate Bill 5909 would allow the Speaker of the House, the House minority leader, and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate to end a state of emergency if the Legislature is not in session and it has been more than 90 days since the governor's declaration. Under this bill, all of the leaders must have unanimous consent to end a state of emergency, which is very unlikely, since Democratic leaders have no interest in requiring Gov. Inslee to relinquish his one-man dictatorial powers.
Right to keep and bear arms:
The attack by Democrats against law-abiding gun owners continues in the state Legislature through two very concerning bills that are still alive and may be signed into law:
- Senate Bill 5078, the so-called “high-capacity magazine” bill, which would ban firearms magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This measure has passed the Senate and, just last Friday, passed the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. It is now in the House Rules Committee, awaiting to be pulled to the floor for a vote. If it passes without amendments, the measure could go directly to the governor for his signature.
- House Bill 1705 would keep target shooters and gun enthusiasts from participating in their hobby of assembling their own firearms from various parts. The worst of this legislation may be that it is retroactive to 2019, meaning many gun owners would be forced to turn over their guns or potentially face charges. A public hearing was held Monday in the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which is scheduled tomorrow to vote on the bill.
I oppose these bills and will continue to vote against any legislation that infringes on our Second Amendment rights.
Reforming police reforms
Crime is up across our state, and we are reading nearly every day in the news about the consequences of anti-police bills Democrats passed last year. Read more about the effect of these bills here.
We have lost two law enforcement officers in Clark County to crime-related shootings in less than a year. I am preparing a House resolution in their honor and in memory of law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. I will have more information on this in my next email update.
Democrats have promised to provide fixes, but they are conflicted about how far they can go to roll back last year's legislation and keep their own Seattle-area constituents happy. This made for a rare opportunity for minority Republicans to provide the votes to get important police reform legislation over the finish line. We convinced the majority party to bring House Bill 2037 to the floor for a vote. This is an important measure that would provide a clear definition of the use of physical force when law enforcement detains a suspect. While I don't believe it goes far enough, the bill is a step in the right direction.
To restore public safety to our communities, these important law enforcement tools need to be provided and pass this session:
- A clear definition of the use of force;
- Allow “reasonable suspicion” to detain a suspect, rather than “probable cause;” and
- Allow police officers to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion that someone in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense, is attempting to escape, or is driving under the influence.
With two weeks remaining in session, I am still hopeful we can address these issues.
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.
Also, don't forget to register for my virtual town hall tomorrow evening: https://tinyurl.com/17thDistrictTownHall.
Thank you for allowing me the honor to serve you and the families of the 17th Legislative District.