Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's Day 60, the final day of the 2022 legislative session. As we turn the chapter and put this one in the history books, I wanted to take a few minutes to provide this update and invite you to my upcoming, in-person town hall meeting in Vancouver.
I also wanted to thank each one of you who has contacted my office over this legislative session with your phone calls, emails and letters, providing input the entire way. It has been so helpful as I do my best to represent your interests in the state Legislature.
Save the date! Join me for an in-person town hall meeting on March 19!
Due to the pandemic, it has been more than two years since I've been able to officially conduct an in-person 17th District town hall meeting. I'm excited to share with you I will be holding this event on Saturday, March 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Watch your email next week for additional details. During the meeting, I will provide an update of the 2022 legislative session and take your questions. I hope to see you there!
Democrats cut debate on emergency powers reform, block further passage, kill the bill
Monday, Feb. 28 was the two-year anniversary of the governor's state of emergency proclamation. Unfortunately, Gov. Inslee shows no signs of rescinding the proclamation, nor relinquishing the power afforded him under the state's emergency law.
I was among the first lawmakers to call for a return of balance of power to the Legislature and the people of Washington state through an emergency powers reform measure I authored House Bill 1381. The bill 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. If the Legislature is not in session, a special session could be called to extend the state of emergency proclamation. Unfortunately, my bill and many other emergency powers reform bills were blocked by the Democrat majority.
Only one bill was allowed to advance this year — Senate Bill 5909. This proposal by a Senate Democrat was a weak attempt at emergency reform. It would allow the four leaders of the legislative caucuses to end a state of emergency after 90 days if the Legislature is not in session. The bill passed the Senate, but majority Democrats in the House were reluctant to take action. They brought it to the House floor just after 1 a.m. last Friday. House Republicans offered an amendment to strengthen the bill, but only 20 minutes into our debate, House Democrats made the rare move to stop the discussion and they tabled the bill and it died.
The Washington Policy Center's Jason Mercier wrote: “One House Democratic lawmaker tweeted that emergency powers reform died because of a Republican 'filibuster.' This is a very odd explanation considering there is no filibuster power in Washington state. Perhaps this lawmaker was surprised that after two years of being denied the opportunity to debate emergency powers reform, supporters of real legislative oversight would want to speak to proposed amendments, even if the debate was brought to the floor after 1 a.m. in the morning.”
The real story is that Democrats have no genuine interest passing legislation that goes against a Democrat governor and would lessen his one-man rule of the state. So as this session concludes, at this time, there has been no real legislative action by the Democrat majority to stop Jay Inslee from his dictatorial decrees.
Watch my Legislative Update video
I invite you to watch my latest video update in which I discuss my concerns that no emergency powers reform was passed, the attack against gun rights, fixes made to the Democrat-sponsored police reform bills, and the need to provide tax relief. Click here or on the photo above.
2022 session summary
Here's a look back at some of the major issues from this legislative session:
- Mask and vaccination mandates: While Gov. Inslee has finally announced the end of the statewide indoor mask mandate beginning this Saturday, March 12, he has stubbornly refused to drop the vaccination mandate for state employees. Thousands of state employees were forced from their jobs in October because of this mandate, creating a shortage of essential state workers. It was especially felt this winter when a shortage of snowplow drivers forced mountain passes to close. I am encouraged that a state advisory group has decided against recommending a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students in K-12 schools. That's the right move! A final decision is up to the State Board of Health in April. Be sure to stay involved and let them know how you feel about this issue. Their contact information is here. State Board of Health members can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reforming the anti-police reform bills: Crime is up significantly across our state after Democrats handcuffed law enforcement officers' ability to do their jobs through anti-police reform legislation passed last year. Fortunately, we have been able to roll back some of those bad policies, but the legislation that passed this year still did not go far enough to allow police officers to fully keep our streets safe. This year, the Legislature passed — with the help of Republican votes — bills that clarify when an officer can use physical force, when an officer can intervene and use force if necessary, when a person is experiencing a mental health crisis, and we reversed a ban on less lethal and certain calibers of ammunition.
- Attack on Second Amendment gun rights: Criminals never pay attention to new gun laws that restrict law-abiding gun owners. Yet, legislative Democrats continue the attack against our Second Amendment rights. This year, they passed four concerning bills. Senate Bill 5078 bans the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. House Bill 1705 restricts the manufacture and sale of untraceable firearms and unfinished frames and receivers. House Bill 1630 bans open-carry firearms and other weapons from local government meetings, election sites and off-campus school board meetings. House Bill 1901 includes the ability to revoke an individual's firearm rights under certain conditions when there is a civil protection or restraining order in effect. I fought hard during debate to protect your constitutional rights. I voted against each of these measures and strongly oppose them.
- Governor's request legislation: Gov. Inslee had several very bad proposals. These include two bills that would have limited free speech aimed at legislators like me who have been working on election integrity and improving accountability. He also proposed a measure that would have required up to 249-feet riparian buffer zones along rivers, lakes, and streams, with fines up to $10,000 a day. This would have been devastating to farmers across the state. Fortunately, all of these bills are dead.
- Supplemental Democrat operating budget: The final plan, a $6.1 billion increase to current spending levels, boosting overall state spending to a record $65 billion. Despite a record $15 billion revenue surplus, Democrats refused to allow any tax relief for struggling families and businesses. They even killed their own proposal to provide a one-time sales tax holiday.
- Democrat “Move Ahead Washington” transportation proposal: This partisan package spends $16.8 billion over 16 years primarily on transit, bicycle paths and ferries, while leaving a $7 billion hole in our state's maintenance and preservation needs for highways and bridges. It increases license fees and uses money from the state's cap-and-trade scheme. Most of the money is directed toward cities in the Puget Sound area, while leaving the rest of the state behind. It sweeps $57 million annually from the Public Works Assistance Account, which takes money away from the ability of cities and counties to pay for water, sewer and important infrastructure projects. Democrats blocked House Bill 2034, a measure I co-sponsored, that would have provided $300,000 to the Joint Transportation Committee to study “options and strategies” for construction of a third bridge across the Columbia River. The third bridge is a high priority to truly reduce congestion for commuters and freight, and provide real resiliency by increasing the number of pathways across the river in the event of seismic activity.
Please stay in touch!
Please remember that although the Legislature will no longer be in session, I work for you throughout the year. Be sure to contact me any time you have questions, comments, suggestions or ideas about legislation and state government.
I hope to see you at my town hall meeting on March 19.
It is truly an honor to serve you and the 17th Legislative District.