Rep. Jesse Young issues statement on proposed House rules

Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, released the following statement on the proposed House rules for the 2021 legislative session:

 January 10th, 2021

Dear Washington State citizens,

Living in a nation founded on the principle of free speech and forged in the fight for equality, I am compelled to write you today, to stand up for your right to equal access to your representative form of state governance.

Specifically, I am referring to the newly revealed – less than one business day before our Legislative session – “Temporary” House Rules of operation. Try as the House might to respond to Covid-19, we should remember and acknowledge that our oaths require us to promote unalienable, individual rights – and equal access to those rights – in all manner of form and action. These proposed rules (HR 4600) violate those principles and should be rejected.

Effectively, these rules establish different classes of legislator. At first glance, three distinctions immediately reveal themselves:

1. Those with access and those without

The problem here is that any form of restricted access for some members (and thereby their constituents) and not others is discriminatory in any and every shape and form. The same is true for the reverse argument of greater access for some. As members, we are all equal because the citizens who elect us are equal. Our constituents are guaranteed equal representative access, and we are bound by oath to provide it.

2. Those with full speech and those with restricted speech

The issue here is that for members with restricted access, this rule and its application via technology, eliminates their ability to object on behalf of their constituents. Operating under such rules are not, and have never been, an acquiescence to an unconstitutional removal of a member's right to object and debate at a moment's notice. Requiring permission of the Speaker – even to object without permission – further sets some members into subservient classes of legislators, and by extension their constituents as well.

3. Those with an arbitrary delimitation on their right to offer amendments

This rule provides for the arbitrary removal of a members' ability to respond to citizen legislative requests on policy. This is unprecedented. Citizens have a right to engage legislation, and in an environment that allows for very little time for citizen review or oversight, and even the practice of “ghost bills”, this rule unconstitutionally delimits members ability to work with constituents on legislation!

House rules can, and should be, adopted that can safely comply with health protocols while still providing for equal representative access to all legislators in the House. Technology, logistics, and physical space exist to accomplish this and any argument to the contrary is disingenuous. Attempting to accommodate for the safety of one, is no excuse to infringe upon the rights of another; worse; it directly harkens back to the justifications of segregation and Jim Crowe.

ALL Washington State citizens are EQUAL and the citizens of each of our districts are supreme in their authority to have us seated on their behalf. We have the authority and right to be fully seated solely because our district citizens say we do. Anything less lays the basis for foundational inequity and inequality, through us to our represented citizens.

Finally, for the sake of brevity I have left out much of the backstory on the tremendous amount of work put in, behind the scenes, to avoid this scenario from arising. It would have been far better to have worked this out, amongst ourselves in an oath honoring way, prior to session starting.

Furthermore, as a software engineer and technology professional, I have avoided discussing the countless number of technological deficiencies and risks being created with the current “remote” session being proposed under these “temporary” rules.

Therefore, as your Washington State Representative, and for the sake of equality, I call on these proposed rules to be rejected by all.

Jesse L. Young
State Representative, 26th District
Washington State Legislature


Washington State House Republican Communications